Most Thai restaurant menus in Sydney feature the popular regulars: pad thai, papaya salad, and green and red curries. But the owners behind Air Abb 1982 are hoping to challenge that tradition by introducing Thai-style table-top barbeque and hotpot to the scene.
Air Abb 1982 is owned by the same five-member crew – Chayakorn Kulthanachaidech, Kittipong Tuangsit, Naruedom Nukraihong, Naruemon Sukdomlurd and Khomsan Chittimani – who operate Thai street-food eatery Abb Air 1982 across the road in World Square.
Tuangsit tells Broadsheet that barbeque and hotpot are popular street-food options in Thailand, it’s just not commonly known in Sydney. “If you say shabu shabu [Japanese hotpot], everyone automatically considers [it] is Japanese, and [think] barbeque is [only] Korean. But if you go to Thailand, we have something called chim chum [Thai-style hotpot], but we just haven’t commercialised it. You can find barbeque on the streets in Thailand as well.”
Aside from offering something different to the usual Thai eatery in Sydney, Abb Air 1982’s all-you-can-eat menu is great value. For $35, you have 90 minutes to choose your own adventure – you can opt for barbeque, hotpot or both.
Taking the dual barbeque route gets you a brass, dome-shaped tabletop grill plate surrounded by a hotpot moat, which is filled with a clear chicken broth flavoured with goji berries and Chinese herbs. The two-in-one means that while you grill slices of Wagyu, pork belly, beef tongue and prawn, you can add shredded cabbage, pork sausage mince, beef tripe, spinach and egg noodles to the hotpot.
As you grill, the cooking juices trickle into the moat, progressively changing the flavour of the broth. “At the start it’s a bit like a consommé but by the end it’s a jus,” Tuangsit says.
But if your heart is set on hotpot only, there are four flavoured broths: the chicken stock that’s used to fill the moat; a shoyu-based stock; malatang (with Sichuan pepper and dried chillies); and a chicken-based stock with flavours ubiquitous to Thai cooking, such as lemongrass, makrut lime leaves and galangal.
With more than 50 ingredients and side dishes to choose from, the flavour combos are infinite, regardless of whether you opt for barbeque or hotpot. And on top of that, there are five dipping sauces – green-chilli Thai seafood, spicy-sour tamarind, Japanese-style sesame, sweet chilli, and sweet miso – that can be served as-is, or jazzed up with fresh garlic, chilli and lime. Wash the meal down with Thai-style drinks – there’s pandan, chrysanthemum and black teas, and red cordial – before finishing with coconut, black-sesame and green-tea gelato.
There’s also an à la carte menu with a variety of Thai salads, including som tum thai (papaya salad); fried pork cheeks with spicy fermented fish salad (listed as yum koo mu tod on the menu); fried pork intestines; and Thai-basil bacon rice topped with fried egg.
Orders are placed online via a QR code. Order as much as you want, but be warned: a $20 penalty per person applies to discourage food waste.
Air ABB BBQ and Hotpot 1982
Level 1, 43-57 Goulburn Street, Sydney
0452 249 828