I have asked many of my foreigner friends who have ever visited Thailand, what their favourite Thai food is. Without a doubt and almost without exception rings back the answer “Tom Yam Gung”. If I ask my Malaysian friends what their favourite Thai food is in Thailand, it’s normally a mixed reply of “Tom Yam, Pad Thai (thai dry fried noodles), Som Tam(papaya salad) .. ” I guess since we are geographically closer to Thailand and have greater access , we are spoilt for choice.
Tom Yam Gung – ideal for a chilly, rainy night. We in Malaysia have many restaurants with different formulae on this spicy, addictive steamy soup. Some are ‘authentic’ Thai chefs from Thailand .. Chiang Mai, Bangkok etc.. some are locals cooks who are married to Thai nationalities.. some are Malaysians who just have a plain old love for Thai food and all things Thai.
What I found amazing was that not only do Malaysians love the Tom Yam , in fact, it is one of the top favourites for Thai people as well. It is simply because it is so delicious and a natural appetite stimulant due to its unique sour and spicy taste that it will make anyone hanker for more.
Tom Yam .. red hot, sour with a generous amount of Chile and fragrant herbs is what I am looking out for. I love the heady intoxication of that wonderful slurry of lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce and crushed chili peppers.. I love the burn. While some restaurants offer tom yum soup with tofu, this is not a traditional way of serving the dish.
So here we are at Bangkok Tomyam Old Town, because Thailand is just a tad too far for a week night. The lady chef here is from Chiang Mai and we were really excited to test out her legendary Tom Yam. This ‘restaurant’ which is just essentially a corner lot house that has been converted into a spartan eating area under a zinc roof is not much to look at, but has been around since the dawn of time.
So, how did we find the Tomyam? It was not spicy enough for me, nor was there enough lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves in it to add that aromatic kick. The sour element was really strong though and the soup went well with the rice. The fish whilst fresh, was not succulent enough and that small piece you see , was the only piece in the tom yam soup. This set us back by close to RM37 – not cheap at all, for what it was. An appetizing soup but not mind-blowing. I have been told that if you ask for the Tom Yam fish head, that bowl could go up to RM50!
Fried egg – simple yet deliciously effective. I like the way they do it here. Astronomically hot frying oil to give that fluffy, airy, crispy sides that I like. Apparently this egg was suppose to have pork bits in it as well, but I hardly tasted any.
The next time I visit this restaurant , I would like to try the chicken feet salad!
Bangkok Tom Yam,
Old Town PJ, No. 23, Jalan 2/23, 46000 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 603 7782 4469