Tuesday, 12 February 2013

krapow Top 5 Melbourne Thai Restaurants

he says:

This is a guest post I wrote a while back for the Melbology blog which I recently discovered that seems to have been converted to a different blog called  Melbournism and any links to my original post are now directed to a 'Tell us your favourite Thai restaurant' comment page. I really have no idea what has happened here and I only recently found out about it by chance. Given that this means my original post is now not published anywhere I thought it would be only fair that I republish it here at krapow.  This post was originally written about 6 months ago so obviously I have since discovered a pile of new favourite Thai restaurants however after rereading my thoughts from last year I am happy to stand by them and can confidently say that while these may no longer be my Top 5 they are still some of my favourites!

I have previously speculated that there must be around 300 Thai restaurants in Melbourne. I now reckon it could be closer to 500. That’s the great thing about guessing, it really doesn't matter whether you’re right or not. Although I would have sampled less than 10% of my estimated 500 Melbourne Thai restaurants I feel confident that I can give a pretty good Top 5. Not only will I list my Top 5 favourite Thai restaurants but I will also include my favourite meal from each.

Before I start, I prefer my Thai food as authentic as possible so that means hot, not sweet curries, no cashew chicken and definitely no chicken pad Thai! If this doesn't work for you and you want ‘Aussie’ Thai fare I’ll list a couple of the more popular ones at the end of this post but I really encourage you to broaden your horizons and go try a few of these dishes, all of them are wonderful examples of delicious Thai cuisine.

So here goes, my Top 5 Melbourne Thai restaurants and meals…

1. Le Bangkok, 195 Lonsdale Street Melbourne

I recently discovered this gem of a restaurant in the CBD and it has firmly become my go to place for good authentic Thai food. The secret here is that they actually have two menus, one for westerners and one for Thai. The second menu is tactfully referred to as the ‘spicy’ menu. This is the one you need to ask for as it contains some really special and very authentic offerings. What keeps me coming back again and again is the Yum Pak Boong Krob, which I describe as deep fried morning glory with a pork and prawn tom yum curry sauce. The crispy fried morning glory is truly glorious and combines perfectly with the highly addictive tom yum curry sauce.  You have been warned…

Le Bangkok on Urbanspoon

2. Tom Toon 241 Victoria St Abbotsford

Tom Toon have an extensive menu but I can’t really tell you much about it as the first time I visited I ordered the Kuay Tiau noodle soup and I've never ordered anything different since. You can order either rice or egg noodles with pork, beef or chicken. My personal recommendation is chicken with egg noodles. For me, Thai noodle soup leaves Pho in its dust. It’s so much richer and more powerfully flavoured, a definite must try for all noodle soup lovers. I personally think Kuay Tiau is one of the most underrated Thai dishes and I really can’t understand why. Get to Tom Toon and see for yourself, I’m betting you’ll be back for a second and third taste of their amazing Kuay Tiau.

Tom Toon Thai Noodle Cafe on Urbanspoon

3. Yim Yam 40 Ballarat St, Yarraville & 76 Smith St Collingwood

Yim Yam has been around for ages, which is usually a good sign that they’re doing something right. The recent successful expansion into Smith St Collingwood is also testament to the quality of food available at Yim Yam. Two dishes that Yim Yam do very, very right are the Toasted Rice & Coconut Salad and the Yum Yim Yam, both are amazing. The crunchy toasted rice is texturally sublime and the dressing on the Yum Yim Yam always leaves me scratching my head in wonderment, how do they do that?

Yim Yam Thai Laos on Urbanspoon

4. Me Dee Springvale 1/1-3 St Johns Ave Springvale

Me Dee advertises as having the most authentic Thai food in Melbourne, and I’m certainly not going to dispute this claim. The menu is extensive and choosing is difficult but for me the easy choice is the Hoy Tod. Hoy Tod is a fried mussel omelette with sprouts and Sriracha chilli sauce. It sounds a bit confronting but the combination of the salty mussels, crunchy sprouts and spicy Sriracha is a taste sensation. Apparently it’s also great hangover cure for those tough enough to face up to a bowl of mussels and chilli sauce while hungover. Springvale is a decent journey for most, but for anyone who takes their Thai food seriously the trip is more than worth it.

Me Dee Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

5. Sweet Rice 102 Millers Rd Altona North

Sweet Rice is a bit of a random addition to this list but I really couldn't exclude them. I spent a good part of the past 12 months heading out to Altona just to get a taste of their Green Mango Fish or the super cheap and super delicious deep-fried soft shell crab to name just two favourites. I tried a lot of the Sweet Rice menu during the intense phase of my obsession and can comfortably say that I never had a bad meal.

Sweet Rice on Urbanspoon

So that’s my personal favourite Top 5 Melbourne Thai restaurants. I doubt very much that anyone will agree with me but before you shout me down I urge you to get to at least one of my recommendations and broaden your Thai food experiences. I'm sure you love Massaman curry, hey I do too but there is so much more out there. You don’t even have to search for it. I've done that for you. 

As promised above, if authenticity isn't your thing here are a few ‘Aussie’ Thai recommendations. Try Thaila Thai, at 82 Lygon St, Brunswick East or Ying Thai at 235 Victoria St, Abbotsford or Ying Thai 2 at 110 Lygon St, Carlton. While both Ying Thai outlets also sell some very authentic and delicious Thai dishes I found that they have adjusted the levels of heat and sweetness in some of the dishes that are more popular with the western clientèle such as Green and Red curries. 


  1. I'd imagine nominating merely five restaurants must have been a difficult task. Either way, its an interesting list and includes a couple I'm yet to try.

    For the record, I think you did well ordering the Kuay Tiau at Tom Toon, as it clearly one of their specialties. I've tried some other dishes from the menu and was far from thrilled.

    Thanks for compiling a list that extends beyond green chicken curry & spring rolls.


  2. Thanks Nat, Yes this was a pretty old list made before I had been to Krua Thai, Pok Pok Street Food, Mae Khong River, Zab Vers and Tidlom which is sadly closing at the end of the month. These are of course all on my list to write up at some stage. I know what you are saying about Tom Toon yet it seems to be a favourite among many of the local Thai. Personally I'm very much looking forward to the Krua Thai opening above Talad Thai just off Victoria Street and the owners of Pad Thai in Midtown (another favourite that would feature on any new list) are opening another venture on Bourke Street, stay tuned!

  3. A great list. Thanks I will be sure to check them out. Having said that I very rarely eat out at Thai restaurants I haven't heard of most of these restaurants. I have rather been quite excited with takeaway containers found at video shops in Springvale and so have been grabbing them instead of eating out.

  4. Thanks Kat, I still like all of these places but I did make the list a while ago and definitely have some new favourites. My preference for unusual less commonly available dishes is still the same though. A bit like yourself I struggle to find the time to write posts but I am planing on writing one soon on my new favourite Thai restaurant! I also totally agree about the takeaway containers although my source is Richmond rather than Springvale (which is just too far away for me), there's some really interesting stuff available and the sweets are also delicious.