3-7 Ferguson Street, Abbotsford (map)
Open 7 days, 11am-11pm
Krua Thai 2 in Richmond has been on my 'to visit' list for some time now, ever since a Thai friend of mine told me that they serve some of the best boat noodles in town. Last week I learned that the same family behind Krua has opened a new, much larger restaurant called Jinda in the side street off Victoria Street between the railway line and Punt Road, behind the little string of Thai restaurants.
The converted warehouse space (formerly a clothing clearance outlet) is beautiful, with loads of natural light pouring in through the many windows. Gold-framed portraits of the Thai royal family hang above the kitchen and on the opposite wall hangs a portrait of Jinda (the woman the restaurant is named after). Open since mid-July, the restaurant is filled with Thai students and families day and night.
Jinda's specialty is Thai noodles ($6 a small bowl, $9 a large bowl), which I was determined to try on my first visit. Most can be ordered with or without soup, with your choice of noodles (rice stick, flat rice, rice vermicelli, egg or glass). I went with the spicy pork soup with crushed peanuts, chilli powder and chilli vinegar. Savoury, spicy and tangy in equal measures, it was addictive and I wish I'd worked up the nerve to order a second bowl.
As well as including chilli powder the condiment station offers two types of chilli vinegar: one with simple sliced chillies in clear vinegar, the other in which the chillies are pounded and mixed with other spices.
As well as traditional noodle dishes, the menu offers more modern items like larb crispy chicken on rice ($12.90). We didn't order any, but the next table had some pretty amazing-looking 'prawn twisters' - spring rolls whose ends were twisted like Christmas crackers.
Minced pork gra pow ($9.90 with fried egg $2 extra), enjoyed on my second visit. You can order all the suburban favourites such as Massaman curry and satay skewers, but I'd advise trying some of the more unusual dishes, such as the guay jab (a pork based brown soup with rolled rice noodles, crispy pork and offal) or the mee gati (rice vermicelli with minced pork, minced shrimp and a coconut cream). I look forward to working my way though the menu over many repeat visits...