Everyone has those ‘yardstick’ restaurants – the place to which all others are compared. For example, if I asked you where to go for the best pizza, then you would probably have a name that immediately springs to mind.
For me, when it comes to Thai cuisine, Soi 38 is easily that place.
It’s been a couple of years since my first visit, and I was so mightily impressed with the food and service that I have been back many times since. I have dragged my work team there, friends for lunch, and recommended it to any and all that will listen – so you can imagine my joy when I was invited to come and have dinner there to show off their renovations and new menu.
If you have been before, then you may recall the distinctive black and yellow colour scheme. For me it kind of gave it a hawker stall / street food vibe, which was a very good thing. This has now made way for a softer palate of colours, which has brightened and somehow enlarged the narrow confines of their restaurant, and taken the visual level up a class or two.
The food, on the other hand, has definitely not softened its effect on your palate. Locally and ethically sourced ingredients are the order of the day here, and then Chef Terry and his team in his kitchen put them to work, producing the most authentic, delicious and flavour filled Thai food (I believe) in Adelaide.
The new menu offers a slightly different approach, with dishes marked as to their region of origin within the country, reflective of the ingredients used and the flavour profiles within. If you want to take a culinary tour of Thailand, then you can start at the north, travel through the centre and then duck off to the east or west, before finishing up in the south. Very clever, and a nice touch for those that want to learn more about what they are eating. If you don’t want to do the planning, then sign up for the ‘Feed Me’ option, and let the kitchen take you on a journey your taste buds will certainly thank you for.
Of the new dishes to the menu, which does change frequently to reflect seasonal produce (and also to keep the menu fresh and exciting) we had some stunners. In a feast that took us all around the regions of Thailand, we were treated to such things as crispy chicken wings with nahm jium jaow, charred thai sausage with fresh greens and prick noom (roasted chilli dipping sauce), a king prawn plaa (salad) with lemongrass and nahm jim dressing that was stunning to look at (end even better to deconstruct and eat), line caught squid with chilli jam and salted duck egg, and a ‘jungle’ curry with wild goat, ginger and mushroom that amped the spice up sufficiently. And I haven’t got to the eight hour braised kangaroo tail curry with mustard pickle that was rich and decadent, lobster spring rolls that were perfectly crispy and stuffed with all that lobster goodness, a seemingly simple papaya som tum that was fresh and brilliantly flavoursome (and crept up on you in the heat department), and the eggplant with minced pork, chilli and basil that was right up there with the best dish we tried.
Suffice to say, we all left both very impressed and very full….
Make no mistake, I loved everything we had. In fact I have (hand on heart) loved everything I have ever had from Soi 38. It’s just my kind of food. Fresh, vibrant, authentic and interesting – now with a geography lesson thrown in for free – I cannot recommend Soi 38 highly enough.
Soi 38 are located at 54 Pultney Street, Adelaide. They are open for lunch Monday to Friday from 11:30am till 2:30pm; and dinner 7 nights a week from 5:30pm (except for 6pm on Sunday).