Spatula, Spoon and Saturday

Eating and Cooking all the things in Melbourne

Melbourne Food Review: Papaya Pog Pog, Springvale

Papaya Pog Pog* was the very original real Thai food restaurant that I have discovered through a recommendation from some random internet person on a Thai forum (who said the internet isn’t useful!?!) They serve great Central Thai staples such as curries, stir-fries, noodles but they also do the North-Eastern (Isaan) food rather well. They carry a few different versions of som tum, salads, soups, meats and stir-fries.

(pad grapow on rice with fried egg – $9?)

I was in the area for the day for an errand. Hungry (I think I was fasting due to having to get a blood test done but that could just be an excuse), I ordered my eternal favourite at this place, the pad grapow with minced beef. They do it here the way I like my pad grapow: just mince, garlic, chilli, sauces and grapow – a type of basil. This is the way it’s done in Thailand. No veggies, no onion, nothing. Served with a fried egg. The most popular Thai lunch is served. Loved it. The flavours are chilli, garlicky and strong, the scent of the grapow beautifully woven into the dish. It pisses me off when a restaurant uses horapa (i.e. Thai basil) instead. This one didn’t +2.

(rard nar – stir-fried rice noodles with thick sauce – $9?)

Josh had opted for rard nar – which is a stir-fried rice noodle topped with pork and vegetable sauce. If you are familiar with the Cantonese char hor fun, this is basically the Thai version of it. It tastes relatively different of course – the rice noodle is fried in a hot wok with dark soy sauce added pretty much the same way. But the sauce is always made of kanar (kai lan or Chinese broccoli), sliced pieces of meat (usually pork or chicken) and the ever important fermented soy bean sauce. It doesn’t look like much here but it was good (I had Josh as an unbiased judge here and the boy knows good food).

(Nam kluk – $10?)

Nam kluk was our last dish to share. It was basically a ‘salad’ (I guess the Thai definition of salad is slightly loose) made up of nam, which was a fermented pork and pork rind sausage. Nam is generally eaten raw. In this dish, it was served with kao todd – a rice ball concoction that had been flavoured with curry paste, ginger, coconut and deep fried. It was then squished apart and tossed with the nam, spring onion, coriander, lettuce, fried dried chilli to make up this awesomely punch, textural salad. It was crunchy, spicy, tangy, salty. All the flavours. Loved it (again!) It was authentic enough (I would have preferred some fresh mint and no lettuce) as far as nam kluk goes and I was pretty happy with it.

Papaya Pog Pog – simple dishes done well and authentically. And not a bad service either. What else could I ask for? Well, maybe better decor.

Papaya Pog Pog, 12b Balmoral Ave, Springvale, Vic 3171 ph: 03 9540 8281

* Most Thais are quite familiar with the phrase ‘papaya pock pock’ – the story, so I’m told, originated from a som tum vendor who couldn’t explain to an English-speaking tourist what a som tum is. The only word she had known in English was papaya (I could so poke holes in this story, I could, but I never let the truth get in a way of a good story. I’m looking at you) and ‘pock pock’ of course is the sound made when the wooden pestle makes contact with a clay mortar – the typical pestle and mortar set used to make som tum (unlike my awesome granite one).