Friday, 27 September 2013

Craving sweet things at Pinto Thai

It may be against formal table etiquette, but this way is the best way...

Pinto Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Pinto is a small Thai restaurant in an unexpected location - a small, quiet and not very well lit at all suburban street near Curtin University. I must have angered a driver or three who were driving behind me while I crawled at an annoying slow speed to try and squint at which street to turn into.

It was a pretty good unexpected find by my friend Angela, who happened to turn into this street for no particular good reason at all. They have some sweet lunch deals that could really satisfy, should you be around the area.
Curiosity pays well sometimes!
"Pile of love" are the words that take front page of Pinto's menu, and the good food is testament to their belief in food being nutrition for the body and mind. The menu features dishes that are categorised into stir-frys, noodles and curries, along with some of Pinto's signature main dishes.

Whilst deciding what to order, our table of four did a 180 degree head swivel, wide eyed stare as we all checked out the plate that was delivered to our neighbouring table - a magnificent stack of grilled pork spare ribs that all balanced on top of one another.
I think the dish's name "Heavenly Spare Ribs" is quite appropriately chosen :)

We decided to visit heaven next time as heaven didn't seem to have too much meat to go around the four of us.
Tod Mun Pla (Thai Fish Cakes) with special dipping sauce - $8
With a couple of fans of fish cakes on the table, they were easily won over by the description of Pinto's Thai fish cakes. These are made with snapper, chilli, mince paste and Thai herbs and spices and described as "very flavourful compared to other fish cake".

Although they were served popping hot and freshly deep fried, I am sad to report that they were mundane, just like the special dipping sauce which tasted nothing more than fancied up sweet chilli sauce. Not really a complaint, as the possibility of finding a mind-blowingly delicious fish cake is fairly grim.
Steamed Rice - $3 per head
We ordered rice to share, as ordering fragrant curries and satay stir-frys warrants the need to. Our original intention to order four serves of rice for four people was cut down to three serves when the staff member helpfully suggested that perhaps three would be enough. Hmm, our physique must be sending out the wrong messages...
Pad Thai with Seafood - $16.90
I had a hankering for pad thai and made sure it became part of our order that night. The system at Pinto is simple and well devised: you order your "base dish", be it green curry, fried noodles or whatever option you fancy then choose the meat you want, which is what sets the price of your dish. Mixing and matching to your heart's content.

We agreed on a seafood pad thai, which in hindsight was probably my preferred dish of the lot. It came with a good (although not entirely generous) mix of prawns, fish, squid and a grand total of 2 mussels that came in their shell. I ended up finishing what was left over after it did the rounds; left over not because it was a sizeable portion, but because the others have teeny appetites.
Penang Curry with Beef - $15.90
We ended up with a beef penang curry after deciding to simply pick one dish from each category on the menu. If I could choose again, I would probably go with chicken or duck instead of beef, simply because the beef tasted a little too normal, a little too tasteless and a little too not-having-that-awesome-softness I crave from meat curries. Pumpkin was certainly an interesting and clever inclusion that differentiates itself from the red capsicum, snow peas and mushrooms in the curry - it took me 2 chunks to realise I wasn't eating sweet potato.

The rich, golden curry sauce was great spooned over hot steamed rice, with the aroma of creamy coconut milk filling your nose as you eat. I always find my sense of smell is heightened when curry starts wafting around me, and I love it. I know most people put their curries and rice on a plate and eat spoon by spoon in a civilised manner, but I'd really recommend using a bowl filled with rice, dump a bucket of curry sauce on and pick it up, press it against your lips and using a spoon, chopsticks or whatever you have handy to just literally shovel it in your mouth.

It may be against formal table etiquette, but this way is the best to savour not only the taste but also to appreciate the wonderful aromas of the curry by getting up close and personal. And whilst it was described as a light curry, the sauce was deceiving - it packed a strong spiciness that caught us off guard.
Satay Chicken Stir-fry - $14.90
I've noticed a recurring tendency for my friend Melissa to gravitate towards satay stir-frys whenever she spots them on the menu. Pinto's chicken satay was a little underwhelming, as the homemade satay sauce did not have that rich, nutty flavour or aroma I love in a good satay sauce.

The red capsicum, green beans, carrots and baby corn were fresh and crisp but underseasoned. The chicken could also have packed a whole lot more flavour if it was stir-fried with lashings of the satay sauce, as it appears (and tastes) as if the sauce has only been ladled on top of the food instead of getting right in it, between it and all over it! Bummer.
Restaurant interior and open kitchen
The outside of Pinto is unassuming but took me by surprise as I stepped through the entrance. The dark, earthy tones used for its sleek, modern interior design for this buzzing Thai restaurant is a sweet transformation from its past life as a fish and chips takeaway. The tell-tale kitchen front is great though, for getting you close to the action and sharing good smells all around!

All dishes have an alterable spiciness level, on a scale from mild to blow your pants off super spicy. Oh and, don't try and ask for their dessert menu - they don't have one!

And the staff - they were lovely; polite and non-intrusive, even for all the times we laughed just a little too loud.
Pinto, Kensington
Pinto Thai Restaurant
Open 7 days

Lunch: 10.30am - 2.30pm
Dinner: 4.30pm - 9.30pm

2 Moresby Street, Kensington WA 6151
Dine in, take away and home delivery
BYO wine only

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