Thai, but not as you know it
Having opened just three months ago, Sabai is a fairly new addition to the Richmond food scene. And located just on the corner of Church and Swan, it’s in a pretty good location, too.
The dining room is warm and inviting, and has subtle Thai influences dotted around. There’s a fully stocked bar to the left, and the seating to the right – there’s also an upstairs area, which is used on busier nights or for functions.
Reading through the menu you’ll definitely see some of the classics (Thai yellow curry, som tom, tom yum), but also some dishes you may be less familiar with. In the lights section the soft shell crab sliders with apple slaw comes recommended – this has become their signature dish of sorts. Also highlighted is the BBQ pork, which comes atop little sticky rice patties and with a Thai nam jim jaew sauce.
And on to the mains.
One must-order larger dish is the slow braised lamb shank massaman curry, which is basically a massaman that you’d get over in Thailand but you’ve got lamb in the place of beef, and cashews in the place of peanuts. The sauce is thick, rich and delicious; the lamb is Victorian lamb that has been slow cooked for three hours, making it extremely tender.
A lighter mains option is the crispy barramundi tossed in a fresh herb-and-apple salad. It incorporates chilli, lemongrass and a sweet and sour dressing to lift out the flavours.
If you want to try one of their particularly experimental dishes, order the duck salad. The duck has been thrice cooked – it’s cooked confit, then roasted, before finally being simmered in a curry sauce. The duck is then combined with a spicy Asian slaw and baby radishes. But the quirky part is the addition of caramelised popcorn. This injection of sweetness is to balance out the sourness of the salad.
Those who have saved room for dessert should definitely give the Thai tea pannacotta a go. Comprising a layer of tea-infused pannacotta at the bottom, a blanket of coconut crumble, and finally a sprinkling of frozen berries (fresh berries that have been frozen deliberately for this dish), this is a dessert that epitomises the Sabai concept: Thai flavours plated up in an interesting, modern way.
By Christina Wylie
t: (03) 8528 6884
a: 460 Church St, Richmond, Melbourne