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Malai Thawng Thai, Nelson Bay, NSW

When we arrived at Nelson Bay during a cyclone that caused the entire area to lose power resulting in every restaurant shutting its doors, I did wonder if we would have any luck finding somewhere to eat for the night. a stroke of good fortune the power was returned to our part of the area at around 7.30pm.  I fired up my laptop and googled restaurants in the area.  I found the local Thai and gave them a call.  David, the owner, answered the phone.  I asked if he was open for business and he said, ‘I am now’.


The thatched-hut bar inside the commercial premises

The thatched-hut bar inside the commercial premises

Malai Thawng Thai is walking distance from Mantra Aqua and located in the centre of the town at Nelson Bay.  The restaurant is owned by an Australian man who, over 20 years ago, was traveling through Thailand, fell in love and married and for 20 years they have run the Malai Thawng restaurant.



The restaurant is currently for sale and it does look like it needs freshening up as the decor is very dated.  There are grey carpet tiles on the floor but then as a tribute to Thailand there are pictures and things on the walls that appear to have been put up rather haphazardly and perhaps as things have been acquired over time.  There is a handmade sign letting you know the business is for sale and other handmade posters advising the work the owners are doing to support orphans in Cambodia and Thailand.

Decorations on the walls

Decorations on the walls

There is a Thai bar that is almost overwhelming in terms of the size of the structure and the architecture with its thatched roof and ornate features.  There are also shelving units along some of the walls with an odd and non-cohesive assortment of ornaments.

David was our waiter for the evening and he was very affable and showed us to a table in the centre of the restaurant.  There were red tablecloths on the tables but all tables were covered in plastic and on a hot and humid evening sitting on a vinyl chair and resting your arms on plastic, wasn’t very pleasant.

The restaurant is fully licensed but they do allow you to BYO for a very reasonable corkage charge.  There was some music playing but it was Thai music and it was playing so softly it was barely discernible.

The menu didn’t have any surprises and instead included all the dishes we’ve come to know since Thai cuisine became a popular dining option in Australia.  We started with spring rolls.  These arrived quickly and were so hot we had to abandon them for a moment or two.  They were fairly standard as was the dipping sauce that went with it and I thought there was more pastry than filling.

We ordered Alfie’s favourite which is deep-fried calamari.  He really enjoyed it and Carl (who asked Alfie to share) said it was extremely tender and full of flavour.

Deep fried calamari and spring rolls

Deep fried calamari and spring rolls $8.00 each

The curry puffs were excellent; very light and not oily with a generous amount of filling.  I would have liked to have ordered more of these.

Curry Puffs $8.00

From the specials we ordered the Siam Duck and this is a dish I hadn’t heard of before so I asked David how the duck was cooked and he said it was it was in sweet soy sauce and honey.  That did sound rather sweet so I don’t know why I was surprised with the sweetness of the dish however I just thought it might have had some lime juice or tamarind paste added to balance the sweetness.  The duck however with the shiitake mushrooms was beautifully cooked.

Siam Duck $22.90

Siam Duck $22.90

We ordered the Pad-Kra-Prao stir-fry with beef.  For a stir-fry there did seem to be a lot of sauce on the plate but the stir-fry was very fresh, not overcooked and with a lovely balance of flavours.

Beef stir-fry $19.00

Beef stir-fry $19.00

Alfie had the deep-fried ice cream that was one of the specials.  It was the first time he’d ever had deep-fried ice cream and he was very impressed.  He ate all of it with no complaints.

Deep-fried ice cream

Deep-fried ice cream $10.00

We had a pleasant evening and were very grateful David was able to open the restaurant.

Verdict:  Malai Thawng Thai is a fairly dated-looking restaurant that serves nothing out of the ordinary however it is conveniently located, licensed and BYO, has friendly, relaxed and casual service and the food is clean and fresh.

Malai Thawng Thai:  10/35 Stockton Street, Nelson Bay NSW 2315

Ph:  (02) 4981 0044

The thatched-hut bar inside the commercial premises

The thatched-hut bar inside the commercial premises

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  1. That bar is massive. I’m glad David was attentive and you got nourishing food. Sometimes old stand-bys are good enough, especially after a mini-cyclone.

