Review: Thai Riffic, Gelatomassi (Newtown)

Remember how we went on “bar inspections” three weeks ago so that my sister could choose where to celebrate her birthday? Well, in the end there was no need to choose. Last Friday (two days after her b’day) was also her last day in her previous job, so she and some friends from there went for drinks close to their office. Then they headed to Newtown, where we met for dinner.

Gladys and her friends have a strange addiction to Thai food. I don’t know exactly how many times a week (or day?) they eat Thai, but apparently when they’re celebrating something or just decide to dine together, it’s always the cuisine of choice. Well, this occasion was no exception to the rule, but at least we didn’t end up in Thai Pothong (not that is bad, but I like to try new places) and went to Thai Riffic.

This place belongs to some sort of chain, which owns restaurants under different brands in several suburbs. I’m subconsciously against restaurant chains ’cause my brain tends to relate them to McDonald’s, KFC, and the like, but once inside the nicely decorated dining room I forgot about mass-produced anything and got ready to please my taste buds.

While we waited for some people to arrive, we had a bit of a discussion about what to order. Gladys and her friends normally order a dish each and then share among all, but I find it difficult with group of more than 6. We were 11, so I suggested either ordering a dish per person without sharing or getting two or three of a selection of dishes, so that everybody could have a bit of everything. My suggestions weren’t that popular, but luckily someone spotted the banquets in the menu and all of us agreed on going that route.

There are two banquet options costing $35 and $45 per head. We chose the cheapest one because we reckoned the other one would be way too much food. And we were right.

The starters arrived super fast, which was good because a) we were hungry, and b) the restaurant shuts at 10 pm. The two first entrées to arrive were spring rolls (deep-fried vegetarian spring rolls served with plum sauce) and crispy soft shell crabs fritter (battered soft shell crabs served with sweet chilli sauce). Both came with threads of carrot on the side, a welcome colourful and healthy complement. The spring rolls were ok, I found them a tad oily but the filling was tasty, which sometimes isn’t the case with vegetarian rolls. The soft shell crab was really good, with a crispy batter and nice flavour.

Thai Riffic - Spring rolls

Spring rolls

Thai Riffic - Crispy soft shell crabs fritter

Crispy soft shell crabs fritter

Shortly after the third and last entrée arrived: petite satay chicken (grilled marinated chicken sticks served with homemade peanut sauce and cucumber relish). These were really good, luckily we were allowed to have two per head (ok, I had three). The peanut sauce was sweet and chunky, just the way I like it, so I didn’t even bother to try the cucumber relish (which wasn’t actually a relish, but by the looks of it more like pickles floating in vinegar). I must say that the sauces that came with all three entrées were the highlight up to that point.

Thai Riffic - Petite satay chicken

Petite satay chicken

Then there was a gap until the mains arrived, which was alright to allow for a bit of conversation, and most importantly, digestion.

The first main was yet another classic: salt & pepper squid. This one received mixed comments, some people loved it and some hated it. I liked the texture of the squid (cooked for the right amount of time, neither undercooked nor chewy), but I wasn’t a fan of the batter. It felt like too much oil in the mouth, even when it didn’t look oily.

Thai Riffic - Salt & pepper squid

Salt & pepper squid

The main I’d be craving arrived next: duck salad (roasted duck with sliced cucumber, mint, red onion, coriander and carrots, drizzled with chilli and lime dressing). It reached my expectations, the duck was flavoursome, soft and not excessively fatty, and the salad gave us a much needed touch of freshness.

Thai Riffic - Duck salad

Duck salad

The next main, which was actually a side, was my least favourite dish of the night. The stir fried assorted vegetables (stir fried mixed vegetables in a classic oyster sauce, sprinkled with fried onion) were unfortunately overcooked and soaked in a watery sauce. On the bright side, the dish included tofu, a bit of extra protein.

