Thai Pothong

Jackie McMillan
16th Jun 2024

For a lesson in longevity, we returned to Thai Pothong, a Newtown stalwart for just short of thirty years. With a name that translates to golden pho leaf, the restaurant is named for the pho (fig) tree under which Buddha became enlightened in his 35th year. Walking into the space is a visual assault: there’s just so much gold! Golden artworks and bric-a-brac line the walls, with sculptural pieces arranged along the shorter diving walls that break up the large space. Despite every table being full, this division sees sound reduced to a dull roar. Strong systems see us quickly seated in a galley of smaller tables with iPad menus, water and wine glasses (they allow BYO for $5/person) all before I can say we have cinema tickets and need to be out within the hour. 

Staff move even more quickly and we are soon slurping chilli scallops ($20/4) from their shells and folding betel leaf prawns ($19/4) into tidy little parcels to stuff into our mouths. With a balanced and moist combination of sweet chilli, roasted coconut, cashew nut, lime, onion and roe, the betel leaves prove excellent exemplars of this popular dish. Banana blossom salad ($30) is beautifully presented and a memory highway to the first version of this dish I ate in the nineties at Lime & Lemongrass in Kings Cross. It doesn’t quite match the original’s rose petal scattered perfection, but it’s in the ballpark. Requests for heat were well accommodated in a blistering pork jungle curry ($24) popping with Thai eggplants, eaten over individual bowls of calming coconut rice ($7/each). This necessitated mango sticky rice ($23) presented in a way that is bound to make you smile. We were in and out with fifteen minutes spare to cross the road to Dendy Cinemas Newtown: Thai Pothong is a stalwart for good reason.