For a suburban shopping centre, Bicton Central has much to interest those who like their food and drink. This cluster of shops in Perth’s southern suburbs boasts an outpost of mighty grocer Fresh Provisions, cheery coffee shop Puck Espresso and the charming P Princi Butchers (hot tip: get the ‘nduja and some of the meatiest smoked bacon bones you’re likely to make soup with in Perth). Following the opening of Rym Tarng earlier this month, eaters have yet another reason to set sail down Canning Highway.

Translating to “next to the road” in Thai, a rym tarng is an open roadside – or streetside, or alleyside – kitchen that serves food to passers-by. Typically, a rym tarng isn’t a big space: something this poky 16-seat restaurant has in common with its brethren in Thailand. But while Bicton’s newest Thai eatery is low on floor space, it absolutely crushes it as far as the metrics of hospitality, deliciousness and when-can-we-come-back-again? go.

I’m struggling to think of a welcome as warm, energetic and smiley as that extended by Suphattra “Por” Yimphrae and Traiphop “Max” Khamngern, two of the four partners behind Rym Tarng and the restaurant’s two-person floor team. On the night Broadsheet drops in, the duo are wearing matching button-up shirts picked out in the same bright orange used to add colour to the black walls. The open kitchen bursts with energy, very good smells, and no small amount of smoke. A not-inconsiderable number of takeaway bags are slowly banking up behind the counter: proof of locals’ interest in the newest kid on the block. But while there’s something to be said about having good takeaway options on speed dial, the food at Rym Tarng is best eaten in situ rather than out of a plastic container.

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How else would you enjoy the crunch of golden pork-and-prawn fritters, warm out of the fryer and paired with a sweet plum dipping sauce? There’s crunch, too, in the limey, chilli-spiked green papaya salad known as som tum, while toasted rice powder makes a fine contrast to chargrilled pieces of fatty pork jowl and pork larb. Then there’s the massaman beef, a rich curry that’s sweet, spice-fragrant and unctuous in all the right places. The short menu might be built on familiar dishes, but care in kitchen from a former Long Chim chef ensures the food is far from ordinary.

“I want to cook Thai street food but also do my own thing,” says chef and partner Art Bunraksa. “We want to use modern techniques and good ingredients to serve food at affordable prices. I’m always looking for something new and want to make my own flavours and my own style.”

After growing up in Bangkok, Bunraksa started working in restaurants at age 15 after moving to Perth to study. In addition to helping open Long Chim, Bunraksa also sharpened his skills at hotel fine diners Wildflower and Hearth. Joining Bunraksa in the kitchen is Dondanai “Pop” Suwannarod, the restaurant’s other partner and someone that Bunraksa and his wife Yimphrae worked with during their Long Chim days. Admittedly, Rym Tarng is a more casual prospect than the quartet’s former workspaces – talk of a future chef’s table offering, however, is a tantalising prospect – but it seems to suit both management and locals just fine.

“We’re happy when we get to see customers walking out of the restaurant with a smile,” says Bunraksa. “I think that is all we want to see here at Rym Tarng.”

Rym Tarng
Shop 8, 258 Canning Highway, Bicton
(08) 6246 5789

Hours:
Wed to Sun 11.30am–3pm; 5pm–8.30pm

rymtarng.com