Penn Thai, 208 Somerville Rd, Kingsville. Phone: 9314 5556
Penn Thai occupies the same space formerly occupied by She’s Thai.
The new management has spruced the place up a bit, we find the service and welcome a real positive and, judging by the number of takeaway orders going out the door, they’ve already won many friends.
For my part, expectations are modest – along the lines of a good feed of wholesome, tasty suburban-style Thai food without the edginess or adventure that some of our more funky Thai-loving buddies habitually pursue.
But there’s a wrinkle here – one that shows the food doesn’t have to be explosively great for it to be part of a most excellent eating out experience.
You see, Bennie has mentioned his ever growing interest in Thai food several times in the past few weeks – so I am only to happy to encourage him.
And he really, really loves our mid-week dinner.
In our attempts to have a broadly based meal, we do something that would no doubt make true Thai food cultists grimace – we order soup with tofu.
But our tom kha ($6.90) is fine, if a little on the mild side. Bennie loves the tangy broth, the chewy tofu actually adds a certain meatiness to proceedings and there’s stacks of other lovely vegetables.
Satay chicken skewers ($5.90) are ordered solely with Bennie in mind.
Perhaps the glee with which he greets the rest of our meal indicates it’s time to start giving these a miss on future outings.
They’re OK, but I find them a little dry and tasteless.
But then, I always do.
Massaman beef curry ($14.90) is the big hit of the night.
It’s runny, sweet and delicious.
The meat is superbly, fall-apart tender and minus fat or gristle. The spuds are equally good, while the peanuts and a few strands of carrot and red capsicum add texture.
“This is fantastic,” Bennie mumbles around serial spoonfuls.
“Steam mix greens with oyster and sesame sauce” ($4.90) are good but as plain as can be. Lacking personality of their own, they quickly become just another element of the curry.
Penn Thai is open seven days a week and does home delivery.
I agree we don’t often associate tofu with Thai food. However, leafing through David Thompson’s amazing book Thai Street food, I found a recipe for “bean curd, seaweed and pork dumpling soup”. It looks delicious, so I might have to try it now.