Wang Thong Thai Fusion – Larb Gai

Convenience can tip the scales in your favour with me at lunch time. I was actually at Ponsonby Central to check out Maldito Mendez. However the menu wasn’t very clear to me and there were a lot of people already waiting (15 minutes after opening) at empty tables. Wang Thong, on the other hand, was completely empty. The sight of two sweet looking middle aged Thai women nattering away in the kitchen sealed the deal.

Now, there will be a few people who will remark on prices (and I paid the takeaway price). I ordered Gari Puff (minced chicken with onion and kumara in puff pastry) and Poh Pia Puk (vegetarian spring rolls) at $8 each, and a Larb Gai at $17.90 (a serving of rice came complimentary). The servings were pretty generous though, and lasted me for two meals.

20130502_124508

I’ve been seriously fiending for some decent curry puffs since I saw this recipe. We’re still not there yet, I think the quality of the photos in that post are partly to blame. These weren’t bad, but I’m getting picky now. For one I couldn’t pick out any chicken in the filling, which had been mushed into a paste that rendered the flavours pretty indistinguishable from each other.

20130502_124515

The spring rolls were better with the usual vermicelli, carrot, and a little mushroom. It was the old gang back together for one more go around, pleasing and familiar with their best material, but nothing you haven’t heard before.

20130502_124542

So onto the Larb Gai, which hits all my sweet spots. A little chuckle was enjoyed when the lady stared at me wide eyed after I proclaimed that I wanted my salad spicy, then looked at her off camera kitchen partner with an incredulous this-crazy-kiwi-with-the-number-zero-hair-cut-just-asked-for-spicy look on her face as she relayed my order. As fresh as you could want it, with the hot and sour elements having an intense tête-à-tête on your palate leading to a chilli joint statement that mediates all potential flavour clashes to a place of harmony. I would definitely have that again, especially when I’m in a mood for something a little lighter, but still flavoursome.

That said, there is a Thai joint at the food court just five minutes walk up the road. I don’t know if they do Larb Gai, but for some people the price differential will make the choice a tough proposition. I hope the emptiness of the place on that particular day wasn’t a sign that the choice is going in the opposite direction, because this place is almost worth it just for the sweet ladies behind the counter.

24 thoughts on “Wang Thong Thai Fusion – Larb Gai

      1. OKAY SO. I CAN FINALLY GIVE ALL YOUR NEW POSTS SOME COMMENT LOVE. Rather belatedly. Apologies. Reading the name Wang Thong reminds me of Shaolin Soccer, which I rewatched yesterday, much to my very full belly’s horror. (at least we got some ab training done? hah!)

        Poh Pia Puk!!! I forgot all about poh pia! Haven’t had it in ages. Do you like otak-otak? That stuff is love and happiness and fuzzy feelings.

        The spring rolls were better with the usual vermicelli, carrot, and a little mushroom. Sometimes I rebel and mix in some kewpie mayo with the sweet chili sauce. And then it’s gaga land from there.

        Uh, now I’m craving me some spring rolls. Bad. I’ve never had larb gai before, I think I’d like it stuffed inside some rice paper for a mess-free on-the-go lunch at school. Mmm!

        Got to love those sweet ladies.

      2. Kewpie! So simple, so genius, so SEG way. Oh that’s happening next time I have one of those. To think I had some sitting in the fridge at work too.

        I remember that I watched Shaolin Soccer, I can’t remember much of it though.

  1. The sweet older ladies would definitely make a difference in my opinion as well…I think restaurant and bar reviews are a lot about the people you encounter. Of course you want good food and beer but the service can be just as memorable…Yummy review! 🙂

    1. Service does make a difference, doesn’t it? There’s nothing like poor service to make one want to flee to the nearest craft beer outlet and food store so that one can have all the elements of the drink/meal in a lot more comfort at home, and at a cheaper price. It’s especially applicable in cases where the meals can be easily approximated once someone Googles down a good recipe.

  2. Sadly the Thai restaurants here do not offer curry puffs. I love Thai food but Thai chili is really mean. It is barely there and then jumps at you with full force and I wouldn’t be able to keep on eating if I did not have my Thai tea to wash down the spicyness.

    1. No curry puffs? Quelle horreur! Thai is very much the opposite here. I have to really sweet talk the staff if I want a decent level of spiciness. I can only remember one time when it was almost too much for me to handle, and even then, the flavour was still fantastic.

  3. I’m quite shock of price for Larb Gai … Oh my … One of my reasons to not eat at Thai restaurant when I’m away from my country unless I find the reasonable price which it’s quite hard. I just can’t take the price although I know that different country means different incomes and cost of living.

    1. It’s a steep price, but yeah, they’ll be paying a hefty overhead at that place, much more than the little hole in the wall foodcourt joint down the road. But, if you can get it better at home you’re probably better off having the local cuisine where ever you travel overseas anyway.

  4. I like sweet people. They’re worth a few extra bucks to me. Nothing will ruin a meal faster than a rude waitress or a surly cook. Plus, it looked delicious. I’m going to try something different for lunch today. I’m inspired!

    1. Yes, number zero, although it’s usually back to a number 2 before a week is out. I’ll grow it out for a wedding, but not much else. I don’t like fussing in front of a mirror in the morning, especially with hair as difficult as mine.

  5. Larb Gai – favourite Thai dish ever. Though I used to beg my little Thai landlord to hold back on the spice. And usually had to go and get a 7/11 yogurt to extinguish the burn between bites. Loving the casual reference of the number zero. Well played.

    1. It’s quickly becoming my favourite too, and I used to be a serious curry fiend. I’ve had this arharn thai cookbook from David Thompson for a while, and never made anything from it. I think that’s going to change with a “larp gai,” to use his spelling, this week.

      1. That’s the huge hardcover one isn’t it? That was my introduction to him, although I couldn’t buy it. There is no good place for that to be displayed in our house.

      1. 😉 thanks for info. have a great sunday! btw, i uploaded my first youtube today on my fb page, haha… roti prata in the making!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s