Yamo (be there)
Hole-in-the-wall eateries fall into one of two catagories for me: ones I fear, and ones I frequent. A friend who shares this philosophy recommended one of the spots on his ‘frequent’ list, and we headed there on Friday night. Yamo thai kitchen, on 18th Street between Mission and Valencia, is a nearly year-old noodlehouse, inheriting the digs (and the name) of the previous establishment (affectionately know to the disclosing friend as “crazy thai guy”).
Now, fine dining this is NOT. The tiny spot seats about 6 at the counter, with no additional seating. Most of their business is take-out, but at an average entree price of about 5 bucks, the dishes are tasty and fresh, and worth waiting for the two friendly women woking up your choices. We started with vegetarian spring rolls (which were a generous portion) and the highly recommended Tea Salad. This dish of thinly sliced cabbage and actual tea leaves, tossed in a red pepper rice vinegar dressing and topped with crunchy bits of fried shrimp, was the evening hit. The accompanying dishes of house chow mein and curry chicken were good but standard – it’s the tea salad that I’ll be returning for.
No alcohol is served, and the owners request NO BYOB, so your options are teas and softdrinks from the cooler in the back, or their popular offering of fresh coconut juice, sipped out of a shucked nut that is cleaved open just for you.
While waiting for seats at the counter, we paced around the front of the noodleshop, and noticed that the wall painting beside the doorway sported “Yemo Records”. Yamo/Yemo? The coincidence could not be ignored. I wasn’t able to dig up any history on the (label? store?) name, or how the adjacent eatery became named on a slight variation, only that the previous owners had printed up a TON of receipt pads with “YAMObethere”, which the current owners continue to use. Who knows – perhaps the original proprietor had a thing for James Ingram/Michael McDonald tunes and a yen for spicy thai. Scary combination.