- Family friendly
- Quite expensive
- Coeliac safe
It was a Friday night when we headed to Chong Co Thai at Belconnen mall. Neither Michael or I could face cooking and we decided it’d be nice to reintroduce the children to eating out post lockdown. As I’ve said before, Thai is my go-to safe option and after moving to Belco last year, we were still on the search for a decent Thai restaurant, not just somewhere safe to eat but also good. During lockdown we had gotten delivery from Chong Co a few times and were happy with what we’d received – large, tasty portions with lots of fresh, yummy veggies!
Chong Co Belconnen is at the Westfield Mall so it has the benefits of easy parking and is street facing, so it doesn’t feel like you’re eating in the mall. The view is nothing special as it’s mostly busy road but in summer you can sit outside in the covered seating area. Inside the restaurant is quite large with plenty of tables. The room is spacious and comfortable with wooden walls, floors and tables but it isn’t heavy or too dark. There’s a large bronze coloured budda on the far wall and in the middle of the room there is a water feature of three large vases splitting the space in half. There’s plenty of greenery dotted around with plants hanging from the ceiling and decorations on the walls. On the entrance side of the room, the wall is all tall glass windows.
We parked up and walked through the busy mall to the restaurant, arriving around 5:30pm and the place was mostly empty except for a couple of tables taken by parents with small children – just like us! We hadn’t made a booking but were told we could have a table until 6:40pm when there was a reservation and this suited us perfectly. We were seated next to the window and one of the waitstaff bought over some menus and plastic cutlery for our two-year-old.
There is a difference between the menu for takeaway and for eating in. It seemed like the takeaway menu contained a lot more vegetable dishes and more of the traditional Thai options like chicken and cashews. The eat in menu was a bit restricted by comparison. Gluten free items were clearly marked but there were not very many of them and there were no veggie dishes at all. The menu was also interesting because while the restaurant is called Chong Co THAI, the menu offered more Asian fusion dishes, with Thai dishes alongside Chinese and western dishes. I don’t have a problem with this as such but it just seemed a little odd. On the plus they also had a separate section for kids meals offering Thai and western meals.
While I set up the girls with entertainment (previous meals out have taught me never to eat out without pencils, colouring books and little toys), I let Michael look through the menu and pick a few dishes for us. After a short wait, someone came over to take our order. The wait staff were efficient and nice but not particularly friendly. I got the impression that they were all getting ready for a busy night that hadn’t quite started yet. They did understand my coeliac requirements though, which were explained by Michael, and I had no problems with the food we received.
We ordered apple juice for each of the girls, and Pepsi for Michael and I. To start off we had two entrées – the spring rolls and the chicken satay skewers. The girls happily chomped through both of these. The spring rolls are not gluten free so I skipped them. There were 4 spring rolls in total and Michael said they were ok, although very hot. In contrast, the satay skewers were gluten free and tasty but not quite hot enough. The chicken was cooked really well though, and the sauce was nice and peanutty. It was a little sweet and I would’ve liked a little more lime in the sauce but they were easy to eat and quite moreish.
For our mains, Michael ordered two of the kids Pad See Ew noodles for the girls, the chicken Pad Thai and BBQ wagyu beef, medium rare with a side of jasmine rice for Michael and I to share. The kids meals were a good size and really easy for little hands. Both the girls were happy with the Pad See Ew, eating the big fat rice noodles with some nice big slices of chicken, and even eating the few pieces of broccoli that had been snuck in!
The Pad Thai was nice but nothing spectacular. The pieces of chicken were nice and big, there were a lot of beansprouts in it and it was quite nice. The sauce was a bit sweet but not off-putting, and it came with a little slice of lemon to add some acidity and cut through the sweetness. There weren’t any peanuts in the Pad Thai which was disappointing as it needed some crunch.
The wagyu steak came out last with the jasmine rice. It was nicely presented in slices with a little salad and pot of sauce. It was really nicely cooked, medium rare, and the texture was lovely. The sauce was sweet again but it was very nice with the meat although it would’ve benefitted from some chilli to add a bit of heat.
In total the meal cost $105.55. I think this was a bit steep for what we got. The food wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. It felt like they were trying a bit too hard to appeal to too many tastes with the various Asian dishes instead of really focussing on getting the Thai dishes right. I also feel like although the kids enjoyed their noodles, it would’ve been a better (and likely cheaper) to buy the standard sized noodle dish and split it between the family. It was very family friendly though and I had no problems with the food. I didn’t love eating in at Chong Co but we’ll definitely continue to order from them for takeaway.
Shop 327A Westfield Belconnen
Lathlain street Belconnen ACT 2617