Boon Café at Jarern Chai Grocer

A mighty tasty mash-up of Sydney's obsession with café culture and authentic Thai eats.

Asian sandwiches - an oxymoron? Far from it. But there's a new sheriff in town, and it's an Australian exclusive.

Pioneering Sydney group Chat Thai has expanded into the grocery market, taking over a large tenancy around the corner from its Haymarket HQ. The unique selling point at its in-house eatery, Boon Café, is Thai sandwiches.

Picture fried crab and prawn cake with smoked chilli relish on a milk bun, or the seriously spicy likes of soft-boiled eggs, northern-style smoked eggplant nahm prik relish or northern-style pork larb with grilled chicken liver between slices of Brickfields bread, teamed with Single Origin coffee, fresh herbal teas and pastries from Penny Fours.

"Basically, you've got all the classics from a nam-prik meal rolled into one tasty handful," says Chat Thai director Palisa Anderson. A passion project for Chat founder Amy Chanta, Jarern Chai also stocks Thai homewares, drygoods, an impressive range of fruit and veg, and soon, for time-poor Thai cooks, fresh coconut milk and coconut cream extracted in-house.

All the sandwiches are available as rice bowls at lunch, alongside equally unorthodox offers such as a Thai take on spaghettini with crab and tomato amped up with smoked chilli. At breakfast (served till 11), the options run from pasture-raised bacon to house-made chicken liver pâté with your eggs, and from jam or peanut butter to red-tea custard with your toast. Dinner is served till midnight, taking in Isaan-style grills, sour-spicy chicken-foot broth, a nam tok made with skirt steak and a salad of ant eggs, shallots and roasted rice.

"We're trying to find a middle ground that complements the lifestyle we like - eating well, eating organic, eating fresh - with stuff that the Thai populace in the area expects," says Anderson.

Boon Café at Jarern Chai Grocer, 1/425 Pitt St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9281 2114.



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