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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.