With all the op­tions, I just try Thai again

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASTE - Graeme Phillips

VANIDOL’S ASIAN CUI­SINE 353 El­iz­a­beth St, North Ho­bart; Li­censed/ BYO; din­ner Tues­day to Sun­day from 6pm. 6234 9307

LIKE the Ball and Chain, Le­b­rina, Le Proven­cal and per­haps a hand­ful of oth­ers, Vanidol’s has been around and at the top of its game for so long it has be­come some­thing of a Ho­bart in­sti­tu­tion.

Opened in 1991, it was one of the pi­o­neers of what would soon be­come the busy mul­ti­cul­tural North Ho­bart strip.

More im­por­tantly, its Pan- Asian of­fer­ing of an “In­dian Thai In­done­sian” menu in­tro­duced many Ho­bar­tians to their first taste of co­rian­der, lemon­grass and lime and came at a time when Ho­bart had only one other In­dian restau­rant, Gur Petab’s in Bat­tery Point.

It was those ex­otic flavours and the ex­cite­ment of the new that quickly es­tab­lished Vanidol’s as one of the city’s most pop­u­lar eater­ies while its con­sis­tency over the years helped it re­tain its po­si­tion as Ho­bart ex­pe­ri­enced a mini in­va­sion of new In­dian and Thai take­aways, cafes and restau­rants.

With that sort of track record, when Su­mana Sritawat- Dowl­ing bought the restau­rant a year ago, she sen­si­bly saw no rea­son to change a thing. So she hasn’t. The Thai chef and the menu are the same and, un­der her de­light­ful smi­ley front- of- house- man­age­ment, it re­mains as suc­cess­ful and as busy as ever.

So why did my wife and I come away dis­ap­pointed af­ter a din­ner and a re­peat visit there last week?

Find­ing the ex­ten­sive spe­cials, ban­quet, chef’s rec­om­men­da­tion and a la carte menus dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate, I sim­ply asked Su­mana to bring us a se­lec­tion of their most pop­u­lar dishes. Apart from a fairly di­lute and mildly spiced tom yum goong, we ended up with four sim­i­lar- styled, meaty dishes – slow- cooked caramel pork, Thai beef salad, stir- fry lamb cut­let pad cha and beef pad kratiem prik Thai.

While the meats were beau­ti­fully ten­der, the sauces were all dark- flavoured, dull and heavy, with none of the fra­grant jump- out- at- you aro­mas or the fresh, bold flavours and lively spic­ing of Thai food I think most peo­ple have come to ex­pect.

Hop­ing for bet­ter luck with some cur­ries, I re­turned the next day for a take­away gaeng keow wan gai – green chicken curry – and a mus­saman nuer.

Again they were OK but failed to pro­vide any­where near the vi­brant palate ex­cite­ment of the same dishes of­fered else­where. And that, I feel, is where the prob­lem lies – while Vanidol’s has es­sen­tially stood still, the Thai scene in Ho­bart and Ho­bart’s Thai palate have moved on.

There are more choices and much more ex­cit­ing and au­then­tic Thai ex­pe­ri­ences to be had around town. But, while I see it as a prob­lem and won’t be rush­ing back, mid­dleof- the- road Thai is what many peo­ple want – and they’re the ones who will keep Vanidol’s pump­ing well into its third decade.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.