It's somewhat true that in Melbourne, the more hidden a bar or restaurant, the better it is. Sometimes I think this is our greatest failing - if you go for a wander about looking for something to eat or drink, you'll most likely end up in a mediocre spot on the main drag because you didn't know all you had to do was lift a manhole and do a secret knock before being admitted to the latest brew bar just beneath your feet. Now Braybrook's getting in on the "secret restaraunt" action with a new Thai place tucked away in the business park behind Central West Plaza.
There was a Nepalese restaurant here for a while, and it's a tough gig - the place is enormous and a bit devoid of atmosphere...
Spicy mince chicken and ground sticky rice, $10.80
...but sparks start flying when the food starts arriving. This chicken larb was awesome! Minced chicken, mixed with a little nutty ground rice, tossed with high notes of spicy red onion and fresh mint while ample chilli provided thumping bass. Wicked.
Soya stir-fried noodle (lunch special), $9.80
Also delicious were these sweet soy rice noodles, curling around some simple cabbage, carrot and tofu and with proper, tantalisingly charred wok hei flavour. Some of the regular menu items seem on the dear side - $16.80 for a pad Thai with chicken, or $20.80 for seafood curry - but maybe the serves are extra large.
Soft shell crab with patty-style fruit salad, $12.80
Yes, I am that predictable. If there is soft shell crab, I must have it. Golden kiwifruit, red grapes and apples were mixed with slivers of red onion and a pungent fish sauce-based dressing. Fresh (albeit small) crab with silky yellow roe worked perfectly with the fresh, crunchy, sweet yet sour salad.
We were cheeky and ordered dessert from the dinner menu, despite it being lunch. Loved this banana rolled in sticky rice, steamed in a banana leaf and served with cool coconut ice cream.
And if it wasn't already too good to be true, a short black was tip top.
No secret knock required. Go go go!
9 Ashley Street, Central Business Park, Braybrook (turn into park and then quickly turn right, before the security gate)
Phone: 9396 1400
Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-2pm; Mon-Sun 5-10pm (kitchen closes half hour before closing time)
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