While the others were off having a bite to eat at Bodhi in the Park, I ducked away to visit some friends, coming back finally hungry again after the morning's massive breakfast and excited about our evening's plans at Peace Harmony. It hadn't made our initial shortlist of Sydney eats, but Buttons had let us know that it was a guaranteed highlight, so we'd pushed it to the top of our list.
Peace Harmony has a massive menu that is entirely vegan - thankfully, having a table of five meant that we could afford to sample widely from it. We still needed to deliberate for a while, going through a few different ordering strategies before settling on six dishes.
First up: a Panang curry (Veggie meat cooked in coconut cream and panang curry paste with vegetables and basil, $13.50)
This was probably the least visually interesting of our dishes, but it compensated by being one of the most delicious - a rich coconutty treat that had a nice mild chilli kick among some deeper spice flavours (coriander definitely, maybe some lemongrass as well?). The vegies were crisp, and the combo of tofu and a smattering of gluten chunks added some interesting texture without turning this into an overwhelmingly mock-meat meal.
We'd all been chanting, "Pad Thai, Pad Thai, Pad Thai!" on the walk to Peace Harmony, so there was no surprise that it made it into our order (Thai style fried noodles with tamarind sauce, soy meat, tofu and peanuts, $13,50). The noodles in this were a bit different than we'd expected - thinner and not quite as soft as the other Pad Thais we'd sampled. Again, the mix of fillings were excellent, but there was no way that this dish could live up to the Pad Thai hype that we'd generated - it was enjoyable but not amazing.
Bec picked one of the few meals on the menu without mock meat: crispy beancurd (deep fried beancurd sheet with mixed vegetables and topped with special Harmony sauce, $14.80)
Nobody could quite figure out what 'Harmony sauce' was, but that didn't stop us devouring this meal - a sweet and slightly tangy sauce on crunchy bean curd pieces and loads of vegies.
Cindy picked something from the specials menu, the herbal Carribean (fried whole veggie fish with Tom Yum and krati sauce, with lemongrass, limeleaves and coriander, $15).
This was my dish of the night - the hot and sour sauce, the herb mix and the tender faux-fish were outstanding. A possible rival for the famous fish from White Lotus.
We'd each had a tiny bite of excellent papaya salad the night before at Yulli's, so we decided to give Peace Harmony a shot to see how they measured up (Thai style papaya salad with carrot, green bean, fresh chilli, tomato, lemon juice and peanut, $13.50).
This was probably not quite as good as the Yulli's version - a bit too saucy and scattered with weird faux-prawns, which nobody really enjoyed. Still, the sour and spicy mix of vegies was pretty enjoyable before it all got a bit soggy at the bottom.
Finally, we had ginger fried rice to accompany everything (Thai style fried rice with fresh ginger, $12).
This was another winner - a tangy, gingery rice, with a handful of greens and carrot pieces stirred through.
Peace Harmony left everyone in our group very satisfied - big serves, lots of punchy flavours, fresh vegies and various soy and gluten-based bits and pieces (tofu, bean curd and faux meats). The food came out incredibly quickly and the staff were friendly and helpful (when we could flag them down - we were forgotten about for a little while). We all loved Peace Harmony so much that the walk back to our accommodation was spent trying to figure out why Melbourne lacks a Thai vegetarian restaurant - we've got Chinese, Taiwanese, Moroccan, Korean, Indian, Mexican, pub food, cafe food, junk food and pizza, but no Thai. Melbourne: get this fixed.
There are loads of other reviews of Peace Harmony (although some are of the smaller, King St cafe). Check out: Down Memory Lane, BrisVegan, Journey in Australia, Betty's Bites, Diary of a Ladybird, Phede and Brunch, Lunch and Munch.
Address: 44 Erskine Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9262 2247
Price: $9.5 - $15