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Thai Passion, Newtown

Reviews September 18, 2013

There are so many Thai restaurants to visit in Newtown that sometimes the choice can be a little overwhelming! Recently a group of friends and I ended up in Newtown for dinner and wound up at Thai Passion and really enjoyed the food, service and great prices!

Coconut Juice $3.50.
I really enjoyed this start to the meal – coconut juice is always so refreshing and the coconut meat slices were perfectly tender and soft.

San Choy Bow (Chicken mince with shiitake mushroom and young corn in a crisp lettuce cup) $7.90
I really enjoyed this light choice for my dinner. The chicken filling was very flavoursome and was accented well by the crispy rice noodles in the lettuce cup. If you’re after a light meal, this would be a good choice as it was surprisingly filling eaten solo!

Vegetarian curry puffs (4pcs) $6.90
Crisp pastry surrounding curried veggies – this is a tough choice to go wrong with!

Chicken Laksa (Thai style curry noodle in a coconut milk soup) $12.90
The diner who chose this dish commented that the laksa was quite good quality with a hit of spice to it, but in general he prefers flavours of a Malaysian laksa to a Thai version, as it tends to feel more authentic.

Crying Tiger (grilled marinated beef served with thai nam jim jaew) $13.90
Tender slices of grilled beef marinated in Thai spices – this dish was a good pick of the evening.

Vegetarian Thai Fried Rice with egg $12.90
I sampled a spoonful of this fried rice and was surprised at the fantastic flavour that Thai Passion managed to bring out in such a simple dish. It had an almost saucy texture to the rice that made me seriously wish I had ordered this as well! Definitely would come back just to try this dish, as I have sampled many Thai fried rices over Sydney and really felt this one stood out of the crowd.

My dining companions were looking for some gluten and dairy free dessert options, so opted for the sticky rice cooked in banana leaf (minus the icecream). It looked like it had that chewy consistency that you can only get from sticky rice baked in banana leaves, and was a pretty good serving size for only $5.90. Might have been able to do a better job with the presentation (although this was served minus the usual addition of ice-cream, so maybe it looks better with that?)

There is a lot of stiff competition for Thai food in Newtown but I think that Thai Passion is definitely holding its own with good quality Thai food with great prices. Best dishes of the night were definitely the fried rice and the coconut juice. Service was friendly and helpful, which always makes a meal more enjoyable. We really enjoyed our meal and it’s definitely somewhere I would come again in future. It’s a short walk from Newtown station which is another plus for convenience. I also noted that they do $7.50 lunch specials which seem worth checking out (if only Newtown weren’t so far from my workplace!) Please note also (like many places), that they do not do split bills.

Thai Passion on Urbanspoon

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Lunch at Marion’s Kitchen

Reviews July 18, 2013

The other day I was fortunate enough to be invited along to taste the Marion Grasby range of products for easy, quick and delicious Thai meals at home. As if that weren’t enough, Marion would be cooking the meals herself! Since Marion and I both share a love of cooking and we both have south-east Asian mums and Aussie dads, I had a feeling she would definitely be someone I’d get along with!

Marion’s Thai Green Curry
We started off with Marion’s most popular bestseller – her Thai green curry meal kit. After tasting it, I could see why! The sauce was incredibly rich and flavoursome. Even a spoonful of the sauce over some steamed rice was extremely satisfying. I must admit I do love green curries but I never usually go to the trouble of preparing them at home. Marion’s curry kit makes it so much easier by providing not only the curry paste, but also the coconut milk, Thai herbs and chilli, fish sauce and bamboo shoots.

Marion’s Malaysian Curry
Next up was Marion’s chicken and potato Malaysian curry, which is a new addition to her line of meal kits. I really enjoy a good chicken and potato curry and this one did not disappoint. I really loved the hearty, rich sauce of the curry, which really flavoured the chicken and potatoes well. If I had to make any (very small!) criticism, I would say I would have liked a touch more salt, but that’s something you could easily change to taste at home. If anything it’s probably better that it’s less salty to suit a wider range of tastes rather than too much.

Marion’s Red Curry
Last but not least was Marion’s red curry, which she paired with some fresh salmon fillets. I generally do not cook salmon fillets with curries at home (I usually bake them with spices, or with some kecap manis and garlic, which are my faves!) but after tasting Marion’s curry, I definitely need to branch out with my salmon dinners! The salmon was cooked to perfection and was so buttery smooth with the rich red curry sauce. Definitely a great combination, especially with some freshly steamed rice! I also enjoyed the added kick of the sliced chillis and shallots which gave the dish an extra boost of flavour. I love how much these small additions can really punch up a dish.

