I am a bit disappointed that Newtown Thai II ‘express’ isn’t just called Newtown Thai 2½. It would be easier to say and would convey something of the diminuitive scale, because it is a small place. Just four tables, a big counter, then the kitchen behind, producing lots of good cooking smells amid lots of clanking of woks. It does a lot of takeaway trade, but when we visited most of the other tables were occupied as well, so we didn’t feel totally out of place. The main decorative elements in the restaurant are the bright green walls and the bright pink menus. There are also gorgeous upholstered tissue dispensers allocated to each table, it is worth going just to check them out.
It is not clear to me if all of these Newtown Thai variations are related in any way other than by the first two words in their names and the shape of their signs. I suppose the only way to find out would be to ask questions, but that would constitute research, and I’m afraid that is something I am not prepared to do. If you want research you are better off watching Four Corners.
Our third excursion to the Newtown Thai variants, was on a midweek night in order to meet up with an old friend from Canberra who was in town to get all intellectualled-up at the Writers Festival, with some of her book group mates.
I arrived a bit late due to a CityRail enforced scenic detour via Summer Hill. The packed train steamed straight past platform 1 at Newtown – no explanation was offered. I was waiting ready to get off, but instead watched the crowded platform speed past the windows, as I assumed that I must have miscounted and that it had been Macdonaldtown (an unusually popular Macdonaldtown, it has to be said). Then the guard’s voice came over the speakers, sounding as confused as his passengers. “Aah, well it seems that we have failed to stop at Newtown… umm… next scheduled stop is… Strathfield so… hang on a sec. Click.” We all waited, breath baited, and imaginations whirring. Was the guard rushing to the front of the train to drag the unconscious driver off the go button (or what ever makes the train go), or was the guard posting something on the drivers Facebook timeline, asking him to drag himself away from watching cat vs robot-vacuum-cleaner videos. Then the speaker crackled into life, “Aah… as you’ve noticed we, ah… missed the Newtown Station… but we think we can make a special stop at Summer Hill though…”
By the time I got back to Newtown. Strop and our guests Judy and Allison were settled in and chattering away, catching up on things Canberran. Being experienced public servants they were concerned at our recent lax attitude to the rules of the quest, and offered to inspect and certify our ongoing adherence thereto. We concurred (it just seems easier as we weren’t entirely sure what they had said).
As Judy is a kind of vego (seafood-tolerant clique) we order plenty of vegetable and fishy things, and some duck salad that she is not allowed to have. Conveniently number 37 turns out to be in the seafood section: Pad Snowpeas (?). Our waiter is a very cute and attentive young boy, who immediately brings out the nurturing instincts in the womenfolk. “Make sure you note how good he is,” they say. So I will. He was very good, right up to the point when he returned with the bad news that number 37 was not available. “What about 73?” Strop immediately asked. The boy looked confused, and not just because there is no 73 (the menu runs out at 71). So we opt for 38 instead, which as luck would have it, is also seafood.
Soon the table is being occupied by plates full of spring rolls and fish cakes, which are good. Then the mains start to arrive. The duck salad is nice, although the flavours seem a bit too intense to me. There is a satay dish which is a bit disappointing but the seafood is good.
The conversation frolicked around the writers festival, books in general, literature in particular, and the imminent decimation of the public service. We then got onto what-the-children-are-doing. It turns out that one of Judy’s boys is very good at the football thing, and she is looking forward to the day when he will be making enough squillions to cover the cost of all the lasagne he eats. At least I think that is what she said.
Newtown Thai 2½ (see how well that rolls off the tongue) is a cheap and cheerful local Thai option. It’s not the best, but it’s certainly not the worst either.