Newport Thai hit

7 Comments
siam2

 

Siam Kitchen, 334 Melbourne Road, Newport. Phone: 9391 5179

Consider The Sauce has received a good deal of medical advice in the past six months or so.

Some of it was about food.

“We really like Siam Kitchen in Newport,” the doctor said. “The wok dishes and salads – not so much the curries.”

That’s the kind of advice – medical or otherwise – we’re happy to follow!

Truth is, Siam Kitchen has been on our radar for a long time.

 

siam1

 

The restaurant occupies the same strip as the recently covered Odd Spot Cafe.

We are expecting a modest, typical suburban Thai eatery.

So we’re surprised and delighted to discover within a really love room dominated by dark wood and tastefully decorated.

We’re happy to report that by and large the service and food reflect those good first impressions.

This place is a handy and classy notch or two better than the phrase “suburban Thai eatery” implies.

It’s early in the week but the place is busy, with a good half of the tables occupied and a constant stream of takeaway customers coming and going.

There’s only one front-of-house staff member at hand and she’s working very hard indeed, though some kitchen folk help out by bringing full dishes out and taking empty ones back in.

It’s Bennie and I only tonight so we keep it simple by choosing two entrees and two mains plus rice.

The entrees satisfy rather than thrill us.

 

siam5

 

We whip through two roti breads served with satay sauce ($5) in quick time though it’s all rather nondescript and the sauce lacks punch and is too sweet for us.

 

siam6

 

Crispy golden bags (tang tong) of marinated pork mince with garlic, spicy onion and herbs served with sweet chilli sauce ($6.90) are way better and much more interesting than your average won tons.

The chilli sauce, too, is a flavour hit, boasting more zip and depth of flavour than your typical commercial version.

I cannot tell if this one of those commercial brands tarted up in the kitchen or one made from scratch – either way, very nice!

 

siam4

 

Seafood pad cha of – “traditional” stir fry with peppercorn, ginger, eggplant and mixed vegetables ($14.90) – is my selection based on the eggplant component.

As it turns out, the eggplant is pretty much the least of it.

There’s plenty of seafood that tastes very fresh – I slurp up the mussels as Bennie is uninterested, and the scallops have terrific flavour.

Best of all, there’s nothing tame about the seasoning levels here – it’s a spicy blast.

 

siam3

 

Crispy chicken salad with herbs and chilli topped with peanuts ($13.90) is Bennie’s choice and the outright highlight of our meal.

The chicken bits really are crisp, and delicious to boot. And we love the crunch of the peanuts.

There’s a significant chilli hit here, too, and real tang thanks to coriander, mint and lemon juice.

Unlike some people we could mention, we’re by no means Thai food experts – but for what it’s worth, the Siam Kitchen menu appears to have no really unusual dishes or surprises.

That said, this is the best Thai food we’ve had in the west.

Check out the Siam kitchen website, including menu, here.

 

Siam Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Cheap, quick Thai

Leave a comment

deli6

Thai Deli, 195 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne. Phone: 9696 6895

We spotted Thai Deli while ambling along Clarendon Street destined for Shakahari.

We liked the look of it – small, busy, cheap and with an abundance of that lived-in look that Consider The Sauce finds so alluring.

In the weeks following, Bennie spoke of the place a couple of times – I like it that such a business registered in his mind.

He even compared it with a much-missed Carlton institution. There’s big differences between the two, but I get where he’s coming from.

So soon we are back to take Thai Deli for a run.

Myself, Bennie, Che meet up with Thai expert Andy from Krapow and get busy.

Perhaps I’ve been a little naive in hoping that a cheap Thai joint in the guts of South Melbourne would offer at least a couple of stand-out or unusual dishes.

It doesn’t.

But what we have is certainly enjoyable, very affordable and – I estimate – at least a little better than your average suburban Thai offerings.

 

deli1

 

Chicken pad siu ($10.90) is perhaps the best of our four dishes. It’s oily, yes, but has some wok hei and is tasty and popular at our table.

 

deli2

 

Chilli basil chicken ($10.90 with rice) is a single-person serve and just OK.

 

deli3

 

Lamb salad ($11.50) has heaps of good, fresh greens and other veg bits. Thankfully, the sweet chilli sauce is abetted by something with a little more tangy – tamarind maybe?

 

deli4

 

Beef panang curry $11.90) is good but very mild. Like the chilli basil chicken, I like the chunky (unprocessed) vegetables, including potato.

