Friday, May 10, 2013

Ayatana - Modern Thai Food

Ayatana, which means the senses, is what the restaurant tries to create and present to the customer according to their menu. The restaurant is modern Thai food, which means it can encompass many things. I'm not someone who insists foods need to stick to the traditional flavours and I like when people re-invent things and it works. So I went to Ayatana excited to try out something different yet grounded in Thai flavours.

The restaurant is located on Chapel Street, but in Windsor, so not at the busy end where people cruise their cars up and down the streets. The restaurant is a very cosy place, seating about 30-40 people. The room is setup nicely and looks very elegant with fairly dim lighting. As usual, I'll say that I'm not a fan of dimly lit restaurants, but this place was on the borderline ok for me as I could still see people's faces. The ambiance was rather boisterous, which was unexpected. The noise levels got quite high and we were all happily chatting away.

I went along with my friends and we decided to sample a selection of dishes as we all enjoy trying new things. For entrees, we sampled Roast Pork Belly, Beef Tacos, Crispy Soft Shell Crab and Tempure Prawns. As you can see, the styles are quite diverse, but all the dishes have flavours grounded in Thai flavours. The roast pork belly was good, with a tender belly, crispy skin and a nice sweet/salty sauce. The beef tacos did not work for me. The star anise flavours were far too dominant and the dish was too salty. The crispy soft shell crab had a good flavour and the batter was crispy, but we all felt that we couldn't quite taste the crab flavour anymore. Lastly, the tempura prawns are really good. A crispy batter covers some juicy prawns in again a sweet and salty sauce.

For the mains, the Crispy Barramundi again had great flavours, but the fish was a bit lost in the dish. The slices of fish could have been thicker so that the middle parts were not touched by the sauce and could be tasted more. A lighter pad thai with vegetables was very good and a papaya salad was really refreshing and zingy.

The two best dishes were the Red Curry Duck and the Seafood Tom Yum. The curry was nice and rich and smooth, with spicy hits and flavoursome duck. It went beautifully over rice. The highlight dish was the seafood tom yum. It wasn't a soup but more some seafood with a sauce. The seafood tasted great and the sauce was excellent. Again I loved the sauce over steamed rice.

For desserts, we tried the Boiled Banana, Sticky Rice, Ice Cream and Tapioca Pearls. The boiled banana was surprisingly not very good. I think it may be that the bananas weren't ripe as the flavour was quite strange. The sticky rice was really good, with a sweet egg custard and coconut. The ice cream consisted of two flavours. The vanilla was rich and creamy and the fig, pistachio and honey was good too. Lastly, the tapioca pearls with corn and coconut was excellent with the flavours combining well.

Overall, the food was mostly good. I wouldn't say the food was that Modern as in most of the flavours were quite traditional and I've tasted before. Some items need some tweaking so that they can be improved but mostly the flavours were good. The service was efficient and friendly and I good overall. On the cost side, I think the meal would be slightly on the expensive side, but if you feel like eating in South Yarra, this is an option worth considering.

My guests and I dined courtesy of Ayatana.

Ayatana on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I am quite excited to come and taste this place on my own.. must find time to schedule this in!