Situated along the Hoddle Road-side of Victoria Street is a burgeoning Thai restaurant that caught my attention last week due to tweets and Instagram food porn from Liz (Oishinbo), Daisy (Never Too Sweet) and Catherine (Petit Miamx). Like a moth drawn to a flame, I had to go.
Liz and hubby (let’s call him Hart) and The Angmoh and I arranged for a double date. Melbourne was acting like a mistress scorned with her weather tantrums. She was despairingly gloomy and decided to piss down on those around her just after having a lovely affair with the sun the very day before. It was cold and wet, perfect for a night of spicy comforting food.
The restaurant is located amongst run-down dilapidated buildings and conveniently next to a Thai supermarket. An opium table beckons in the waiting room while tall glass windows run down one side of the wall, allowing for natural light to slick in. The latter reminded me of Chin Chin. I was charmed at our “sewing machine” table, although The Angmoh didn’t appreciate the cute antiquity. His long legs kept getting in the way and he had to sit at an awkward angle throughout the meal.
Liz and Hart had visited just several days earlier on and recommended having the Jinda specialty noodles. There are a selection of 5 different soup bases, to which you choose your preferred noodle type and size of the bowl. This resulted with us having a bowl of noodles each, a rice dish, 2 mains to share and drinks around. The house-made iced milk teas and coffees were milky and heavy with sugar. Liz’s boat noodles had a complex broth. The individual flavours were elusive to the palate but complemented nicely. The Angmoh and Hart ordered the dry spicy noodles. Hart really liked the noodles while the Angmoh found it too sweet. I had pork soup noodles with chilli vinegar. It reminded me of an acerbic soupy version of bak chor mee (pork mince noodles). The vinegar, I suspect, sits at the very bottom of the bowl and a good mix was needed to bring it out. A condiment basket accompanies the noodle dishes: there’s green chilli, sugar, chilli flakes and an unknown mixture of what I think to be garlic, shallots, chilli and fish sauce.
The crispy pork belly was moreish, tasty with pork fat and crackling skin. The green curry contained the appropriate ingredients of Thai eggplant and bamboo shoots (no rubbish broccoli or whatnot). It was rich with coconut milk and leaned towards the sweet side, with just a mild hint of lurking heat. The som tum with soft-shell crab was enjoyable. The elements of sweet, sour and salty were balanced with a good boost of chilli. And deep-fried soft shell crab, you are always delicious.
The boys were still hungry and we placed another order of dishes to share. The pad thai was just a touch wet and could do with more wok hei. The crispy Larb chicken was a winner. The chicken was juicy and covered in a crumb of broken rice and spices. The salad was fresh with lovely harmonized flavours of lemongrass, mint, coriander, fish sauce and lemon juice.
Larb crispy chicken on rice – spicy dry chilli and roasted grounded rice in herb salad dressing on crispy chicken $12.90
There is no official documented dessert menu but no meal is complete without something sweet. Our waitress rattled off a long list of dessert, mostly a permutation of ice creams, cakes and sticky rice. Hart really likes the coconut ice cream and decided to have it again. It was creamy and full of tropical flavour.
Dishes at Jinda Thai are moderately portioned out and while the food is tasty, it unfortunately sways towards the sweet side. I recommend ordering from the specialty noodles menu as they reminded me of a meal I had in Bangkok. It took place in an alleyway, off the main road where a small number of hawkers had gathered to prepare dinner. Locals had flocked and a small crowd was gathering. There was lack of communication between my friends and I and the hawkers, with us not speaking Thai and them not understanding English. We pointed, they nodded and we had one of our tastiest noodle dishes for just AUD $1.
On a side note, Liz gifted us with a homemade goodie bag of kimchi, pretzels, matcha short bread and pandan chiffon cake. I had declined dessert at Jinda to save tummy space for the pandan cake and I’m glad I did. It was amazingly delicious! Thanks Liz for your generosity!