Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Black Pepper Thai

Find of the week!

Tucked away in the busy traffic thoroughfare of Harris St, Ultimo, is a wee converted terrace that’s metamorphosed into a Thai restaurant. I’ve looked at the ultra simple menu and marvelled at the (low) prices and filed it under ‘must try’. It’s now been open about a month, so four of us lobbed in for a test drive.

Do you remember Looney Toon cartoons where people would rush into an empty room en masse, mill around and make noise, then leave all at once leaving an empty room again? This is the same. At 12.20 we walked in and the place was empty. By 12.30 it was full to the brim, every table taken, and at 1.30 it was empty again. The little dining room is packed with sturdy wood tables and stools, with a couple of outdoor tables on the street side. The kitchen is up the back and armed for quick output.

The menu has a basic and very workable selection: a list of 17 styles, broken up into red, green or panang curry, satay, stir fry, noodles, and two crisp dishes, and three types of content including vegetables and tofu ($9.50), chicken, beef or pork ($9.50), or seafood / prawn ($11.50). So you pick what base style you want and what variety of meat, veg or fish you want it made with. The stir fries offer a choice of oyster sauce, cashew nuts, chilli jam, chilli basil, garlic and pepper, sweet and sour or fresh ginger – all with vegetables and rice.

It’s designed for a one person per plate feed, or with a share table in mind, so it’s adaptable for small or large groups. Orders taken, the food is woked and brought out lightening fast so you can make the most of a lunch hour if that’s all you have. We choose a chicken satay (top picture) which comprises three generous juicy grilled sticks and a chunky aromatic sauce with a salad and rice, a chicken pad Thai noodle (above), a prawn pad see ew flat rice noodle (last picture), and a crispy pork with rice (below). All are delightful with pungent scents and flavours, and fresh, crisp, crunchy vegetables in the noodle dishes. We devour the lot, delighted at subtle changes in flavour and texture. I am now committed to returning and trying the curries, because if they are as good, it will be a real treat.

This is not Royal Thai cuisine a la David Thompson and Martin Boetz, but it is honest, fresh-cooked-on-the-spot, fragrant and filling Thai food. And for the price ($40 for four of us, and no charge for BYO), I really don’t think I could possibly ask for more. The service is quick and diligent, but they certainly don’t mind if you linger. During lunch, quite a few patrons turn up for take away, leading me to assume that because this place is not yet open for dinner, there will be a few yummy, tasty instant suppers being heated up around the city that night. I can’t imagine they would be as delectable as the same freshly dumped out of a hot wok, but sometimes when you’re tired after work you can’t be that picky.

Black Pepper Thai

635 Harris St., Ultimo (between Maryann St. and Macarthur St.)
Eat in or take away
Open for lunch & dinner

*Stop Press! I went back yesterday to try the curries and YES they are just as good - the green (we had it with prawns) is peppery hot, and the red (we chose beef) is warm and slightly sweeter. Both dishes include those wonderful crunchy fresh veges too. Also, Black Pepper is now open for dinner!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Rebecca
We're Black Pepper thai , so delightful for you to come here and thank you for your comments. We hope that we are going to keep serving a very good meal for people. we would like to inform you that we are already open for dinner.
Best regards,
Black pepper Thai.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Excellent! I love having new great quality restaurants 'round the area. Best of success to you!

8:20 AM  

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