Thaila Thai | Don Too
I’ve finally figured out why I’m fiscally tight this year. First, I’ve spent two months this year travelling to South America and France. And then I still went and splurged on a new camera and laptop… yeeks! So let’s cover a couple of Cheap Eats today.
I caught up with Timmy over dinner one evening. When he asked where we should go. I instantly blurted “somewhere cheap!!”. We ended up choosing an eatery that we’d not been to for years. Why not take a trip down memory lane?
Thaila Thai has been around for ages and it fits into the Cheap & Cheery category. My last encounter with this place was during pre-blog years. We got there early and caught the last of the sun’s rays… thank you, Spring! It was warm enough to sit outdoors instead of inside, which (if I remember correctly) was somewhat dingy and smoky.
Tom Kha 5.00
Herbed soup with Coconut a hint of Chilli
Aside from our old favourites, I wanted to sample the tom kha soup. It’s a bit like a tom yum soup with added coconut milk. This one came confidently salty-sour with a decent push of chilli heat. Personally, I’d have preferred more herbed fragrance to the soup and chicken on-the-bone (with skin) rather than breast. This soup wasn’t ‘street’ enough.
Paad Thai w Tofu 12.50
Thin rice noodles stir fried with Tamarind sauce, Beanshoots and Garlic Chives
I usually order pad thai here. It was still like I remembered… generously portioned with very aromatic wok-charring. Enjoyable, although I’m going to nitpick again… it was so sweet to the point where I joked that we’re having dessert noodles. A piece of lime or lemon to drizzle and counterpoint might have helped.
Yellow Curry with Chicken 12.50 | Rice 1.50
Rich mild curry with vegetables and potatoes
Timmy picked his favourite from back in the day… it was just like he remembered. Sweet, mild and envelopingly creamy. They once again used chicken breast and whole (uncut) lengths of beans. Lacking spiciness, on-the-bone chicken pieces and ingredients like bamboo shoots and Thai eggplants, it wasn’t a curry that I’d personally go for.
It was good reminiscing over flavours your tastebuds used to like. Despite all my nitpicking, I quite enjoyed this meal, the pad thai had excellent charring! And I had to blink a few times when the bill came up to $32 in total. I think I’m too used to forking out more for all of my meals!
Don Too (Dinner)
My next foray into tight-arsed dining happened right after I had a mooncake tasting session with Serena and Fakegf, titled “Mooncake Wars“. We held it the night before this year’s mid-autumn festival. With our bellies filled with 800 kcal of sugar and oil, Fakegf and I struggled with deciding where to eat. Don’t you hate that feeling? Not being hungry enough to know what to crave for?
But being a cold, wet night, I knew I wanted something soupy… so we settled for ramen. Don Too lies on a quiet stretch of Lt Lonsdale St, close to Gypsy & Pig. It has a nondescript frontage with a warm, woody interior that gives you a sense of cosiness. It’s normally a lunch spot serving cheap work Bento lunches and curries, but turns into a ramen bar after 5pm.
I remember quite enjoying the ramen here last year, although the recent addition of “King Prawn Laksa Ramen” and “Napoli Ramen” on the menu made me cringe a little. On the upside, I was surprised to find such an affordably priced bottle of Asahi beer.
Kuon ramen 8.9
Charshu pork, slices vegetables, seaweed and seasoned egg
Fakegf went classic with the Kuon, which had a nice broth that wasn’t overly salty with a nice push of katsuobushi (bonito flakes). The noodles had a good bite and she enjoyed the egg’s flavour but wished the bowl had slices of bamboo shoots. All that said, she said she still prefers tonkatsu broth over this broth.
Chilled ramen served separately with ‘melt in your mouth’ pork pieces and dipping sauce
I ordered the same thing that I had a year ago. Chilled noodles with pork and dipping sauce on the side. When it comes to soba and ramen, I like my noodles to have a lot of bite, I want my teeth to sink in with a lot of resiliency before it breaks. Within Melbourne, I think Don Too does that best. My sauce was rife with the strong salty-smokiness of bonito, and within it sat pieces of pork that could’ve been more tender. Maybe it’s because I was too full from mooncakes, but I did not enjoy my ramen as much this time round. Perhaps it’d be nicer having the chilled noodles in Summer.
We left the place thinking perhaps there are regional variations of ramen in Japan, with Don Too serving something a bit more off centre and that we probably like tonkatsu (pork-based) broth better. Next time I’m here, I’ll probably investigate their bento lunch menu.