NOTE: Jon and Tuk have sold At Thai on Frank.
Jon and Tuk Brady are well known to the Gold Coast dining public. The couple had won many awards at their well-known Thai restaurant, Kin Kao: Best Thai and Best BYO on the Gold Coast for consecutive years, as well as contender for Best BYO in Australia. Tuk’s aromatic Thai food and Jon’s hospitable service gained them a loyal following of local patrons.
But the time came for the couple to move on; to navigate new culinary territory. After the sale of Kin Kao in 2014, Jon and Tuk took a well-earned holiday. They visited Tuk’s home town Bangkok and, revitalised, came home with new ideas and some new dishes which they wanted to try out in a new venture. First they helped former employees Bing Bing and Bond set up At Thai on Ferry to pass on their skills to the next generation.
Then, in July 2015, John and Tuk started a new restaurant, this time At Thai on Frank with partner Apple Leighton (owner of Thai House, Sanctuary Cove). It’s a modern fresh take on Thai food, breaking away from the traditional Thai presentation of Kin Kao. Gone is the traditional dress and the gilt Singha (half lion, half bird) of their last restaurant, Kin Kao, replaced by black-clad wait staff, burnt orange and black theming and funky but comfortable black faux leather and timber chairs.
“We imagined a simple sophisticated restaurant,” Jon tells us, “bringing good Thai cuisine to this part of the coast.”
With Tuk’s excellent cooking, some more adventurous dishes for Thai food lovers to try, the convenient location with easy parking beside the shop, fast takeaway and little casual dining competition in the area, At Thai on Frank is a winner.
The dinner menu holds old favourites and new: entrées are standard Thai fare, but venture into the specials and you’ll find Whole plate-sized barramundi smothered in a rich Sam Rod curry $25 (which we end up scooping off the plate), and a deliciously rich Pad Pong Kari smothering a plate of softshell crab (or Choo Chee Moreton Bay bugs when they’re on special)! Priced at $16 – $25, the mains (curries, stir fries, Thai salad, or noodles) are perfect to share. There are great vegetarian options on the menu, most dishes are gluten-free, and the added joy of BYO makes At Thai on Frank an affordable weekly dining experience.
Tuk has a few dessert specials as well. The Banana and Chocolate Roll with macadamia ice cream and caramel was totally yummy, the different textures a delightful surprise – a real Asian take on the banana split!
Lunch features very different cuisine, yet is highly affordable with dishes priced between $12 – $14. Dishes such as Yum Ma Ma (Salad of minced chicken, calamari and pork with egg noodles tossed in chilli and lime) or Som Tum ($11 – paw paw salad with peanuts, green beans, tomatoes and prawn) are summer dishes loved by Thais and Westerners alike, but it’s worth venturing further into less familiar territory.
John says the lunch menu is an attempt to give Aussie travellers a more authentic taste of Thai food than they usually encounter, especially catering for those who travel to Thailand quite often. There’s a section of One Plate Wonders, as well as another of Thai-style dishes with lesser known Thai specialties – the ever popular Crying Tiger, as well as Khor moo yang, Tom Saap and Sticky rice, whose tastes are less familiar to Westerners.
So far, our favourite lunch dish is Khao Soi ($14), a rich coconut curry noodle soup with chicken. Exotic yet delicious, it has become Northern Thailand’s de facto signature dish. Taking hours of preparation, a great Khao Soi is made from a hand pounded paste of fresh herbs and fermented seafood mixed with coconut to form a richly textured broth, fresh noodles, chicken (in this case boneless chicken pieces rather than the traditional leg), topped by fried noodles, deep-fried onion, coriander, shallots and egg. Tuk’s noodles were perfect – bouncy but not overcooked, the soup aromatic yet not too spicy. As Jon points out, Khao Soi is a dish prepared with love and when I look at a recipe later, I know why I’ll opt for Tuk’s Khao Soi!
Everything is bought fresh daily. All dishes are made to order as well, meaning that you may need to wait for your order, plan your timing or phone ahead. But the wait is well worth it! The restaurant is both licensed and BYO, so you can bring your favourite wine for a small charge.
We’re huge fans of Tuk’s rich, aromatic curries. Each one holds an exciting punch of flavour and, in our household, there’s never a question about sharing. We all want to taste everything!
With its street food inspired menu, casual yet classy dining room and friendly service, At Thai on Frank is a great find – delicious food, fabulous value – a real bonus to the northside dining scene!
1/97 – 99 Frank St., Labrador, Queensland 4215 Open daily 4.30pm – 9.00pm
Ph: 07 553 1799