Thanks to a Chowhound's info on the opening, I ate lunch at YoMa in Allston today, its second day in operation. My meal was great--one of the best under $15 I've had in Boston. I was impressed by the refinement and healthiness of the cooking, which should be accessible to everyone.
The menu seems closer to Thai, Vietnamese, and Cambodian than Indian. I ordered the roasted chicken salad and jumbo shrimp curry. The salad was perfect. The thinly sliced chicken breast had an excellent roasted flavor. Lime, lemongrass, cilantro, and chilis were all balanced to my taste, unlike in most Thai yum salads, which I tend to find too tangy. The texture was excellent--not too watery, crispiness from shredded vegetables, and a nice, surprising crunchiness which I think came from bits of roasted chilis. The waitress (of sorts) said that the authentic version of the dish uses hotter fresh green chilis, which they do have on hand, but for most people I think the salad is spicy enough as is.
The shrimp curry was also excellent. It had a delicious tomato, onion, garlic, and garlic base that seemed more Indian than SE Asian, but was lighter and more delicate than most Indian curries. It was well suited to the numerous fresh, juicy jumbo shrimp in the dish. Again, the waitress said the authentic dish has additional chili powder, which they are willing to put in, but it's great as is. The jasmine rice alongside had good flavor and was not too gummy or too dry.
Though the decorations are incomplete, I think it's fair to say the atmosphere is never going to be conducive to a romantic date. But the restaurant is very clean and the dishes are plated well. The homey feel reminded me a bit of Floating Rock, without the annoying TV.
The waitress I spoke to was bright and fluent in English. She says they (I took this to mean the proprietors of YoMa) fled Burma/Myanmar after unsuccessfully fighting for democracy against the current military dictatorship. Hopefully the restaurant will bring them better luck. Highly recommended.
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