Pretty damned good Thai food – for a food hall.
Category: Food Hall Outlet
I’ve eaten dozens of times at Mahar Fusion. It can best be summed up as reliable nosh, a cut above most food hall outlets of whatever type. Restaurant quality? No – but it’s not a restaurant, it’s a food hall outlet, and if you are after a quick and inexpensive Thai meal you can do far worse.
It’s located in Cambridge Forum International Food Court, behind The Wembley Hotel, Cambridge St, Wembley. It’s a moderate size food hall - 10 outlets of the usual suspects, all Asian cooking of various types with the exception of the Roast/Carvery and a coffee/drinks/desserts “cafe”.
They vary in quality from very good to very ordinary (avoid the Chinese and the Indian – “mediocre even by food hall standards” is being kind). The Japanese, the Dim Sum and the Thai are the picks of the bunch, mainly because there are no bain maries – they all prepare each meal individually, even if many of their ingredients are clearly pre-prepared frozen materials – what did you expect? It’s a food hall.
The food hall is well-patronised, tends to be a bit noisy (shocking acoustics with an echo that even the sound-deadener they added to the ceiling didn’t fix). There’s a lot of parking and you can normally find a spot with no problems unless there’s a big footie or rugby game being shown at the Hotel. Tip: try the underground carpark at the back: it’s often half empty when the carpark is jam-packed.
Back to the Mahar Fusion (amusingly their big illuminated signs misspell their own name; they say Mahar Fussion in large lettering; all their menus and promotional material spell it correctly). Mahar Fusion been there for at least 15 years, with at least a couple of owners, perhaps more, and it has always been reliable.
It has a fairly varied range of typical Thai dishes – nothing exotic, just what you would expect, including soups, noodle dishes, green and red curries, lemongrass dishes etc etc, plus a few from other regional styles, like samosas, Mongolian lamb and Indonesian-style dishes (no doubt this explains the “Fusion” in their name). They do take-away too, of course.
I wanted a quick & pleasant meal at a reasonable price, and that’s exactly what I got. I ordered their Green Curry with Beef as a main meal ($13) with a small steamed rice ($2.50). The green curry is also available with chicken, squid, prawns or mixed seafood, as are many of their dishes. Prices vary slightly depending on which ingredient you choose, from a low of $13 to a high of $16. You can also order a smaller serve which includes rice (good for those small appetites or for children), and these are slightly cheaper at $12 to $14 dollars.
They bring the meal to your table and it arrived quickly; from ordering to my first taste was around 8 minutes. On busier nights it can take a little longer but it’s never a long wait.
And this is what I got:
First impressions – when they say “small steamed rice”, they really mean it! For $2.50 I expect a larger serve; it’s OK quality, and reasonably similar to “real” Thai rice; adhering to itself without being glutinous or overcooked. But I think they are doing themselves a disservice by having such a small serve – rice is cheap, and people go to food halls expecting value for money.
On to the green curry: It’s a decent-sized serving; not huge, but definitely not skimped the way the rice is.
There’s plenty of beef in this meal – no skimping here either – and it’s fairly thinly sliced and all very tender. Clearly most of the vegetables are frozen, not freshly prepared – the fluted edges to the carrot slices are a bit of a giveaway. Nevertheless they were quite OK; not over-cooked and with adequate “crunch factor”. OK, no authentic green curry would even have carrot in it, but – yep, it’s food hall. I don’t think I’ve ever had a food hall green curry that didn’t contain carrot, either sliced or julienned. And broccoli.
Flavour – pretty damned good for a food hall! The flavours are well-balanced, there’s enough coconut milk for a fairly smooth mouth-feel, there’s even a couple of real kaffir lime leaves in there. Tastes good.
Nice level of chilli with a bit of heat; not really hot, but food hall outlets naturally tend to be a bit conservative when it comes to chilli – they know their patrons aren’t necessarily into authentic levels of chilli, and they cater to the average taste. But compared to most food hall Thai food, the overall flavour and authenticity is definitely much better than average – there are some shockingly bad ones out there!
I’ve eaten in some very good local Thai restaurants (and some utterly mediocre ones too, where the food was no better than at Mahar Fusion, just more expensive), and I’ve been to Thailand twice. This is NOT going to satisfy the aficionado looking for a top-quality and truly authentic green curry. But hey! This is a food hall, and as Perth food hall Thai goes this is in the upper echelons. If you want top quality Thai food go to a good restaurant and expect to pay two to three times as much.
Or go to Thailand, where even the tiny sidewalk cafes do better than this. And expect some real fire in the chilli – authentic Thai food can be amazingly hot, the real “Oh God, I can’t tell whether my lips are burning or have gone completely numb in shock” chilli experience. Great if you like that (and I do, once in a while), but I don’t have to have all my chilli meals at that almost masochistic burn-level to enjoy them.
I was satisfied, both as to flavour and price – it’s not much more expensive than eating at Maccas, and that is an experience I hope never to have again. Honestly, isn’t there some sort of consumer protection law that could be invoked? I mean, they claim their burgers are food and that is blatant false advertising.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, in the Food Hall Outlet category.
Foodhall outlet details:
Cambridge Forum International Food Court
350 Cambridge Street,
Wembley WA 6014
(08) 9387 8811
BYO (but only alcoholic drinks – you are requested not to bring any non-alcoholic drinks; doesn’t seem to be policed though)
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday) 11.00am to 9.00pm