Review: Yok Yor, Haymarket

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.

Lychee ice blended and Lime ice blended ($4 each)
Lychee ice blended and Lime ice blended ($4 each)

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!

Kao Pad Scallop (Rich and tasty fried rice of scallop with XO sauce, garlic stem and celery), $12.90
Kao Pad Scallop (Rich and tasty fried rice of scallop with XO sauce, garlic stem and celery), $12.90

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.

Sier Rong Hai (North Eastern Thai grilled marinated sirloin beef served with Nahm Jim Jeaw), $10.90
Sier Rong Hai (North Eastern Thai grilled marinated sirloin beef served with Nahm Jim Jeaw), $10.90

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.

Som Tum Lao (papaya salad with salted crab, fermented fish, eggplant, dried chillis), $9.50
Som Tum Lao (papaya salad with salted crab, fermented fish, eggplant, dried chillis), $9.50

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.

Banana fritters, approx $7
Banana fritters, approx $7

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.

Mango and sticky rice, $6.90
Mango and sticky rice, $6.90

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.

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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.

Yok Yor on Urbanspoon

Review: Thai Face, Crow’s Nest

I’ve always wanted to have a surprise birthday party thrown for me with everyone jumping out from behind couches shouting surprise and party poppers flying everywhere. In case you can’t tell, I essentially want to live my life as though I was in a TV sitcom. Disappointingly, I still haven’t had a surprise party thrown for me.

I have however done the next best thing and organised a surprise birthday dinner with some of our friends for K’s 28th birthday at Thai Face in Crows Nest. Leading up to the dinner, we had had a quiet weekend because of colds that we were both nursing colds. Playing it cool, I suggested that we go out for a quiet dinner to celebrate his birthday, given that we had otherwise been cooped up in the house the whole day.

Casually walking into the restaurant, I walk straight past the hostess and into the restaurant. K tries to pull me back to the lobby – “What are you doing, we have to wait to be seated?!” Ignoring him, I lead him through the restaurant to a table where our friends are seated. “Surprise” they shouted, and K did a triple take. It was really comical for us to see, fantastic for him to experience, and a relief for me that I had managed to keep the surprise under wraps!

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Thai Money Bags
BBQ Pork Salad, tossed in Thai spicy-lime dressing mint, cucumber, onion, tomato and fresh mixed salad

Given that we were both quite sick and not wanting to infect others with our virus, we chose to order three dishes to share between the two of us, rather than a table full of share dishes for everyone to pick at.

The money bags were excellent – the skin was beautifully crispy without being too oily and overdone, and the filling was actually flavoursome enough to not require the accompanying sweet chilli dipping sauce. The fine mince and vegetable filling was really well done, and really exceeded expectations.

The BBQ pork was a real standout in the salad. I’m not sure how the Thai Face kitchen is set up (half of it is in the dining area ‘on display’ for diners, but the other half is out the back), but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had an open charcoal grill somewhere…surely that’s the only way they could have achieved that remarkably smokey and succulent bbq pork?

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Gang ga rhi chicken – a mild aromatic yellow curry along with tender chicken breast, baby potato, tomato, onion, garnished with red chilli accompanied by puffy roti

If they consider this a ‘mild’ curry, I don’t know if I want to try a hot curry! This is even considering the fact that I’m normally quite good with spicy foods, gleefully slurping down spicy soups and sauces while others are wiping the sweat off their brow. The buttery and soft roti is probably the highlight of this dish, and I would recommend asking for two extra serves to soak up the sauce at the end!

Overall, I rate Thai Face an 8 out of 10 – great tasty food at great prices, though the rushed and impersonal service leaves a bit to be desired! It’s also definitely a restaurant that you go to with a large group of people – it can be quite noisy and caters for numerous large groups at the same time, so you wouldn’t want to take a romantic date there.

Have you ever thrown a surprise party for anyone, or been on the receiving end of a surprise party? 

Thai Face on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Mussels in a Thai Red Curry Soup

Mussels in Thai red curry

I picked this recipe up on my Travelicious markets tour, along with two kilos of mussels from the Sydney Fish Markets.

I’m convinced that’s actually the sign of a good food-related event, when you’re left with ideas and techniques that expand your thinking and your relationship with food.

Ingredients

Two kilos of black mussels, onion, garlic, red curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, coriander and chilli.

Method

  1. If they aren’t already, clean your mussels. This is a good Youtube video explaining how to do it.
  2. Finely dice the onion and garlic (one onion, about three or four cloves of garlic) and brown it in a large pot on medium heat. Add three large tablespoons of curry paste once the onion and garlic has browned.
  3. After a minute, add fish sauce (two tablespoons), brown sugar (one tablespoon) and coconut milk (one can). Depending how soupy you want the broth to be, you might also want to add a half cup of water as well.
  4. Add the mussels to the pot and put the lid on. They don’t all need to be submerged in the soup because the steam that will collect in the pot will cook them. Cook for approximately three to five minutes, or until all the mussels have opened up.
  5. While the mussels are cooking, chop up chilli and coriander and sprinkle it on top of each serving. Serve with a side of jasmine rice to absorb the soup.

Two kilos of mussels was enough for a filling meal for three people, and would serve four well if you had some extra sides to go with the dish. Quite quick and simple to make (approximately half an hour) and relatively cheap as well, considering that most of the ingredients you should already have in (onion, garlic, fish sauce, brown sugar), and others will only cost you about $15AUD total (mussels, curry paste, coconut milk).