There’s a new crocodile king on Smith Street and his name is Chalawan. Opening its doors a few months ago, Chalawan is a cosy, contemporary ‘croctail’ bar and eatery that’s adding some pizazz to the ever-expanding Collingwood dining scene. Cocktails with a Thai flavour twist are the main attraction here.
Hailing from Bangkok, the team behind Chalawan are all about the new, the fresh, and the tasty. You won’t find any boring old pad see ew, massaman, or green curry on the menu. Their food is all about modern techniques and flavour combos, devised to highlight Australian produce. My plus one and I got to try out the ‘Dear Jasmine’ croctail and sample some of the modern marvels from Chalawan’s menu.
‘Dear Jasmine’ mixes Bombay dry gin, Pavan, and sparkling water with banana liqueur, jasmine, and oregano to create a total flavour bomb. I couldn’t get enough of it. I can already picture myself with this refreshing cocktail in hand, enjoying a warm summer night with friends.
My favourite dishes from the night were the ‘Pla Pla’ and the ‘Tom Kha Hoy Shell’. The Pla Pla is a delicate kingfish ceviche served with roasted coconut flakes and chilli jam for some kick. It was fresh and delicious with unmistakably Thai flavours. Pan seared scallops cooked to perfection are the hero of the Tom Kha Hoy. Served with crispy mushrooms, pomegranate and radish, all on a frothy tom kha broth, this dish was drool worthy.
Everything else I tasted on the menu was also delicious and totally moreish. For pork belly lovers, Chalawan serves Meathsmith‘s house smoked pork belly with Te Poh curry and a crispy rice cake. There’s also 10-hour braised beef cheek with green curry flavours, Thai spiced pork sausage with crackling, and freshly shucked Coffin Bay oysters in a smoked chilli sauce all up for grabs.
The food is so full of flavour that I could talk about it for days. Instead of me harping on, you should head down to Chalawan to Thai it out for yourself. As I said, the venue is pretty cosy though, so I highly recommend that you make a booking. There’s plenty of standing space, but if you want to try out the delicious food (and trust me, you do) make a reservation for a table.
Ashanie Perera is a foodaholic and avid eater. When she’s not dreaming about her next meal, she can be found running around the block to continue fitting into her current clothes. @thepursuitofchubbyness
102 Smith Street