One of the most exportable cuisine with little or no tweaks is Thai food. Spicy, sour, savoury, sweet – these flavours can appear on the same dish without any shyness about them. And the best examples are often not found in posh nosh restaurants but in street cafes and hole-in-the-wall eateries. Yok Yor is one of the best in Sydney that I have been going to all these years.
Located in an area in Haymarket precinct affectionately known as Little Thailand, Yok Yor is recognisable from afar as it was always crowded with people – theatre goers after their classy Broadway musical dressed in their nines mingled with young couples just coming from their classes in the nearby campus. The eclectic mix of people spilled into the streets that reminded you of a typical Thai Soi.
Kuay Teaw Rua (Boat noodle) ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ
A Thai traditional favourite noodle soup. Our head chef Mek ran his own sidewalk soup cafe’ in Bangkok, so we trust you will enjoy our soup.
Thai Boat Noodles (kway teow reua ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ) are a delicious and intensely flavoured but little known traditional Thai dish. They are associated with central Thailand, and are so called because they used to be sold from small boats along the canals and rivers. These days the vendors have moved onshore and the most famous boat noodle restaurants are found in ‘boat noodle’ alley near the Victory Monument in Bangkok.
Pig’s blood curd (Luad Mu เลือดหมู) is something you cannot get in Singapore, and wherever I see this I would order it. I was surprised to find this in Sydney as it is not something that is on the Western palate. The blood jelly here is milder than the ones in Thailand, but it is good enough. However do only eat this from a trusted source as blood is carrier for many diseases.
Sator Pad Goong ผัดสะตอกุ้ง
Spicy Sator (Petai) stir fried with prawns, minced pork, garlic, fresh chilli and kaffir lime leaves
Sator สะตอ is also called stinky beans or petai (in Malay) and is the seed harvested from the Petai tree. The stink is the smell of your urine due to the chemical compounds in petai, and it can persist for several days. But petai lovers would not be deterred by this acquired taste. Perfect with sautéed shrimps and/or minced pork.
Tom Yum Goong ต้มยำกุ้ง
Classic Spicy & Sour Soup with prawns, mushroom, lemongrass, chilli and lime juice
Tom Yum Goong (Spicy lemongrass prawn soup) is the flag bearer for Thai cuisine. Tomyum ต้มยำ translates to sour and spicy boiled soup, and is the building blocks of many Thai classic using lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce and the ultra bird’s eye chilli. There’s the clear type and milky type, and in Thailand you can even find one that is not red.
Som Tum Kai Kem ส้มตำไข่เค็ม
Som Tum Kai Kem ส้มตำไข่เค็ม (Thai green papaya salad with lemongrass and tamarind dressing with salted eggs) is Esan classic. Somtum is usually eaten as a salad and is typically prepared three different ways. It can be “Somtum Thai” which has peanuts mixed in, “Somtum Poo” which has small rice field crabs pounded in, or “Somtum Lao sai pla ra” which includes the juice of pickled mudfish. And for the uninitiated, salted egg is a good choice.
Kaeng Khiao Wan Gai แกงเขียวหวานไก่
Spicy green curry with homemade fish dumpling, apple eggplant, green bean and Thai basil and chicken
Thai curries have a brighter flavour and soupier consistency, because they use lots of fresh herbs and are cooked for less time than Indian curries. Kaeng Khiao Wan or Green sweet curry served in a coconut milk soup with unique local ingredients and flavourings of Thai sweet basil (horapa), kaffir lime leaves, eggplant and pea aubergine is actually the hottest of the Thai curries. The meat of choice for green curry is chicken (gai) but can come as any.
Goong Ob Woonsen กุ้ง อบ อุนเซ่น
Braised king prawn hot pot with light soy sauce, glass noodles & Thai spices
Goong Ob Woonsen กุ้ง อบ อุนเซ่น or baked shrimp with glass noodles in a claypot is another classic Thai dish. Cracked black peppercorn provides the heat in this dry and fragrant dish.
Pad Kana Moo Krob ผัดคะน้าหมูกรอบ
Stir fry of Chinese broccoli and sliced crispy pork belly or choice of meat with mild soy bean sauce
Pad Kana Moo Krob ผัดคะน้าหมูกรอบ or Stir fried Kailan with Crispy Pork Belly is my favourite for two reasons – Thai kailan is crunchy and sweet only to be comparable to Hong Kong kailan, and the crackling on the pork belly adds flavour and texture to any dish. And when the two are sautéed together with oyster sauce, the result is very appetising.
After multiple visits I still come back to Yok Yor for my Thai food fix when I am in Sydney. There’s many dishes I haven’t tried yet, plus there’s a list of monthly specials on the wall that one would only get in Thailand. And then there’s the boat noodles that are a perennial good eat at Yok Yor. Did I mention that they are open until 10pm on the weekday?
Yok Yor Thai Food Factory
Shop G06, 323 Castlereagh St., Haymarket Sydney 2000, NSW
Tel : 02 9280 0001 / 02 9280 0013
Visited in Jun 2022