LOCATED on Scarborough Beach Road in Mount Hawthorn, chefs Taweepong Sangsuriyaporn (Mhee) and Atchararai Prangthong (Jang) have set Galangal Thai Restaurant apart from your usual Thai food experience. Unlike most Thai food you see around Perth – generally a mixture of various styles of provincial Thai dishes that traditionally would not be seen together – their menu is designed to closely resemble what you would find if you went to a classy restaurant in inner city Bangkok. The most obvious differences are the use of high quality ingredients, and the considerable amount of care put into the presentation of each dish.
When we visited, the first thing I noticed was a large painting of a giant golden monkey guarding a building. Jang explained that the monkey is a guardian that protects people so they can rest while they eat. The room is decorated with a mixture of Thai elements, as well as more Western-style ornate decorations and wallpaper that gives an overall welcoming feel to the space. During the day the room is naturally lit, and by night, the warm colours of the dining area provide an intimate ambiance.
The Thai Beef Carpaccio was the next dish to give me a bit of a surprise. The dish was rich, and the chilli gave it a bit of bite, but when paired with the 2014 Schwarz Wine Co Shiraz (Barossa, South Australia), the chilli went up to another level. I really enjoyed it, but I’m a bit of a thrill seeker when it comes to spicy food. I would definitely advise sticking to white wines if you aren’t mad keen on chilli, but if you are, then a red, especially a spicy shiraz, can really complement the fresh chilli on the plate.
By far the most unusual dish we tried, was the Galloping Horses (Mar Hor).
This dish consists of four pieces of pineapple with mouthful size portions of a mixture of cashews, duck, and shrimp, garnished with a coriander leaf and a tiny slice of chilli. The first one I had tasted sweet, salty and spicy and I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. But I was encouraged to have a second and it was number two that really made its mark. The flavours were unlike anything I’ve really experienced, I really enjoyed the second, and the third was even better still. This would be a great dish if you want to try something a bit different, and my advice is to have at least two before casting your judgment on them.The massaman is always a great way to gauge the quality of a Thai restaurant, mainly because it tells you a lot about the quality of the meat they are using. At Galangal they use blade steak, a quality cut that is particularly flavoursome. The dish is also served with a whole cinnamon stick as a garnish, which highlights the uniqueness of the massaman curry as a Persian inspired dish that uses spices that are otherwise rarely seen in Thai cooking.
The two chefs Mhee and Jang have known each other their whole lives. Mhee grew up working in the food markets, and was professionally trained in cooking. His specialty is central style Thai cooking. This can be seen in the dinner menu, which he designed. Jang has worked in kitchens since she was a child, and has also been professionally trained. Her specialty is Northeastern Isan cooking, which can be seen from the lunch menu that she designed. They work alongside the restaurant manager Tanachai Unhanandana, whose family owns the famous Thanying Royal Cuisine restaurant in Bangkok. Mhee and Jang moved to Australia ten years ago because they wanted to learn more about Western cuisine. As many of the herbs and other ingredients used in their dishes can be difficult to find, Jang grows a lot of them herself.
Galangal is definitely suitable for romantic dinners and special occasions, but fair warning, they can seat 100 people at a time, and are often fully booked on weekends, so booking about a week in advance is recommended. Otherwise, mid week it is easier to get a table. The appetisers are priced between $10 and $20, and mains (including stir-fry, rice, and noodle dishes) are all below $30. They also have numerous vegetarian and gluten free options, and while all dishes are generally served medium hot, they can be adjusted to taste on request. If you are looking for a good bottle of wine that will go well with a wide range of dishes on the menu, I recommend the Apostrophe Riesling. I’ve also been told that most of their clientele are regulars, and I can certainly see why. I can see myself becoming a bit of a regular, and who knows, I might see you there.
By Floyd Holmes
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