“Thaiger, Thaiger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night…”
The words of William Blake come to me as I realise my mispronunciation: ‘Thai-ger’, not ‘thigh-ger’. Derrrr…The light finally dawns.
We’ve noticed that once you stray north of Chirn Park, the great little spots to eat seem to dry up, especially at night. It’s like entering the dark and barren suburbs, or so we thought. But in the last week we’ve discovered two humble establishments worth visiting: Mr Brown’s Kitchen and Thaiger, both in Labrador.
Taking over the space once occupied by Big Sur is partners Ben Pansawet and Miki Khuansathit’s first café. Having saved hard while they were working in Sydney, the couple set off on a holiday around Australia to decide where they’d like to open their first business.
They fell in love with the Gold Coast as an area where they liked the climate. It was also affordable for them to start a café here.
“The Gold Coast is in the middle of everything. Tourists travel here all year round,” Ben says.
“We saw this business on Gumtree and decided that it was perfect for the budget we could afford. We didn’t want a business in a tourist area. Being in the suburbs, the locals are still here, even when the weather is bad.”
Having worked with Luke Nguyen in Sydney, Ben was confident of his cooking ability, the café carrying a full menu despite being limited by a tiny kitchen and only one wok burner.
They’ve stayed with Cleanskin coffee, the blend formerly carried by Big Sur, but the menu could hardly be more different.
Serving a mostly Aussie breakfast, with only a little Thai influence on some dishes, such as Caramelised pork and the Thai-styled Salmon omelette, it’s lunch and dinner that excite us.
“What we cook for you is what we eat,” Ben tells us. “Older generation Thai people cooked Thai food to suit Aussies, but we’re young, so we cook your food like we have at home.”
The daily lunch menu carries more than a dozen stir fries, rice and noodle dishes, but on a cool day it’s easy for us to choose a tasty Panang chicken curry, one of three curries available with your choice of meat, seafood, vegetable or tofu ($10.90 – $13.90). Stir-fried beef and cashew nut dish provides the vegies.
Dinner shows off a larger menu: a choice of popular Thai entrées ($7.50 – $10.50), soup, salad, curry, stir fries, rice and noodles ($10.90 – $20.90), including favourites such as Crispy pork belly, Pad Thai, Green curry chicken, Thai prawn omelette and Stir-fried cashew nut with chilli jam and vegetables for takeaway, or dine in and BYO.
The young couple are taking it slowly, but as business is picking up they have plans to improve the venue and even to renovate the kitchen. As it is, though, after several months vacant, it’s as though a little light has turned on in the darkness of northern dining.
Shop 9, 107 Turpin Rd, Labrador Ph: 07 5528 4476
Open: Thurs – Sun 6am – 2pm, 4:30 – 8:30pm; Mon – Wed 6am–2pm