It’s been a great year for Thai food in Melbourne, thanks to a bumper crop of recent openings such as Thai Baan and Nora. They're all excellent places for dinner, but it’s rare for a new place to focus on what Thailand eats before noon.
That’s the focus at Roslyn Thai Cafe, by husband-and-wife duo Sapol Deoisares and Busarin Rojkaranwong along with partner Klomjit Barzano (ex-Momofuku and Nomad). The new West Melbourne spot sells Thai-style breakfast, snacky street food and dessert in the mornings through till late afternoon.
Deoisares and Rojkaranwong are long-time chefs with some serious kitchen experience, including at Long Chim under David Thompson. In 2020, when restaurant-going was replaced with lockdown-cooking, the pair lost their jobs. With time on their hands, they started a charity to provide food for international students who’d lost employment, too.
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Baking traditional Thai pastries, cakes and a few savoury goods, the passion project quickly grew into an online shop on Instagram – Cook With Mama Rin, available for pick-up and delivery. Demand continued to build over a few years before the duo decided to open their first shopfront in late July this year.
At Roslyn, the dishes take inspiration from the couple’s Chinese-Thai heritage, the food Rojkaranwong grew up eating on her family dining table, and her favourite childhood street food bites. “With most of the Thai cuisine over here, everybody thinks of curry, pad thai or tom yum, but there’s still a lot of food that isn’t presented,” Deoisares tells Broadsheet.
The menu serves dishes from across Thailand’s distinct regions, but comfort and heartiness are the common throughline. You might go for Thai-style pork ball congee (rice porridge) with Chinese donut and a soft-boiled egg – a typical breakfast meal from Bangkok – or khai katha (pan-fried eggs served with a brioche roll) from the north-east region Isan.
There’s also roti murtabak from the south, a folded pancake-style dish filled with curry mushroom, potatoes, onion, house-made satay sauce and cucumber relish; Phuket’s green curry fried chicken with jasmine rice; and the nahm tao hoo set including freshly made soy milk, sago, pearl barley and kaya (coconut and pandan jam) toast. “We want people to feel warm and welcomed, especially with the food that’s put on the table,” Barzano says.
In the kitchen Deoisares cooks up the savoury breakfast dishes while Rojkaranwong handles the sweeter side of things, baking all kinds of picture-perfect chiffon cakes with flavours such as coconut pandan, rose and lychee, mandarin, taro and black sesame. If cake isn’t your thing, try coconut ice-cream with handmade pandan noodles and taro or mango sorbet with sweet sticky rice, coconut syrup and crispy mung beans instead.
To drink, the obligatory Thai milk tea is a crowd favourite. The signature hot Roslyn tea with rose petals, goji berries and longan is another standout, along with the fresh soy milk with pearl barley and basil seeds. On the coffee front, the team has the basics covered with espressos, chai lattes and hot chocolate.
Unlike many other Thai joints around town, with their brightly coloured walls and ornaments, Rosyln has a pared-back, minimal aesthetic: timber floors, wooden tables and chairs and an exposed brick wall. It’s a small, cosy space with only five tables. There’s space for another 40 people outside on a timber deck filled with leafy plants – perfect as we move into (hopefully) warmer spring mornings.
Roslyn Thai Cafe
447 King Street, West Melbourne
Wed to Fri 8am–3pm
Sat & Sun 9am–4pm