Thai is a cuisine that relies on the freshness of the ingredients and the balance between sweet and heat. If either is out in a dish, the outcome is less than average.
At Jinda Thai, there are no such worries. The ingredients are full of crunch, with finely balanced flavours.
Upon entering the Abbotsford institution, you are struck by the ambience of a rustic, bustling family restaurant that is common outside the city centres of Thailand.
The authenticity goes well beyond the red-brick and wood interiors and period pieces at the entrance. It is an integral component in the food, from the alluring anise flavor of Thai basil to the magical unami of the cuisine.
In Melbourne, there are many Thai restaurants, but few standouts. There is no question Jinda Thai is the real deal.
It is not flash, but it does not need to be. Its focus is affordable traditional dishes, done well
Being two of us, we were at a disadvantage without more people to share. We could see from the meals coming out of the kitchen it paid to be adventurous and try new dishes.
There is plenty of scope on the menu, from spicy salads to marinated and barbequed meats, as well as the staples of stir-fries, noodles and curries.
Service was relatively swift for a busy week night. We shared a entrée of six satay sticks, three chicken, three pork ($14.90) with the satay sauce full of peanut crunch, a creamy texture and medium heat.
Our second dish was a traditional chicken larb ($17.90) - minced chicken blended with roasted and ground rice, mint, red onion with green salad. The flavours were intense and beautifully crafted, although it was was well past medium on the heat scale.
We finished with a perfectly-balanced Prawn Gra Pow Talay ($21.90), with finely chopped green chilies adding extra punch.
Popular with diners were the barbequed squid with green chilli nam jim and the prawn Tom Yum.