I was also lucky enough to do a short interview with Marion!

Marion, you’ve just moved to Bangkok! Do you have any favourite local dishes or restaurants you tend to frequent? We would love any recommendations you may have!
Bangkok is such an amazing eating city! My favourite high end Thai restaurant is David Thompson’s Nahm. And for regional southern Thai food I love a homely little place called Khua Kling Pak Sod. They make an amazing yellow curry but beware… it’s SUPER hot!

I’m sure you have many fond childhood memories of favourite foods. We would love to hear about a favourite memory, or a funny food story from your childhood days.
I can remember the first time my mum tried to make me eat durian. I nearly puked and cried for half an hour. Durian has the most offensive smell… but actually I’ve grown to like the taste now.

Speaking of your childhood, did you have any personal heroes that inspired you to be the cook that you are today?
My mum is my biggest inspiration. It’s thanks to her love of food and her Thai heritage that I have such a deep passion for Asian cooking. And she still teaches me stuff in the kitchen even now!

Aside from Thai food, what is your favourite cuisine to eat out at restaurants or make at home?
At the moment I’m obsessed with Sri Lankan food. I would like to travel there this year but haven’t had the time, so I’ve been cooking Sri Lankan curries at home instead.

What is your greatest food passion?
My Marion’s Kitchen food range is now my biggest passion. I love traveling all over Asia finding amazing dishes to bring back to Australia for people to try. And I can’t believe that more than 150,000 people eat a Marion’s Kitchen dinner every month! Amazing!

Tell us about your favourite kitchen gadget or tool.
I can’t live without my traditional Thai mortar and pestle.

What is your most favourite, decadent dessert (that you’ve eaten or made)?
I once made Peter Gilmore’s 8-textured chocolate cake. It took me 10 hours and by the time I’d finished I’d tasted so many different chocolate layers that I didn’t even feel like eating it!

Readers Questions

What is the most difficult ingredient you’ve ever had to work with?
Sea urchins! They’re so prickly!

Would you recommend the MasterChef experience to people wanting to get into the same business or another avenue to pursue jobs in the food industry? (Would love some recommendations!)
Masterchef opened a lot of doors for me but it was really only a starting point. The real work came afterwards when I set up my business, started writing cookbooks and worked on getting my own TV show. It really depends on what you want to do. If you want to be a working chef then an apprenticeship is a much better option. But if you want to write about food then starting a blog is an excellent way to get noticed.

It was so great getting to meet the lovely and talented Marion Grasby and her at-home meal kits really are a credit to her. It was wonderful listening to her chat about her passion and love for learning more about her mum’s culture as well as her desire to bring the best and most authentic ingredients for her products so that her customers are getting the best at-home experience possible.

Thanks so much for a delicious lunch and taking the time to interview for us, Marion! I bet there are plenty of those who would empathise with your initial reaction to durian, although I must admit that I also really enjoy it myself (I’m glad I’m not alone)!

Thanks also to Magnum PR for inviting me to this fun event!

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Pum’s Cooking School

Reviews September 1, 2011

Well I’m back from my holiday week away in Phuket. Back to Sydney. And I thought, back to some blogging! It’s been awhile and I’ve been finding it hard to get the time to put pen to paper (or rather.. fingers to keyboard??..). But I thought it would be a good chance to review some of the activities and places I went to in sunny Phuket.

Those who haven’t been to Phuket, its a great place to getaway from all the hustle and bustle of Sydney for awhile – lots of gorgeous warm sunny beaches with white sand and clear water, lots of Paddy’s-esque shopping (and the fun of bartering – which I took to like a duck to water) and plenty of great activities in the heart of Patong (which is where we stayed.) Plenty of cheap accommodation is available (we got a deal but you can find plenty of great deals on

For a week my friend and I went snorkeling in Phi Phi islands, rode on elephants, got some clothes tailor made (there is a tailor practically every ten metres in Patong), cable riding in the jungle, saw a magic show, visited Phantasea and of course indulged in $7 hour long massages and a $10 facials, pure bliss! Even though I was just there for one week, we were able to fit in quite a lot of activities but there was still plenty more to do for those who want to stay a bit longer.

Since the cooking classes were so cheap and Pum’s was close by to our accommodation, it was an easy choice to book in for one of the classes. I’ve actually never really done a ‘formal’ cooking class before (unless you count food tech in high school) and I’ve always wanted to do one, but the Sydney cooking classes seem to be very expensive, so I was glad to finally have a good option in Phuket at Pum’s 🙂

Pum’s also doubles as a restaurant during the day. My friend Ghilaine and I decided to visit them a few times before our class to come up with a good idea of what to cook. This turned out well as it was a short walk from our hotel as well as being a cheap and delicious option for some of our lunches and dinners.

