Ponsonby welcomed another Asian eatery in August, and it's already wowing foodies with the taste of Thailand, alongside other flavours of Southeast Asia. In the former home of fine dining Japanese restaurant, Namo, Chu Thai is an elegant establishment situated next to Italian restaurants Prego and Farina.
The restaurant has a spacious interior that is decorated with simple but sophisticated ornaments and design. The staff here are extremely courteous. What you can expect is not just a warm welcome when you step into the door, but you'll also enjoy amazing service throughout the entire dining experience. Chu Thai showcases a huge, mouthwatering menu that has almost every kind of meat and seafood, as well as tantalising options for the non-meat lovers such as karaage tofu ($22) and tom yum ramen noodle soup ($16-20).
Instead of going for classic dishes like pad thai and green curry ($18-22), we opted for Chu Thai's creations in an attempt to challenge the palate with bold flavour combinations and interesting ingredients. To start, we ordered the Bang Bang cauliflower ($9) and grilled chicken satay skewers ($12.50 for four).
The cauliflower was made tempura style. The deep-fried little morsels were crispy but lacked a little flavour (inherent to the vegetable) but the spicy mayonnaise sauce made up for it. On the other hand, the chicken was smothered in a creamy and sweet peanut sauce, with chewy peanut granular textures. The meat was tender and juicy and really worked up the appetite.
After enquiring about the signature dishes, we set on a delicious spread consisting of the seafood hot pot ($28), Cha Cha spiced market fish ($28), baked prawns with pork belly ($24) and aromatic roast duck ($26). The fish was a crowd favourite; big chunks of spicy tarakihi were tossed with assorted beans, carrots and onions. I couldn't help but grab another spoonful before the dish was demolished.
There's a reason that the seafood hot pot is one of the most expensive menu items. It is the perfect marriage of hot and slightly sour tom yum soup and Chinese-style hotpot, bubbling hot with delicious goodies including salmon, fish, prawns and button mushrooms. The flavours were bang on, and everything tasted fresh and delicious, greatly appreciated given that they have a large seafood selection. I also loved the combination of prawn and pork belly as the prawn gives a hint of sweetness to the savoury pork belly and the vermicelli just gave another texture to the dish.
I'm hoping to see more creations from Chu Thai upon my return next time as the eatery has the potential to offer a sensational experience to those looking for some pleasant surprises and not satisfied with just any other spot-on Thai eatery.