28 Feb Sabai, Richmond
Taking over the site of the well-rated but now sadly closed Mamame, Sabai presents to us another Thai offering just off Swan St. Sumalee Sae-tang and Manpreet Singh are first-time restaurateurs, but experienced chefs. They’ve done much of the hard work for this massive undertaking themselves, designing the interior, creating the menu and running the kitchen.
We begin with a selection of small dishes to start. Burgeoning sliders these days are bordering burger-sized territory, but these sliders are truly miniature burgers. Though slightly underseasoned, the soft shell crab is moist and crispy. Crunchy vegetarian spring rolls also come with vermicelli inside, and the pork baby back ribs are sweet and tender. Prawn on prawn action is present with the prawn crackers, where tofu, herbs, shallots and salted chilli rest alongside single juicy prawns atop their crunchy vehicles.
The larger dishes are also great for sharing. The tom yum soup is full of seafood, including calamari cooked just right, and there’s a definite chilli kick in the som tum. Small cubes of barramundi are lightly coated and fried, dressed with chilli, lemongrass and a sweet and sour dressing, and is enjoyed with an apple salad. The massaman lamb shank is thick and rich, the lamb easily pulling away from the bone. Crispy roti is provided to wipe up more of the curry sauce.
Finally, dessert time. Their take on the affogato is a cute mini vanilla magnum sitting in a cup of a bitter coffee and kahlua mix. The steamed pandan, coconut and palm sugar puddings admittedly don’t have much of a pandan flavour, but the sweet palm sugar filling encased by the smooth, glutinous exterior remind me of Malaysian kueh. The Thai tea panna cotta is a delight. I love its freshness and crunch of the coconut crumble.
Though it’s slightly detached from the the main action of Swan St, Sabai is worth visiting for a decent Thai fix.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Sabai as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way, and are based on my experience at the time.
460 Church St
Richmond, VIC, 3121
(03) 8528 6884