  2. Some of my fav restaurants have been in old dilapidated buildings…looking past the decor, the food was always amazing! Those curry puffs look amazing-and I am so curious bout fried ice cream – I have never had it myself!

  3. I’m there with Alfie., I love fried ice cream, though last time I had to share with Trace and he’s terrible with sharing, especially ice cream.
    I always find it sad why people let their businesses get so run down. At least, the food was good and David hadn’t let that quality slip. I’ve been to so many places in great locations but the restaurants and food are just more than lacking. I’m glad that you were able to get something decent to eat at least. xx

  4. It’s a quaint little establishment. Not fancy but the food looked lovely! I love deep fired ice cream! Glad you were able to find a place to eat after your little adventure! 😉 xo

  5. Lucky find in a time of need. And fun for Alfie with the deep-fried ice cream.

  6. I haven’t touched Thai cuisine in my own cooking so I found several of the dishes intriguing. I know that one normally orders a plain rice dish to ‘sop’ up the sauces in Chinese stir-fries. Do you do the same thing with Thai food? Or were there noodles of some sort accompanying the dishes. Curry puffs … something I’ve yet to try as well. Those looked very tasty.

    I’m sorry that the restaurant is being sold but sometimes there just isn’t a customer base nearby and there’s no money to invest in renovations, advertising and an update of the menu that would attract people from farther away.

    I’ve only ever had fried ice cream in Mexican restaurants. I love it flamed with a chocolate sauce.

  7. This reads like a very kind review of a place you were very grateful was open 😉

  8. I feel sad when good restaurants fold up, when some TLC would revive them.

  9. It must have been such a relief to find somewhere open and the power restored! 🙂

  10. Sometimes those old style restaurants are just the thing you need! That seems to happen with family owned places sometimes – they keep making very nice food, but never seem to notice that things are looking a bit shabby. So glad you found a good place to eat though!

  11. G’day! Sadly with all of the options to dine, when a restaurant allows themselves to become outdated, it is difficult to keep up with the competition. Glad Alfie enjoyed his calamari and fried ice cream; my faves too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  12. This particular Thai establishment reminds me of one I enjoy near where I work. It isn’t much to look at, hasn’t been updated in years, but it’s clean and the food is reliable. I do like Thai! I’m glad you had a pleasant meal, warm and satisfying, given the circumstances of that particular day. I haven’t had the fried ice cream. That looks pretty interesting!

  13. Thai is a standard ‘go to’ when travelling for precisely the reasons you note – it is predictable and generally fresh and well prepared. Or at least, it is in Australia (and no doubt, obviously, in Asia) – I have found it far less predictable elsewhere! I’m glad you found somewhere to serve you at the end of your turbulent afternoon.

  14. Given that everyone lost power you were so lucky to find somewhere open. I love Thai food and those Curry Puffs look especially delicious!

  15. I think deep-fried ice cream redeems even the shabbiest of decor. 🙂 So glad they were willing to open just for you. 🙂

  16. Mr. N loves fried calamari is well. Actually both of the kids do. They order that every time we go out for pizza or Italian. This sounds like it was a nice evening (despite the weather).

  17. How lovely to have found somewhere open.
    Have a super week ahead Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  18. I’m glad you found somewhere to eat Charlie, I bet a lot of places just shut down for the evening. Those calamari look disappointing, but the mains sound nice. Alfie must have been impressed with that icecream, sprinkles and all! Xox

  19. I think the best feature of that restaurant was that it was open for business that evening, Charlie. Though it wasn’t worthy of a Michelin star, things could have been much worse given the power outages and all. I’ve not had fried ice cream in ages. What a treat!

  20. I adore spicy thai food!

  21. I love Thai food!!! It’s the spiciness that really gets me 🙂 yum yum but gosh it does look like its’ a restaurant from the 80s and i can understand why they’re selling!!! LOL

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