Boon cafe: Jarern Chai Grocer is not new, it’s been open for a few years now, but it is still fresh and still pumping with people. A grocery store and cafe aren’t new concepts of course but, this is different to most. First of all it’s a Thai grocery and cafe with a kind of western Thai food smash up by day and Isaan (North Eastern) Thai by night.
It belongs to the Chat Thai family of restaurants and the charming owner tells me that they first opened Boon Cafe with their staff in mind. They wanted a nice cafe where staff could go to eat good food, feel comfortable and meet new people. It just so happens that Chat Thai staff do go to Boon Cafe but so do lots of other converts just like me.
It’s in a part of Haymarket Sydney that is now called Thai Town. I love Thai town, and if you are lucky you can even see Monks passing by blessing grateful people in impromptu street ceremonies.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is anything average when it comes to Thai restaurants or produce stores. At the front of the store and cafe are big windows and glass sliding doors, there are chic subway tiles and funky lights hanging like huge moons over the food serving/ prep area. Big vases of flowers on the counter add splashes of colour and you’ll find it full of all walks of life at any time of the day. The first thing that greets you when you walk in those sliding doors is the displays of vegetables and often exotic fruit. A stark reminder that there are more fruit and vegetables available then your local supermarket would have you believe.
And that is part of what makes Boon tick. Ingredients are a combination of Thai and what can be sourced locally. The cafe serves Artisan bread, single Origin Coffee, free range and ethically sourced products of all kinds are supported and championed here. With so many restaurants in Sydney now, the group have also encouraged local growers to supply ingredients they like to use in enough volume to service all the kitchens. win win.
Each and every Chat Thai has a dessert chef and here, at Boon cafe there’s an extra special treat with well known blogger and dessert chef Y Lee @lemonpiy serving up some Asian inspired pastries featuring organic flours and great technique.
Past the counter full of take home meals and spices is a walk in coolroom brimming with herbs and vegetables and a diverse cross-section of people filling their baskets.
When you are ready to pull up a chair in the small cafe, the time of day will determine what’s on the menu. This is where it gets interesting because your food expectations are about to be blown away. 7 days a week from breakfast to dinner this cafe pumps out original as well as traditional food. Start with a cold pressed juice, Single origin coffee a Matcha frappe or a Tea or Tisane (herbal- no caffeine) iced or hot. But if you want to stay in Thailand there are Thai coffees and drinks too. Do you love Condensed milk? Cause they got that covered, try the Milo Condensed Milk.
You can eat coddled eggs with pasture raised bacon, avocado on toast (with pork scratchings) or get interesting with Crab Congee and Thousand year old egg, or a Boon style big breakfast tasting tray of congee, skewered pork, baked eggs, organic pasture-raised bacon, avocado, mushrooms & sourdough. This is a world where anythings possible. The menu has pictures of everything for those that can’t make up their mind at lunch time when the choices stretch from noodles to salad bowls and Thai sandwiches. That’s toasted sourdough stuffed full of things like Pork Larb and pickled cabbage soft eggs and herbs, my kind of sandwiches- chilli laden.
Photo c/o Boon Cafe .
Braised Duck with Duck Gravy, ginger and brown rice $16
If noodle soups are your favourite, then go for something like the spicy Duck soup with rice noodles. Bowl food is on my must eat list so a selection of things like Pork pad prik in a bowl with brown rice, herbs and salad with a little squirt of Kewpie mayonnaise on top is what I love. But you could perhaps eat Braised Duck on brown rice with Duck gravy and greens it’s both generous and deliciously clean. And I can’t help squealing here, but there is a whole page….. of Som Tum variations. Som Tum is pretty much Thailand’s’ national dish (almost). It’s a chilli laden salad made with green papaya, herbs, tomato and a choice with a cast of thousands here at Boon.
It’s pretty hard to choose something to eat as it all sounds so good. Those picture menus only make it worse and I tend to over order ( which I don’t see as a problem). Dishes during the day are on the cheap side with pretty much everything falling under about $16.
I haven’t been to dinner yet, but that must change soon. If you need someone to go with you just let me know……
Spicy Hot Duck Noodle soup (sorry about the quality)
Bowl Food. Pork Pud Pik with brown rice and salad with Kewpie Mayo $15
This visit was paid for independently. Sorry about the terrible pictures!
Boon Cafe at Jarern Chai Asian Grocer
1/425 Pitt Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9281 2114