Address: Shop 2, 202 Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights
Opening hours: Serves lunch and dinner from Wednesday – Monday. Closed on Tuesdays.
Spicy Aroma is a traditional Lao & Thai restaurant in Canley Heights that is a favourite with my family. My aunt first introduced me to the small restaurant around 3 months ago, and this occasion was my third time dining there.
The small restaurant is situated in the busy part of Canley Heights. It’s quite difficult to find parking most of the time, as there are many Asian groceries and restaurants around this area, so we usually park in a side street nearby and walk to the restaurant. Every time I’ve been to Spicy Aroma my family and I greeted kindly by the older female host who runs the restaurant as well as waitressing there.
My family are far from being open-minded when it comes to food, so whenever we dine out, there are a few regular dishes we always order such as; Laos Style Papaya Salad, Sticky Rice, Soft Shell Crab and some form of tofu.
The Laos Style Papaya Salad ($10.90) at Spicy Aroma is the first dish to arrive after we place our orders. Spicy Aroma’s Laos Style Papaya Salad is a spicy and pungent mix of thinly sliced papaya, diced tomatoes, spicy crab paste, fish sauce and chilli. It is served with a side of cabbage. It is a whole lot spicier and saltier than its Thai counterpart, so I wouldn’t recommend this dish for anyone who can’t handle chilli. Despite that, it’s a completely refreshing start to our lunch, and by far one of my favourite Laos dishes.
The Salt and Pepper Squid ($15.50) is the next dish to arrive. Slightly salty, crisp and chewy, the squid is garnished with shallots, capsicum and carrots. I find that the squid is slightly oily but this doesn’t diminish its tastiness.
The Crying Tiger ($10.90) is a Thai dish of beef traditionally served with Nahm Jim dressing. I used to eat this every time I went to a Thai restaurant (which was often) but hadn’t had it in awhile so I decided to try Spicy Aroma’s version. However, when the dish was presented at our table I immediately regretted ordering it. I had specifically asked for the beef to be left slightly raw but noticed that it was fully cooked. The Nahm Jim at Spicy Aroma also isn’t of a great quality either. The version at Spicy Aroma leaves out several key ingredients of Nahm Jim dressing and is basically just fish sauce with chilli. For really good Nahm Jim dressing, I like Green Peppercorn or Chat Thai’s version. The Crying Tiger was quite chewy and oily and I wouldn’t order this at Spicy Aroma again.
Another favourite dish of my family’s, that they never fail to order, is soft shell crab. The Soft Shell Crab at Spicy Aroma is available on its own, or with salads including Apple Salad, Mango Salad or Pawpaw salad, all at differing prices. My family opted for the Soft Shell Crab only ($15.90). The Soft Shell Crab was served with julienned carrot, cabbage and red onion, and sweet chilli sauce for a dip. I usually find the Soft Shell Crab at Spicy Aroma to be overly oily and did not enjoy this.
As with the Soft Shell Crab, the Garlic and Basil Fish ($15.90) was also deep fried and overly oily. It had a strong hint of garlic flavour which I didn’t find at all appealing and only had a few bites of this.
This was my third visit to Spicy Aroma this year and on this occasion I was mildly unimpressed with what they had to offer, although I found everything extremely satisfying on my previous visits. I think this time it was just that the novelty of the restaurant had worn off, although I still think they provide great value for money. The ambience is quiet, clean and pleasant and the service is polite and efficient. On the downside though, I do find most of their fried menu items to be quite oily and wouldn’t recommend these to anyone. All in all, Spicy Aroma is a nice family friendly and casual restaurant in which to enjoy traditional Lao & Thai cuisine.