November 15, 2014


Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for tourists from around the globe. Offering a vast range of attractions from historical monuments, great beaches, vibrant nightlife, relaxed lifestyle, fantastic shopping, a broad range of accommodation from the most luxurious hotels to the most humble apartments, Thailand manages to provide the holidaymaker with a range of experiences that appeal to all age groups. Not just the domain of the young or the old, whatever it is you are looking for, you will probably find it in Thailand.

DSC04605With visitors arriving year round, rather than on a seasonal basis, as is the case with some tourism hot spots, there never seems to be an “off season” in this magical country.

One of the standout attractions in Thailand is their cuisine, which seems to have universal appeal. So popular is their cuisine that virtually every city in the world has a Thai restaurant and Sydney is no exception, with a large number of restaurants serving this cuisine in nearly every suburb. In fact, one could go as far as to say that there is no need to go to Thailand to get authentic Thai food.

Close to the heart of Sydney, in Surry Hills, is one of the best Thai restaurants I have found. Located on the corner of Elizabeth & Campbell Streets,“The Surry Hills Eating House” offers the diner a truly authentic Thai experience. The atmosphere is relaxed in this minimalist venue, with pleasant Thai serving staff who are very welcoming and extremely helpful when offering assistance in menu choices.

DSC04623When I dined there recently, I asked our waiter to recommend several dishes for us to try. One of the criteria was that I did not like too much chilli.

Our two entrees, which we shared, were very tasty. I especially enjoyed the Pak Mor Youan of steamed minced pork and spring onion wrapped in rice paper.

The second entrée, Mieng Ka Na, sweet and sour spicy flossy pork, green lime, ginger, eshallot and fresh chilli served with green Chinese broccoli leaf, was just a little too hot for my taste, but perfect for my partner, the broccoli leaf seemed to break down the heat.

We also shared the two mains. Gaeng Kiew Wan Nua, a green curry of slow cooked beef served with roti was excellent, as was the Gai Pae Sa, Chinese Phuket steamed chicken with steamed fresh water spinach, ginger rice wine sauce and chilli ginger dipping sauce, so delicate and tasty.

DSC04630The portions were very generous so when it came to choosing dessert, we decided to share just one. The Steamed Taro With Durian Coconut Cream was a fitting finale for this superb meal.

As I mentioned before, who needs to travel all the way to Thailand when such authentic cuisine is available in Surry Hills. Chef Sujet Saenkham’s food for this restaurant is regional Thai, a lighter style with a delicious Chinese/Malay twist.

Sandra Tiltman Photos: John Pond



January 16, 2014

Poolside Villa Outside

Relaxation, adventure and rejuvenation are just some of the reasons to visit Aava Resort & Spa, a stunning property situated on Nadan Beach, a 9 kilometre stretch of pristine golden sands lapping clear blue waters in Khanom, in the South-East of Thailand.

Aava Resort & Spa is Scandinavian owned with top Finnish design.  The owners, originally from Finland, whom I recently met when they visited Sydney, found this enchanting location while backpacking in Thailand over a decade ago and decided this was the place they wanted to build a resort and spend the rest of their lives.  The resort’s Scandinavian influences can be seen in the unique architecture and design, created by Finland’s top designers.

Guest bungalows and villas are set in attractive gardens or overlooking and having direct access to the pool area and boasting magnificent sea views.

Khanom is famous for its rare pink dolphins, which are protected in their idyllic living environment.  The resort arranges boat tours taking guests to meet these exquisite creatures as they roam freely in sheltered surrounds, something not to be missed.

Family Villa TerraceActivities available without having to venture far into and beyond Khanom, include shopping at traditional markets, snorkelling, beach barbecues, fishing, golf, trekking in national parks, exploring intriguing caves, foot therapy at a fish spa, visits to temples and a puppet house as well as full day tours to Koh Samui.

