Ayatana, Modern Thai Cuisine & Wine Bar, Windsor - review


This is another one of those reviews that's been a long time coming. For some bizarre reason, I find it easier to review restaurants and products etc that I don't love to buggery, but either just like or don't like at all. Maybe because it can be hard to spell out just how amazing something is, and I want to do it justice.

Ayatana is one of those places.

I'd walked past this joint countless times last year when I migrated back to Australia, but didn't want to try it until Mex was home: he followed me back a couple of months later because he needed to tie up some loose ends in Berlin and I had to return home for work. 

The reason I wanted to wait for him? Food - and especially Thai food - is one of our things, and my restaurant radar had gone berserk every time I walked past Ayatana, so I wanted to save my first experience here for when he returned. When he did, I couldn't get in the door fast enough ; )

You'll see from the photos that it's an upmarket-looking kind of place: small, looks fancy and nicely designed inside. 

You'd be forgiven for dismissing it if you're on a tight budget like we are, but one glance at the menu will change that: it's actually reasonably priced. More than this, when it comes to eating here, you realise that it's an excellent value kind of place - unlike so many other joints along Chapel St and elsewhere. Yayers.

I've gone overboard a bit with the interior photos (we haven't even reached the food yet!), but Mex took over the photography on this visit because he wanted to get creative. 

I happily let him: photography isn't my forte and I've had to take so many photos for this blog that I'm kinda over my camera. (I of course need to move past that: photos can be just as important as words for posts like this one.)

Ok, enough interior photos after the below (and I deleted four or five nice shots!). Reckon I've shown enough to give you an idea of the atmosphere: chilled, funky, fancy and, yes, upmarket. Just wait 'till you see the food!

We've eaten here quite a few times now and sampled different dishes from the menu, so I'll have to update this as time passes and add more dishes/photos, to give you the best idea of the joint that I can.

For entrée we ordered the pan-seared Japanese scallops, served with granny smith apple, bean shoots, mint, coriander and house-made hot sauce (4 pieces, $14.90). This is one of the more expensive entrées, but it's totally worth it. The scallops are wonderfully fat and juicy, and the apple/hot sauce combination is in perfect balance. Plus I love the crunch of the apple/bean shoots against the softness of the scallops. Can't fault this dish.

Previously we've also ordered the betel leaf starter, which was good but not as good as other similar starters (eg the amazeballs betel leaves from Longrain). Still, worth ordering if you'd like something small before your main but don't want a whole entrée.

This time around I ordered the blue swimmer crab, tiger prawns and NZ calamari, stir fried with tom yum sauce, cauliflower, onion, vegetables and kaffir lime leaves ($25.90). It's one of the more expensive mains but, again, it's totally worth it - I've had it a few times now and love it to bits. The seafood is great quality and the sauce is light but still nicely flavoured, and the veggies are cooked just right.

Previously I've ordered the roasted macadamia and cashew nuts stir fried with chicken breast fillets, chilli jam and vegetables ($19.90), which is also wonderful - particularly for the price. Hmmm. Might have to order that again next time...

Mex ordered the slow cooked massaman curry, served with roasted cashew nuts, sweet potatoes (thank golly - so much better than boring normal potatoes, which we both hate!), cassia stick and star anise with lamb shanks ($22.90; there's also a slightly cheaper beef option). 

He almost always orders this and reckons it's the best of the best - and he's had a lot of dishes like it. It's a dish that's too heavy for me, but I've tried his and the flavour's superb.

One serve of coconut rice ($3) - plenty for two! Coconut rice is one of our favourite sides, and it's one of those things that's easy to stuff up (often too sweet or not punchy enough). 

This one's sensational - probably the best coconut rice I've tried, apart from the one at Thai Saffron in Brighton, our other favourite Thai restaurant.

Here's the roti bread with peanut sauce ($7.50), which Mex always orders. It's probably the one dish from Ayatana that I don't like: the roti bread is too sweet and pancakey for me (and I normally love roti bread), and the satay sauce is also too sweet and something of a let down. We're both satay sauce junkies and this one isn't great. But Mex is happy with it, so maybe that's just me.

For the full menu, see here.

For the take away menu (different from the in-house menu, and generally cheaper), see here.


EAT HERE. The food will blow your socks off, the service is excellent and the atmosphere sensational. We haven't had a bad experience here yet, and the food is also consistent - so you'll get the same standard from the same dish on any day of the week - which isn't always a given at so many restaurants.

For years we thought that no Thai restaurant could ever compare to Thai Saffron in Brighton (I'll review that soon enough). We were wrong.


97 Chapel St, Windsor VIC 3181
9533 8813 
Lunch: Wednesday to Saturday from 12pm only; group bookings for more than seven people required
Dinner: Monday to Sunday, 5pm until late (gotta love a joint that's open on Mondays!)

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