You would think after several trips to Thailand in a relatively short space of time we would be sick of Thai cuisine. That has definitely not been the case in fact it has done the complete opposite. Thai food has become our go-to comfort food, the meal we crave after a bad day at work or when we are feeling run down. There are a number of Thai restaurants in the Vic Park area; Little Ying Thai is one of our favourites and they know us on a first name basis. I’m the “no wheat, no onion, no soy sauce, no gluten” customer that many restaurant owners would prefer to run a mile from yet Little Ying always embraces my allergy request with smiles. So when a fancy looking Thai restaurant named Pinto Thai Restaurant opened up just a short walk from our house I was left feeling torn between my curiosity to try their food and my guilt for betraying Little Ying.
The interior of Pinto Thai is unlike most of the more casual Vic Park Asian restaurants. It is stylish, modern and they even had some jazz playing in the background. We arrived hot and thirsty from our thirty minute stroll paired with healthy appetites. After enquiring about which dishes were gluten free, I was advised that a lot of their dishes were prepared using their own homemade oyster sauce which wasn’t gluten free. This unfortunately left me a little limited with my choices.
We started off with a serve of Thai fish cakes made from snapper with chilli and herbs. This was a bit of a gamble as I have found over here in Perth many Thai restaurants serve rubbery and flavourless fish cakes. The memories of eating them fresh at the Phuket Night markets were still fresh in my mind and I optimistically hoped for good things from Pinto. To my total satisfaction I was rewarded with them having both perfect texture and flavour. Lucky our serving had an even number of fish cakes otherwise there may have been a fight for the last one.
After the wow factor of the fish cakes the duck spring rolls seems comparatively flavourless and needed much dunking in the chilli and lime sauce for added oomph.
During our stay at Andara Resort for our wedding in Phuket we had our own private chef named Su and she is quite possibly one of the best Thai chefs I have ever dined with. Her duck curry was a particular favourite of mine and over our eight days at luxurious Andara we asked her to make it for us on multiple occasions. She is a beautiful person and made our stay even more incredible, both my Dad and I wanted to bring her home with us! To our surprise and extreme happiness, Pinto’s red duck curry actually came pretty close to Su’s wonder-duck curry in deliciousness and is certainly the best red duck curry I’ve had in Perth. It had all the elements of proper Thai food: sweet, spicy, sour and salty.
Unfortunately the papaya salad didn’t met Su’s standard like the duck did. I have to presume this is in part because those tropical fruits just don’t taste the same here as they do in Asian countries. I had just enough room for some dessert and started dreaming of coconut rice until our waitress came over. To my disappointment she informed me they do not do desserts! In all honesty if I waited another five minutes I would have realised that in fact I was too full anyway so perhaps this was a blessing in disguise. I asked the owner if it would be ok if I brought my own gluten free oyster sauce for our next visit so I could try more items on their menu. She was absolutely fine with this and on the walk home I started planning our next visit.
A few weeks later we returned to Pinto Thai with dreams of more roast duck swooning around in our heads. I came along super prepared with my gluten free oyster sauce in hand only to be told they now have their own gluten free sauces to use in the kitchen! Talk about listening to the customer’s needs! In addition to another serve of fish cakes which were just as amazing as the first time, we ordered some Tom Yum soup. This sweet and sour Thai soup is the perfect way to start a meal and it is so refreshing and light unlike many heavy Western style soups. It contained a heap of seafood including Green lipped mussels, prawns, scallops, squid and fish. It was a little too spicy for the Boy meaning I found it to be just right.
Despite a very strong yearning for the red duck curry again, I wanted to try a few more of their dishes to see how many “hits” we could get. I chose the vegetarian Panang curry with tofu. Panang curry, or Phanaeng curry as some Thai people call it is a very light and mild curry and I thought this would be a good choice considering the Boy doesn’t handle too much spice. The Panang curry is also much sweeter due to the pumpkin and it lacks the sour taste found in other red curries. Once again we were nearly spotted licking our bowls to get the last millilitres of sauce. How my Mother would cringe!
Although we showed will power of steel not ordering the red duck curry, we still couldn’t have a meal with no duck could we? During the previous meal we were told the Five Spice duck couldn’t be made gluten free however this time round it was no problem! The meat was just as succulent as it was in the curry and sweetened with a thick plum sauce, five spice marinades and some freshly steamed bok choy. A marginally healthier option but scrumptious nevertheless. I am now torn where is my favourite local Thai…Little Ying or Pintos? They even both do home delivery.Pinto Thai Restaurant 2 Moresby Street, Kensington WA 6151 | 0451 209 892 Price: $$ Food: 7/10 (mostly hits with the occasional miss) Service: 4/5 (Thailand isn’t called Land of the Smiles for nothing) Ambience: 3.5/5 (funky decor) Drinks: BYO Total: 14.5/20