Andy reckons there’s bottled or canned sauce used to make this and other dishes the place does. Just about all Thai restaurants do so, he maintains.

I don’t mind that.

And if I lived or worked around here, I would no doubt be at least a semi-regular at Thai Deli.

But the truth is that within a couple of blocks there are three other places that do stuff that is lustier and more hardcore – see here, here and here.

 

Thai Deli on Urbanspoon

 

deli5

deli7

A welcome return

7 Comments

yim5

Yim Yam Thai Laos, 40 Ballarat St, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 8585

So scarifying was our last visit to Yim Yam in Yarraville that it has taken more than five years to return.

On that occasion, on a busy Friday night, the place was uncomfortably cramped and the staff seemed harried to distraction.

At that time, a much younger Bennie was very much unused to spicy food, so we made a point of choosing one dish by adhering to the restaurant’s chilli grading system.

But our “one chilli” choice was so unbearably hot that even I could eat only a few mouthfuls.

When I tried to raise this matter with the staff member who seemed to be in charge, I was blown off with a dismissive wave of the hand.

It was a long time ago – and certainly before the arrival of Consider The Sauce.

But, yes, it has remained in memory a vivid experience for both of us.

Returning for a mid-week dinner, we find much – perhaps even everything – has changed.

yim4

The place has expanded, with a lovely dining room now adjoining the original, smaller eating and kitchen space.

The staff are happy, obliging and on the ball.

With this sense of expansiveness, what might have previously been viewed as an imposition – being seated at the window bench right next to the door – is just fine by us.

We navigate a dauntingly long menu of dishes mostly unfamiliar to use with aplomb, ending up with just the sort of meal we desired, even if our picks are a little on the unadventurous side.

Even better, by going without our usual soft drinks and appetisers of the snacky variety, the bill clocks in at just a tick over $40, which we hold to be excellent value considering the quality of the food.

yim1

Vegetarian pad thai ($12.90) is a fine foundation for our dinner.

It’s quite wet and mildly spiced, yet has a good lemony tang and a profusion of lovely vegetables, sprouts and tofu.

yim2

Vientiane salad ($12.90) is Bennie’s choice and it’s a good one.

This one, too, has a bold lemon quotient, but we pretty much inhale the “white noodles with shredded green papaya, tomato, peanuts and herbs with a lemon flavoured dressing”.

yim3

Our protein hit comes courtesy of guy yang gup jaow mark kham – “marinated grilled chicken with chilli tamarind dip” ($15.90).

It’s good but doesn’t transport us to delight as our previous, vegetable-based choices did.

That’s down to the chicken being a little on the bland side and also being very like the Vietnamese grilled chook we’ve eaten so often.

The sticky tamarind chilli sauce is terrific, though.

If anything, the best part of this dish is scooping up the mess of carrots, coriander, spring onion and peanuts imbued with the chicken/marinade cooking juices.

Tonight’s Yarraville adventure has come about because I’d had quite enough of driving for the day, so somewhere, anywhere in our immediate backyard has been the go.

Walking around Anderson and Ballarat streets leads us to acknowledge just how many Yarraville village eateries we have yet to visit and/or write about, even if quite a few of them fall into the “special occasion” category for us.

Still, it’s been a happy outing in that we’ll be more than glad to return to Yim Yam where previously we have stayed away.

Yim Yam Thai Laos on Urbanspoon

Soi 38’s Popup Tour of Thai Noodles – get on board!

6 Comments

boat24

Soi 38 Thai Noodle Tour, opening night, Sketch & Tulip Cafe, 364 Victoria Street, North Melbourne. Phone: 9329 9665

We love Andy.

We love his website, the Thai-centric website Krapow.

And we particularly love the way he and his Soi 38 colleagues are allowing Melbourne to sample superbly delicious “under-represented” Thai dishes.

Especially when they are presented in the imaginative and alluring manner represented by Soi 38’s latest adventure – “A Tour Of Thai Noodles” spread over a succession of Friday nights at a very cool North Melbourne bar/cafe.

The first night of the “tour” sees various friends and pals of Andy and Soi 38 front up to Sketch & Tulip for complementary bowls of noodles as a promotional effort for the upcoming Friday nights.

Tonight’s fare is boat noodles – that doesn’t slow us down any, even if we have written about them before. See here and here.

And who should we clap our peepers on immediately on arrival?

boat21

Two of our favourite people, food-wise or otherwise – Ms Baklover of Footscray Food Blog and street food obsessive Nat Stockley!

