Name: Three Mothers Thai
Address: Garema Place, Canberra City
Ph: 02 6249 8900
Hours: Lunch, Monday to Friday: 12pm – 2.30pm; Dinner, Monday to Saturday: 5pm – 10pm
Thai food, it seems, is so hot right now. And salty. And sweet, and sour.
Bad puns aside, at the moment there are a lot of exciting Thai restaurants around the country and around world. In Melbourne the modern Thai of Chin Chin is causing waves, and across in the US a tour of Thailand is the new rotation at Grant Achatz’s Next.
Images of both of these menus are popping up on Twitter daily, making those of us not able to get to those cities extremely jealous. I’m sure I’m not the only one to seek out local options.
Located on Garema Place and always looking stylish and busy, Three Mothers Thai looked like a reasonable option.
Sadly, it seems that the attractiveness of clean, solid primary colours on the walls don’t translate into good food, with every dish being a distinct disappointment. The menu was long and looks appealing, with the expected dishes and some less known ones.
An entrée called Toong Tong sounded particularly interesting, with deep-fried pastry parcels filled with chicken, water chestnut, sweet corn, coconut and peanuts. The flavours were less interesting than the description. Where Thai food is meant to balance those four key tastes of heat, sweet, salt and sour, this was limited to two: sweet and burnt. The pastry was significantly overcooked, with the filling seeming to be only be pieces of corn packed into bland coconut.
Also on the plate was a small dish of a sauce that reminded me of old-school fluorescent sweet’n’sour sauce from the cheap local Chinese restaurant, and a very tired and dry salad of shredded cabbage.
Splurging a little on the main course and ordering the whole deep fried fish with special sauce, ginger and onion, I was hoping for something pretty exciting. My mind was picturing a crisp skin on sweet, white flesh, with a good hit of ginger in the sauce. And it almost made it.
Hidden under an enormous mound of barely cooked celery, onion, spring onion, and ginger, the fish’s skin was mostly soggy, and much of the meat a little thin. There were elements that worked quite well, such as the sweetness of the flash next to the spine, but it was ruined by the that vegetable pile, complete with a smack of bitterness from some of the pieces of spring onion. The sauce was actually quite decent, a fact discovered at the end of the meal when I poured it over the actually excellent coconut rice.
Anyone who has eaten at Asian restaurants knows that you have to be wary when it comes to dessert, as more often then not they are less than impressive. Even still, I was unprepared for the abominable creation that was the “Iced Shape”.
Imagine a snow cone, covered in red syrup, on top of pieces of black jelly, tinned pineapple chunks, and for some strange reason water chestnuts. It was so sweet as to be unpleasant, with the main flavour being that of undiluted red cordial. If I have had a worse dessert, I have repressed it very deep.
It is difficult to judge a restaurant on so few dishes, and at Thai restaurants with so many options this can be even harder. Yet after these three, there was nothing that would make me want to try any more. This is not the Thai that is exciting the rest of the world.
Maybe they needed a fourth mother.