1/425 Pitt St
Haymarket, NSW 2000
I still can’t quite believe this but, I’m halfway through my second year of my medical degree! After a gruelling 3-hour exam that covered everything they’ve crammed into our heads over the last 6 months, I was ready to be reconstituted back into some semblance of a well-adjusted human, hopefully in time for my next 6-month chunk of study.
My exam wrapped up around noon on a Saturday (a SATURDAY!!), and I saw a golden opportunity to check out Boon Café, which I’d wanted to try for the best part of a year. Run by the people behind the Thai food powerhouse, Chat Thai, Boon café is more or less your typical Thai restaurant after dark, but during daylight hours it’s something rather different, and definitely unique. The breakfast menu consists of a mix of traditional Thai items and café staples, whilst the lunch menu boasts a fascinating range of fusion dishes, as well as a dedicated sandwich menu. But these aren’t your everyday sandwiches; instead of ham and cheese, you’ll find the likes of spicy pork sausage, green chilli relish, and a soft-boiled egg between two pieces of sourdough, or maybe fried prawn and crab cakes with a pickled cabbage salad. As a sandwich lover, I was enamoured.
But the eccentricities don’t stop there. Not only does Boon Café have a rather unusual menu, it’s also part-Thai grocer. Although I didn’t get a chance to give the stocked items a proper look, I did spot boxes of delicious-looking handmade sweets and cakes, as well as a range of groceries that I’ve never seen before.
Did I mention that I sat my exam at 9am, in a 150-year-old hall at Sydney Uni with vaulted ceilings and rattling stained-glass windows that made the space even colder than it was outside? Given the above misfortune, the Cha Nohm ($6) was exactly what I needed to start defrosting and recovering. The hot, strong tea, spiked with a hefty dose of condensed milk, was exactly what I needed to bring some feeling back into my fingers and toes.
Funnily enough, after all that time hankering after the sandwiches at Boon Café, I found myself in need of something warmer and more comforting. Although I was initially disappointed with not getting to try sandwiches, the Khao Dtom Sen ($14) turned out to be so good that I was almost glad to have missed out.
This may seem like your run-of-the-mill bowl of rice noodles in soup, but the amount of umami packed into the clear pork broth was unbelievable. It reminded me distinctly of the amazing rice and soup dish I had at Dodee Paidang, except instead of rice, this soup was filled with a tangle of satisfyingly chewy and gelatinous rice noodles. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll also find chunks of pork mince, slow-cooked short ribs, and my favourite of all, slivers of pork loaf.
Keen not to entirely miss out on the interesting fusion dishes, I also ordered the Padt Cha Bacon Pasta ($16), a spaghetti dish with bacon and cherry tomatoes, but also green peppercorns and kaffir lime. Despite being distinctly odd-sounding, this was a decidedly successful venture. The smokiness of the bacon combined wonderfully with the sharp fragrance of the peppercorns and kaffir lime, and the tomatoes added a fresh, soothing sweetness. If I had any criticism, it would be that the dish was quite oily, though to be honest, it’s not that much worse than most fried noodle out there.
I was very glad to find out that Boon Café lived up to my hopes. Not only were the fusion dishes (well, the one I had anyway) a success, there was also a wide variety of traditional Thai dishes I’ve never come across before. Now all that’s left is this dilemma: should I come back at lunch to try out the sandwiches, or at breakfast to feast on the more traditional items?
Rating: 14/20 – boon of a breakfast.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.