There’s a big divide in the world of Asian desserts – people seem to either love them or hate them, there’s no in between. Me, I’m in the love camp, so bring on the sago, the black sticky rice and the pandan ice cream. I’d expect some pretty good tapioca at a restaurant so named. The difference between tapioca and sago, by the way, those silky little pearls – file this away for the next pub trivia night – is that sago comes from the sago palm, and tapioca comes from the root of a plant called the cassava. But you’d be forgiven for mixing them up.
I’d been to Tapioca a couple of years ago, and remembered it being a good meal, so thought I’d give it a whirl with some girlfriends. Its run by an all Thai team of good pedigree, though their main star, a woman named Air, has been busy at Sailor’s Thai, and is now returning.
The staff are subtle and friendly, a nice combination of attentive without being in your face, and happy to make suggestions to flesh out our chosen menu. The entrees arrive and are a little disappointing with the flavour balance not quite right – too much ginger on the betel leaves overpowering the trout; heavy handed fish sauce on the cupcakes of prawn and chicken, and a little too much chilli on the scallop such that it is lost.
The winner is without a doubt the deep fried quail egg, crispy noodles surrounding a sweet little egg, with a nice bodied tamarind sauce to drizzle over the top.
We fair much better with our mains. The jungle curry looks beautiful and has a nice depth of flavour – though blue eyed cod is probably not the best fish for it. The pad thai is devoured by the table and the side of vegetables is outstanding. The papaya salad is fresh and vibrant.
We’re pretty full by this stage but dessert must be done. And the tapioca is the star of the night, smooth, not too sweet, silky little balls as they should be. Its a generous serve and we really could have shared, but oh well.
Some dishes in my view need adjusting, which Air’s return may settle, but this is well above your standard neighbourhood Thai. Order well and you’ll have a nice evening indeed. Another plus is that they are BYO and a bottle shop is not far away. They also have banquets available for groups.
Tapioca, 318 Military Road, Cremorne ph (02) 9908 1588
Grilled scallops with mint, coriander, chilli powder-lime dressing
Rice cupcakes with chicken and mince prawn (special)
Deep fried quail eggs with minced prawns wrapped in eggs noodle with tamarind sauce
Smoked trout on betel leaves with roasted coconut, peanuts, chilli, lime, ginger and caramel sauce
Chicken Pad thai with bean sprout, tofu, egg and ground peanut
Jungle curry fish of the day with oyster mushroom, corn, snake bean, wild ginger, roasted rice powder
Green papaya salad with sweet and salty pork, cherry tomatoes, snake bean and chilli-lime dressing
Pandanus tapioca pudding with young coconut and coconut cream