Thai Food To Go, Windsor - review


We'd been meaning to go here for ages, but once we walked into Ayatana that first time (see my review here), we'd been loathe to try other Thai joints in case they weren't as good and we wished we'd spent our money at something tried, tested and loved.

But we got here in the end, one lazy Sunday eve when we were dressed in trackies and wanted to go somewhere lower-key and new.

You only have to walk past this joint to see that it's a cheap and cheerful kind of place, and the Cheap Eats stickers all over the door will convince you that this restaurant is worth a shot. 

My first thoughts on entry were that I really liked the mismatched formica tables and chairs, the busy classroom feel and the slap-dash decor.

I also really like Thai Food To Go's mission statement (see the website):

'Cook good food. 
Sell it.
Have a couple of beers after work.'

Good, yes? Simple, and fits in well with the idea of the joint - it's a no-frills kind of place that concerns itself with nothing more than making good, cheap food, and encouraging you to sit back and relax. It's not pitching for fancy. It's your local place to pop in for a quick meal or to use as your Sunday night go-to takeaway joint. I'd call that good market placement.

Note there's a separate eat-in menu and take away menu (both are available on the website). Both are comprehensive and priced reasonably well.

We enjoyed sitting back and browsing the menu in the relaxed atmosphere, no doubt what Thai Food To Go wanted us to do. This is a place to slow down and breathe. Leave the day at the door.

Ah, the good old chicken satay ($8.90). This is the one thing missing from Ayatana's menu, and one of the main reasons why I voted for this place on that particular night. Chicken satays are actually my measuring stick for Thai restaurants: if this dish is done well, it's probably a decent place. I use the humble beef carpaccio as my measuring stick for Italian joints, and rice paper rolls to gauge the quality of Vietnamese restaurants. I wonder whether others do this too?

This chicken satay was ok - not amazing but not bad (and believe me, we've had some bad ones). What I liked about it is that it came with plenty of sauce: Mex being Mexican, he's used to drowning his food in sauce (seriously, they make every meal a soup over there - it's a little concerning ; )), so we're always asking for extra, but we didn't have to here. There was even some left over that we saved to have with the roti bread.

The chicken itself was well-cooked and the skewers were a decent size. The sauce was fine - as was the whole dish - and while it wasn't a stand-out, we had no complaints.

The obligatory roti bread, which Mex always orders. You can order it plain for $3, or for an extra 50 cents you can order the garlic version. We ordered the garlic one for something different. 

Mex thought it was fine but I wasn't a fan - I'm hard to please when it comes to roti bread, and this one was too thin and didn't have a great taste or texture. I wouldn't order it again.

Above is my dish, #39 Basil and Chili: stir-fried red curry paste with vegetables, sweet basil and lime leaves. It's a sauce I often order so I feel able to comment on its quality. You can pick your 'meat' and I opted for seafood ($21), as I usually do.

If I have to be critical, the amount of seafood I got wasn't great: the veggie to seafood ratio was completely top-heavy. The taste of the dish was ok but not wonderful (not enough flavour and too thin, lacking in punch); the veggies were cooked nicely and the dish was a decent size (I'm talking bulk here, not seafood content obviously).

I wouldn't rush out and order it again, but I'd try some of the other sauces to see if they fare better.

Mex ordered #51, the Pad Thai with beef ($13.90). It's a pretty cheap option and I reckon you therefore shouldn't expect to have your socks blown off.

Another top-heavy dish in terms of the noodle-to-other ratio; and they could have done more on the veggie side of things - there was nothing going on aside from a few sad discs of carrot and a lazy handful of spring onion with some straggling bean shoots. The amount of beef wasn't great either, but again, what else can you expect at that price?

In terms of Pad Thai dishes, we've been spoiled by the one from Thai Saffron in Brighton and nothing else we've eaten has ever come close. This one was average/ok, according to Mex, and the sauce lacked flavour. No real punch, he said. I had a couple of spoonfuls and agreed. He wouldn't order it again, but he's also willing to go back and try something else to give the place another chance.

In sum

I reckon you don't go to Thai Food To Go for the quality of the food - you go for the cheerful atmos, the happy and efficient service and the overall feel of the place. While the food was fine and reasonably priced, it wasn't wonderful and I wouldn't rush back just for that. The restaurant however was an enjoyable place to be and it's obviously popular - particularly for takeaway (plenty of people came in to pick up meals while we were eating, and we were there before 6pm).

Would I go back? Yes, but I reckon I'd go for takeaway before choosing to have a sit down meal there again. Having said this, if I wanted to catch up with a bunch of friends, this is an easy, everyone's-happy kind of option, and one that I'll definitely keep in mind. The reason? You come out of here feeling warm, relaxed and well fed - kind of like if you'd gone to Grandma's for a home-cooked meal in her messy-but-ordered dining room filled with random 'good junk' picked up during a life well-lived.

Thai Food To Go has that kind of effect.


141 Chapel street, Windsor
+61 3 9510 2112

Open 7 days a week : 5.00 pm to 10.00 pm

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