Thai restaurant Yimm brings homestyle cooking, authentic dishes to Oakland

Nirvana Ellaboudy/Staff

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The owner of the new Oakland Thai restaurant Yimm first fell in love with cooking while making omelet rice at home with his mother. 

According to owner Pete Thongsri, Yimm, located at 6048 College Ave., strives to evoke the spirit of his mother’s home-cooked Thai cuisine. Yimm takes traditional street food and redefines it as comforting family fare, creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The omelet rice that Thongsri used to make with his mother is now featured as one of 10 dishes on a special section of Yimm’s menu devoted to “home cooking.”

“Omelet rice is an easy dish that everyone loves; everyone knows how to cook omelets,” Thongsri said. “It’s the type of dish that makes you instantly feel at home.”

Thongsri opened Yimm along with his friends and partners — married couple Aya Amornpan and Note Mansawataphaiboon — and was motivated to recreate the dishes that he had loved while growing up in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Thongsri said he wanted to introduce the Oakland community to “real Thai taste” instead of catering to the tastes that people are familiar with. Yimm uses family recipes and carefully chosen ingredients to replicate the authentic flavor of what people eat in Bangkok, according to its website.

While the Bay Area is a diverse, multicultural place, Thongsri said it was surprisingly lacking in home-cooked-style Thai street food. After his partners Amornpan and Mansawataphaiboon successfully opened Imm Thai Street Food on University Avenue, Thongsri said he wanted to collaborate with them on a new street food restaurant, one with a menu expanding beyond the staples of most Thai restaurants.

“If you go to any Thai restaurant, most of them put the same types of dishes on the menu, like pad thai,” Thongsri said. “We wanted to go in a different direction.”

The menu at Yimm mixes classic favorites, such as noodle dishes pad thai and pad see ew, with dishes that people might be less familiar with — kang jerd, a noodle soup, and pa-lo, a specialty with pork belly and hard-boiled eggs, are two more dishes on the home-cooking section of Yimm’s menu. 

Thongsri’s favorite dish on the menu is moo ping, which he describes as barbecue pork on a skewer. 

“I present what I personally eat,” Thongsri said. “When I walk around Bangkok, this is (the food) I eat.”

Beyond the more diverse selection of food, Yimm’s sleek, colorful and modern design distinguishes it from other Thai restaurants, according to Thongsri. 

Instead of going with a Thai-style design for Yimm, Thongsri channeled his passion for art into creating an ambiance that is at once homey and sophisticated. When people eat at Yimm, Thongsri said, he wants them to feel like they are eating in their own homes. 

Thongsri hopes that Yimm will eventually become a beloved locale in the neighborhood where people come to have a good time.

“I want people to come here with their friends, families and loved ones to celebrate, and to enjoy eating together at a place that feels like home,” Thongsri said. 

Contact Annie Cheng at [email protected].