Pum’s runs cooking classes daily but it’s a good idea to book in advance as it can book out. Instead of booking the classes at the actual restaurant, I’d recommend booking at a tour vendor as they can sometimes give you discounts. Opposite Pum’s restaurant in Patong (on the other side of the road) is a tour vendor named “Oy” who we booked the majority of discounts with and I’d highly recommend her, she speaks excellent English and gave us plenty of great discounts on all the tours we booked, even cheaper than any of the other masses of vendors we passed by.

We chose to do the “Pum’s little shoes” class which seemed to be the best option for money and time – it’s a 3 hour class where you choose to make 3 Thai dishes of your choice for about 14-1500 baht or cheaper if you book with the right tour vendor. We paid about $40 AUD for the class. You also get to eat your dishes (of course!) so it includes lunch. You also get to keep a book of Pum’s Thai recipes to take home with you – handy for later on! 😉

We arrived at Pum’s on a Sunday and began by writing down the recipes we wanted to make. We were also encouraged to write down additional recipes for Thai pastes and jams from Pum’s other cookbook (available for sale in the restaurant) which were also used in the recipes. I made it a bit easier by just taking photos of the recipes, hehe. I chose to make vegetarian fried rice, chicken cashew nut stir fry (my fave Thai recipe which I’ve never learned how to make!) and pad si ew (another fave.)

The class began with our teacher arrived at our table with a plate full of ingredients commonly used to flavour Thai cuisine which she began to explain.

garlic, thai holy basil, lemon grass, chilli, lime, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, Thai shallots

Chopping the lemon grass for a smell. Looove the smell of lemon grass!

ingredients prepped for cooking!

ready to cook!

Our teacher explained that they preferred making the curry paste by mortar and pestle instead of a food processor, however you have to be careful that you don’t accidentally shoot chilli into your eyes when crushing away! We all got to have a go at crushing the chilli paste, while our teacher encouraged us to sing and dance while doing so, lol.

Finished red curry paste!

We then got to have a go at making some of our recipes. Everything was carefully chopped and prepared for us plus we didn’t have to do any washing up which made everything all the more enjoyable! Oh if only it were like that at home! 😉

Ingredients for chicken green curry

Prepping my rice with some crushed garlic in vegetable oil, soy sauce and sugar.

ingredients for chicken cashew nut stir fry.
chicken breast strips, toasted cashew nuts, onion and thai shallots (PS! if anyone aaanyone! knows where to find these in Sydney Pleeeeease drop me a line! they’re totally different from the shallots we normally get in the supermarket and i also think they’re different from garlic shoots… and i’m dying to find where i can lay my hands on these babies… thank you!!)

Finished chicken cashew nut.. it was delicious!

Satay chicken – chicken breast was lightly marinated before it was pan fried and then served with a delicious satay sauce made from crushed peanuts and coconut milk and a sweet vinegar sauce with cucumber and chilli

Time for lunch! We broke about halfway through to eat a bunch of our dishes before resuming cooking. it was a good chance to meet with the rest of the people in the cooking class as well as share some of our yummy dishes 🙂

After lunch, our teacher went through some of the sauces used in Thai cooking.

Tomato sauce, chilli jam, soy sauce, fish sauce, fermented bean paste, oyster sauce, pickled galangal, fried garlic, chilli sauce. We were encouraged to taste them all and I have to say some of them were……..interesting!

We also went through some of the vegies most commonly used in Thai cooking.
Cucumber, Chinese broccoli (or gai lum), baby corn, tomato, cabbage, onion, snake beans. I’m happy to say that you can find pretty much everything here in Sydney!

Then it was on to more cooking!

Finely chopped kaffir lime leaves, snake beans, red curry paste and minced fish for fish cakes – which Pum passed by saying were her favourite!

shaped fish cakes ready to be fried

Finished fish cakes, served with cucumber, chilli, thai shallots and a sweetened vinegary sauce

Thai noodle soup ingredients

looks like it would be perfect for a cold wintery day!

Ingredients for Pad Si Ew (my final dish.) Blanch vegies and rice noodles in hot water separately and place on a plate.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of dark soy, 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic in vegie oil, 1 tablespoon of white sugar on to the noodles.

Stir fry chicken breast in vegetable oil and then add noodles and blanched vegies to the hot pan.

