Issan Thai Street Food, 10 Droop Street, Footscray. Phone: 9689 9404
Footscray central – ahhh, so much wonderful food, so many lovely people.
Apart from the central themes of Vietnamese and Ethiopian tucker, I can think of at least half a dozen other food varieties without even trying.
Never has been hereabouts – or not in my 15-year memory of western living.
The nearest Thai restaurants have been in West Footscray, Seddon and Kensington.
With the arrival of Issan Thai Street Food, that is no longer the case.
And by adding another strand of diversity to inner Footscray, I think Noi and her hubby Vince are being very smart indeed.
As well, they’re adding some welcome life to the mostly moribund-over-the-years Westville Central building.
I know that in the wake of the Little Saigon fire, there were suggestions that Westville Central could – even if only temporarily – play a similar role.
I am not party to the commercial or real estate dynamics involved, but it is good to see some life around the place.
After a solo visit by myself for reconnaissance purposes, a happy group of seven CTS pals hit Issan and have a swell time.
We find the service fine and the wait times appropriate for the food we ordered.
The sharing platter som tum tard (top photo $18.90) is a doozy – a big mound of excellent spicy green papaya salad is surrounded by pork crackling, chicken wings, wet-smooth noodles, bean sprouts and chargrilled diced beef.
Even the hardboiled egg halves are superbly done, with the yolks gooey, not runny.
Our order of satay tofu ($6.90), fuelled by the intense curiosity of three members of our group, doesn’t impress greatly – I think we have been expecting tofu a little more crusty and crunchy. This is OK and the peanutty sauce is good.
The pork skewers of moo ping ($10.90) are outstanding.
The meat is perfectly cooked, packed with chargrill flavour and served with a zingy tamarind-based sauce.
Our serve of Penang curry with beef ($15.90) is of modest proportions but all good.
Here, it’s the deeply, richly flavoursome sauce/gravy that is the hit, with some of us continuing to mop it up with rice long after the curry’s main protagonists have gone and other dishes have arrived at our table.
Pad thai with chicken ($13.90) is a fine version of this popular dish.
The chicken salad of larb gai ($13.90) really impresses with its freshness and tang.
Likewise with the equally sexy moo narm tok ($13.90) – sliced grilled pork with lemon juice, herbs, chilli and toasted ground rice.
My photo here doesn’t adequately convey the fatty, chargrilled gloriousness of the dish!
At Issan, you’ll find not much by the way exotica, offal or regional specialties.
But our general consensus is that the Issan fare is a considerable cut above what is generally found in your typical suburban Thai restaurants.
We double ordered several dishes – the moo ping, the larb gai and the moo narm tok – and ate substantially and satisfyingly well.
Yet the bill for seven of us comes to a few cents under $20 each.