For some reason this week I’ve lost my cooking mojo (except for cupcake baking), so I’ve fallen into relying on cheap Asian eats. Thaila Thai is the second of Melbourne’s Asian takeaway institutions I’ve tried this week, and as everyone knows, it’s fantastic – tasty, filling and cheap.

8:15pm, Friday night: Hopeful diners lined up almost out to the door. A steady stream of takeaway orders being yelled out over the orchestra of clanging woks and hissing steam. Frantic and mildly distracted uni students carrying huge plates of stir fry. And a sense of achievement when you finally get seated at a just-cleared, unwiped table and are given a sticky purple-laminated menu to peruse.

‘Victoria’s butterflies’ ($6) caught our eye as they seemed like a house speciality. Bah bom. Strategic error there, as what came out was effectively deep-fried air, with a dab of inspid bottled sweet chilli sauce. Better stick with the satays next time.

Thaila Thai 82 Lygon St Brunswick

On the other hand our mains were delicious. In my experience the danger with pad thai is that the noodles can be overcooked into a gluggy clump, the taste of fish sauce can be overwhelming and I’ve even had the dish cooked with tomato ketchup! Thaila Thai’s version with prawns ($17) was just right – properly chewy noodles with a subtle balance of flavours. The peanut curry with chicken ($12) was also fragrant and appetising, and we eagerly ladled the creamy peanut sauce over generous chunks of chicken and vegetables and steamed rice ($3). Checking out the other diner’s options, I think we made a good choice to stick with the curries – the stir fries, whilst enormous, looked unrefined with everything drowning in oyster sauce.

Thaila Thai on Urbanspoon