Khaosan Road is one of Bangkok’s busiest streets. The infamous backpacker haven and nightlife hotspot’s tiers of neon signage, live music, raucous bars and footpath dining make it a destination any time of day.
There’s no true analogue for it in Melbourne, but new CBD eatery Khaosan Lane is trying to channel the energy of the infamous hub. Set within the GPO’s Postal Lane (between Myer and H&M), it’s strewn with colourful string lights, metal stools and photo collages of Khaosan Road – plus there’s live music five nights a week and a midnight licence.
“We’ve tried to bring everything here,” says manager Nitchapat (Nina) Khamphan, who moved to Melbourne from Bangkok six months ago to help kick off the project. Although, she says, you can find a wide variety of foods on Khaosan Road, Khaosan Lane is a celebration of one particular dish: mu kratha (or moo kata), a style of Thai barbeque cooked on a dome-shaped grill surrounded by a moat of hotpot for choose-your-own-adventure tabletop cooking.
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“It’s so popular in Thailand,” says Khamphan. “If you go to Thailand, you will see barbeque shop next to barbeque shop.”
Literally translated to “skillet pig”, mu kratha tends to favour pork. Khaosan Lane’s $39 barbeque platter comes with two kinds (marinated pork and pork belly) plus marinated beef, prawns, squid and mixed vegetables. There’s also a whole egg that diners can crack directly onto the grill, and glass noodles for them to cook in the broth, which collects all the flavour that pools down from the grilled meat.
“Sometimes when new customers come, they order the $39 [platter] per person,” Khamphan laughs. “I have to warn them.”
There are also bubbling bowls of fragrant bone broth or tom yum-based hotpot; small plates of grilled or fried proteins and spicy, marinated seafood; plus a few harder-to-find dishes – namely, deep-fried duck beaks, which Khamphan says are a popular Thai drinking snack.
To accompany them, there’s Singha on tap and Thai-inspired cocktails available by the glass, pitcher or bucket.
The team eventually plans to add a few seats indoors but for now, guests can pull up a chair under the string lights. But be sure to come early, as the restaurant starts pulling a queue the moment it opens.
350 Bourke Street, Shop G25, Melbourne GPO
(03) 9121 8089
Tues to Sat 5pm–midnight