$9.50 - Various noodle dishes
Thai cuisine is renowned for its balance of salty, sweet, sour, spicy and bitter. It was the promise of these flavours that lured us into Plenty Thai Restaurant during a regular lunchtime visit to our happy hunting ground at Shafto Lane.
Plenty has a large bain marie at the front of the restaurant, serving sub $10 combination plates that don't look too bad (an honourable mention must go to the fried chilli fish that looked simultaneously appetising and unhealthy). But we were here for fresh flavours and wanted to pick from the cooked to order menu. The most frustrating part about the Plenty menu is that it sounds delicious, but almost every appetising meal costs $10.50 and is thus disqualified from our review. Just when we thought all hope was gone, the back page of the menu showed five stir fried noodle dishes priced at a Pavarotti-friendly $9.50 (chicken, pork and beef options only).
We tried the Pad Ka Prow (chilli and basil) and the Pad Kee Mao ('herbs', chilli and green peppercorns), both with pork. After a refreshingly short wait, our dishes were delivered fresh from the wok. I must admit that I am no expert on Thai food and am happy to be corrected, but the Pad Ka Prow (or 'Prao') I have had in the past has consisted of ground meat, usually chicken or pork, stir fried with chilli and basil and served with rice. Thanks to the menu, I was under no illusions that the Pad Ka Prow I had ordered would be served with noodles. The flavour and aroma of fried Thai basil was great and the meat, served in strips, was tender and tasty. The crispy fried shallots on top added some great texture. The Pad Kee Mao also delivered some serious flavour, courtesy of the green peppercorns. Both noodle dishes were served with a generous amount of mixed vegetables.
On the down side, the rice noodles were a little oily and stuck together, giving the dish a heavy feeling. But the main disappointment was the 'sameness' of the two dishes. Apart from the basil in one dish and the peppercorns in the other, you would have a hard time telling them apart visually. The fresh, intense but balanced flavours I was looking forward to were lost among this ubiquitous 'spicy Asian noodle' flavour which, albeit still tasty, doesn't blow your mind.
Plenty Thai Restaurant is a good place to try for lunch if you're sick of the plethora of Japanese restaurants in Perth. Kudos to the kitchen on turning out tasty noodle dishes with tender meat in a very short time. I'd have no problems eating there again but unfortunately the noodle dishes we tried did not show off the expert balance of intense fresh flavours I was hoping for.
Our review was restricted to the noodle menu, but it is worth having a look at some of the delicious pictures on Plenty's webpage and Facebook page. The roast duck red curry with lychee, pineapple and cherry tomato looks particularly good!