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HOT: Thai Charms Restaurant, 1/92 Merthyr Rd, New Farm

Thai Charms 1/92 Merthyr Road New Farm

There’s a little strip of shops across the road from Merthyr Village where it seems restaurants have difficulty in keeping business. In the few years that the Jetsetting Parents have become New Farm locals, the location has variously housed a Vietnamese restaurant, a South American restaurant and who knows what before that.

Don’t let the same fate happen to Thai Charms.

There’s a lot of slapdash Thai food to be found in our cities, I think mainly because it’s replaced the local Chinese as the takeaway of choice. But Thai food is not just about chucking in some meat and veg with a whole bunch of chillies and a can of coconut milk – the cuisine is marked by a delicate harmony between the competing flavours of sour, sweet and salt, with a good dose of heat to stimulate the appetite in tropical conditions.

Thai Charms was recommended to the Jetsetting Parents by my Mum’s massage therapist, who had lived in Thailand for many years. The fit out is basic and functional – wipe-down plastic over the tables, paper napkins, chipped concrete floors. The plastic menu contains a list of Thai food’s greatest hits – nothing surprising or unfamiliar. Nevertheless, I think the kitchen (manned by two chirpy middle-aged Thai women) produces dishes which are step above your average suburban Thai.

Thai Charms 1/92 Merthyr Road New Farm

We tried the Num Tok (spiced beef salad with red onion and coriander) ($16.50), green curry chicken ($16.50) and a chilli and basil stir fry of tofu and vegetables ($13.50). We specifically asked for everything to be cooked ‘Thai hot’ – no insipid Western style dishes for us! What came out were generously proportioned dishes containing roughly chopped ingredients doused with a good amount of sweat-inducing chilli. Everything was full of robust flavours and nicely seasoned, with the most unexpected dish being the Num Tok due to the meat being covered in some sort of fishy smelling paste. This led to much speculation around the table (fish sauce? shrimp paste? crushed dried shrimp?) before the waiter told us it was crushed deep fried rice. Well, I’ve done some research on the internet and can’t find any mention of such a seasoning/paste in Thai dishes, so maybe I misheard him or he misunderstood me. If you’d can enlighten me I’d be really grateful!

Thai Charms 1/92 Merthyr Road New Farm

Regardless, I can recommend Thai Charms if you want above-average Thai food. If you can bear the heat, ask for the dishes to be served Thai hot – it’ll bring out a much more authentic flavour to your meal.

For another great Thai restaurant in Brisbane, try Mons Ban Sabai in Camp Hill.

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  1. the crushed deep fried rice doesn’t sound to unusual- shredded pork, in a vietnamese combination pork rice dish, is seasoned with ground toasted rice (uncooked)

    Posted by campai | January 7, 2010, 10:20 pm
  2. Ground rice, usually toasted instead of fried, is used in a lot of thai salads and the specks are visible in the photo above. The fishy flavour would come from something else though – probably fish sauce in the dressing.

    Posted by jean | February 5, 2010, 8:26 pm
  3. Hi Jean

    Thanks for clarifying that – I had no idea.

    Jetsetting Joyce

    Posted by Jetsetting Joyce | February 8, 2010, 6:53 am
  4. The beef salad definitely has fish sauce in it so my guess the fishy taste is the fish sauce?

    From the top of my head it has

    medium rare steak – sliced
    spring onions
    shallots/red onion
    roughly ground toasted rice
    fish sauce
    dried chilli flake/powder
    basil/mint (optional)

    hope that helps! Lol

    Posted by Alyssa | August 23, 2010, 7:32 am
  5. I re-visited the restaurant after being overseas for a month. Unfortunately, the food no longer looked or tasted the same. It’s definitely a NOT this time: the beef salad lacked the robust taste and colour,the beef was tough, coriander was missing, shallots were few and the sauce was overpowering with fish sauce with no hot&spicy taste. The beef in the massaman curry was tough too. One piece of the potato tasted “off” that I had to spit it out. I suspect either the chef is away or it’s under new management. Pity!

    Posted by mumkwok | September 13, 2010, 7:16 pm
  6. That picture of Num Tok Looks Amazing, I am definitely going to be ordering that this evening.

    Posted by Adam Beaumont | April 8, 2011, 9:55 pm

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