Address: 503 New North Rd, Kingsland
Phone: (09) 815 3834
Open: Cafe — Tues-Sun, 10am-3pm. Thai Bistro — Tues-Sat, 5.30pm-9.30pm
Cost: $62.50 for two.

Set up & site

You probably already knew "farang" is Thai for foreigner. You might not have known it's also Thai for guava. There are no guavas on the menu at Farang Cafe and Bistro, which is cute rather than cavernous. There's seating inside and out (covered on miserable days). In the same spot was once an excellent Italian cafe called Bottega, and before that an appalling "Kiwiana" fish 'n' chip joint that simultaneously tried to cash in the 2011 Rugby World Cup while ruining forever our international reputation for takeaways. The only constant in Kingsland is change. But I hope this place doesn't go anywhere.

Sustenance & swill

Instead of myriad same-same choices, they do a just few things, very well. It's all based on what's in season and there's no MSG, if that bothers you. There's an excellent and reasonably priced wine and beer list. I'd order a cocktail, but there's something about the Ring of Fire, made with Mekong rum, that seems a little ambitious at midday. We order juices - one Water Bank - watermelon, mint, cucumber and apple and one Feel the Beet - a pear, orange, beetroot, apple and carrot combo (both $6). They use Allpress and my soy flat white is the only bum note. I order the ginger pork noodle soup ($14), which comes with green beans, bean sprouts, cabbage, carrot, kale, crushed peanuts and a chilli and lime dressing. We also get beef mussaman roti with a basil salad ($16.90). Everything is fresh and singing on the plate. We share a side of roti and peanut sauce ($5) and it's so good we order another, along with a side of sticky rice ($3). For those who can't venture beyond eggs, bacon and sausages, there is the Big Farang ($20) and the Little Farang ($7.50).


Service & other stuff

They're playing Roll Out Those Lazy Days of Summer but sadly we're hurtling in the other direction, towards winter. Jimi Hendrix follows, then the Beach Boys. The 70s soundtrack provides a sort of warm sense of optimism. Lin, Bong and Walee are Thai friends who have nailed the food and service. They have captured the essence of their culinary heritage, and delivered it with a light, laid-back touch.