A Thai-style sandwich: Chat Thai's new Boon Cafe is bringing possibly the best East-meets-West concept since the Kickboxer movies to Haymarket.
Boon Cafe is set to open on August 15, just near Ho's Dim Sim Kitchen on Pitt Street. It will be part of Jarern Chai, a large new grocery store that's been a long-time vision of the Chat Thai family.
The Thai sandwich is the product of a conversation between Chat Thai's director, Palisa Anderson, and her husband one night over dinner.
"We were eating nam prik ong, a northern Thai chilli relish with pork mince that's kind of like a bolognese," says Anderson. "My husband suggested it would be really nice on sourdough, although initially I was like, 'Don't talk rubbish!'."
If you know how good leftover bolognese can be on toast, then you know the idea is definitely not rubbish. Now imagine that chilli bolognese with pickled vegetables, crunchy cucumber, and crushed-up pork crackling.
"There's a lot of elements with Thai food and I thought if you can have everything in the one handful, how cool will that be?" says Anderson.
The boys from Brickfields will be supplying the sourdough for sandwiches like the bolognese-y nam prik ong with pickles, and a green chilli relish number with sai ou (pork sausages made with kaffir lime leaves, turmeric, and lots of herbs). The Chat team has also been playing around with a Thai version of banh mi with grilled chicken liver and smoked eggplant relish.
The sandwich selection will change daily, always with at least one meat and one vegetarian option and salad bowls for the bread-adverse.
In another display of cross-cultural good-times, 10 William Street's Mitch Orr will be teaching Chat Thai chefs the art of fresh pasta making. Think nam prik ong with angel hair, or maybe holy basil stir-fry of Thai anchovies, fresh peppercorns and wild ginger with strozzapreti.
There will also be Single Origin coffee (finally some decent coffee in Haymarket) and a cold-pressed-juice bar. On the grocery front Anderson says focus will be on fresh produce as well as Thai drygoods.
"There's not a lot of places to get fresh fruit and veg around here so we're going to be doing some mainstream produce as well as catering to the local Thai community. Expect lots of kale," she says.
Jarern Chai Grocer and Boon Cafe, 425 Pitt Street, Sydney, opening August 15, chatthai.com.au