Level 3/270 Lonsdale St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
As much as I’m a Melbournian through and through, the excellence of Sydney’s Thai food scene can’t be denied. So it’s something when I went to BKK and completely forgot that I was no longer eating Thai food in Sydney. But it gets better than that; though dubbed somewhat ostentatiously as a ‘vertical laneway’, the recently bedazzled Pacific House is undeniably awesome. If modern riffs on traditional Thai flavours in a slick and energetic package doesn’t scratch your itch, there’s also the choice between a moody French bistro, a music room, and possibly the most beautiful rooftop bar in the entire city. Or y’know, meander your way upwards through each floor and make a big night of it.
Rating: 14/20 – almost as good as a trip overseas. almost.
Must-order: chargrilled veggies, funnily enough.
With a heavily charcoal-driven kitchen, grilled meats are a must. Start light with the Barbecue Pork Jowl Laab ($17), where the smoky, fatty pieces of meat are given verve and vivacity by a generous handful of chilli and herbs, plus a hearty splash of lime and fish sauce. And though it may seem superfluous, the khao khua – toasted rice powder – lends an earthy robustness to each bite that keep all the exuberant flavours grounded.
Other goodies off the grill include the Barbecue Pork Skewer ($9ea), which was tasty if a little less smoky than I would like, and the Chicken Heart Skewer ($8ea) that is much more interesting with its dash of cumin running through the firm protein.
The Green Curry, Barbecue Chicken ($24) goes a little more off-script here, with a thick gravy rather than the traditional fiery broth. But the flavours are nonetheless true, and the chicken definitely benefits from a lick of flame. My favourite part however would be the jackfruit, which soaks up all the flavours of the curry without the same stodginess you get with taters.
Unexpectedly, the Grilled Seasonal Vegetables & Nam Prik Kha ($15) is where the charcoal grill does its best work. There’s none of that ‘bit of smoke here’; the vegetables are charred to the point of blackness, and the heat alchemises the sweetness of the vegetables into something truly remarkable and delicious. Swipe it through the pungent nam prik kha, and wait for your tastebuds to thank you.
Ok so the Crab Fried Rice ($19) is basic, but it is delicious smoky, goes well with curry, and is way more interesting than steamed rice.
The Lime Sorbet, Cheesecake Cream, Strawberry and Condensed Milk Bingsu ($16) is a lesson in ‘just because you shouldn’t do it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it’, if you catch my drift. The name of the dish is already a mouthful (metaphorically and literally), but then they go and add ice cream, biscuits, and two entire slices of cheesecake under the tower of shaved ice. It is unholy and unnecessary and I am borking here for it.
This is one of my favourite parts of BKK: their cocktail menu comes with a default alcoholic vs. non-alcoholic option – finally we have equality! The Lychee Spritz ($15, non-alcoholic) was delicately floral, with a refreshing edge from the citrusy bubbles.