“The menu is a journey back in time to simplicity of childhood and authentic food bursting with flavour and made with passion and love.” Dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON is ecstatic about a new place in Kingston.
THE story behind the new restaurant on Kennedy Street, Kingston, is charming. Champi is named after the chef’s beloved grandmother who lived in a small village along the Xadone River, in south-western Laos.
The menu is a journey back in time to simplicity of childhood and authentic food bursting with flavour and made with passion and love.
Champi promises to thrill the taste buds and does just that. Dishes are vibrant, colourful and packed with herbs and chillies. This restaurant is exciting and unique.
We scoured the menu – starters, small munchies, soups, mains, curries, street wok dishes, salads and noodles. Take note of the menu’s numbering system for degree of heat. When Champi assigns a “Level 5 spice”, you’d better be ready.
The Moo Ping is memorable. Chargrilled pork pieces on skewers are juicy and succulent and the tasty tamarind sauce deserves to be bottled and sold ($12.90). These flavours sing at the top of their lungs.
Don’t go past “Teach Me How to Duck”. Tender shredded roast duck, with coriander and a triumphant Lao salad wrapped lovingly in soft roti pastry ($21.90). The dish arrives with thick slices of lime that we squeezed all over the duck. A super starter.
Another celebratory dish is the green chicken curry ($21.90). All curries are cooked with a choice of tofu, veggies, chicken, beef, prawns or duck and green and red curries are a Level 1, marrying Laos eggplants, bamboo strips and sexy Thai basil.
We marvelled at the peppercorn beef street wok dish (Level 3) layered with garlic, shallots, chilli and green peppercorn ($21.90). Our initial temptation was the Spicy Jungle Stir Fried (Level 5) but wanted to road test Champi’s spice factor first. Wok dishes also come with a choice of tofu, chicken, beef, prawns or duck.
From the salad section we ordered Champi’s Signature Larb (Level 3), showcasing the flavours Laos pulls together so well in many dishes – coriander, mint, lemongrass, fresh chilli and lime juice. These are all absorbed by chargrilled finely minced chicken.
The only dish that caused a bit of a yawn was the deep fried tofu ($11.90). Thankfully, we dipped it in the accompanying satay sauce.
Champi is licensed and BYO (corkage $4.50/head). Our floral Triennes Rose (Provence) was $19/glass and $55/bottle, 2020. It was too warm when it arrived at the table. Canberra wines have a presence, always great to see. Beer Laos (lager) is $11.50.
Desserts are light and refreshing. The panna cotta is $15.90 and the coconut ice cream with toasted coconut and cream $14.90.
Noise was a concern and we suspect Champi may need to add sound proofing. One of our party had a phone sound meter, which indicated the equivalent of noisy traffic.
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