When I was a kid, I decided that I didn’t like noodle soups. After all, they were milder in flavour than their ‘dry’ counterparts (usually tossed in a myriad of sauces and condiments), and you had to wait so darn long for the bowl to cool off. That just stood in my way of inhaling my noodles, and you never want to stand in my way when I’m hangry.
But like I always say, there’s nothing like a good offer to change someone’s mind, and when it’s a $6 lunch in the city, you know that the cheapskate in me just can’t resist.
A child of the omnipresent Chat Thai group of restaurants, Assamm offers authentic Thai food in the heart of Sydney CBD. Located in the basement of QVB, this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant plays host to snaking queues of hungry officeworkers over the peak lunch periods. But if you’re just willing to wait a little longer, they offer $6 mini-portions between 2-5pm, and let me just say? the portions are actually not so mini.
Well, unless you eat like a linebaker in the middle of training season, that is. This ‘mini’ portion more than fed me when I was in a my-stomach-is-trying-to-eat-itself state, and I would actually compare it to a regular serving size in Asia.
The food always adheres to a certain basic standard and authenticity, to me, Assamm really brings it on their broth. There waa none of the watered down cost cutting crap that you usually find in the city. No, this is legit. The Sukhothai Noodles were my favourite, with bold flavours augmented by dried shrimp, tamarind, and a good lashing of chilli. The thin rice noodles were the perfect conduit to slurp up the broth with, and I would have been happy with just the noodles and broth, sans toppings.
In fact, I enjoyed myself so much so that I went back again the next day, and decided to brave the queues during the peak lunch hours. This, unfortunately was the downfall of the whole Assamm experience for me.
My dining partner was in the bathroom, so they wouldn’t give me a table until she got back. Fair enough, it’s a busy time. Then she came by and I thought we’d be off to our tables, but we were forced to place our order at the counter first, even though my dining partner hadn’t had a chance to look at the menu. Then we sat down, and her order came first, and mine only arrived pretty much as she was finishing her lunch. I can understand a bit of staggering when its busy, but I do think that it’s bad form that two noodle soups arrive so far apart.
Needless to say, that kinda put a damper on my Assamm dining streak. Great for the off peak dining, but maybe not quite worth the peak hour lunch. Good broth though. Good broth.