It's a little funny. Bureaucrat and I only ended up here because Snooze hadn't joined us for lunch, which meant the next door Vietnamese cafe was off the menu (Snooze wouldn't have phogiven us is we had gone without her). I knew that a couple of other bloggers had been here and liked it but still, expectations probably weren't too high of anything more than your typical quick Thai lunch hang out. Which turned out to be quite wrong, as I enjoyed the food here more than any other Melbourne Thai restaurant I've tried in this price range.
It's not for the set up. The cafe is fairly funky, with a collection of what I assume are Thai licence plates on one wall, movie posters on the other. It's bright from all the light that streams through the floor to ceiling glass frontage, and in contrast to many of the less than ten dollar eateries around town spotlessly clean. But to me anyway it also felt a little sterile, pretty enough but with only one or two other tables in use a bit lacking in life. Admittedly it did later start to liven up a bit towards the end of our lunch, but given the bare floors it remained surprisingly quiet.
At lunchtime the menu choices are relatively straightforward, mainly fairly simple sounding rice or noodle dishes. From what I have seen, the evening menu is both a little more adventurous and pricier (but still comparatively cheap). While I can't find where I wrote down the Thai names for our lunch choices, they were a fried rice noodles with chicken and Chinese broccoli and a spicy, crispy pork on rice to which I added an optional fried egg.
While neither looked especially impressive when brought out both dishes were delicious in a real home cooked style way, with the simple, crisp flavours shining through. Bureaucrat's dish came with thick strands of rice noodles, generous amounts of well cooked chicken and Chinese broccoli, finished off with lashings of wok hei.
For the crispy pork, the rice was a little 'meh' but absolutely loved my pork. Crispy skin, moist meaty flesh and the rich flavour of the pork brought out through the addition of a small amount of heat to the flavours. My only complaint, I wanted more of it! Bureaucrat's complementary comment, it tasted like the pork her mother cooks (and everyone knows mum's cooking is always the standard against which all meals are measured).
The drinks also include a creamy Thai style iced coffee, served over ice in a beer glass. Despite not generally being a coffee drinker I loved the creamy texture.
A great casual lunchtime place and somewhere I plan to visit for dinner in the warmer summer months, when laneway dining has more appeal than during the winter chill. Nothing about it is fancy but it feels like the dishes have been chosen and prepared as the cooks themselves like them more than being adapted for their customers, and not being overly complicated it is the simple, comfortable style of food you can happily eat again and again.
Food - 8
Service - 7
Ambience - 6.5
Price - 8
Shop C1, 550 Little Lonsdale Street (Healeys Lane)
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9606 0991