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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Jinda Thai Restaurant

Cheap Asian food is something I grew up with in Sydney. Melbourne is often touted as having a better dining scene than Sydney (medium-range and fine dining -- absolutely! -- well, in my experience), but even after nearly six years here, I still find Melbourne lacking in the cheap-but-great-quality-Asian-food category. And I'm not talking pan-Asian: I'm talking specific to one cuisine only, (Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Malaysian, etc). I still find it upsetting when I go to a Japanese restaurant and find Pad Thai on the menu, or something similar. I feel a restaurant should do one cuisine well, rather than try to pander to the tastes of patrons who may not yet be familiar with that cuisine. Use it as an opportunity to educate! Let your customers experience one of the last genuine representations of culture: food!

Happily, Jinda Thai (1-7 Fergus St, Abbotsford) is genuine, great-quality Thai food (only) at quite reasonable prices. It was opened in July 2013 by the owners of two Krua Thai venues. After a prompt write-up in Broadsheet, its patronage went through the roof, and it was very difficult to get a table. I'm not sure of its current status of busy-ness, but Jinda's Facebook page advises that it actually does take bookings. I have attempted to get in twice without a booking (once successful, once not!), so I am happy to learn that this is one Melbourne restaurant bucking the no-bookings trend.

Since it is down a side street just before Victoria Street's notorious strip of restaurants, you wouldn't really know Jinda was there unless you went seeking it. It also has a very unassuming-looking entrance. So it is surprising, once you find it, to see how large a space the restaurant inhabits.

Light and airy, the height and depth of the restaurant helps alleviate the chaos of all the bodies inside. There are a few kitsch Thai touches: carved wooden furniture, lanterns, flowery cushions, big portraits hanging on the walls, blackboard specials in curly Thai-style script; and a few industrial: large windows, exposed brick, warm paint colours. Basically, it's a really big room crammed with tables that somehow manages to feel warm and rustic, despite its size.

On my visit, service was friendly, but not exactly accurate. A few items of our order were buggered up - but rectified once brought to staff's attention. Fortunately, the quality of the food made up for any errors. My coeliac, vegetarian friend didn't have a heap of options, but they were able to adapt something for him. I only wish I'd written down the names of the dishes for you. Sorry! but they still look pretty mouth-watering, right?

Soft shell crab


Thai green curry

Prawn thingies

Drunken or drowning something ??

Pad see ew

Dipping sauce

I would recommend trying Jinda with a big group of young-ish people (and a booking!) on a weeknight, when it's not so busy. With a bit of patience, you will get to enjoy some great food.

Jinda is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, and takes cash only.

Jinda Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon