When Taweerach Rojratanavichai (Pla for short) opened Khao Pla, Chatswood’s lauded Thai diner, he wasn’t sure what Sydney could handle. If Khao Pla was cautiously soft and Western friendly, then Chum Tang is holding nothing back. All the regular Aus-Thai staples have been replaced with a menu of Pla’s favourite regional dishes.
From the country’s centre is the intricate and perplexing yum pla fu, a tart green-mango salad on a bed of tuna so crispy it more closely resembles pork floss or bread crumbs. From the north-east, or Isaan, Pla recommends the earthy, crisp larb wings. From the south, try Pla’s pad sator goong, a dish of prawns and petai beans (green beans with a unique flavour between shiitake and durian) stir-fried with a hot shrimp curry paste.
The food-court stall also borrows from the south with hanging greens and bright stools, evoking the colour and bustle of the region’s coastal street markets. Like any street stall would, Chum Tang also serves cold, sweet drinks. The mandarin juice is done the Thai way, with a little sugar syrup and a dash of salt. The milk tea is typically syrupy and slightly bitter.