Dust lightly with some pepper to serve. pad si ew! 🙂

Ingredients for sticky rice with mango.
Coconut milk is warmed with the sugar until it melts. Add the sticky rice and mix through the sweetened coconut mixture. Serve with freshly sliced mango and garnish with kaffir lime leaves.

et voila!

We finished the class by sampling the rest of our dishes with the rest of the class before we were sent home with our cookbooks and a cute little Pum keyring 🙂

Of course I couldn’t resist a photo with Pum herself (who jokingly asked to charge us 10 bht for the photo, hehe.)

All in all, I had a wonderful time at Pum’s and would highly recommend it. It was a truly excellent experience for my first cooking class and I look forward to whipping up lots of yummy Thai recipes armed with my new cookbook in the near future. If you’re ever in Patong, definitely drop by Pum’s at least for a meal or one of her great classes 🙂

Pum’s is currently rated 9 out of 101 activities to do in Phuket. Check out the Pum’s tripadvisor link below.
Click here to visit Pum’s cooking school website for more info.
Click here to visit the tripadvisor reviews for Pum’s Cooking School.

You can also check out a bunch more pics from my experience at Pum’s Cooking School by clicking here on my Facebook Page.



Thai Pothong Review

Uncategorized January 12, 2011

I’ve been coming to the Thai Pothong for years now. I’ve been here for several birthdays, or just a nice night out in Newtown for dinner with friends. I think that it’s fair to say that it’s been giving pretty consistent results throughout the years. The food is good, the restaurant atmosphere is nice (with the most gorgeous Thai decor) and the service is highly efficient.

One of my favourite things about the Thai Pothong (aside from the fact that it’s the closest Thai restaurant to Newtown Station and its enormouse size – it used to be three separate shops;) is how efficiently they seat big crowds. I’ve turned up here on busy Saturday nights with a crowd of 8+ people and they have always managed to seat us at a decently sized table with no booking. What’s more, even though the restaurant is always busy with customers, you are constantly getting excellent customer service – water and rice being constantly refilled by the friendly staff. Customer service is one of those things that you don’t realise is missing until you’re somewhere it isn’t… It’s then that you realise what a big difference it makes to your dining experience – it can often mean the difference between an unpleasant night or an entirely pleasant one.

The only downside about this place is that it’s not the cheapest place for Thai that you will find in Newtown, but considering the rest of the perks you get (i.e. the service and comfy space in a nice air conditioned room) is a considerable trade-off. The old adage you get what you pay for certainly applies here, but hey, who’s complaining?

I still remember my first visit here with a group of church friends. We played a prank on one of my oldest and dearest friends by singing “Happy Birthday” to her when she returned from the bathroom (much to her surprise). We managed to get a large chunk of the rest of the restaurant singing along with us. We even ended up ordering the special ‘Birthday Dessert’ (fruit and ice cream) which compelled everyone to sing again (one dude on the table adjacent to us managed to remember her name while singing and then turned to me and said brightly “I remembered her name!”) Good times. I’m pretty sure I have that on film somewhere…

The classic chicken cashew nut (Gai pad mamoung himmaparn) $17.95 – Chicken with cashew nuts, chili jam, water chestnuts, lotus seeds and shallots

Roast Duck Salad (Pla Ped Yang) $20.90 – Sliced roast duck with spanish onions, coriander, roasted ground coconut, mint leaves and lemon juice, yum!

Another Thai classic – Massaman Curry, except this time with lamb! Instead of the usual beef..
Gang massaman gae, $19.95 – a mild lamb curry with roasted peanuts, thai herbs and crispy onions

I ordered this one, mostly because I’m a big fan of mock-duck products (one of my faves is a brand called “Lamyong”). Another one of my fave restaurants is called Green’s Gourmet (another Newtown one, although they also have a restaurant in St. Leonards). Wasn’t the greatest dish of the night and nowhere near as good as the stuff Green’s Gourmet brings out. If you want to try good roast vegetarian duck, go to Green’s!
Vegetables with Roast Vegetarian duck  (pad ped ja) $16.95 – Seasonal stir fried vegies with roast vegetarian duck

To summarise… Thai Pothong is a great restaurant to visit with a big group of friends for a special night out. Good food, good service and its nice and comfy in there! You’re looking at about a meal cost of around $25-$30 (this is including an entree/main and of course, depends on what you order). They also have a wide range of Vegetarian dishes and adjustable banquet options if those suit you.

Oh and if you’re visiting the Thai Pothong, you can’t help but take a gawk at some of the cool Alien theme sculptures in the window.. So cool!

Check out the Thai Pothong website here. You can check out menus, prices, location and all kinds of other handy information online at their site.

Thai Pothong Restaurant and Gift Shop on Urbanspoon

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