OK, we’re obviously at the right place!

If anything, the boat noodles are even more yummy than before – with a deep, dark and rich broth of just the right amount of chilliness and two kinds of beef.

One is stewed and the other, I’m told, is marinated for a couple of days in soda water and then simply poached.

The latter is pale and pinkish and pulls off one of my favourite food tricks – it’s both tender and marvellously chewy.

boat22

We admire the way the Soi 38 crew are pricing their noodles.

Sure, tonight we’re supping “on the house”.

But even at the regular price of $5, you can go one, two, three or more bowls and still be getting an outright bargain on food you’ll not find anywhere else in Melbourne.

Or probably Australia for that matter.

Here’s the Thai Noodle Tour itinerary:

Week 1: Kuay Teow reua Nua Nahm (Beef boat noodles)

Week 2: Kuay Teow Sukhothai Muu Haeng (Dry sukothai pork noodles)

Week 3: Kuay Teow Tom Yum Muu Nahm (Hot and sour pork noodles)

Week 4: Kuay Teow Bamee Bpuu (Dry crab egg noodles)

Week 5: Kuay Teow Bamee Bped Nahm (Braised duck egg noodles)

Week 6: Kuay Terow Tom Yum Muu Haeng (Dry hot and sour pork noodles)

We plan on making as many of these occasions as we can.

You should, too.

For further details, check out the Soi 38 website and/or Facebook page.

Sketch & Tulip Cafe on Urbanspoon

boat25

A motherhood statement

4 Comments

mum4

Mum Mum Asian Street Food, 67 Flemington Road, North Melbourne. Phone: 9329 7106

Mum Mum is a lovely eatery on Flemington Road that’s been open about four weeks.

Given its location opposite great swathes dedicated to the medical industry – where the food options are probably not so hot – and the many offices around here, I reckon this place will go well, especially at lunch time.

But anyone who feels their pulse quickening at the attractive thought of dining at an establishment with the words “Asian Street Food” incorporated into its name had best take a chill pill.

We end up reckoning there is good and maybe even very good food to be had here, even though our lunch is mixed bag.

It’s more that anyone seeking the funky pungency and aromas and spiciness of real-deal street food may be a little disappointed.

mum3

From what the staff tell me, the usage of the street food term is a bid to create a point of difference between Mum Mum and the family-connected straight-up Thai place right next door.

So while the lunch menu from which we order is basically a Thai document, there are items such as taro prawns, seafood gyoza, various dumplings and spring rolls in the “Little Something” section.

The ground floor dining room of the Victorian double-storey building is a very nice, with different kinds of wood in the chairs, tables, stools, floor, stairs to the upstairs and screen creating a warm feel.

I like the idea of a Thai-style curry “free of coconut milk” and I like the idea of a lighter lunch with lots of fresh vegetables – so I order the “jungle veg. curry w. rice” ($11.90).

mum2

This turns out to be a miscalculation on my part, because without coconut milk – or some other thickening agent – what I get, of course, is not curry but soup.

The vegetables are fine and the broth is spicy and highly fragrant with kaffir lime and basil.

But somewhere along the way this misses the mark with me – it fills me up but leaves me feeling empty.

mum1

Bennie does much better with his “fresh basil chick w. fried egg” ($11.90), which is much more sexy than his dad’s lunch.

Piled on top of rice is an oily, garlicky mix of chicken mince, lots of fried onions of the kind that Bennie really loves these days and other vegetables, with a fried egg as head gear.

This, too, is rather spicy but too much so for the boy.

Interestingly, our pal Nat had a rather different experience with this dish at Mum Mum – as you can see by reading his comments at Urbanspoon.

Whether this is because Bennie has been served a very different and much better meal, or whether we are utterly clueless about a food style on which Nat is an internationally renowned expert we know not.

As we depart, I spy another customer tucking into what looks like a marvellous plate of lamb mussaman curry – that’s for me next time!

Check out the Mum Mum website here.

Mum Mum Asian Street Food on Urbanspoon

mum5

Ace Thai noodles

2 Comments

soi3

Sukhothai noodles by Soi 38, Indonesian Street Festival, Victoria Market

The Indonesian Street Food Festival is a typically, happily intense Melbourne multicultural celebration.

There are heaps of stalls and heaps of people.

We see some unusual dishes and we see many on which we could for sure take a punt.

But we maintain our focus.

