During Christmas and New Year’s, life just can get so ridiculously busy. Between family dos, catchups with friends and visitors from interstate (or overseas some years), it all just gets a bit manic and out of control. But I still value time with my boy above all else, so sneaking in a date night amongst it all might be a hard feat, and yet it’s exactly what we were both craving.
A couple of nights before New Year’s Eve we headed out to try a new place for us both, and a cuisine we don’t get to enjoy as much as we’d like to. Galangal Thai Cuisine in Mount Hawthorn is a beautiful, unassuming destination with their warm red colours, incense burning out front and a fantastic reputation.
When we arrive the restaurant is reasonably empty, but by the time our plates were cleared away almost every table was occupied – not to mention the hoards of people coming in and out to collect their takeaway orders. The smell is phenomenal, drawing us in and making our tummies rumble greedily.
We’re quick to order, and before we know it our drinks have hit our table – just the thing for a hot summer’s evening. Jeremy’s Bangkok mojito ($15.00) was cool and refreshing, with a dominant flavour of lychee and mint – it’s tropical and easy to drink.
My Siam Sunray ($17.00) was a winning combination of vodka, coconut liqueur, galangal, lemongrass and all other kinds of delicious Thai flavours. I really need to try and recreate something like this, it was so satisfying!
For our meal we decide to share some dishes, starting with the summer special of betel leaves with prawns, mango and crispy onion ($15.00). The best way to eat these is scooped up in one bite so you capture the fresh ingredients, contrasting textures and the tangy dressing that coats them all.
There’s a definite chilli kick in the flavour, but delicate little bursts from herbs at the same time. It’s a really enticing first bite, and really has my mouth watering for the dishes that come next.
Our second entree was the Thai beef carpaccio with larb dressing ($18.00). It’s a beautiful tangle of ingredients, including coriander, mint, shallot, lime, chilli, fish sauce and ground toasted rice. I love the long, generous strips of barely cooked beef that have soaked in the sauce.
It’s a playful alternative to your standard seared beef salads, and one that lets the other ingredients still shine while heroing the protein. The dressing is reminiscent of what we’d experienced with our betel leaf dish – which tends to be the case with Thai food, it does revolve around many of the same ingredients.
From the mains section of the menu, the twice roasted pork belly with caramelised fish sauce and palm sugar, green mango and herb salad ($29.00) was a natural choice. Plus of course, fluffy steamed rice on the side to accompany.
I loved the look of this pork the moment it landed on our table. The glistening caramel sauce at the bottom was sweet, sour and savoury at the same time. The young mango had a slight bite to it, and a subtle flavour that worked well with the meat. Most pleasing of all though was the nice thin pork slices, with the fat rendered down to melt in your mouth, and the crackling perfectly crunchy.
Our final dish for the evening was the one we were both the most excited about. The roast duck with spiced red curry, cherry tomatoes and lychee ($28.00) looked just plain heavenly, topped with a fresh bouquet of herbs.
Unlike other red curries I’ve tried which tend to be on the sweeter side, this one was richer and gave my lips a good tingle from the spiciness. This is the kind of sauce you can enjoy spooned over rice just on it’s own – it was that good (we ordered 2 servings of steamed rice at $4.00 each – a little on the pricey side for rice). I love seeing the little tiny pools of oil that gather at the top (that’s flavour right there), just begging to be mixed back into the sauce between bites.
The duck was completely on the money. Cooked just right so it was tender and juicy flesh, and the skin on top was satisfyingly crisp. We were so full as we scooped up the bottom of the bowl, but we couldn’t stop – we couldn’t leave one drop behind. It’s really fantastic curry – but definitely something I recommend you share as it would be quite rich and luxurious to tackle on your own.
After all that food, I basically had to roll on out of there to get home! But I don’t regret a single bite – it was all so delicious and satisfying, and exactly what I wanted for my date night out with Jeremy.