We were meant to be visiting Baotime in Richmond on this day but, this unfortunately didn't work out in quite the way that the girls would have liked.
Jo had spent the day hungrily drooling over Zomato photos of delectable looking Baozi and LiLi hadn't fared much better. In fact, we'd both spent the latter half of our day clinically pulling apart the menu having already made up our minds over what each of us would be eating.
We were that dead set excited.
So please, if you will, imagine the crestfallen faces on these two girls as we made our way towards Baotime's front door, choosing to ignore how dark and vacant it looked behind the windows, not even remotely registering the possibility of closure up until our eyes rested on the 'Closed' door sign.
NOOOOOOOOO. WE WAITED.
It's okay, we know Baotime won't be going anywhere anytime soon.
Earlier that day, JoJo had been told about a Thai place on Bridge road by her other mate, Grumpy Mate Dave, who she works with. He's visited Thailand a few times and is a large fan of the cuisine so one might come to deduce that he probably knows what he's talking about when it comes to this sort of thing. Thus, our back up plan was born and luckily, all we had to do was walk only a few paces down from Baotime to Palm Sugar.
We swung open the door to a small, quaint Asian delight. Greeted with a big, friendly smile, the Thai waiter signalled the trio (Grumpy Mate Rich was with us once again) to sit at any table they wished. Seeing as the restaurant was near to empty, this wouldn't be too hard to do.
An empty restaurant didn't deter from their eagerness to delve into the menu, however. With their stomachs devoid of Bao, Jo and Li made the best out this food affair and, made the best of it, we did.
Upon arrival, we were presented with a mini entree option at $6 per entrée tray which had three servings - perfect! This 100%, definitely meant meant the girls and Grumpy Mate Rich could order more right?
Well, that was the idea - more menu to try.
LiLi's drink of choice in any Asian restaurant is Coconut Juice so no surprises there. JoJo went with the Thai Lemon tea which EVERYONE fell in love with. It was very deceptive as it had a creamy aftertaste but certainly did not appear to have any milk in it. Whaaaaat?
The choices for mains were what you'd expect to find at any Thai eatery, and lucky enough, no one had to rustle each other to have their desired main. We all selected rather varying items from each main section and this is what we ended up with:
- Palm Blossom x3
- Satay Chicken x4
- Roti with Peanut Sauce
- Bai Yok x3
- Goong Hom Pa x3
- Drunken Noodle
- Massaman Curry and Coconut Rice
- Beef Pad Ka Pow
Clockwise, starting from the top: Satay Chicken Skewers, Palm Blossom Dumplings, Bai Yok Dumplings, Goong Hom Pa spring rolls.
The aesthetics of the entrees bowled us all over and we certainly hope you're as impressed as we were!
Bai Yok is an aromatic pendant dumpling filled with chicken and water chestnut, served on a Chinese soup spoon with just a touch of fish sauce to season.
The Palm Blossom is a dumpling containing chicken mince, palm sugar and sweet turnip. The actual dumpling itself contains the essence of butterfly-pea flowers and beetroot.
Why would you want to bite into such delicateness? They were almost too cute to eat, like little flowers and fat little pupae (no, neither of us ever thought we'd describe pupae were cute up until we'd had Bai Yok).
As they were both steamed, it added to the subtle softness of the flavours coming through and we agreed that they weren't like your typical dumplings that are usually drenched in oil. Definitely the highlight of the round.
Can you really go wrong with Chicken Satay Skewers? This was a dish that our mate, Grumpy Rich ordered. When we asked him if it was any good - his reply came in the form of a Neanderthal type "..yeah".
This is why we bring you along, Rich. Your profound statements and appreciation for food is clearly on another level.
Goong Hom Pa is a marinated prawn and minced chicken wrapped up in a spring roll - excellent savoury little treats and the spring roll was satisfyingly crunchy.
The Roti was made fresh in house and was beautifully presented. The only qualms we had about this was that there wasn't nearly enough peanut sauce!
Clockwise, from the left: Beef Pad Ka Pow, Drunken Noodles, Beef Massaman Curry.
What a sight! Our mains came out looking wonderfully homey and familiar.
The Massamans LiLi has had in the past has had a bit of a chilli bite to them. To contrast those experiences, Palm Sugar's take on this popular dish was mild and creamy.
Jo's Beef Pad Ka Pow had a pleasant fragrance and a strong (but not overpowering) basil flavour and all the vegetables were evenly crunchy.
Grumpy Mate Rich's Drunken Noodles packed the typical punch and was heavy on the spices typically found in Thai cuisine. Old Mate Rich who doesn't normally do well with hot dishes, looked as if he were ready to collapse by the time he hungrily wolfed down the contents of his plate.
This is a restaurant that is easily overlooked. Looking from the outside, there’s not much to this place and I think the only traffic coming in, is from word of mouth and reviews. When our original plans fell through, we walked up Bridge Road and settled on Palm Sugar after a manager at work talked it up earlier in the day.
I had low expectations with lack of atmosphere and simple furnishings. The single waiter was attentive and super friendly for the duration of our visit. I thought all I’d get out of this experience was great food quality.
I was actually surprised with the effort put into the presentation. The Palm Blossoms were cute as hell and the other dishes were precise and on point. The Massaman curry was really creamy though was too large a serving for me to complete by myself. If you’re going for the Drunken Noodle, by golly that’s hot! It is definitely not for the light stomached and can easily floor anyone. I only had one bite and felt the kick, so I think I’d be dying by the end of that meal.
If you like a simple low key atmosphere, then this setting is great for you. We did visit on a weekday but I imagine that they get busy on weekends. I think sharing the food allows you to spend less and we didn't end up paying much after splitting the bill.
I think the highlight for me was when JoJo said the rice has a real nice coconut flavour not realising that I actually ordered Coconut Rice :P
I love my Thai food. In fact I have a non PG version of describing the way Thai food makes me feel that I may or may not disclose in person if you were to ask me. That'll keep you guessing.
Anyway, similar to LiLi, I did have low expectations of this little cove as we walked through the front doors but it's often places like this that surprise you and I can tell you right now that I would come back here for the familiar family style flavours and service.
When you come here, for the love of god, grab the Thai Lemon Iced Tea and no, I don't care how sweet it is. It's the flavours that are so incredibly intriguing. The tea used tastes like a cross between Ceylon and Assam which hits you when you first sip the drink through your straw, but then it magically converts to this creamy, subtle lemony finish and to this day I have no idea how that is achieved without milk. To this day, I am still craving it.
Our waiter laid down warmed plates for the food which was a very thoughtful touch and something you tend to not think about when you are dining out.
Loved the Bai Yok - that simple capsicum slice and the subtle dressing of fish sauce added another dimenson to this petite dish. The Blossom Dumplings had a beautiful sweet, garlic filling and I wished I had ordered more. Recommend that you take advantage of the cheaper mini entrée menu and grab as many as you can so that you can enjoy the complete range of their offerings.
Mains are pretty standard but satisfying.
Food and Drink: 4.0
Customer Service: 4.0
General Atmosphere: 2.0
Value for Money: 4.0
Food and Drink: 3.5
Customer Service: 4.0
General Atmosphere: 3.0
Value for Money: 4.0