Bold new takes on Thai cuisine right in the heart of Bourke Street.

“Thai Tide is all about showcasing the uniqueness of regional dishes and the artistry of traditional cooking techniques,” says owner Merica Charungvat. “Our goal is to stand out from the crowd by offering an exceptional and authentic taste of Thailand that you won’t get anywhere else. Prepare to be captivated by the diverse flavours and culinary traditions of Thailand, as we strive to create a memorable and enjoyable dining experience for all.”

Merica and her self-taught chef Nutchanun Thongsawat, want to champion Thailand’s regional cuisines at Thai Tide, making it a showcase of the nation’s diversity and culinary ingenuity, while putting the very best of Victorian produce under the spotlight.

Here’s Merica on her picks of the menu.

What should I order at Thai Tide if I’m feeling adventurous?
Let’s indulge in the kaeng omm. Inspired by the cuisine of Isan, in north-eastern Thailand, it’s thickened with pounded sticky rice and yanang vine leaf extract, resulting in a rich, sour, and spicy flavour. It’s strewn with dill and garnished with ant larvae, giving it a unique texture. If you’re feeling curious, this dish is an absolute must.

I love Thai food, but I’m not really an insect-egg person (or not yet, anyway). What do you recommend?
The kaeng rawang beef-cheek curry is a good place to start, both familiar and not. Drawing inspiration from Southeast Asian influences, it’s infused with lemongrass, makrut lime, turmeric, and cumin, creating a mouth-watering blend of green and yellow curry flavours

What if I’m a vegetarian or vegan?
For our vegetarian and vegan guests, I’d suggest some hearty and delicious yum tawaii. It features seasonal vegetables such as banana blossom, snake beans and cauliflower accompanied by a dressing of tamarind, sesame, palm sugar, red curry paste, and creamy coconut milk. Another great option is our kaeng kua, which showcases wild mushrooms from Unearthed Co and tangy gooseberries from Natoora Melbourne. Known as the godmother of three popular Thai curries, this dish offers a harmonious blend of flavours.

How about a drink?
You can’t go past the Mango Sticky Rice beer from Inner North Brewery. Okay, fair warning: this brew is outrageously popular and often sells out, especially when mango is in season during the summer months. But trust us, it’s worth the wait. Inner North Brewery, a funky microbrewery and bar in Brunswick, really knows how to infuse their beers with good vibes. And if you can’t get your hands on the Mango Sticky Rice, their lemongrass beer is another winner.

If you’re not a beer person, Camwell Wines makes a fume blanc, an orange wine, that pairs flawlessly with our menu. Not only does it taste incredible, but the people behind Camwell Wines are some of the nicest people we’ve come across!

I’m here for a good time, not a long time.
Make it freshly shucked oysters with burnt chilli jam, locally sourced sea grapes, and fresh herbs. This flavour combination is an absolute winner.

Got anything light and fresh?
If you’re looking for something light and refreshing, don’t go past our miang kham: traditional betel-leaf snack is packed with a delicate blend of herbs, a sweet-savory sauce, all wrapped up in a bite-sized package. Not only is it incredibly tasty, but it’s also said to bring good luck.

Name the dish that captures the essence of what you’re cooking at Thai Tide.
At Thai Tide, we’re all about celebrating the diverse flavours of Thai cuisine while embracing the incredible local produce in Melbourne. That’s why our seasonal fresh fruit with plara is a must – the best of both worlds.

Picture this: juicy seasonal fruit layered with plara, the fermented fish paste from Isan. Last summer we used luscious Australian mangoes, and this season, we’re featuring the vibrant red dragon fruit from the Northern Territory. The result? A flavour explosion that’ll make your taste buds dance.

Plara is quite something. This fermented fish paste has been rocking Thai cuisine for centuries, adding oomph to the dish. The sweet and juicy fruits perfectly balance out the pungent and savoury ferment. It’s amazing.

Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
Crisp bamboo worms and silkworm pupae are a definite Thai Tide highlight. Bite into a crisp bamboo worm, and you’ll experience a crunch that rivals your favourite potato chips. The silkworm pupa, by contrast, has a soft and slightly chewy texture like nothing else. We serve them sprinkled with salt, adorned with crisp makrut lime leaves, and infused with the flavour of pandan.

But it’s not just about the taste and texture; these snacks also have a story that adds to their charm. Once consumed out of necessity during times of scarcity, they have evolved into beloved street treats, showcasing the ingenuity and resourcefulness of Thai culture.

And let’s not forget the fun factor. For most people in Melbourne, bamboo worms and silkworm pupae aren’t everyday fare, and seeing them here encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, embrace your adventurous side, and try something truly unique. They’re conversation starters, the snacks that make your friends ask, “Wait, you ate what?”

And to close?
I’d highly recommend indulging in our traditional Thai baked custard dessert, mor gang. It’s flavoured with pandan leaves but what makes mor gang truly special is the crisp and caramelized shallots, lending a savoury twist to the sweetness.

Thai Tide, 171 Bourke St, Melbourne,