Food and Drink


Middle Fish’s fiery flavours

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Just in time for Christmas, Middle Fish has opened its fiery doors in Carlton. The huge new space is right next door to Seven Seeds and is all about bringing authentic Southern Thai cuisine (read lots of chili) and a casual Thai cafe feel to Melbourne.

I guess cafes are bigger in Thailand. Middle Fish occupies a mammoth warehouse-like space that the owners, lovely couple Pla (Siriporn Liamthong) and David Holtum have filled with a mix of industrial design and Thai art. There are huge communal tables, plants aplenty, fruit bowls, booths made from reclaimed railway sleepers and decorative security screens that have come all the way from Bangkok.

It’s unpretentious and fun, with David, a chippy by trade, having designed much of it himself (he’s currently helping out with the lattes for the moment, too).

The other neat thing are the two huge artworks by Thai artist Torlarp Larkpjaroensook, who came out from Thailand to install them (he also did the chandeliers). The images are of a life-size Thai scooter and a Tuktuk both decked out with…heaps of stuff. You can touch them and even turn on the headlights.

OK so the food. Pla, who is originally from Thailand but has lived for the last 9 years in Melbourne, has enlisted the help of her family to help out, even bringing her aunt Na Sauw out especially to guide the kitchen. What that means is no mucking around/fusion/interpretive cuisine, just authentic Southern Thai dishes – yellow curries, chili-hot salads and fruit. Just like aunty used to make.

The menu starts with dishes like banana roti served with condensed milk and a pork omelette. These are labelled under the ‘Something Light’ category. I like aunty’s style already.

Further down there are salads like Moor Yor, a glass noodle salad with pork loaf, carrots, tomatoes, spring onions, roasted cashews and chili, and the Pineapple and Apple Som Tum, a Thai-style fruit salad with roasted peanuts, carrots, sun-dried shrimp and Thai salad dressing (both $12.50).

Further down mains include Tom Yum with Queensland banana prawns and squid, Gapi fried rice with caramelised pork belly, prawns, green apple, bean shoots and red onion, and Ka Nhom Jeen, a Southern fish curry with Thai vermicelli pickled vegetable and steamed kang kong with coconut. All mains are $14.50 and come with rice.

It’s a hot day so I go for the Thai North-East beef salad: jasmine rice roasted with Thai herbs and spices, Spanish onions, spring onions, coriander and chili ($12.50).

The salad’s got a nice balance of heat, sweetness and crunch to it. The greens are all super fresh, the chili and coriander sing and the beef does a good job of mopping up all the flavours. I could’ve used a bit more chili in mine, but maybe aunty was going easy on me.

There’s a lot to like about Middle Fish. At the moment they’re using Five Sense coffee, but in the future hope to import beans from Thailand and support local farmers there. About the only thing they don’t do is serve booze, but they’ll make you a fruit-mocktail to make up for it.

No Twitter, no Facebook either. Just good food and friendly service. And chili.

Middle Fish
122 – 128 Berkeley St, Carlton
Mon – Fri 7am – 5pm
Sat – Sun 10am – 4pm

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