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Thai Orchid

September 29, 2012

255 Esplanade
Henley Beach SA 5022
(08)8353 4686
Open everyday for Dinner

Our first Thai review down by the seaside shanty known as Henley Beach! There are quite a few Thai restaurants dotted around here, most of the small takeaway joint … really reminds me of a replica of Glenelg minus the major shopping strip. This place is tricky to find as we experienced … it’s beneath (or a part of, we haven’t figured it out yet) the Henley Sandbar (local pub) and is not visible from off the main street. Unless you know it’s here, I don’t think you’d ever notice this place! Anyways, additional time spent wandering meant we were hungry … time to eat some (hopefully) Thai-riffic tastiness!

Final Score: 5.375/10

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Pla Lard Prik (Chilli Fish)

For those (like me) who are trying to get into some more running coming into great weather, the trip across the sand from Glenelg to Henley Beach is a great scenic run and a great little testing ground for people getting out of beginner-mode as it’s only 7km each way. Start at Glenelg, run to Henley, grab some Thai, run back (… maybe eat some Copenhagen icecream) … perfect! Well, perfect if you can find the place and if you like running in the evening as this place is not open for lunch!

Once inside, you’ll notice this place opens right up like a giant cave … almost as if you were under another building … oh wait, that’s cos you are! Nonetheless, decor in here is well thought-out with massive pieces of artwork crowning the towering walls as well as a bunch of nice Thai statues which definitely let you know you’re dining Thai. Not very modern but still homely would be the best way to describe this place, and there was plenty of room… just image the restaurant area of an old pub, then add a dash of Thai and minus the sweaty bearded truckies showing you how to drink 9 beers at a time. Heaps of group bookings were on tonight and there was plenty of hustle and bustle with waitressing … oh, important to note that this place is run by real Thai people and the waitresses dressed in unique Thai uniforms, a nice touch! Despite the army of hungry Friday night feeders the service here was great. Quick, no frills order-taking, not to mention offering to refill our table water throughout the night was duly noted. Food came out in a flash as well … we’ve waited much longer in restaurants catering for just a fraction of the patronage, a well oiled machine in action!

Happily, it’s another week of hassle free ordering as the waitress knew exactly what was on the menu and quickly directed my attention to the Chilli Fish. I asked her whether it was a whole fish and she cheerfully confirmed (and upon inspection of the menu, indeed it was to be a whole Barra all to myself!). Well, keen readers who are on the ball today might have just heard a “click” in your mind as you read that last sentence … you’d be thinking, hang on, that photo of the Chilli Fish doesn’t look much like a whole entire fish?! And you’d be exactly right. It was just a fillet of fish, not a whole one … and people who know me could guess how sad my stomach was when it came out. But in true fighting spirit, the show must go on! Maybe this is some special flavour bomb of a dish that will blow me (and my fish) out of the water! Well, the flavour was definitely present … no let-downs with plenty of traditional red curry flavour showcasing a creamy chilli, lemongrass and basil tang. However I was left very deflated by the actual fish, as it was one of the toughest and driest I’ve ever eaten. I snack on cans of tuna almost everyday and I know what dry, meaty, very well-cooked fish is like, so it was a very big surprise to start digging into this dish. The deep-fried edges of the fish (see photo, right end of fish) were practically inedible as they were so tough I actually thought it was bone. Interesting to also note our friends who dined with us had very oily stir-fries & noodles too …

I see that plenty of people have said good things about Thai Orchid on Urbanspoon and it has a pretty good overall rating. Unfortunately it seems I have been the unlucky one tonight, getting recommended a dish that was good on paper but poor in practice. The prices here truly reflect the wealth of this area’s demographic too, so I daresay perhaps you’d be a fish out of water if you’re looking for a reasonably priced meal. At our last review at the Rose Garden I indulged in a unique Thai seafood parcel at a price 30% lower than tonight’s meal with a serving size 100% larger. I’m sure there are plenty of great dishes to deserve such an applause from the online community and I do commend their textbook speedy & friendly authentic Thai service, but in terms of tonight’s experience (which is all I can judge upon) this offering has left me and my wallet rather wilted.

  • Service [9.1/10] : Again, like last week, super friendly and speedy!
  • Quality [2.5/10] : Points for the sauce, but that’s about it.
  • Venue [7.9/10] : Good decor, eye-catching artwork to enjoy.
  • Value [2.0/10] : What happened to my whole Barra?! … we’ve had much better food & value on our tour.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 4, 2012 1:25 pm

    I’m sad that your stomach was sad.

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