The people behind Jinda aren't amateurs - they already have two other successful restaurants although I haven't had the chance to visit yet. After settling into the expansive heritage-listed building, we noted that it was beautifully fit out and the high ceilings and bright lighting made it feel so modern and spacious. I ordered an Iced Thai milk tea as their instagram features heavily on the colourful drinks and I had to try one at least. The milk tea was so delightful and totally different from any I have ever previously consumed. The Thai tea flavour was aromatic and sweetened with condensed milk to lend a creamy consistency to the drink.
'Cha Yen' Thai iced milk tea ($3)
The plates and cutlery were beautiful.
The sticky rice came in a petite bamboo container while the skewers of marinated pork dipped in the homemade hot and sour 'nam jim' (dipping sauce) were delightful together. The marinated pork was tender, fatty and bouncy with the chewy rice being the ideal canvas for the pork and sticky, spicy sauce..
Moo Ping sticky rice ($9.90)
The som tum (papaya salad) was recommended with the soft shell crab which aided in stimulating our appetites. The papaya was delicately and thinly sliced and the soft shell crab was crisp. The dressing was a combination of zesty, sour, salty and sweet - all perfectly balanced and with a healthy kick of spice to it. It had Mr A and I sipping on the Thai iced milk tea to numb the spiciness. Not only this, but there were chunks of sugared nut clumps to add some texture and sweetness to the dish - beautiful and creative.
Som Tum with soft shell crab ($12.90)
Mr A chose the larb crispy chicken which was nice at first taste, however as I continued to eat it, the spicy, herbed dressing had me addicted. Despite the burning sensation on my tongue, I ended up splitting the last piece of chicken with Mr A which is a rarity as I usually let him finish everything.
Larb crispy chicken on rice ($12.90)
We enjoyed our meal so much so that we were motivated enough to book in a group dinner at Jinda only a few days later. Nathanial Stockley who is a little bit of a Thai connoisseur mentioned that his favourite dishes was the boat noodle soup with stewed beef so I had to order it. We also reordered the papaya salad with soft shell crab and left the rest of the ordering up to everyone else.
While the men sipped on Singha beers, the ladies opted for the Thai iced milk tea which I enjoyed a few days earlier. Premika was kind enough to upgrade our size which was beneficial in the end as I had to slurp up a substantial amount to alleviate the spiciness!
Thai iced milk tea (regular usually $3)
The papaya salad with soft shell crab was just as delicious and the others agreed that it was incredibly flavoursome and delicious.
Som Tum (papaya salad) with soft shell crab ($12.90)
While our dishes were arriving, a tray of various sauces was brought over, so that we were able to season according to our taste buds.
Tray of sauces
Despite Pad Thai seeming like a routine choice, it was done superbly well here. The freshness of the prawns were evident - no muddiness or mushy texture to it and the Pad Thai wasn't too sweet (like many are) while the bean shoots and lemon gave a fresh zing to the noodles.
Pad Thai with prawn ($15.90)
The aforementioned boat noodles came in a dark, rich and aromatic soup topped with tender slices of beef and tendrils of crisp pork crackling. A spoonful with every element was just amazing! I have never tried this previously so I am no expert but it is definitely a dish to try.
Boat noodles with stewed beef - large ($9)
The green curry being the hottest Thai curry and also the sweetest had a nice balance between the two with still lots of punchy flavours being retained in the creamy curry. The meat and vegetables in the curry were plentiful and tasted very fresh.
Green curry with chicken ($15.90)
The red curry with roasted duck was my favourite curry of the night - I have started to stray from the sweeter dishes and to more spicy dishes as I delve deeper into Thai food. The red curry was fiery (for me) and in contrast to the green curry, had a distinctively prominent savoury flavour to it. We enjoyed the curries with four servings of jasmine rice ($3 each) between the five people, however there was an option of roti bread as well to mop up the curry.
Red curry with duck ($15.90)
We had some misgivings about the minimal-seeming amount of food however as we finished, we were very satisfied with the portions and decided to move onto desserts. The coconut ice cream was incredibly refreshing and light. The sticky rice complemented the coconut ice cream sublimely and gave a nice chewy texture to the dish.
Coconut ice cream ($8.50)
Premika informed us that there was a special dessert available that night only, as another group had specially ordered it, and she kindly recommended that we order it. Akin to some shaved ice desserts in South East Asia, this Thai dessert was filled with red coloured jewels and shredded young coconut in coconut milk and topped with shaved ice. The jewels were in fact water chestnuts covered in a chewy tapioca flour coating, a nice chewy crunch when bitten into and it was very refreshing with the sweet coconut milk and ice mixture.
Water chestnut shaved ice dessert ($8.50)
Jinda is a great place for parties of all sizes as it is a spacious restaurant and with the steady influx of Thai people coming in to eat here, it only adds to the charm of the restaurant. Whilst on our first visit, although we had to remind the staff twice about my drink order and the bill, they were continuously friendly and helpful. Our second visit, service was flawless and we felt very well looked after. The food tastes authentic and doesn't hold back on the spiciness factor which is one of the things I like best about it despite my low heat tolerance. We will definitely be back as it is on my way home!
Will I return? Yes, we all thoroughly enjoyed our meals here on each visit.
Jinda Thai Restaurant
1-7 Ferguson St
Abbotsford VIC 3067
(03) 9419 5899
Daily 11am - 11pm