I've be wanting to dine at Tapioca for quite sometime now, as the offerings seem a bit different compared to the usual Thai eatery options in the area. Cheesecake Boy and I just never seemed to get around to trying this place out, but I knew that we'd get here eventually. Even though, Cheesecake Boy and I usually get sidetracked by Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi, I was not going to get sidetracked this time, as I wanted to try something different to mark a certain special occasion. I guess most of us can relate to finishing high school and my sister Pumpkin just undertook her last HSC exam the other day, so I thought Tapioca would be the perfect spot to celebrate the end of an era, and the start of a new beginning.
Drinks always marks a start to any celebration, and for Cheesecake Boy that usually means beer, so this time round he ordered a Peroni.
Pumpkin is not quite eighteen years old yet, so Dumpling Sister and I decided to set a good example and order one of the two mocktails available. We both chose the Like a Virgin mocktail, and it was a truly refreshing concoction of pomegranate juice, cranberry juice with fresh lime and mint. The heady punch of lime juice was delightful, and I'm really keen to try and reinvent this drink at home, but with a dash of vodka.
|Like a Virgin, $7.90|
Pumpkin ordered the other mocktail being the Yellow Shirt that consisted of passionfruit, apple juice, mango nectar, kaffir lime leaves and fresh lemon juice. This drink instantly reminded me of a balmy summer day with its syrupy sweet and tropical flavours.
|Yellow Shirt, $7.90|
The entree of deep fried quail eggs and minced prawns wrapped in egg noodles with tamarind sauce has been something that I've been wanting to try for ages. Yes, I am an annoying menu stalker. This entree usually comes with three whole eggs cut in halves, but the lovely staff offered to add another crispy egg for us to munch on, so we'd all get one each. If an entree is great, it always gets me excited about the rest of the meal ahead, and this entree was definitely one of those entrees. This entree was a lovely play on texture with its soft quail egg centre encased by minced prawns that was encrusted by gloriously crispy egg noodles, and finished off with a somewhat sweet, but tart tamarind sauce.
|Deep fried quail eggs & minced prawns wrapped in egg noodles with tamarind sauce, $18.50 for four eggs|
Pumpkin loves scallops as much as I do, so the grilled scallops with mint, coriander, dried chilli and lime dressing was the obvious choice for our second entree. The grilled scallops were beautifully cooked to juicy perfection. The tangy lime dressing was nicely contrasted by the fresh mint and corinader and lemongrass with a hint of chilli coming through. These delicate morsel were definitely packed with flavour.
|Grilled scallops with mint, coriander, dried chilli & lime dressing, $16|
Cheesecake Boy usually makes a beeline for pork belly if he sees it on any menu, and I can say that I'm so glad that he ordered the crispy pork belly in sweet and sour spicy sauce, as it has to be one of my favourite versions of this dish. The pork belly was wonderfully caramelised, and rightly crispy where it need be, so that the succulent sweet pork still came through with each bite. The sticky sauce that coated each piece of pork had just the right amount of sweetness, and the slightly sour and spicy notes tingled blissfully at the end of each bite, making it so easy to go for another piece.
|Crispy pork belly in sweet and sour spicy sauce, $25|
I initially wanted the fried rice ball salad with chicken mince, but I realised that most of our meal was either fried or caramelised, and a healthier balance was in order. That's how we ended up with the trout fillet with green mango salad, fresh mint and coriander upon the recommendation of our waitress. The pieces of trout were beautifully flaky, but there were some pesky little delicate bones in parts. However, this salad was so refreshingly moreish with its tangy and sweet green mango salad, and the addition of mint and coriander gave it a lovely lift.
|Trout fillet with green mango salad, fresh mint and coriander, $27|
It seem to be a night of fish, as we also ordered the deep fried whole snapper with three flavour sauce and crispy Thai basil. The snapper was nicely deep fried with great crispy skin and moist flesh. However, the three flavour sauce was reminiscent of a tomato chutney that I was not so into, but I did adore the the fragrant crispy Thai basil perched around the snapper.
|Deep fried whole snapper with three flavour sauce & crispy Thai basil, $29.50|
They actually offer a king prawn pad Thai here as the standard, but chicken was an option too. The noodles are thinner than the usual pad Thai noodles, so there's more skill involved in getting this dish right. I enjoyed the thinner and slightly bouncier texture of the noodles, but these delicate noodles seemed to clump together and this made it hard to mix through the peanuts and sprouts. Unfortunately, I also thought this dish was let down by the sauce, as there wasn't enough in parts, and at the same time the sauce was a bit bland.
|Pad Thai with chicken, beansprout, tofu, egg & peanut, $16|
We may have been clutching our stomachs just a little, but no celebration is complete without dessert as far as I'm concerned. To make things a little easier, we ordered two desserts to share. We needn't have worried about our fullness because right after our first taste of the coconut dumplings with sweet coconut cream, our dessert stomachs kicked. I've never tasted coconut dumplings quite like these, and they were truly delicious. The dumpling skin was glutinous, but not over sticky or soft, but quite firm to the bite. However, it was the filled to the brim roasted nuttiness of the desiccated coconut filling that I swooned over. These dumplings went down well against the sweet saltiness of the sweet coconut cream.
|Coconut dumplings with sweet coconut cream, $9|
We had difficulty with choosing the second dessert, as we couldn't decide between the Tapioca pudding with young coconut and coconut cream or the sticky rice with mango and coconut cream. Our choice was made easier once we realised that both the pudding and mango sticky rice were available under the selection of desserts of the day. The other dessert on our platter were crispy wafers with meringue and shredded yolk custard.
I was really looking forward to the Tapioca pudding with young coconut and coconut cream. However, my first impression was not a good one, as I found it quite salty at first. Undeterred I gave this dessert another try, and before I knew it, I was addicted to this sweet and salty textural pudding of tapioca and young coconut. I decided to try the sticky rice with mango and coconut cream next. I don't know about you, but I find it hard to go past a sticky rice with mango dessert, and not want to eat it. The sweetness of the sticky rice and coconut cream was quite restrained, so it really let the beautifully sweet mango flesh shine through. I don't know how my stomach pulled through, but I did managed to taste the crispy wafers with meringue and shredded yolk custard. The highlight of these taco shaped wafers was the light as air and fluffy meringue filling. Just heavenly.
|Selection of desserts of the day, $12|
My only regret is that I wished that we had dined at Tapioca earlier. I'm a bit envious that it's my family's local Thai restaurant and not mine, as I'm a bit smitten by the pork belly and coconut dumplings, and they do home delivery as well. However, I guess to sum up our experience, I would have to say that with all the dining out that Cheesecake Boy and I do, Cheesecake Boy is becoming hard to impress. As a couple, we always talk about the meal afterwards and often disagree, so imagine my surprise when we left restaurant and Cheesecake Boy turned to me with a smile, and for once all he said was, "I really enjoyed that meal." Trust me that those five little words, they mean a lot.
Dining away, Dumpling Girl.
318 Military Road
Cremorne NSW 2090
Ph: (02) 9908 1588