Colonel Tan’s

June 11, 2012

229 Chapel Street, Prahran

Colonel Tan’s, which sits above Revolver (and good grief was it weird seeing school-aged children walking up those stairs!), is a popular place for Chapel St locals, who come for cheap Thai food and a grungy-cool vibe. Nic and I had dinner here on a Thursday night, and maybe I hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before, or maybe it was because it was local’s night, but gee was it a hectic meal! I was exhausted just from the effort it took to order, let alone attract any wait-staff’s attention! The whole place was frantic and loud, so perhaps it’s best to book ahead and secure one of the proper tables at the back instead of having to eat awkwardly off a coffee table like we did.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be complaining. Undoubtedly the place is very cool; the walls are covered in posters, the couches tirelessly sourced from various second hand shops and sidewalks on hard rubbish collection days. Funky lampshades hang from the ceiling, and there’s even a DJ in a cage. The drinks are more expensive but they have a LOT of beers, which was good to see. Local’s night, every Thursday, allows those with the right post code a 50% discount. Combined with a permanent 20% student discount, that’s one hell of an incentive to munch down on some Thai food.

You order food and drinks at the bar, but the line was long and three out of the four staff at the bar were un-necessarily drying glasses and slicing lemons, and the one taking orders was painfully slow and not very good at working out who was there first. Also, our food took a while, over an hour, and even when it did arrive we had to remind the waitress for our last dish and asked for some plates (because we were sharing), which never came (the plates, that is). So fairly poor service, but then I suppose that’s not really the point of coming here…

Anyway, we initially squished onto a pair of couches with two other ladies, but while we were waiting for our food another, larger settee opened up so we moved over there. Unfortunately its previous occupants had been a husband and wife and their three teenage boys, who left a considerate blanket of rice, noodles, and pork mince all over the floor, table and couches. The waiter proved no more useful when he flicked it all over us while wiping the table vigorously – poor Nic was picking grains of rice out of her shoes all night! Also the peanuts – not ours – they were left over from the family before us and the waiter never got around to taking them away.

Love Nic’s glittery Rolling Stones tee. Also pictured are some of our dishes, plus those damn peanuts…

You’ll notice that I seem to have switched to some sort of infra-red vision on my camera; not so, it’s just that the natural light had disappeared by this point and the artificial lighting was of the Amsterdam-red kind. So unfortunately the following photos give no indication of the actual appearance of our dishes, perhaps its best to just go and see them for yourself.

Pork and prawn donuts with chilli jam. Firstly, doughnuts. Secondly, no. They were an ugly grey-brown colour inside, had the consistency of a fast-food sausage roll and were quite heavy. The doughnut shape is cute but I’d give these a miss next time.

The betel leaf salad, in contrast, was a huge success, though perhaps there were too many peanuts and not enough snapper / ginger / chili / lime. These were fun to eat – just watch out for the lime juice dripping down your arm! Coda and Cookie also do similar dishes but for more moolah.

The Colonel’s five spice fried chicken. The first few peices of breast and drumstick are brill, later it just gets a bit boney. But it was perfectly cooked and had a delicate batter. Excellent to munch on.

Finally, my favourite from the night, the Bankok Bolognaise, which sounds more like a STI contracted in Thailand than it does an appetising meal, but defying such association emerges a sticky, flavoursome rice noodle dish with pork mince, fresh tomatoes and a hint of spice. A must-try.

My final word on Colonel Tan’s is that it’s lucky the Thai food is so damn good and so cheap, because I certainly wouldn’t come back based on the service, and next time I definitely won’t drive in the hopes that perhaps, several tequilas in, the lacklustre service won’t bug me so much (unlikely though, I’m quite the neurotic freak).

I leave you with the challenge of making any sense of the infrared photo below, and this link to bizarre vending machines from around the world.

Colonel Tan's on Urbanspoon

Filed under: Prahran, Thai