Madoljai means “inspiration” in Thai. And it was owner/chef Mawan’s (ex-Dandelion and Mama’s Buoi) fading heritage that inspired her to open up a restaurant dedicated to the slowly disappearing recipes of her home country.
Each dish is presented with a story and the traditional way to eat it, including finger bowls with lime and herbs for those messier dishes. The tom jiw soup was a favourite of King Rama V, who valued the mix of slow-cooked broth, tender beef, Thai basil and holy basil in times of sickness.
From the northern regions, watermelon rice crackers host a stack of coconut-milk spanner crab with Thai shallots, kaffir lime leaves and Yarra Valley caviar. The oge gai curry is served with traditional Thai turmeric sticky-rice rather than the popular jasmine.
A stained glass “restaurant” sign welcomes you into the old glamour dining room, complete with immaculate white tablecloths, black leather chairs and vintage light features. Such an atmosphere calls for wine and the Australian-focused list is extensive, but Thai beers or a fresh young coconut will also do the trick.
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