241 Victoria Parade, Abbotsford
Phone: 9417 7447
Opening up a Thai restaurant a couple of doors up from the institution that is Ying Thai is either a gutsy or a foolhardy move. A move, however, which seems to have paid off for the owners of Tom Toon Thai Noodle Cafe, and has also further cemented tiny stretch at the Hoddle street end of Victoria St as a little Thai enclave, next to its much more sprawling Vietnamese cousin.
I’d been to Tom Toon once before, when Mr B and I had feasted ourselves silly on Larb Moo
, Som Tum
– not on the menu, but on the board on the wall above the counter – and pad Thai.
It being a noodle cafe, I wanted to return to try more noodles. Though I was immediately distracted by the promise of “BBQ Chicken skin skewer”. Chicken skin? Hell yes, please!
Unfortunately, either I had been deemed not capable/worthy of eating the chicken skin, ordered incorrectly, or the chicken skin had been mystically transubstantiated, because what arrived were skewers of skinless chicken. Disappointment city: population me.
To be fair, the skewers were well marinated, and quite tasty, if a little overcooked. The dipping sauce was an interesting tamarind-based sauce, with a hint of chilli, and the ground roasted rice gave it a great aroma.
The disappointment started to fade when the Pork Noodle Gravy Soup (Kuitiw Nur Toon
) arrived. There were four different types of pork in the bowl! From top right, working clockwise: boiled pork, braised pork shoulder, pork ‘balls’ – reconstituted meat is quite common in South East Asia, more pork shoulder, and the tan/orange-y things at the top are FRIED LARDONS. Oh yeah. Also in the noodles were some kangkung
, bean shoots and coriander.
Check out the superfine rice vermicelli! Such an amazing texture. While it’s actually quite a pedestrian dish – it’s essentially street food in Thailand – the soup was so evocative of the late night cart noodles
I’d had in Phuket earlier this year. When food so clearly brings up memories of great holidays, it scores bonus points. Bonus points also get given for things being cheap. While no match for the 45THB I paid for noodles in Phuket, Tom Toon’s noodles are still pretty cheap at $9.90.
Tom Toon does pretty authentic Thai food, but be warned: there are no curries at this Thai restaurant. Somewhat incongruous, but what they do, they do well.