Happy birthday Thai you

——-22/05/2012——-

During my month of celebrating birthday festivities, on the actual day my friends were nice enough to whisk me away from work for a short lunch. We had been meaning to try Chong Co Thai restaurant and bar for a while now and with such convenient parking, one wonders why we didn’t come sooner.

Two menus– the usual menu and an express lunch menu offering quick noodles with a simple 3 step selection process.

A nicely decorated interior.

A short time later after ordering…

Pad kee maostir fried thick rice noodle with egg, chilli, basil leaves and mixed vegetables with chicken ($12.90). Hot and delicious with a nice chilli bite.

Pad see ew stir fried thick rice noodle with egg, sweet soy sauce and mixed vegetables with beef ($12.90) I thought they were small portions but came out nice and hot just the way I like my noodles. 

Lunch didn’t last very long so we stayed a little while with a cup of tea.

I haven’t fully made up my mind about the restaurant yet. The food came out promptly and hot despite a busy lunch time service and as tasty the noodles were I expect more for $13.00, especially when I can (and often do) go down the road I can get a massive bowl of noodles and two pork chops for $12.50. I’ll have to come back again and try something else.

Venue: Chong Co Thai restaurant and bar

Address: 327A Westfield Belconnen, Lathlain Street, Belconnen ACT 2617 (along the same stretch of road near Cold Rock Nandos etc.

Phone: (02) 6251 9962

Opening hours: 7 days week: 11.00am – 10.00pm

Chong Co Thai Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Laos food festival

——-19/05/2012——-

I mentioned before that the Lao food fair was on in May this year and I was keen to go with my Lao friend so she could explain all the delicious things I was eating.  The temple holds an annual fundraising food festival with countless volunteers doing days of preparation before to get the occasion running smoothly.

It was really well organised, you purchase money tokens in denominations of $1, $2, $5 and $10, so vendors didn’t have to deal with money exchange and giving change etc. Conveniently most things were $1, $2 or $5.  With so many things to choose from I didn’t know what to eat, but I ended up trying one of almost everything. 

Saku Yutsai ($5.00) basically a crispy wrapped around tasty prawns, worth dipping into the sauce for more flavour.

Chicken Laksa – maybe not the most convenient thing to eat with limited seating with tables but it didn’t disappoint those who persevered.

Lao sausages ($2.00) The woman at the stand who was cooking the sausages was a very good sales person guaranteeing that if I tried one I would love it. She wasn’t wrong, three of these sausages later I was feeling fat and sassy.

Freshly cooked sticky rice – Traditionally eaten with your fingers, sticky rice went with everything, curries, laab and especially the laos sausages, I think that is what made me so full!

Coconut Puddings ($5.00) These were like little sticky gelatinous balls with a strong flavour of coconut milk.

Laab chicken and beef – A lot of effort goes into making laab, so much easier buying it than making it yourself! I preferred chicken over beef.

Vegetable tempura – A variety of vegetables fried in a light batter.

Chicken Satay ($2.00)

What’s an Asian event without spring rolls!

Phat thai ($5.00) My friend ate a box before and said her noodles were a bit uncooked, I was lucky enough to get the next batch which was better.

Bread sticks similar to Chinese yau ja gwai but shorter.

Cassava dessert with coconut – chewy and gelatinous with most of its flavour coming from the shaved coconut.

Paw Paw salad – I ate the tiniest bit as all my friends love chilli food, that tiny bit was enough for me  

Chicken curry

Dried beef ($5.00)– I’ve never had jerky but I’d imagine it would taste similar.

Roti with condensed milk – now we’re talking! I don’t eat that many sweets but if there’s condensed milk I’m there!

Sticky rice balls

Fish cakes

Something to drinkIced coffee drinks or young coconut juice with pulp on sale.

As full as I was, I couldn’t turn down the offer to eat an odd looking white corn. It’s nothing like the yellow sweet corn I’m used to eating, each kernel is like eating a ‘heavy’ gelatinous ball. Not that much in the way of taste but it made my mouth very tired from chewing and me very full. 

It was a lovely day to be outside soaking up some sun and eating great food. The event was well prepared and had mats around the grass area to create lots of space to eat and be merry.

With a combination of traditional food, music as well as dance, the festival allowed a glimpse into the Lao community and their culture. The great thing about the event is that it’s not restaurants who come out and make money, it is an event run by hard working volunteers who hand/home make these complex dishes and all for a good cause with all money raised going towards the temple. If you didn’t finish the food tokens you purchased you could refund them or put in as an extra donation to the temple.

I’m already looking forward to the 2013 festival!