We were just a few steps short of stepping into Ying Thai on Victoria Street when we noticed the old Bodhi Café a few doors down had become Tom Toon Thai Noodle Café. A cheesy name indeed but it didn’t stop us from peering inside while checking out the laminated menu pasted on the glass window. After that, the decision was easy. Tom Toon it was after seeing all the Thai patrons chomping happily on their food.
The petite Thai waitresses are always friendly and very relaxed, perhaps too relaxed for our liking. It felt quite weird initially when we had to choose our own table while they waited with the menus but we are used to it now. At first, I couldn’t help but notice the whole place had not changed one bit except for the signboard and menu. It looked like they literally took over from Bodhi Café and continued trading straight away. However, the same interior does work in their favour; simple and casual.
The menu has three main house specialities that I highly recommend; Beef or Pork Soup Noodles, Larb (minced meat salad) and Som Tum (papaya salad). The other outstanding dishes are Hot and Sour Soft Bones Soup and Grilled Sour Thai Sausages. The balance of flavours in these dishes are nothing short of perfect and easily the best I have had in Melbourne. Having said that, the scale tips to the other end for curries so please stay away from them with all your might because it is so sweet and thick that it can pass as dessert. It is a scary thought to find the worst and best dishes in the one place but this is what this review is for; our unfortunate mistakes are your gain.
The level of heat is pretty high so I would suggest you refrain from asking for anything extra hot if it is your first time. I love my chillies so I always request for “Thai Hot” which is a tad over my comfort level but very satisfying. You can always ask for their condiments tray if you need an extra kick; the Nam Jim sauce and chilli flakes wont disappoint. There are a few other ingredients in their dishes that are pretty hardcore and rarely seen in other Thai restaurants like the huge crispy pork fat, salted crabs and salted mud fish. The pork fat is even sold in take-away containers for immediate consumption; a perverted form of snacking but no doubt delicious.
For the dishes that Tom Toon does darn well, they can rival the best street hawkers in Bangkok and pummel the hell out of Paladarr; the so called best Thai restaurant in Melbourne. The chefs and kitchen staff are surprisingly very young who look like students, not old Thai aunties like we so quickly assumed. This is one place that serves fast, honest and unadulterated Thai food with very good pricing. We are still swooning we found this untainted gem, thanks to Ying Thai. So dear Pho, you have to take a back seat for a while till we start missing you.
Highly Recommended.Restaurant Details
Tom Toon Thai Noodle Cafe
241 Victoria Street,
Tel : 03 9417 7447