Jarernchai Grocer is Boon Cafe. They’re both co-habitating in the same place along Pitt St, kind of like brother and sister to the big mom that is Chat Thai. The grocer stocks what looks like some of the finest Thai produce and ingredients but I’m here (twice now) to check out the Thai-Australian fusion brunch at the cafe.
It’s not often that any kind of East meets West amalgamation works, to me it mostly ends up tasting like bastardised Asian food. The only cafe that comes to mind as one that’s executed the perfect balance is the crowd favourite, Devon Cafe. Boon Cafe is different because it’s kind of fusion but it also isn’t. Instead of juggling a multitude of cuisines and trying to do it all justice, it ops for the easy way out. Let’s just put Thai food between bread.
I don’t mean for that to sound like a cop out because in truth it’s actually genius. Why don’t more people do this? Keep the essence of what makes it Thai/Viet/Malaysian/Japanese and just switch up the carb components This is what I opt for on my first visit; crab and prawn cake sandwiched between sourdough from Brickfields bakery ($17). It is one of the best sandwiches I have ever tasted. Lots of sour notes that you’d expect from the mixture of fish sauce, picked vegetables and smidgens of citrus. Any form of crispy fried seafood cakes are also something I’ve grown up with. The bread packages it all together nicely so you get an even distribution of everything in each bite.
I still get food envy from looking on at Nat’s crab and prawn cake cold rice noodle salad ($18) though. So this is what I end up getting on my next trip. Ordering here is a bit of a no-brainer for me as four of the six sandwich options here contain pork. Nat commented that this was very much like the Viet cold rice noodles. It’s got the exact same flavours as the sandwich but I like the copious amounts of fresh vegetables, especially the bouncy bean sprouts. It’s only when eating the cakes in a bowl that I realise as you tear into them you can see bits of crab, so it’s not all just reconstituted seafood.
Robert still has a food baby from a certain Annex breakfast burrito so he’s taking it slow with some house jam and toast ($4). He also had a coffee but downed it before I could take a photo. The jam was really, really sweet. A bit too much for my liking but I loved the chunks of real fruit. The toast was generously slathered in butter, fluffy soft in the middle with a good bit of crust on the side.
I’m not sure if I would go for dinner as I’m not a big fan of Chat Thai’s traditional Thai offerings. But I really recommend this spot if you’re after a good brunch feed that isn’t too heavy like bacon and eggs.