Friday, April 15, 2011

Ghin Khao

We want to go on a road trip, but where to go?  For someone who really just wants to go on holiday to eat, touring Cunnamulla or Humpty Doo for the best plastic cheese sandwich is really not my idea of fun.  Maybe we will go to Cabramatta and do a pilgrimage through all the favourite haunts of Thang Ngo of Noodlies, gentle soul and a-phở-ciado extraordinaire.  I am so envious of Sydney's vibrant Thai food scene in particular - we really have nothing like it in Melbourne.

April 2011 103

Ghin Khao came highly recommended for authentic Thai food.  It's in the Swanston Street strip jammed with cheap, student-y and somewhat tasty food joints.  I have had more noodle soups at Yoyogi and Gigi over the years than I care to remember.  Does that older guy with the shock of fluoro orange hair still work at Yoyogi?

April 2011 104

Now, we had gone from being unable to get a booking at Hu Tong to Ghin Khao so it was already on the back foot.  For some reason I pictured a very different place than this quick snacky student bar.  No music was a bit of a downer.  It definitely has a real Thai presence though, from the handwritten note in Thai in the window to the gorgeous automatic prayer-like gesture of thanks the waitress did when she took our beer order.  There's a room upstairs but it's a bit lacking in ambiance.

April 2011 107
Vegetarian curry puff (kari puff pak), $6.50

These were good - very soft, delicate pastry but still with good crispy bite filled with a sweet vegetable filling.  Swiped through creamy peanut sauce and gobbled up with a swig of Chang's beer - yum.

April 2011 110
Chicken with fresh basil and chilli (gai phad bai kaprow), $10.90

I love Thai basil and chilli dishes - like the Vietnamese use of turmeric and dill, I found this at first such an odd combination for an Asian dish.  It is fantastic, though.  This was nice with very tender chicken but nothing on, say, Thaila Thai's.

April 2011 109
Soft shell crab & spicy green papaya salad (pu nhim som tum), $15.90

Soft shell crab is a crab that has recently shed its harder exoskeleton and only has a very thin skin that is edible.  Now that I have totally turned you off your breakfast, trust me, I am an offal wuss and I looove these.  This was good but the batter was quite heavy.  I much prefer the very light, salt & pepper-style batter in Vietnamese restaurants, maybe so I can kid myself I'm not eating something deep-fried.  The green papaya had been prepared ahead, shredded and soaked for a while in a sweet, vinegary, hot chilli dressing.  The other component of the salad was undressed standard baby lettuce mix.  It was good but not great.

It may be Thai but Ghin Khao just reminds me of the other student joints along this strip - perfectly serviceable in terms of food but not a special destination or worth seeking out unless you were in the area.  That trip up the Hume is looking more and more enticing...

Ghin Khao
242 Swanston St, Melbourne (map)
Phone:  9663 3345
Hours:  Mon-Thu 11.30am-9.45pm, Fri-Sun 11.30am-10pm

Wheelchair Access
Very long, skinny and cramped


  1. Yeah, there are definitely better Thai joints around - try a trip to Carnegie for Siam 1 or East Malvern (?) for Little Princess, but I agree. Ghin Khao is perfectly fine for dinner, it's just not a destination.

    I remember my ex complaining that there was an Anglo chef at Ghin Khao. I'm not sure if he's still there - I think there may have been some changing of hands - but I think the story was he'd trained in Thailand anyway, so I don't think that was really an issue.

  2. Lots of interesting places for a few blocks in all directions around here. Just not a lot of "destinations", as Billy sez. Our fave is Go-Go Sushi. Not because it's so great, but because we love watching all that food go round and round.

  3. I have a strange dislike to these restaurants on Swanston St, i ate in a few of them and all of them reminded me of Asian food made to fit Western palettes. I was sadly dissapointed :(

    Have you been to Malaymas on St George's Rd?
    Not Thai but i enjoyed the Malaysian food there :)

  4. Yet to find a decent Thai in Melbourne.

  5. I head to Ghin Khao if I just want some kind of Thai food in the city. It is really affordable and nice flavours.

  6. Love this blog! I'm such a big fan of food in Footscray but there isn't any good Thai yet. I get my Thai fix from Siam Orchid in Williamstown. I love the sizzling beef stif fry and the yummy curries! It's not in Footscray but at least it's still on the Westside!

  7. James In FootscrayJune 16, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    What do people think of Thai on Charles (Charles St Seddon)? And any reports about the Thai place in Newport? It seems to get good reviews ...

  8. Hi James, have a look on Deb's ( and Kenny's ( - they have reviewed a few local Thai places from memory. I have neglected Thai, probably because in Melbourne it's not a standout cuisine. Brand new Chin Chin in town is mainly Thai though and is out of control good! Though not expensive for what it is, it's not cheap though.

  9. James In FootscrayJune 16, 2011 at 9:52 PM

    Oh thanks a lot, will check them out!


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