It is a Friday night on Chapel Street and Ayatana is bustling and vibrant. Filled to the brim with diners, we were lucky to get a table.
Melbourne is filled with Thai restaurants but Ayatana manages to stand out from the crowd. The decor is modern and relaxed, with grey and white dominating the colour scheme. Pictures of Thailand hang proudly on the walls, as do decorative rows of wine bottles, which is no surprise given Ayatana professes to be a wine bar and restaurant.
Sweet crunchy roasted tamarind rice - crushed cashew nuts, green apple, bean shoots,mint, coriander, red onion, crispy noodles, mixed salad
The entree salad of sweet crunchy roasted tamarind rice had an intriguing combination of crushed cashew nuts, green apple, bean shoots, mint, coriander, red onion and crispy noodles. All the dazzlingly fresh ingredients blended harmoniously, resulting in a clean and bright dish with a perfect salt-sour-heat balance.
Crispy soft shell crab in yellow curry , bamboo shoot, green bean, white cabbage and kaffir lime leaves
The soft shell crab curry showed balance and style, with an appetising level of chilli power. The curry was luxurious, thick and exhibited a marvellous aromatic lift.
Twice cooked crispy pork belly, stir fried with chilli jam, sweet chilli sauce, long beans and kaffir lime leaves
The pork belly was excellent, with a crispy but well proportioned layer of fat sitting atop a succulent layer of tender, juicy meat. The balance of sweet and salt exhibited great skill.