Twelve Spices Thai and Lao, Canley Heights

These days you can usually tell a good Sydney restaurant not by the number of people inside eating but the number  of people OUTSIDE  waiting to eat. And it’s not just in the CBD that those lines stretch along the footpath.

From the outside, Twelves Spices  is a non-descript Thai and Lao restaurant in Sydney’s South West suburb of Canley Heights (197 St Johns Rd) near Fairfield. Its small shopfront is found hidden amongst a small strip of suburban businesses, however on a Friday or Saturday night you cannot miss it due to the groups of people crowding around the entrance under the neon signs.

twelve spices lao thai entrance

Inside the decor is more modern but I recommend booking unless you want to take your chances waiting… even with a booking it’s usually busy and you have to wait. I don’t think I’ve ever been when there isn’t a wait or crowd gathering.

twelve spices lanterns

twelve spices menu

I visited Twelve Spices a few times (including my birthday) in 2013 so these pics aren’t all from the one night but I was first introduced to the restaurant by my friend who lives in the area and knew the menu well.

twelve spices papaya salad

We started with their infamous Lao pork sausages, which have a real kick of herbacious Lao flavours, and a beef raw papaya salad which is crunchy and zingy with tender slices of beef. It has a decent chilli kick so be careful if you’re not a chilli fan 😉

twelve spices

Whilst not a fan of offal, I went out of my comfort zone and tried the Ox Tongue which was…. different. The texture is something I’d have to get used to but flavour-wise wasn’t bad with the dipping sauce.

twelve spices lao thai fried quail

But the standout dish for me, and another first, was the Fried Quail which was delicious! It came with another zingy dipping sauce and was crunchy on the outside and nice and juicy on the inside. Like baby fried chicken lol

twelve spices lao thai noodles

When I returned to celebrate my birthday I also introduced my family to some new thai and lao dishes. As a group we ordered a mix of mains and rice to share. The standard Pad Thai, of course, but also more Quail, a Red Curry and Chicken and Cashew stirfry which came out quickly and cooked fresh.

twelve spices lao thai fried chicken

I also got to order one of the restaurant’s specialities – Crocodile! The meat has a chili basil type marinade and comes out hot and sticky and ready to eat. Tastewise, it’s kind of like chicken but the texture is a bit more chewier and gamey.  Another interesting meal to add to my list!

twelve spices lao thai crocodile

Overall, staff were ‘run-off-their-feet friendly’, food came out reasonably quickly (a bit muddled at times but staff were quick to fix up) and really packed a punch flavourwise. If you can make the trek and don’t mind waiting (or book ahead) Twelve Spices is a great restaurant to try for something new with friends or family. Apparently their fried ice cream and other desserts are amazing but my stomach has yet to allow me enough room to try it!

And it’s not everyday you get to say you’ve eaten Crocodile for dinner!

Twelve Spices Lao & Thai Cusine on Urbanspoon


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