Monday, February 18, 2008
Tucking into Thai at Yindee’s
22 Camp Street (Corner Camp & Kloof Streets), Gardens, Cape Town.
T: 021 422 1012 F: 021 422 1014
On Koh Samui, a beautiful island in Thailand, where the exotic food is a main tourist attraction, "Yindees" means welcome…
For Starters: Yindee’s specializes in ‘authentic Thai cuisine’ so, if lemongrass, coconut milk, lime, peanut and chilli are flavours you enjoy, then this could be a dining spot for you. Arriving just after 6pm, we were greeted with wide smiles from the waiters and snatches of Thai lingo. The place itself is how I imagine Thai style to be – modest, hospitable and respectful with an appreciation for simple goodness. It’s that ‘restaurant in a house’ setting that I kinda like once in a while – it’s warm and intimate, with separate rooms for group dining without that ‘industrial’ feel some bigger restaurants have. Décor is simple with no glitz or frills. Decorative Thai prints and intricate, handcrafted puppets adorn the walls.
We started with drinks, obviously. I tried my first-ever traditional Thai beer and it was delish. Singha and Chang were two on the list. Otherwise they offer the usual spirits plus a comprehensive wine list with wine by the glass at about R20+. Cocktails were more expensive than we’re used to, especially for the tumbler glasses they are served in. And the margarita wasn’t great apparently. Bubbly is a standard at Honey Ho’s and we found what we wanted (right?).
The Main Course: Our table of 10+ was in a room of our own so it had all the good feelings of dining at a friend’s house. Unfortunately the stereo speaker didn’t work so we were sans music but sufficed with conversation and laughter (always interesting and abundant!) while choosing what to eat. The menu is full of dishes that are interesting to pronounce and the descriptions were mouthwatering. It’s the familiar Thai fare – stir fry, soups, salads, satay, noodles and curries. Vegetarians would be right at home but, if you like a little meat, there’s chicken, meat, prawns, seafood and duck to choose from. We tried a bit of everything – satay and stir fry to line fish, traditional curries and pad thai. The curries were as hot and flavourful as we wanted them, the soup was ‘fantastic’ and the pad thai was tasty and satisfying for some (that was me – I was starving), but disappointing for others as there were none of the extras (dried chilli, sugar, soya sauce, fish sauce, limes, bean sprouts and ground peanuts) that it’s traditionally served with. Also, one meal arrived a little later than all the others, so we twiddled our thumbs for a minute or two. When it came to taste, most meals scored between 7 and 8 on our impromptu scoring system. Two small things I liked – cold water served with sprigs of mint (refreshing!) and chopsticks (I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I don’t eat Thai often enough and I guess I’m just used to the lazy knife and fork option).
Overall Yindee’s is a welcoming place that’s good for an evening of casual dining or giggling with a group of girls. And it’s popular, even on this Wednesday night.The place was quiet when we arrived but, by 10:30pm when we wandered out, there were very few empty tables.
Something sweet to finish: According to the web, Yindee’s kitchen is run by head chef Nirun Kong thong, and assisted by his two sisters, Wilaivan Kongtong and Onanong Kongthong. The fact that their surnames are spelt differently is not because of any profound, eastern meaning. Apparently it’s simply because, at the passport office in Bangkok, each Konthong translated their name into the English alphabet as they thought best. So, in true Thai styles, their names are "same same but different". I like stories like that.
Opening hours: Lunch - Mon to Fri: 12h30 – 14h30; Dinner - Mon to Sat: 18h30 – 23h00
Smoking section: Yes (although we obviously weren’t in it as we had to indulge outside).
Booking is recommended.
Parking: Could be tight as it’s a busy, popular area.
Wheelchair access: Not really as there are quite a few steps into the different rooms, although it might not be a problem if you’re dining in the front area.
Toilets: 3. Basic but clean, which works for me.
Price: 4. Around R60 – R100 a plate plus a bit extra for drinks.
Food: 4. A good variety of tasty, satisfying dishes (but you’ve gotta like Thai).
Ambience: 4. Unintimidating; good for a relaxed, casual night.
Décor: 3. Modest, neat and no-fuss, but with all the essentials.
Service: 4. Our waiter was friendly, polite and there when we needed him. Thanks :)
Value-added: 1. No complimentary extras that I saw.
Ho rating: 4. Good for an evening of casual, frivolous, fun-filled dining and drinking.