Atom Thai’s one of the highest-rated Thai restaurants you can find on Urbanspoon. I’ve found that my tastes and opinions are in line with Urbanspoon ratings for perhaps 60-70% of the time. Collective Wisdom ftw! Atom Thai is one of the highest rated places, but it’s also situated in a suburb (Newtown) that’s renowned for a large collection of high quality Thai eateries. I’m sad that I never got to explore it very much, having only been to Thai Pothong (for which I can’t have a review up as I didn’t take pictures D:), so I’m very much looking forward to exploring more of the scene.
With Atom Thai, it’s a great start!
Date Visited: 24/1/2013
Address: 130 King St Newtown, NSW
Go-to dish: Tom yum fried rice
The interior of Atom Thai is mostly red, with red walls and reddish lighting. It’s got two areas – the front, where you can see from outside the restaurant, and a back area. We ended up sitting there.
This was one of those ultra rare times where I got to eat at a restaurant in a group of more than just two (me + one other), as well as being able to take photos to boot. As such, I got to try more dishes than I usually would be able to stomach myself, which is always fantastic for variety’s sake.
We start off with some crab spring rolls. These were interesting to me as they also featured taro and a non-standard pastry, in the form of rice paper that’s been weaved like a fine net.
- As you would expect, they’re quite oily, but that comes standard with the package. No self-respecting spring isn’t, but the usual “beware” is there if you’re oil-conscious
- The fish you could taste probably more than the crab, the crab delivers better texture though, due to fish meat being very soft in general relative to crab
- That sweet plum sauce is absolutely necessary, otherwise the spring rolls get really dry (despite the oil), and besides the flavour is just great in any case
Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one who can take extraordinary amounts of chilli, so thanks to group consensus we only ordered the mild version of the tom yum fried rice. Still, you don’t need that much chilli here, as the dish itself is actually…incredibly good.
- I’m actually not really able to fault this dish even if I tried. It’s just so good…
- The rice is great, it borders on soggy, but really it’s quite good as it’s not hard. I’d rather have my rice more wet than dry
- This dish is really about its taste, that classic tang of Thai brought forth from the tom yum sauce, the herby leaves, it’s just so good. Japanese is my favourite cuisine, but Thai is actually a close second (if I haven’t mentioned it before)
- Generous amounts of seafood included leaves me no doubt that the dish is worth its asking price, and well-cooked to boot
Yeah this fried rice is pretty much bordering on perfect. Again, usual comments about oil apply, but ain’t nobody got time for that.
A slight more daring dish, as there was a bit more chilli (but still ordered mild), the Crispy Barramundi w/Thai celery is a fiery hit to the taste buds indeed.
- Well I say fiery hit, but not really. It was really the spices that were awesome, not so much how hot the dish was (it wasn’t). As usual, the Thai spice sensation is all there. They sure know how to work it
- Vegetables are amazingly fresh, crunchy to the taste and receptive of the sauce. Veggies usually don’t add much in the way of flavour (only texture), but I find that in Thai dishes it adds flavour too. SMART
- The fish was GREAT. Full of flavour and the batter accentuated the soft flesh within. Bingo
All in all, a pretty great dish as well, even though it’s “extraordinarily standard”. The stalwarts are there for a reason.
Thai salads. The only kind of salad that I can enjoy on a consistent basis. The secret? Great dressing, and the inclusion of MEAT!
- There’s plenty of duck in the salad to satisfy, and for the most part it’s cooked quite well. There were some rather stringy, fatty bits, but luckily they’re rather easy to remove
- As expected by this point, vegetables were of high quality. Fresh, crisp, and refreshing. Almost like a palate cleanser
- And that spice…mmm that Thai spice
I would probably order something heavier next time, but that’s really just my natural aversion of salads (my my, am I a healthy bloke)
The photo for this and the next dish are rather…rubbish as I finally gave up and packed away my tripod due to increasing difficulties in getting it to remain stable (and I certainly was not about to ask the others at the table to stop moving). Still, pad Thai is pad Thai!
The pad Thai at Atom is in line with the better pad Thais out there. It’s hard to improve on a dish that’s just so common, but at least for me, it has to have
- An ample amount of sauce, but not enough to make the noodles seem like they were left for 2 hours to soak and get soggy
- Enough crushed peanuts for me to taste them when dispersed throughout, with each and every bite
- Enough meat so that I don’t feel like I’m shoving down mouthfuls of carbs with every bite (so many el cheapo Thai places are guilty of this one)
- A great level of that classic fish sauce tang
It sounds like I’m going overly nuts over something like pad Thai but if you really think about it, those are all rather basic requirements – spelling them out makes it seem over-the-top.
Well, it’s great to report that Atom pretty much hits all of those spots, with the exception that the meat tasted a bit overcooked – too stringy, hard to chew. Other than that, great dish!
I almost always order a panang curry when I get Thai food. It just goes so well with rice; I don’t often eat rice -sushi aside, eating it with curry is one of the few other times I do so. You just can’t resist that spicy, creamy taste. Absolutely delicious.
- This is genuine curry indeed, they definitely homemade this as I’ve not tasted panang curry quite like this in any of the places I’ve been to before in living memory. Unique = yes. Good because of that = why not?
- There’s quite a lot of meat in there, not that you can see it. It’s done perfectly, nuff said
- Not the strongest of panangs I’ve had, and I do like them strong, but that doesn’t matter as it simply meant I can eat more of it without having to take rice on the side. Perfect!
I like this curry so much, I have very little to say about it. Yep, that happened.
Wow, that’s a lot of courses. But wait, there’s dessert!
There ain’t no dessert that doesn’t have ice cream, and this first one is exactly what is provided.
- Ice cream is standard vanilla, the strawberry jus added a layer of sweetness that was very enjoyable
- That cake was really something – almost creamy consistency, the taro was very finely processed to be extremely consistent. Good stuff, and not something I’ve had at a Thai place before.
Ahhh, I suspect some of you would be thinking whether Atom Thai had something like this. Popularised by Home Thai, Atom Thai has their own version of mango & sticky rice which uses black rice instead. A more nutritious dessert has thus been provided!
- The mango is definitely not the star of the show here – that goes to the rice! Its harder-than-white-rice texture appeals to me, as it’s not just a soggy mess (not that versions made with white rice are soggy), excellent texture. There’s a good deal of flavour from the coconut milk it was cooked in too
- As for the mango itself, it’s pretty much your standard mango – I love mangos so that’s perfect for me. You’d better like mango too if you’re going to order this dessert.
An extremely positive experience dining at Atom Thai. Definitely a restaurant to return to over and over again. Collective wisdom for the win, indeed!
Oh and they do takeaway. You really have no excuse now do you
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
The Good: excellent Thai food, very reasonable prices for the portions
What could be improved: the dessert menu could use a bit more fluffing up
I give a grand total of Caesars out of ten – 8.5/10