One stop shop for your immediate & future culinary needs!
What can I say, Boon Caf is our go-to restaurant when we’re undecided on what we want for lunch. The suggestions usually start flying when we’re ‘Umming & Erring’ about a prior lunch plan, and we start to toss out alternatives: Ramen? Korean? Viet? And often-times we inevitably look at each other and suggest Boon Caf? And we always land on a point of agreement as soon as Boon Caf is thrown-out there.
This afternoon was no exception, we had initially planned to have Pizzas from Fratelli Famous at World Square, but since we were at Galleries Victoria doing some shopping I placed doubt in our minds by suggesting Blackstar Pastry? But when we were there, checking-out their pies and sausage rolls, all of a sudden we remembered that we hadn’t had veg in a while (we had burgers for dinner 2 nights in a row); thus wanting a lighter meal, so we inevitably deferred to our go-to option……. Boon caf!
It was only the other day when I was listening to ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry’ podcast, where LT was interviewing Palisa Anderson, the daughter of Amy Chanta and the inspiration behind Boon Café; and after hearing some of the behind the scene stories I had a greater appreciation of the Eatery & Grocer. If you’ve been blissfully unaware of Boon Café, Boon caf is a spin-off from the incredibly successful Chat Thai group, filling the gap in the market for a Thai Western fusion menu which Palisa had grown-up eating, i.e. Asian ingredients stuffed in-between two slices of bread. And I can completely relate, as my mum had made her fair share of Chinese-ie Sandwiches for me and my sister, ranging from placing last night’s leftovers in-between two slices of brown bread and butter like de-boned chicken drumsticks with bok choi; leftovers of her signature meat rissoles (come to think of it, it was kind of like a burger); or a generous spread of Gaiyum? I’m not even sure how to spell it, and Google can’t help me this time. Boo! If I describe it you might recognise it from your childhood as well? It’s this yellow/green sweet paste which you can get from Vietnamese grocers, I think it’s made from yams? So my mum used to spread it thickly onto our cheese and butter sandwiches (yeah the flavours didn’t always work out being savoury and sweet at the same time), but thinking about it now brings back many fond memories. In the past when we’ve eaten at Boon caf we’ve always stuck with their Asian offerings, but inspired by the pod and thoughts of sandwiches my mum used to make, this time we ventured out of our comfort-zone and tried Palisa’s fusion options.
The Boon café menu is really extensive, ranging from stir fries and noodle soups, to breakfast toasts and healthy flavoursome bowls. We usually don’t go past their rice bowls and this time was no exception, ordering the Nahm Prik Makua- (Northern region smoked eggplant relish, soft boiled egg, herb and pickled cabbage salad), but this time I elected for the sandwich instead of it being served with brown rice ($11- sandwich and rice bowl are the same price). While my wife had the Chicken, Squid and Holy Basil Sandwich- which was also served on sour dough bread ($14- this dish only had a sandwich option). And for drinks we had the Fresh cold pressed juice ($6) and the Taro milk tea ($5- without pearls).
If you haven’t been to Boon caf before, let me describe it to you- half of the store is a rustic café with bare brick walls and wooden floorboards; while the other half of the space is devoted to their own grocer (picture your typical Asian grocer, but insert neatly stacked shelves and a limited offering of products- just the true Thai essentials). The atmosphere and vibe of the café is always lively (as it’s always at least ¾ full),with pop-music playing over the speakers, happy chatter from every table, and the sound of the over-worked blender which is busily making ice drinks and cold presses (the combination of all these noises make for a vibrancy which adds to the dining experience).
Our drinks arrived first, and it was great to see that Boon caf were taking steps to be sustainable, replacing plastic straws with stainless steel reuseable straws with their drinks. My taro milk tea was sweet and refreshing, with a strong taro flavour; while my wife’s freshly squeezed green drink tasted predominantly of green apples, and fresh herbs. Very healthy indeed!
Then our sandwiches arrived shortly after.
From a value for money point of view, I still think you get more for your $$$ when you elect the rice bowl option, however if you’re looking for a light lunch and wanting something out-of-the-ordinary, having all the Thai toppings and flavours in-between sour dough was a nice change. The freshness of the ingredients was the stand-out for me, and the chilli hit was at the perfect level (hot enough, but not too hot where it overpowers the dish), and the sour dough bread was nice (I especially enjoyed the chewy crust, so much so that my wife gave me all of hers).
My wife’s Chicken and Squid sandwich was an open sandwich, with chicken mince, chunks of squid, herbs and soft boiled egg resting on-top of her sour dough. A knife and fork was required to devour it, and from all accounts it was tasty and she also agreed it was a nice change-up from our usual go-to dishes when we come to Boon caf. And when you’ve finished your meal, you can always mosey on to the grocer half of the store, and pick-up fresh produce which had featured in your meal for your next and future meals! A one stop shop for all your culinary needs for now and into the future!
However if we had to choose again, I still think our preference is for the rice bowl version of our dishes, and/or the Asian half of the menu. Just for the simple reason that Boon caf does so so so well with creating an outstanding Thai dish, thus we’ll always go back to those more traditional offerings. But it’s nice to know that the fusion offerings are there, if we feel like it!
End verdict, if we’re grading it on today’s experience alone, it’ll be a 4 from 5 star rating? (2.5 from 3 for Food). However if we’re rating Boon Café and taking into account all of our previous visits, the rating will be 4.5 from 5 Stars (3 from 3 for Food; 0.5 from 0.5 for Service; 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere; and 0.5 from 1 for Value for Money, as you’re paying a bit of a premium, when compared to other Thai places around the corner on Campbell Street). We’ll always go back to Boon caf, as it’s our go-to when we want Thai, or a healthy feed! And now that we’ve tried their fusion offerings, it’s nice to know it’s there if we want it.
Boon Café- 13 January (4.5 Stars)
(PH: 02) 8318 2283
425 Pitt Street, Haymarket NSW
Mon-Sun 8am – 12midnight