Shop 9.6, World Square Shopping Centre
40 Goulburn St
Sydney, NSW 2000
Last week, I finally bit the bullet and dropped a couple weeks’ salary on flights and accommodation for a trip to Thailand at the end of the year. This proved to be an excellent move, as it’s given me something to look forward to and obsess over for the next couple of months, providing a sorely-needed reprieve to the huge amounts of study I’ve been (and will be) doing. And did I mention? The hotel I’ve booked apparently has a blinding breakfast buffet included in the room rate, complete with noodle station, omelettes made to order, dim sims, and freshly-squeezed juice! Just that alone is enough to get me hyped for my trip!
Naturally, I’ve been doing heaps of food-related research in preparation. I’m not usually one for planning out the meals I have on a holiday – I find it just too restrictive, as holidays are usually the only time I’m able to let loose a little and just go with the flow. However I do like to know where to get the good stuff no matter where I am, because let’s be real – going on holiday and eating bad food is a complete waste of a trip. Of course, a side effect of all this research is, as expected, a craving for Thai food. And that’s how I ended up at Abb Air Thai Cuisine 1982.
Despite having never heard of the restaurant before, Abb Air was unexpectedly familiar. As it turns out, I had peeked in briefly two years ago, when I was up in Sydney to interview for med school. It was closed at the time, but I remember being rather impressed with its cosy décor, as well as the extensiveness of the menu. Two years on, nothing much seems to have changed; the atmosphere is still reminiscent of a traditional street-styled eatery, and the menu spans across pretty much every Thai dish that I’ve come across in my research.
All my research for my Thailand trip has had me hankering for a traditional Thai Papaya Salad ($11.9). This was a perfectly good rendition, with a balanced flavour profile that tingled the taste buds with its mixture of sour, sweet, salty, and spicy. The dried shrimp added addictive pops of saltiness, and the roasted peanuts an addictive crunch.
Wanting to order something I normally don’t, I went for the Tom Yum Koong ($21.9). Served piping-hot over a tiny brazier, this was chock-full of galangal, kaffir lime, and lemongrass to produce that distinctly aromatic flavour so characteristic of tom yum soup.
Swimming under the surface were four of the most ginormous prawns I have ever seen. They were cooked to pearly, tender perfection, and was great with a serve of Jasmine Rice ($3.5). The only downside to this dish is that aside from the prawns and some mushrooms floating about, there wasn’t much else in the soup. This was a real shame, as the soup was so fragrant it seemed like a waste to leave so much of it unused.
Abb Air isn’t anything extraordinary, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in a city where Thai food is so reliably good. It’s no more, and no less than straight-up Thai food done well. The portions are a bit on the smaller side, but given the prices and the location, it’s not unreasonable. From my visit, there’s nothing here that would prompt me to recommend it over any other Thai restaurant (though maybe the large menu is a point in its favour), but once again, that’s not a criticism – it’s a perfectly good place to get your Thai fix, especially if you’re feeling like a bit more choice.
Rating: 12.5/20 – standard thai.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.