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Food In Focus: Sabai

Sabai prides themselves on being classically inspired, yet creative Thai food. The restaurant is located on the corner of Church and Swan Sts, just steps away from the East Richmond station. Sabai is really answering the call of the area, by providing outstanding Thai meals at reasonable prices, seven days a week. The menu is guided by the four points of the 'Thai food compass', a combination of hot, sweet, sour and salty flavours. There's a huge focus on fresh, organic and free range food, so once they're sold out of a meal, it’s sold out. 

Sabai is decent Thai food done in a quirky way. You’ll see the standards on the menu such as spring rolls, pad Thai, and Tom Yum soup, and don’t get me wrong, classics are great, but when you’ve got more creative options, I dare you to eat outside the box. I think the thing that really got me was that the space is bright, warm and versatile, and it feels like a restaurant I’d want to bring my family to for dinner, my co-workers for a mid-week lunch and my best friend for wines out front.
 
We started our dinner with the soft shell crab sliders, and my gosh they are cute with their little legs dangling out the side of the mini buns, and combined with apple slaw for a fresh and brilliant finish, these are a delightful way to start a meal. Following these we went with the hero dish of Sabai, the slow braised lamb shank Massaman, with potatoes and cashews, and served without a knife, as the meat falls effortlessly off the bone. The sauce in this dish is so phenomenal that you could take it home and put it on toast, or just eat it with the flaky, buttery Roti perfection that comes with it.
 
I came close to ignoring all of the other food as I just wanted to eat it forever. I finally managed to drag myself away and focus on the other meals. The crispy barramundi was visually pleasing, as was the taste of the sweet soy ginger broth it was sitting in. The fish itself was slightly undercooked yet with a crispy skin, like it should be, and the mushrooms in this dish were my highlight. We then shared the duck salad, which is a new addition to the menu, and is ideal for a summer day lunch, with char grilled duck, spicy Asian slaw, baby radish and caramelised popcorn. This is a spicy dish, but only in its complete chilli freshness. We saved a little room for dessert, and I’m thanking my lucky stars I did as we were able to enjoy another new menu item, the Thai tea panna cotta. This is such a complex and exciting dessert. The Thai tea panna cotta is served in a class and had a subtle build up of flavour. It’s layered with a crumble made up of coconut and palm sugar and topped with frozen crushed berries, and grew on me very quickly. This is something I would absolutely order again. We also tried the coconut ice-cream with coconut shavings and crumbled toffee that contained kaffir lime leaves, again this is a must have for the warmer days.
 
During this monster meal we drank fresh coconut and Slip knot Sauvignon Blanc from Marlboro. There are over 15 local and New Zealand wines to choose from, as well as a selection of Thai beers and a large whiskey and scotch selection. It’s easy to see and taste that this menu is created with love, experience, and pride. Sabai is delicious.
 
BY TEGAN LOUISE

Sabai is at 460 Church St, Richmond.