Twelve Spices

February 09, 2016

For those of us who reside in South Western Sydney we are completely spoiled for choice when it comes to Thai food and Holy Basil and Green Peppercorn are undeniably the two most well-known Thai restaurants. It goes without saying that Green Peppercorn would be my number one pick as they have a comprehensive list of delicious desserts alongside their food menu. Deep-fried ice cream and pandan creme brûlée anyone?

However when I'm feeling a little too lazy to drive to Green Peppercorn located in Fairfield (mind you it's a 15 minute drive) then Twelves Spices is a more than satisfactory alternative which is conveniently less than a 5 minute drive from my house. I recall first dining at Twelve Spices when I was still in high school, more than 5 years ago and it was a very ordinary restaurant, nothing particularly stood out except for the drab decor. However, since Twelve Spices underwent a major revamp its popularity skyrocketed and it's not uncommon to have to wait for a table, especially on the weekend.

Watermelon shake $5.50
Quite possibly the best watermelon shake I've ever had. Having been disappointed with watermelon shakes from other places in the past this one was certainly a surprising encounter. It was completely devoid of any pungent aroma that was indicative of old watermelon and instead was full of refreshing sweetness from perfectly ripened watermelon and of course some sugar syrup for flavour enhancing.

When I was first introduced to Thai food I had developed a strong affliction for pad thai to the level where I even attempted to make it multiple times, unfortunately coming up extremely unsuccessful every single time. For some reason, it was insanely difficult to get the balance of flavours right, it was either too sweet or too salty and didn't taste remotely like what I could order at the restaurant. Obviously I admitted defeat and had to be content with just eating pad thai at an authentic Thai place. I have since exhausted my addiction for pad thai and subsequently moved on to pad see ew which is my favourite Thai dish apart from green curry.

Pad see ew with chicken $12.90
Twelve Spices dish up a wonderful pad see ew and it's good enough (if not better) that I wouldn't even bother going to Holy Basil again. The thick flat rice noodles were stir-fried to attain the highly sought after 'wok hei' and without it the dish would be flat and to put it bluntly, boring to eat. There was plenty of flavour from the dark sweet soy sauce and oyster sauce and I've come to prefer the saltiness of pad see ew as opposed to pad thai which is much sweeter. Pad see ew's saltiness was perfectly balanced out with a squeeze of lemon and contrasting textures achieved with Chinese broccoli, scrambled eggs and a choice of protein.

Salt and pepper soft shell crab $18.90
Mum and I were impressed with the large portion and even more so that every bit of the crab was covered in delectably crispy golden batter seasoned with salt, pepper, chilli and garlic. A tentative bite into the salty and crispy exterior allowed a union with the hot, juicy and succulent meat within and it was straight up addictive when dipped into the sweet chilli sauce on the side. I haven't had a particularly terrible soft shell crab before but the one at Twelve Spices was certainly on the verge of being up there with one of the best. 

Duck salad (yum ped) $15.90
The duck salad came out a fair bit after the first two dishes so by that point we were already reaching our limit for fullness. In addition, when it came to the table I was puzzled as it didn't look anything like what was pictured on the menu and I had to clarify that it was the correct dish with one of the waiters. Appearance aside, it was a delicious and wholesome salad and I was super impressed by the amount of roasted duck meat present which was also really fleshy and juicy. The duck was tossed through papaya salad, a popular Thai salad and I did enjoy them together however the only negative was that too much of it meant my tastebuds eventually became overwhelmed with saltiness from the fish sauce and crab paste and sourness from the lime juice that made up the dressing.

Deep fried black sesame ice cream $12.90
I'm sure I have a developed natural tendency to save room for dessert as there was no stopping me from ordering dessert even though my stomach was ready to burst. I had already decided on getting the green tea ice cream variant but knowing my luck, they didn't have any so I settled for black sesame instead. Gone are the days of deep fried ice cream balls with an ordinary crumbed batter, deep fried pastry skin surrounding a thick slab of ice cream is the be all and end all. 

The fried ice cream at Twelve Spices was pretty good but not great. Warm and crisp pastry combined with the cold richness of black sesame ice cream was delightful in the mouth but it lost points for being quite melted and it seems to be a problem that hasn't been rectified since I last had it. Recognition for the most skilfully executed deep fried ice cream has to go to Green Peppercorn or Holy Basil. How such a crisp and thin skin yet completely solid ice cream is achieved is beyond me and it leaves me utterly impressed every time when I cut through it. Kudos to Twelve Spices though for offering different and exotic flavours of ice cream while its competitors only do vanilla.

We all know how packed out Holy Basil can get and the amount of people I see waiting for a table there is ridiculous when I know a great, if not better Thai place is only minutes away. Green Peppercorn still wins my heart and stomach with its desserts but if you just want savoury food then you should be inclined to pay Twelve Spices a visit. I also love their green curry which I didn't have on this occasion but I wouldn't recommended their ox tongue as they were thickly sliced and quite chewy when I tried it. In terms of service, it was what would be expected for the restaurant, the food came out reasonably quick but not all at once and at times it was difficult to get attention as all the staff seemed really occupied.

Twelve Spices Lao & Thai Cusine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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