There’s a roti on the menu here – not what you’d expect at a vegan restaurant. Most roti chefs earn their fans by the amount of butter or ghee they use. But this dairy-free version is as satisfyingly soft-centred and crisp-edged as you could ask for.
“Five years ago I stopped having meat. It was very simple. I grew up not having meat,” says owner Dusadee Kittimorakul, who grew up in Thailand. She’s been in the restaurant industry for a long time (she also runs Thai Break in Ryde) but this is her first meat-free venue. “Thai food is really delicious. I want to make it so delicious people consider not eating meat.”
Kittimorakul hasn’t taken the usual vegetarian-Thai route of using mock-meat replacements in popular Aus-Thai classics, though. She serves Thai dishes that are traditionally meat-free to begin with, and presents her own innovations. The most impressive of the latter is her take on yum pla duk fu, which uses organic, dried tofu to get the same texture as the traditional version, which contains shredded, dried and deep-fired catfish. “I love this, it’s very crunchy,” says Kittimorakul. “We decided not to use mock meat because it's very processed. I want to go for health,” she says.
From Thai tradition she’s taken laab het, a northern-style mixed-mushroom salad with an earthy flavour from the use of roasted rice powder.
It’s not completely vegan, though. “I don’t judge people, so it’s not strict.” There’s an option for egg to be mixed into classic noodle and rice dishes, and you can have cow’s milk in the Thai iced teas. Otherwise all the sauces, dressings and curries are meat- and animal-product free. The restaurant is BYO only.
In the future Kittimorakul hopes to open her small, mostly outdoor restaurant on Monday nights on a pay-what-you-want basis for people in need. “When I grew up we had claypots at the front of our house, old people would stop on their walk or their bicycle to have a drink and a snack,” says Kittimorakul. “If I could give my food for free I would.”