Salty, spicy, sweet, and sour. These key flavours appear in just about every Thai dish there is, regardless of whether it comes from the country’s seafood-loving south, or the herb- and root-happy north.
Simplicity isn’t something Thai chefs have much time for. They’d never drizzle olive oil on tomatoes when they could use chilli, salt, lime juice, lemongrass and galangal instead. Maximal flavour is the goal, though everything needs to be kept in balance.
Melbourne’s Thai restaurants seem to have adopted this approach for food and aesthetics. There are a few quieter spots around, but on the whole they’re a noisy, vibrant bunch, with neon lights and colourful cocktails to match.
We may not be able to eat our pad thai with tropical ocean views, but these lively alternatives (with serious food) do just fine.