Most of us would assume our little local Asian restaurant down the street would be more authentic than a buzzing hot spot in Braddon, well you may just be mistaken.
Eat Canberra was recently invited to have dinner at Zaab, a trendy, Thai-Lao street food restaurant located on Lonsdale Street, Braddon. With the cool, unique and interesting vibe of an underground Bangkok bar, I was pleasantly surprised that this little gem was owned and operated by a traditional Thai family. The head chef is the father of owner, Becky Khanthavongsa and Zaab’s Manager Ricky Liau is a cocktail expert, having hosted a long line of award winning Melbourne bars.
While most cocktail menus consist of one or two goodies, Ricky has managed to deliver a whole line of island inspired sensations that taste equally as good as they look. If you’ve ever been to Phuket’s Thai rich and exotic cultural spectacular, FantaSea, imagine that except in a fancy glass served with pineapple leaf.
Accommodating date nights, casual eats and group bookings, Zaab caters for the after-work drink and tapas-style dining, to the highly recommended ‘Feed Me’ option, where the knowledgeable wait staff do the choosing for you. You can sit at the bar, at one of the tables inside or you can find a table outside (under a heater).
You’ll find a range of delicious street food options, grilled dishes, wok-fried dishes, curries, a range of sides and some ‘Zaab zone’ dishes. Eat Canberra’s Founder Amelia loved the chicken yellow curry with coconut rice and the crying tiger (if you can handle the heat). But honestly, she loved everything! There are soooo many dishes on the menu we are yet to try and we’re already looking forward to our next visit.
But the dining options don’t stop there! A traditional Thai hot pot is available every Thursday night so you don’t just get to enjoy the taste of Thailand, you can also experience it. Served in a traditional simmering hot pot with the excitement of flaring flames, each member of the table can participate in cooking their very own culturally cultivated meal. This option is a true Thai-Lao dining experience where sharing a meal is custom to the nature of harbouring meaningful relationships.
While many places close on Monday, Zaab was still buzzing. They currently open from 5pm for dinner 7 days a week and after the kitchen closes on Friday and Saturday nights you’ll find street carts on the pavement out the front. They serve up a range of Lao-Thai noodle soups and satay sticks to satisfy your late-night food cravings! Don’t let the cold weather stop you because you can take your food inside and enjoy it with a drink at the bar to stay warm.
So, the next time you’re pining for Thailand or wanting to have an authentic dining experience, check out Zaab.
About the Author
Having wined and dined her way across Canberra and Sydney, Tatum has plenty of experience critiquing restaurants and eateries. Alongside her passion for food blogging, she is a Business Development Manager with a background in Marketing Management. Specialising in innovation, she is sure to highlight the ever-expanding modernization of Canberra’s food scene.
Eat Canberra dined as a guest of Zaab but all opinions are the author’s own.