Aava Spa is built to respect ancient Thai traditions of architecture as well as spa treatments, giving maximum relaxation and healthiness to mind, body and soul, both during and after the holiday.  The Spa’s menu of treatments ranges from a 30 minute Thai massage to therapeutic pampering packages. Featuring treatments utilising organic products plus an array of other wellness activities including Yoga, Thai Chi, Pilates, meditation, jungle and waterfall hikes and Thai boxing training, the Spa should prove very popular with guests. Their yoga and wellness retreats are hosted by leading world instructors throughout the year.

The resort presents a family-friendly atmosphere with a Kids club offering great activities for the young ones and complimentary babysitting provided throughout the day and into the late evening.

Aava Spa Aalto restaurant offers innovative Euro-Asian fusion cuisine at their romantic beach setting, with beach barbecues held each Friday. Aava Pizzeria & Bakery is a charming little restaurant providing traditional wood fire oven pizzas and freshly baked breads and pastries.

Aava Resort & Spa combines traditional Thai friendliness and family values with Scandinavian quality and elegance.  Their values have evolved from the idea of serving their guests with traditional Thai friendliness without compromising high European standards.

The Resort can arrange guest transfers to and from Koh Samui, Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani or Nakhon Sri Thammarat Airports. Guests who book direct with the resort and stay a minimum five nights receive complimentary return transfers from Surat Thani or Nakhon Si Thammarat Airports.

For bookings contact or

Sandra Tiltman 


October 13, 2013
Sandra Tiltman with Lord Mayor Clover Moore & The Hon. George Souris, MP Minister for Tourism

Sandra Tiltman with Lord Mayor Clover Moore & The Hon. George Souris, MP Minister for Tourism

Eating great Asian food with all the variations of flavours, no longer means a trip overseas.  Sydney now has an enormous range of restaurants and take-aways covering every price bracket, offering cuisine from China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and the regions within those countries.  Sydney food lovers are spoilt for choice.

DSC00121Almost any Asian food item is now available in Sydney at specialty Asian supermarkets and small shops.  Even many of the mainstream supermarkets have large Asian sections offering a wide range of products.

At Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday evening, Lord Mayor Clover Moore launched Asia On Your Doorstep, a special initiative designed to celebrate the fabulous feast of flavours on our doorstep during Sydney Good Food Month.

The Lord Mayor commented the Festival gave Sydneysiders the opportunity to visit one of the city’s most popular cultural precincts and to taste their way through Asia without leaving the city.  “People will be able to see some of Chinatown’s best chefs at work and try out some of their offerings” said the Lord Mayor.

The annual City of Sydney backed Festival runs until 31 October and helps diners discover the secrets of top chefs and also enjoy some of Chinatown’s signature dishes.

A Festival highlight is the one night only ‘Little Eat Street’ night markets which will be held in Little Hay Street on Friday, 25 October, where more than a dozen restaurants will bring their best street food and snacks to Haymarket.

Students from the City of Sydney’s inaugural International Student Leadership and Ambassador program will act as Festival Ambassadors, helping businesses in Chinatown, Thai-town (Campbell Street), Korea-town (Pitt Street) get involved in the event.

MC Lee Lin Chin of SBS with Adam Liaw

MC Lee Lin Chin of SBS with Adam Liaw

Adam Liaw, MasterChef Australia winner and SBS TV chef, will demonstrate some of his favourite dishes at lunchtime from 10-13 October at Market City. He will also judge an Asian cooking competition between TAFE students, with the winner taking home a $1,000 prize.

More than 70 restaurants across Haymarket will create signature dishes for the Festival, using their five favourite and most interesting ingredients, all for $10-$20.

By enjoying a meal at a restaurant participating in Asia On Your Doorstep, diners will be able to enter a competition to win a trip to Thailand.

Another foodie event currently underway is the Macau Food Festival in Feast Restaurant at Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park, running until 20 October.

The lunch and dinner buffet features a selection of new dishes, along with Macau food specialities of Macanese curry prawns, Caldo Verde (a Portuguese potato based soup), a casserole of bacalhau (cod), and Minchi (mince topped with a fried egg), plus the traditional Serradura and Macau egg tarts for dessert.

As part of the Macau Festival, family friendly events will be held in Darling Harbour’s Tumbalong Park over the weekend of 19-20 October.

Sandra Tiltman  Photos:  John Pond.