Ok ... trong-pai*, now leaw sai ... wait I meant leaw kaw ... oh I give up, here M you take the wheel ...
Its probably easy to spot in daylight, but not so easy on a rain-swept night when reflections in pools of water hover like midnight oases, presenting road blocks or speed humps where none exist.
After a couple of mis-turns we finally made it through what looked like security gates into the generous carpark and space that is Jantra Thai Restaurant, Braybrook. We could have been in Doncaster, or Box Hill - its our Western version of an Eastern Suburbs Family Night out.
Ignoring the sickly vaguely-urinal yellow neon highlights, the restaurant feels roomy and has an enticing "lounge" section complete with a comfy living room settee. Its spacious but you're not so far removed from each other that you can't eyeball the other dishes being served at the table next to you.
Thanks to the intrepid Lauren of FFB fame, we trundled off down the road on a recent CBA friday in high hopes of discovering a Thai worthy of some interstate gloating ... and apologies to Lauren, we didn't quite get there.
Our Thai friend (who works in the business park) had one word to say about this place - overpriced. But then again we're no longer in downtown Bangkok, and I have left my resentment at paying more than S$1.20 for Roti Prata at a Customs counter in Tullamarine. So I have no further comment on pricing.
What I will say is that the Vegetarian Pad Thai is the bomb!! I suspect that some peops may prefer their noodles a little sweeter, but for me they got the balance right, and it was the perfect foil (we had this instead of steamed rice) for the other dishes that we ordered.
We sweated through our Crispy Fried Soft shell crab entree (both M and I had terrible food poisoning once on account of a soft shell crab) served curiously on a bed of fruit salad drenched in fish sauce. Oddly enticing for the first few bites ... then culinary sensibilities took over and I started to think that the combination of seafood and fruit was all kinds of wrong ... totally psychological of course ... but there you have it ... as usual, M was unaffected. We would have liked the crab to have been a little crunchier, and the head meat was a tad bitter ... which made us all the more apprehensive ... again ... Psychological!
For mains, we opted for a Chef's special - cripsy fried fish fillet in creamy coconut sauce. As prosaic as that sounds, the dish that arrived at our table fit the bill to a T. And it was exactly what we wanted ... or at least what we expect (questions on authenticity aside) from a Thai dish - spicy and coconuty, prefectly marrying the trifecta of flavour - sweet, salty and sour.
And I of course had to have a larb of some description, so we went for the minced chicken, which was a little on the light side, but a decent example nonetheless.
Despite how this post actually reads, we did enjoy our meal here at Jantra Thai and will most certainly be back - but again if this wasn't in easy close proximity, would I travel for the food? Of that I'm not so sure.
Everytime someone suggests a new Thai, I go in the hope that the restaurant delivers a whopping punch in the face with spice and chilli hits dialled up to 11. Jantra delivers a soft carress ... and sometimes a comforting touch is what you really need. Me? I want the total gut-stripping experience.
* Apologies for butchering the Thai language