460 Church Street
Richmond, VIC 3121
Ever since coming back from my trip to Korea and Hong Kong, I have been revelling in the slight drunkenness that comes from the joy of having such a huge variety of food at my fingertips. As great as food in both countries were, it is both amazing and liberating to be able to change my mind half a dozen times throughout the day about what cuisine I want for dinner, and not ruin any plans in the process.
I spent my day oscillating between wanting Middle Eastern and Thai food, but the fact that the Lebanese restaurant I’d been eyeing up didn’t take card made up my mind for me – Sabai it was!
Good Food wrote a neat little article about Sabai when it first opened, approximate October of last year, waxing lyrical about the traditional Thai dishes with a modern kick. Since then it’s gained a loyal local following, with just as many people popping through for take-away as sitting down for a plate of pad thai.
One dish that receives continuous accolade is the Lamb Shank Massaman ($21) – an entire hunk of lamb, bone and all, sitting in a pool of golden curry sauce.
Dig through, and you’ll find whole quills of cinnamon and buds of cloves, their aroma seeping into the waxy chunks of potato and slow-cooked lamb that falls off the bone. Order some Jasmine Rice ($3ea) for the sauce; you may not need it, but you’ll definitely want it.
The curry came with a side of roti – the most fantastic roti I’ve ever had. Crispy, flaky, and stretching out into buttery layers, it took a whole lot of willpower not to order another serve or three.
To counter the richness of the curry was the colourful Duck Salad ($16), which was good enough to be a main by itself. The crisp veggies were laden with herbs and a spicy, tangy dressing of lime and fish sauce. The veggies were crowned with generous chunks of succulent duck, and a handful of golden caramel popcorn to counter the chilli.
With a classic menu that incorporates a few twists, Sabai has managed the feat of feeling both traditional and fresh in one fell swoop. I was too full of massaman for dessert, which totally bummed me out, especially with something as fabulous as Thai Tea Pannacotta on offer. But like I always say, it never hurts to have a reason to return.
Rating: 13.5/20 – rockin’ roti.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.