Thai Riffic - Assorted vegetables stir fried

Assorted vegetables stir fried

Luckily, the best dish was served at the end of the night. The massamun (is that the correct spelling?) lamb shanks (braised lamb shank with baby potato in massamun curry sauce) are, as the menu says, a must try. At this point we hadn’t been served the steamed jasmine rice yet and my sister had to ask for it. Once it arrived, sprinkled with black sesame, we could enjoy the amazing curry. We were already stuffed but couldn’t stop spooning chunks of super soft lamb bathed in gorgeous curry sauce on top of modest amounts of rice.

Thai Riffic - Massamum lamb shanks

Massamun lamb shanks

$35 per head was very good value for the quality and quantity of food. Service was attentive and usually fast. But the meal hadn’t ended yet, it was time for cake. Alvaro and I went for a post-dinner walk to pick up the gelato cake Gladys had ordered at Gelatomassi.

The place was packed, as usual on a Friday night. Or any night, really. People don’t seem to care about the wet rubber smell that is a permanent fixture in the gelateria. We had to wait a few minutes while three people scooped colourful balls on cups and cones. A customer almost had a heart attack when the gelato boy trashed a perfect two-scoop cone with one wrong flavour (the customer ordered apple and the guy served apple crumble). Finally we got the cake and walked back to the restaurant sorting out the masses of people who wander King Street on weekend nights.

After the session of gift-opening and photos, we sang happy birthday in English and Spanish, and Gladys endured the hard task of cutting the cake with a table knife. I thought it had some kind of sponge cake as a base, but it was all gelato. Caramel on the bottom, vanilla on the top, with butterscotch sauce and a few frozen strawberry halves for looks.

Gelatomassi - Vanilla & caramel gelato cake with butterscotch

Vanilla & caramel gelato cake with butterscotch

I want to say that the gelato was amazing, but that’s not news. Everybody knows it. I took advantage of sharing a plate with Alvaro, who eats ice cream at a slower pace than I, and had more than him.

Thai Riffic Newtown
109 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9517 3066
www.thairifficnewtown.com.au

Gelatomassi
262 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9516 0655
http://www.gelatomassi.com.au

13 thoughts on “Review: Thai Riffic, Gelatomassi (Newtown)

  1. I’ve walked past Thai Riffic for years and never gone in. The food looks great, and $35 for a banquet is such great value. I had lamb shank at a Thai restaurant too recently and thought it an odd thing to serve as shanks aren’t really Thai (are they)?

    I’d forgotten about Gelatomassi…time for a revisit me thinks.

  2. I tend to avoid places with names like “Thai-riffic” and”Thai-tanic” because it seems sad, but now I might give them a go what with that delicious-looking lamb shank!

  3. “Please don’t go, as you will face disappointment and embarrassment”
    I took my friends and family out for lunch, we booked the restaurants, when we called to confirm, our booking didn’t exists. However we re-booked and also pre-booked our dishes, a day before. We go there the next day, and i asked the guy if i can order satays chicken, he said yes and i asked how many in one serve, he replied 8, than i said ok, can i order two, when he bought the satays out, he than said, oh now we give 6, instead of 8, i was really angry, as he told me it was 8 and than he gave us only 6 on them, i am extremely unhappy with the service, as they was only two staff, who were quite rude and unhelpful, and the restaurant was empty and they didn’t bother to look after us at all, i pre-ordered everything, but food didn’t come all together, we had to wait for the food, plus i had to keep on calling them to serve us with the pre-ordered drinks and food status. the food lacked taste as they put so much of cream in it and the serving are baby size, which wouldn’t feed a adult, i had to order more food, which was very pricey, and they was 16 of us. i will never go to this restaurant ever again in my life, please guys don’t get deceived by the nice environment of the restaurants as you will only be disappointed and ashamed, as i am in front of my friends and family. the food is very pricey, and not worth the value or the serving size, i than took my family and friends out to another cafeteria to feed them and feed them the rest of the afternoon, to remove my guilt. i ended up spending double the amount i budgeted.

      1. yes i have also been there three times, but no improvement in service or food. i have also got friends of friends with bad experience. no wonder the restauarant was empty whenever we went.

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