Itsara, a high-end Thai eatery on Stirling Highway, is an unassuming spot from the outside. The modern restaurant is packed with locals and it’s not hard to see why, once you’ve stepped inside. Never in Perth have I seen such a breathtaking eating space than the garden dining room at Itsara. You can imagine that you’re eating in a Thai jungle as you are completely surrounded by the lush greenery of the vertical and hanging gardens.
It’s comes as no surprise that their thriving indoor garden is down to Head Chef and co-owner Itsara Pracharoenwattana, who has a PhD in plant molecular biology. As well as nurturing this dining oasis, Chef Itsara also grows a great deal of his own vegetables and herbs.
We step into the busy restaurant and are shown to our table at the door of the contemporary main dining room, which has large windows spilling out to the garden dining room below. I can hardly take my eyes off the greenery long enough to look at the drinks menu. I choose a glass of Pierro LTC Semillon Sauvignon. The delicate drop from Margaret River has tangy stone fruit flavours and compliments Thai food well.
Most people share dishes at Itsara, though you don’t have to if you’re feeling greedy. The tempting modern Thai menu is completely gluten free, besides a couple of deserts. The kitchen makes all their own pastes and sauces from scratch, using fresh ingredients, meaning MSG and other nasty food additives aren’t used in their cooking.
Soon enough our “Pretty Duck” arrives, $18, which is indeed a pretty dish. Char-grilled marinated duck is served with fresh julienned green mango, shallot and cashew nuts. The sweet dish has crunch and is drizzled with a cracking house made dressing, made of pineapple and sweet chilli.