Yim Yam Thai Laos

415 Mt Alexander Rd
Ascot Vale, VIC 3032
Never judge a book by its cover, I say, except I don’t practice what I preach. I reject interesting-sounding books because it has an ugly design more often than I care to admit; I’ve even put down a book simply because I can’t stand the font and layout of the text – true story. And seeing as we’re admitting to personality flaws, I’ll admit to the fact that when I heard the name Yim Yam Thai Laos, I wasn’t exactly preparing myself for an authentic Southeast Asian dining experience.
Still, the restaurant itself is pleasing enough, and seemed to be quite a hit with the locals on a Friday night. The sound bounces off the high ceiling and bare walls, making intimate conversation nigh on impossible, but the overall vibe is one of warmth and comfort. 
Royal Golden Baskets ($8.9, 6pcs)
On first glance, the Royal Golden Baskets ($8.9, 6pcs) seemed to be pandering to the westernised palate, but it surprised me with how tasty it was. The warm chicken mince was alive with chilli and herbs, and was quite a tantalising little appetiser served in the crumbly fried pastry cups. 
Crispy Pork Strips ($11.9)/Yim Yam Sausage ($13.9)
Our platter of Crispy Pork Strips($11.9) and Yim Yam Sausage($13.9) was distinctly more folksy, and tastier for it. The house made sausage was pungent with spices and lemongrass, and the chewy strips of pork sported a sweet marinade with a hint of cumin in its smokiness. I knew I should’ve been saving room for dishes to come, but we cleared this plate in no time. 
Tom Yum Rice with Chicken ($13.9)
Speaking of saving room, fried rice is definitely not something I normally save room for. But an exception was made for the Tom Yum Rice with Chicken ($13.9), a dark horse that was arguably the most enjoyable dish of the night. Moist and aromatic, this fried rice presented a great depth of flavour, redolent with the distinctively piquant taste of kaffir lime, lemongrass, and fish sauce. 
Roasted Rice, Pork Sausage, and Coconut Salad ($13.9)
Roasted Rice, Pork Sausage, and Coconut Salad ($13.9)
I was really excited about trying the Roasted Rice, Pork Sausage, and Coconut Salad ($13.9) – Matt Preston’s Favourite! – as the menu proudly proclaimed. And the golden snaps of toasted rice, not unlike the kind you find at the bottom of good paella or bibimbap, was a boisterous play on textures. Tossed through with a mixture of fresh herbs, sausage, and a generous squeeze of lemon (the coconut was mysteriously absent), this was indeed a satisfyingly crunchy and moreish salad.  
Crispy Pork and Chinese Broccoli Stir Fry ($13.9)
We didn’t have a whole lot of room left by this point, so the Crispy Pork and Chinese Broccoli Stir Fry ($13.9) was greeted with a little less enthusiasm then it probably deserved. Despite being a simple dish of crisp vegetables in a chilli-soy base, it had a tantalising hint of peppercorns to it, coupled with strips of streaky pork belly, its skin crunchy from the wok.
So in the end, I wound up having a satisfying dinner at Yim Yam, despite my unfounded preconceptions. Though it’s not quite fully Thai, the menu goes beyond curry puffs to dishes such as papaya salad with salted crab, and their delectable house-made sausage. There are 5 or so branches of Yim Yam scattered all across Melbourne, and frankly, if I had one in my neighbourhood, you’d find me in their takeaway line for sure.
Rating: 14/20 – yim yum.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Moonee Valley City Council, hosted by Yim Yam Thai Laos.

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