Confession – I’ve never really been a fan of Thai food. I admit that it’s somewhat ignorant to dismiss an entire country’s cuisine out of hand, but generally speaking, the stronger, hotter, sourer flavours of Thai cuisine when compared to say, Vietnamese or Japanese cuisine, is really challenging for me.
However, never say never! Every couple of months I do make the effort to give myself a second, third, fourth chance at enjoying Thai food. After all, it’s not completely out of the realm of reality that my taste may change. My most recent attempt at Thai food was at Yok Yor in Haymarket.
Given the humidity of the day, I started with a Lychee Ice Blended drink, while K ordered a Lime Ice Blended drink. At only $4 each, they were quite reasonably priced and were very refreshing and more-ish. I was surprised by how satisfying fruity they were – Yok Yor don’t skimp on the fruit blend in favour of using more ice and sugar syrup!
Looking around us at what other tables were ordering and the size of the meals, we decided to order three dishes to share. Our first option was a Kao Pla Scallop – rice stir-fried with scallops in a spicy XO sauce. This was absolutely delicious, especially with a little bit of lime squeezed over the top. If I have one gripe, it’s that I would have liked for there to be more scallops included, but there was a good amount of fresh, plump, seared scallops for the price that we paid.
The second dish we ordered as the Sier Rong Hai – marinated and grilled beef strips served with a spicy soy dipping sauce. The beef actually didn’t need the dipping sauce on the side, as it had clearly been marinated for a lengthy amount of time, with an aromatic tenderness that made it a real standout. The only issue is that we didn’t get enough of it – there was barely a small steak’s worth of beef on the plate, and we each had only a few slices. This was definitely the kind of dish that would have benefited from being more generous with their serving sizes.
Yok Yor have a number of different papaya salads on the menu – it seems to be one of their specialities. In the mood for something with a bit of a flavour explosion, we opted for the Som Tum Lao with salted crab, fermented fish, eggplant and dried chillies. Stupidly, when the waitress asked me how hot we would like the dish to be, I said ”Oh…maybe medium?”
To be fair, I am generally very good with spicy food – where others around me might start sweating and gulping down water, I can casually continue eating. This was not one of those times. My mouth was set on fire as soon as I took a single bite of this dish, and every subsequent bite brought tears to my eyes and elicited chilli-induced hallucinations. Even trying to eat it with plain white rice and sips of my ice-blended drink wasn’t enough to temper the spiciness of this dish.
I think the inclusion of the dried chillis probably didn’t help, increasing the spiciness of this dish from a Medium level of hotness to a High level. I’ve learned my lesson for next time – order the plainest version of papaya salad without additional dried chillis, and ask for it to have no heat. Unfortunately, this dish was just a bit too torturous to be entirely enjoyable.
Dessert makes everything better though, and K was insistent that we order Yok Yor’s Banana Fritters after seeing them delivered to an adjacent table. This was a great choice – the batter was ultra-crispy and flavourful with bursts of fresh sesame seeds making all the difference. They use the smaller sweeter bananas as well, the ones that actually have a really strong banana flavour when compared to the blander Cavendish bananas.
My dessert choice was the Fresh Mango with Sticky Rice – a bit of a South-East Asian classic. I was really happy with this choice – the mango was firm but juicy, and the rice was really creamy, having been cooked with coconut milk. It’s a simple dessert, but combines two of my favourite food ingredients – fresh tropical fruits and coconut.
All around, Yok Yor was an enjoyable Thai food experience that was unfortunately marred with actual physical pain brought on by a self-inflicted chilli high. I’ve learned my lesson for the next time I visit a Thai restaurant…which may be a little sooner than my usual quarterly visit! I’d like to come back to Yok Yor at some point, and try a more palate-friendly papaya salad.