South-west Sydney, which is known for its ethnic enclave of Vietnamese, remains a rarely visited area of Sydney for me despite my closest friends being Vietnamese. Indeed, Cabramatta is even considered a gourmand destination for Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese cuisines. Of course, when you can get delicious and authentic food from those cuisines closer to home or work, it’s only an impromptu group dinner after a gruelling study session that D and I found ourselves in Cabramatta West at Kaffir Lime Thai & Lao Cuisine.
Tucked away on a side street with a handful of other shops, there’s fierce competition in the area with Holy Basil, Green Peppercorn and Twelve Spices close by. But when one of D’s study group buddies, though, counted Kaffir Lime Thai & Lao Cuisine as their favourite restaurant, we knew it was worth a try.
For drinks, we have the Passionfruit Shake ($5.00), which was bright with tropical flavours like a Frosty Fruit Iceblock by Streets although it lacked the tartness of the fresh fruit, and the Jackfruit Shake ($5.00), which delivered on the flavour of the fruit although its more icy and less than the one at Huong Xua.
Salt & Pepper Squid ($16.90), ‘deep fried battered squid tossed with salt, pepper, chilli and garlic’, starts us off.
The squid is tender and soft with a thin and crispy batter, with the chilli at the bottom of the plate delivering a good heat to those inclined.
Next up is a Soft Shell Crab Salad ($21.90), ‘crispy fried soft shell crab served with a salad of green apple, green mango (seasonal), red onions, celery, carrots, lemongrass, shallots, coriander and chilli lime dressing topped with cashew nuts’.
I love a crispy soft shell crab and these are just that with juicy crab meat inside. The salad is aromatic with tangy and sweet flavours, adding freshness between bites of fried food.
This is the Ox Tongue ($15.90), ‘grilled ox tongue, sliced and served with our homemade sauce’.
The ox tongue was tasty with lightly caramelised edges and went well with the lightly vinegary dipping sauce. It was tender for the most part although the end slices were quite tough.
This is the Raw Beef Larb ($12.90, available cooked), ‘fine diced beef salad with tripe, anchovy sauce, lemon juice, fine roasted rice, shallots, coriander, fresh and dried chillies’ at ‘medium’ heat (available mild and hot).
The larb had a balanced flavour of sweet, salty and spicy with a hint of acidity, that did not overwhelm the flavour of the tender raw beef, while the tripe added texture. At medium heat, the spiciness was enough to deliver a long burn. Next time, we’d go with the mild.
And finally, the Grapao Moo Grob ($15.90) with ‘stir fried crispy pork belly in a chilli basil sauce’.
The pork belly was tender, although being the last table to arrive at the restaurant, the cuts were not the best and some pieces were missing the crispy skin. The sauce had a fragrant basil flavour with a generous chilli kick that went well with the pork.
The dishes at Kaffir Lime Thai & Lao Cuisine are reasonably priced and sized with complex flavours that are fragrant and well-balanced. Those who like Thai and Lao food would enjoy a visit.
Kaffir Lime Thai & Lao Cuisine is at 112A Lord St, Cabramatta West NSW 2166.