67 Village Street
Docklands, VIC 3008
According to Zomato, Nine Elephants is the best restaurant in Docklands. And because you can only go so wrong with Thai food in Melbourne these days, I finally went and checked it out one day after work.
Nine Elephants is a little bit off the glittery, bar-studded main strip of Docklands, and there’s no sign either, so it’s a little hard to find. But here’s the trick: look for the pretty spherical lights that dangle from the high ceiling, visible through the glass front of the restaurant. But despite the stately ceilings, the restaurant is surprisingly cosy, and it hits that nice higher-end East-Asian restaurant feel without feeling like it’s pandering to the exotic.
I’ll admit it: I don’t get pad thai. But everyone seems to kick up such a fuss about the rendition here that I had no choice but to try the Chicken Pad Thai ($13). Anyway, I totally get it now. A hefty serve of rice noodles were tossed in a hot, smoky wok, along with the elusive golden ratio of palm sugar, tamarind, and fish sauce to produce that addictive combination of sweet, tangy, and umami. The noodles themselves were also fantastic; chewy and elastic, contrasting cleanly with the crisp sprouts and tender chicken. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over the top, and frankly I could eat this day and night.
After reluctantly leaving the boat noodles for another day, we ordered the Beef Pad Ped ($16.5) with a side of Jasmine Rice ($3). Slices of beef were stir-fried with a fresh medley of veggies in the house-made red curry paste, its warm spiciness tempered by the brighter notes of holy basil and green peppercorns.
It’s been a while since I’ve found myself impressed with a Thai restaurant, but Nine Elephants have done it. Admittedly it was mainly the pad thai, but the overall experience was nothing to scoff at either. And considering how close it is to Southern Cross Station, I foresee many a post-work dinner date here coming up.
Rating: 14/20 – paddingthai.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.