I am usually detailed with my restaurant reviews, particularly places that I’ve never been to before. But tonight I am not going to bother putting so much effort. Not that the food was bad – far from it – I’m just sitting here with the biggest tummy ache, and I have about 10 billion hours of lectures to listen to in time for a test on Tuesday so I better get to it tonight before I even attempt to open up some cases at the library tomorrow. Fancy spending Saturday afternoons at the library. What on earth was I thinking when I signed up for this course?! Anyways, I digress.
Mum, my cousin Jess, my aunty Emi (Jess’ mum) and myself ended up having dinner at Ying Thai in Abbotsford tonight. Yes, the girls of the family… minus Janice who told mum that she was “meeting friends”. I had originally planned to go home after work tonight in anticipation of a long weekend of cramming for the aforementioned test. But then mum rang me to say that she and Aunt Emi were in the city and was wondering if I could “hang out” with them when I finished work so that I could “keep them company” while waiting for Jess who was occupied with her friends. Apparently they were all planning to go to dinner at 7:30pm. Although I was tired, the thought of eating out for dinner made me muster up the energy to follow two Indonesian women around the city for 2 whole hours before eating crepes at Le Triskel and then spending yet another hour chit-chatting with the owner of that Laguna store in QV *dies* (my mum knows him very well).
Anyway, the reason why Jess wanted go to to Ying Thai is because it’s her favourite Melbourne restaurant. This, I find quite strange because all of my family have expressed distaste towards the franchise after having a lacklustre experience at Ying Thai 2 in Carlton (I wasn’t there). Secondly, my friend Vicky who makes David Fishman seem soft in comparison has more often than once warned me about the “bad food” at the Carlton restaurant. Thus, I’ve never went. So when Jess suggested going there, I was a bit hesistant but in the end, I decided to shrug it off and try the food for myself. We arrived at the overly bright and colourful restaurant on Victoria Street where the main dining room was packed to the seams so we ended up in a table in the not-as-pretty room upstairs. We ordered about five dishes to share between the four of us, each costing between $10-20 (I wouldn’t know because I barely glanced at the menu and Jess was the one who paid anyway). Here’s what we had:
The obligatory serving of pad thai. For something that is usually so “bleh” at suburban Thai restaurants, I was surprised at how tasty this one was. The tamarind juices, the fish sauce, the chillies, and the huge prawns.. oooohhhh. It was intensely sweet and sour and wonderful. And hella huge too, enough to feed two big eaters.
The “Crispy Pork Salad” consisted of fried pork cracklings and cuttelfish (?!!), and doused in a really heavy tangy peanut sauce. While it was extremely tasty, I did feel as if it was too heavy for a salad and yearned for the simple, light flavours of Charm‘s salads. I don’t particularly like pork crackling so I only nibbled on two or three pieces of cuttlefish. And those measly pieces held enough chilli and spices to make me break into a sweat too. Too, too hot…
These are some “fried thingies on a skewer” that Jess ordered. Each skewer (there were three of them) came with three fish balls and one tofu piece. And it was all fried in batter. It sounded like something you could ask your fish and chipperie worker to fry for you and definitely not something that sounds “authentically Thai” (though someone might be able to correct me here) but hey, Jess loved it. As did her mum. And as did my mum.
Okay, the bowl in the foreground is a bowl of Thai green chicken curry which was much better than what most Thai places can offer. Yes, it was creamy and yes, it was rich… but it wasn’t as heavy as most. The little claypot in the background is a bowl of Tom Klong soup with crispy fish fillets and mushrooms. For those of you who haven’t yet tried tom klong (I hadn’t until tonight), it’s a bit like tom yum – hot and sour – but more intense. It’s largely due to the fact that the herbs in the soup are roasted, giving it a really nice smokey flavour which intensifies the sharpness of the lime and chilli flavours. It was beautiful but like the pork salad, it was perhaps a bit too spicy for me and at this point, I was struggling to sit up. I thought I was being a wuss but Jess also said that the food was too spicy for her – and this is coming from someone who calls herself a “true” Indonesia. Boooo! While I was downing cup after cup of cold water, the ladies were enjoying their meal while laughing at my “piss weak white person stomach.” *sniff*
Despite my initial reluctance to eat at Ying Thai, the food was surprisingly better than I thought. It was tastier than the food at Charm, but I did feel a bit bogged down eating half the dishes and often yearned for something “cleaner” and more simple. The service, while slow at times, was made up for in friendliness (then again, I’ve never met a grumpy Thai except for maybe Tanl… hahaha) and the prices were pretty reasonable (sneaking a peak at the bill, it was $91 for the four of us). I would definitely come here again one day but perhaps tell them to go easy on the chilli!
Yes, I know, a shocking review. I hope that by being so blah about this review, the King of Thailand won’t ask for my head (I sorta feel like I’m insulting Thai cuisine here by not giving it the same attention as I did with my last few reviews). After all, I don’t want to end up like Harry Nicolaides .
*crawls back to bed to soothe my stomach*