On Saturday Michael and I had a few errands to run on Sydney Rd and to make the trip a little less arduous, we planned to eat lunch afterwards at Tom Phat. Once on the road we also spontaneously invited Mike and Jo-Lyn to join us.
While we waited for them to arrive, we stashed our bags under the low coffee table at the front of the restaurant, sprawled on the cushions and soaked up the atmosphere. This is the kind of styled, trendy place that you'll either love or hate. The murals, textures, furniture and plants have all been chosen carefully and I surprised myself by failing to reject it as 'too pretentious' and settling quickly into the 'love' camp. Maybe it was the capably relaxed and nonjudgmental attitude of our waitress that eased me in. Or just that I'm a sucker for unusual pot-plants.
Michael ordered a coffee and I took a look at the menu. This is modern Asian fusion kinda stuff - breakfast eggs come with spring onions and roti, and a lunch of lamb meatballs is covered with tamarind sauce. As the minutes ticked by, I decided to order a juice. The kickstarter ($5) consists of pineapple, apple, orange and ginger. So tangy and fresh, Tom Phat by now had won my loyalty for making pineapple juice awesome.
Our waitress was completely unfazed that we'd now been hanging around for 20 or so minutes and hadn't ordered our food. Between the breakfast, lunch and specials menus there were quite a few attractive options and I selfishly broke down and ordered a sticky soy wrap ($9.50) just as Mike and Jo-Lyn arrived.
It's described as "tofu & tempeh, salad leaves and roti". That's an understatement. Try "two fat skewers of sweet, sticky marinated tofu and tempeh, and a bedsheet-sized roti stuffed with a garden-full of herbs, sprouts, carrots and peppery rocket". It was huge and I wondered if I'd get through half of it. Leaning over my low plate, I unashamedly ripped at the roti with my hands and inelegantly stuffed forkfuls of greens into my mouth. So good. I ate and ate and ate, and even the last bite was a pleasure. Michael couldn't believe I finished it, and I didn't quite believe it myself. I guess greens aren't that filling. My only criticism would be that there's not a lot of chilli - it didn't bother me at all but I think it goes counter to the Vietnamese vibe of this filling.
Michael had grilled field mushrooms with rocket, fetta and caramelised onions ($8.90). Although it's a more conventional mix it was a large and tasty serve, excellent value at this price.
Also worth a mention is the lemon meringue pie that Mike and Jo-Lyn shared after their mains. I'm no great fan of meringue but this one impressed me - the surface had received a real firing, with crunchy, deeply caramelised edges. By this stage, one bite was all I needed for complete and utter satisfaction.
Address: 184 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Ph: 9381 2374
Licensed & BYO
Price: veg breakfast or lunch $4.50-10.90