We are here, primarily, to try out the offerings of the second public appearance by the Soi 38 team of Andy from the Thai-centric blog Krapow.

We were delighted with the boat noodles we had in North Melbourne and are eager for a second helping.

This time out, Andy and his crew are cooking up sukothai noodles.

Andy’s description runs thusly: “A light pork and garlic flavoured broth, various proteins including fish balls, sliced pork, pork balls and dried shrimp served over sen lek rice noodles and topped with sliced snake beans, fried pork crackling and crushed peanuts.”

(For a more detailed description of this dish and its background, see the Krapow post here.)

soi1

The Soi 38 team members are going flat out, as are those of every other stall.

But our noodles are not a bain marie job – they’re made to order for all customers.

So we’re happy to pay, take our numbers and scout out a couple of hard-to-find seats.

It’s all worth the wait and jostling – and then some.

We both go the soup option instead of the dry variety (both $8).

soi5

The broth is tangy, yet at first, such are the quantities of the other ingredients, it seems to act more as a sauce than a soup.

But as we consume the contents of our bowls, the dish takes on a more soupy persona.

The flavours become more intense; so does the spiciness.

We are both very happy chappies.

We sincerely suggest you keep track of Soi 38 through Krapow or its Facebook page – they’re offering a delicious, very affordable, friendly and fun way to enjoy Thai recipes and dishes you are highly unlikely to see listed at your local or favourite Thai joint.

soi2

soi4

soi6

soi7

Tasty-T

1 Comment

tasty1

Tasty-T, Shop 5/100 Furlong Rd, Cairnlea Town Center. Phone: 8361 8868

Four courses for $9.90, five for $11.90?

Sounds like the sort of cheapskate desperation lunch deal you’d score at an Asian eatery in a shopping centre, right?

Well, that’s just what this is – but with a few wrinkles.

For one, Tasty-T is of a shopping centre but not in one. Instead, it’s situated off to the side in a longish building also housing a gym and other non-retail businesses.

More to the point, Tasty-T is far from being a plastic-seated food court cheap eat.

In fact, it’s super swish by Consider The Sauce standards, featuring well-padded and comfortable seating and otherwise lavish but still quite tasteful furniture and fittings.

(Unfortunately, I become so thoroughly enmeshed in enjoying my lunch and the company that goes with it that I forget to take photographs of the premises – bad blogger!)

I’ve been hipped to Tasty-T by Eve from Conversation With Jenny – read her review here – and it’s she and colleague Linda who join me for this mid-week lunch.

All three of us go the $9.95 route – soup, two entree snacks, main and drink, doing without Thai sweets in the interests of a short lunch break for my companions.

Tom yum goong is a suitably small lunchtime serve. It’s very sweet but with quality contents.

The good, unoily spring roll seems to be mainly stuffed with spud and/or pumpkin.

The fishcakes are a highlight of our lunch – only mildly spiced, they have really nice texture and flavour, and little of the rubbery aspect often found with these, especially at less expensive places.

tasty3

My massaman curry with rice is possibly the most mildly spiced curry dish I have ever eaten. Having said that, it’s not overly sweet, the spuds are perfect and the meat is tender and only a little bit fatty.

tasty2

Based on the hefty gobful of her noodles I consume, Eve is the big winner with her pad Thai gai. The noodles are vermicelli rather than the usual flat variety, the dish is surprisingly unoily and the whole thing sings with crunchy textures from the vegetable quotient.

tasty4

Linda seems quite content with her gai pad med mamuang (chicken stir fry with mixed vegetables and cashews).

In a neat bit of synchronicity, as I was preparing to write this story, I was engaged in email correspondence regarding another matter with Consider The Sauce fan Jacqui.

Turns out Jacqui is a Cairnlea local, lives just a black or so from Tasty-T and is well familiar with the place!

These are her comments:

“We go during lunch on the weekdays and weekends and have also ordered take out for dinner a few times! I like the thai fish cake entrees – so tasty! We also like the yum ped yang (roast duck salad). The pad Thai and massaman curry are also OK. There’s also a dish I had at lunch once with fried chicken, rice and salad so I thought that was quite good value! It’s so good because it’s spacious and the staff are really helpful when I bring my little bubba with me!”

With the proviso that the seasoning levels here are way, way below what I suspect almost all Consider The Sauce followers expect or desire from Asian food in general and Thai food in particular, Tasty-T is an attractive proposition in a variety of ways.

Tasty-T on Urbanspoon