Want to know what it feels like to stroll the Khao San Road? No need to buy a plane ticket, just head to Bridge Road, Richmond where LadyBoy Dining and Bar is serving up modern Thai food in a playful environment that reflects the bustling streets of Bangkok.
LadyBoy was introduced to Richmond’s thriving dining scene in August 2014 by partners, Fran Leaper and Mitch Townrow. As a couple, it was a bit of a leap to go into business together, but it had always been a goal for the two and the concept truly took shape while they were travelling in Asia. It took around nine months to find the perfect venue but they were set on their local suburb of Richmond due to the food-loving culture and vibrant community.
As Head Chef, Mitch has had a diverse education across many cuisines including modern English at The Commoner, Mexican at Newmarket Hotel, and modern Australian at Leeuwin Estate Winery. But it was while working at Longrain in Melbourne, guided by executive chef Martin Boetz’s inspired take on South East Asian cuisine, that Mitch developed his passion for Thai flavours.
LadyBoy sources meat and sustainable seafood from trusted local suppliers. Due to the style of cuisine, the majority of vegetables used come from warm- weather regions, like north Queensland. But if the kitchen is low on produce they’ll duck down to Victoria Street (aka Little Saigon) for extra herbs and vegetables from the local grocers on the strip.
At LadyBoy it’s all about sharing the fun of the dining experience and the menu is designed for just this. Go for the banquet menu and the kitchen will send you a daily selection new and signature dishes, and for just $45 per person it’s a popular choice. Or you can dive straight in and pick your own dishes. Small Bites include ‘kao tod’: crunchy rice balls and roasted pork belly betel leaf, while Mid-Size Dishes range from the salted chicken Pad Thai to the signature, crispy pork hock with sweet fish caramel. In Bigger Dishes you’ll find a seasonal range of curries and crispy whole fish with three-flavour sauce. Add a side of son-in-law eggs and papaya salad if you can handle the heat! Complete your meal with a dessert of roasted banana, caramel, honeycomb and green tea sorbet or the simple, yet delicious, coconut sorbet.
LadyBoy Dining features three distinct dining spaces: a dining area at the front with neon lights and good beats, an astro-turfed back bar that has a more relaxed vibe, and a lush beer garden out the back, perfect for afternoon sessions. The full range of food and drinks can be enjoyed throughout the entire restaurant so you can make a whole night out of your visit and move between areas.
Fran and Mitch have plans to grow the brand and are currently looking at developing a retail arm of the business. LadyBoy will be bottling delicious house-made sauce soon, so keep an eye out for that. The future sure looks bright and fun for LadyBoy.