Sydney’s already welcomed its first mezze train and recently a Mediterranean tapas train. Now we have a DIY Thai-hot-pot train. “We try to do something different,” says manager Nutchari Ekthammakun. “[The owner] went to Thailand and thought no one had ever done hot pot in a sushi-train-style before.”
In the middle of each table there’s a giant double hot pot. One half has tom yum in it, the other chicken broth. It’s just liquid – there’s no meat, vegetables, mushrooms or eggs in it. You’ll find all of the additions on a giant conveyor belt.
The majority of the raw ingredients travelling around the restaurant on the train are there to be added into the soup as you please. There’s fish, vegetables, fungi, various processed meatballs, sliced meat and several types of noodles. The rest of the travelling plates contain sushi and Thai-style sweets made with rice and coconut. After you’ve added whatever it is you fancy into your hot pot, and it’s cooked, you ladle a portion into your own bowl. The condiments on the table (a bean-based chilli paste; a fishy and spicy salsa; minced garlic and fresh chilli) are for flavouring your soup or to use as dipping sauces for the soup ingredients. There will soon also be a buffet, a Thai-drinks stand and a fruit fridge, all of which will be included in the flat price. “There will be a lot more food – you'll be able to serve yourself Japanese food and Thai food,” says Ekthammakun.
The restaurant is, as you may have guessed, huge. At the moment it’s fairly barren; the train is a horseshoe shape, with tables attached to either side of the train. There’s a white and green theme to the space, and mirrors everywhere. “We had to import [the train] from Indonesia. We think it's the longest train in Australia,” says Ekthammakun.
The hot pot will likely keep you occupied, but peruse the separate menu, too. Thai Hot Pot’s owner Somporn (John) Phosri has brought in ex-Thai-royal-family chef Thappathan Tojin not only to ensure the smooth operation of this peculiar project, but to flex his skills. His latest inventions on the menu are Thai-style sushi rolls, some stuffed with roast duck and covered in duck skins, others filled with larb and deep-fried in tempura batter.
Thai Hot Pot
815–825 George Street, Haymarket
(02) 8084 2628