Shop C1, 550 Lonsdale street (Healeys Lane), Melbourne CBD
Phone: 9606 0991
Remember two summers ago, when the buzz was all about ‘secret Thai’ on twitter? Turned out that ‘secret Thai’ was a little courtyard restaurant called Appetizer Kub Klam run by a couple of Thai restauranteurs, catering mostly for a small Thai migrant student population, serving up Singha in beer towers, and unapologetically spicy Thai food. Well, due to licensing issues – probably noise restrictions, as it was at the base of an apartment building complex – Appetizer Kub Klam has closed down (or changed hands, I’m not sure) and chef and owner Veeraschit ‘Top’ Piyapanee has opened a new restaurant called Tidlom Thai Antique.
Antique is somewhat of a misnomer, or an inaccuracy, IMHO. The decor is plastered with retro Thai television and movie memorabilia, as well as a slightly ridiculous number of light fittings that, thankfully, aren’t all in operation. Nobody likes to be that well lit while they’re eating. Oh, and if you’re looking for the place and can’t find it from the address, it’s down the alleyway where Le Traiteur is on Lonsdale street. Conveniently close to Goldfingers, if you’re that way inclined.
One of the great things about Appetizer, and now Tidlom, is that you’ll fins items on the menu beyond the stir-fries and curries you get at most places. Top believes that ‘food should be served as the way we eat it in our country with no adaption’, which might prove challenging for some punters, but I think is an admirable ethos. It’s a great thing to try new dishes, and Tidlom’s certainly a place for you to do just that. For example, where else in Melbourne are you going to find entrees of ‘fried softened pork bone’ – it’s essentially fried bacon, with the cartilage-y bits, and it’s awesome – and crispy fried pork intestines?
OK, well, you might find the fried pork intestines at a number of Sichuan restaurants around town, but you get my drift.
Also, fried chicken joints! These are, I think, fried chicken’s feet. All three of these snacks would be great with beer, which is what we were drinking that night – Singhas by the long-neck. They also have Singha on tap, as well as the ubiquitous Carlton Draft. And yes, for those of you with the keen eyes, that IS sweet chilli sauce! I guess it’s ‘authentic’ after all.
One dish that I loved at Appetizer, and insisted that we order, was the calamari with salted egg sauce. It’s actually salted egg yolk, and it makes a lusciously rich sauce that pretty much steals the show. So it wouldn’t really matter if you ordered the pork version instead. I’d like to note at this point that you’ll need to bring your glasses to read the menu if you’re at all short or long-sighted. The font is comically small, which was part of the reason we had to delay twice when the waitress came to take our order. Hopefully when they reprint their menus, they’ll increase the font size next time!
But I digress. Next up was the soft-shell crab fried, with a yellow curry sauce. This was similarly amazing, with lots of textural contrast, between the soft flesh of the crab, the crunch of the fried shell, and the goopy curry sauce smothering the lot.
We were a little worried about having too heavy a meal, so we ordered a salad. Only this was a bit of a missed step, because the fish floss ‘salad’ isn’t quite the light, refreshing dish that we were envisaging. It’s basically flaked, shredded fish – mackerel, I think? – deep-fried into a huge crunchy net, accompanied with a delicious ajar dressing, sweet and tangy, laden with red onion, chillies and cucumber. While I’d order this dish again, there are arguably more refreshing salads on the menu. I totally take responsibility for ordering just about everything that was deep-fried on that menu. I would advise that you perhaps not do the same thing.
We did also had the pud moo gra pow (pork with Thai basil stir-fry), however. Nice chunky slices of pork belly, with ample heat from chilli, and loads of basil.
In case you were wondering what we thought of Tidlom, here’s a photo of @thatjessho of Chin Chin fame. It pretty much encapsulates how happy we were with Tidlom. Get thee down to that seedy end of town, marvel at the oddly spelled ‘Corean House’ restaurant across the lane, and resist the temptation of Gami Beer and Chicken. Do yourself a favour, and have some delicious Thai food, the way Thai people want you to eat it. They’ve got 10% off dinner until the end of July, so if you get in before the middle of this week, you’ll save yourself enough to spend about two minutes in Goldfingers!