I’ll start off by saying that the full name of this gorgeous Thai restaurant is actually Yok Thai Gub-Glam Tapas and Wines. The word ‘Gub-Glam’ is defined as food eaten with alcoholic drinks, or snacks eaten with or between drinks; the Thai word for ‘Tapas’, really. The Sister had showed me this place some time ago, and with it being the last night we could dine together and eat what we like before the parents return, I had suggested we pay Yok Thai a visit. I was intruiged with the idea of Thai being served tapas-style instead of your typical plate-each of Pad See-ewe or Massaman curry.
Located just off the busy Military Road strip of Neutral Bay, Yok Thai is one of the most beautifully decorated restaurants I’ve ever seen in my life. Dimly lit with candles and artistic lamps, the furniture is all warm, dark shades of smooth wood, many large expensive wine bottles and cookbooks arranged around the restaurant, tasteful silk flowers in odd vases and many more bits and bobs. While you wouldn’t ordinarily think that so many different decorative elements would go together, they surprisingly do in a very easy way.
It was on our drive there that we remembered the restaurant is quite dimly lit and realised my photos may not turn out so well, but when we arrived I was relieved that our waitress seated us at what was the best-lit table for two in the restaurant, right in front of this lovely side table.
From here, we had both a clear view of the back of the restaurant (first photo), as well as the front where the bar was, as well as the enormous blackboard detailing the chef’s specials and a sample of the wine list. While the restaurant does BYO, they also have a moderate wine list, although many of the bottles were priced in the hundreds range.
We were presented with quite a few menus – the Gub-Glam tapas menu, the main menu, the chef’s special menu, and wine list. With so many options, I got rather flustered and took an excruciatingly long time to make up my mind. The menus are a mixture of traditional Thai dishes (yes the Pad See-Ewe and Massaman were still there) but also dishes like a Chinese-inspired Peking duck egg noodle and typically Western ingredients such as truffles and witlof.
Too many things sounded extraordinarily wonderful! It was also a bit hard to make up my mind as I wanted to try a few of the tapas, but had no idea as to their size, as I’ve been to some places where what comes out is one dumpling on a plate. Nevertheless, I eventually gave my order and crossed my fingers for the best.
What came out first was one of the chef’s specials, and I had chosen it immediately as it just seemed so bizarre. It was called the East Meets West Ceviche of Atlantic Salmon, Avocado, Thai Lime, Ponzu, Flying Fish Roe, Truffle Oil, Shallot, Chilli, Shiso, and Toasted Almond ($12) – a combination of Thai, Japanese and French! I couldn’t get my head around it and just had to try it at once.
It arrived stunningly presented in a large martini glass filled with crushed ice. The combination of flavours was, to put it simply, incredible. Tender and ice-cold chunks of fresh raw salmon combined with the creamy cubes of avocado and popping flying fish roe and crunchy toasted almonds, drizzled in the most delicious ‘dressing’ (the word does not do it justice) you can imagine. I could clearly taste the ponzu, the shiso and the lime, with my palate searching for the truffle oil right before the gorgeously heady smell hit my sinuses. With so many different textures and flavours, you would think it would be a confusing mess, but it was one of the most amazing combinations I’ve ever tasted. Yum.
With that amazing start to the meal, we turned to the rest of our tapas, one of the others being the Twice Cooked Pork Belly with Caramel Palm Sugar and Chilli Nham-Jim ($16).
For those not-so-fond of pork belly due to a fear of the fatty meat, you need to try this. Having been marinated in the palm sugar and cooked twice with a crispy light batter over the outside, the pork belly chunks were soft and tender enough to be pulled apart with a simple swipe of your spoon. Dipped into the chilli Nham-Jim, the pork was melt-in-the mouth heaven and just the right amount of spiciness to set your nose tingling. The Sister dubbed this as her favourite dish of the night.
Our last main was the Tod Mun Prawns: Crumbed Prawn Balls with a Spicy Mayonnaise ($12).
The word I used to describe them as soon as I had my first bite was ‘bouncy’. Filled with prawn meat, it was a bit chewier than I was expecting. Funnily enough, I probably would have preferred the prawn balls to be a bit softer, perhaps by mincing the prawns more finely. The Spicy Mayonnaise reminded me a little of Thousand Island sauce.
With our entrees finished, our plates were changed before our main arrived for us to share with a bowl of wonderfully fragrant long-grain Steamed Jasmine Rice ($3). We had decided on something more ‘traditionally Thai’, going for the Prawns, Scallops and Calamari tossed in a work with egg, chilli, shallot, onion and curry powder ($26).
There was a generous amount of prawns, scallops and calamari, all cooked well until tender. We hoovered up the pieces of curried scrambled egg and caramelised onion around the lemongrass and chillies.
Time to sit back and savour the delicious meal we just devoured? It’s not over yet! We were presented with the dessert menu and The Sister was very excited to see they had what she has dubbed ‘the best dessert she’s ever had’, being the House-made Chocolate Sponge with Warm Dark Chocolate Sauce, Coconut Ice Cream, Passionfruit, and Frangelico ($16). We asked for the Frangelico shot on the side instead of it being poured over for us, as The Sister was driving that evening.
Funnily enough the desserts took significantly longer than our entrees to arrive, but the restaurant was full at this point. The sponge was so fluffy that The Sister and I couldn’t resist poking our fingers in it. It was so light, almost similar to a chiffon cake, with a very light amount of cocoa to colour and flavour it, so that you wouldn’t be overwhelmed when you dipped it into the dark, lusciously rich chocolate sauce.
Did I mention how deliciously luscious the chocolate sauce was? The sponge and the chocolate sauce alone would have been slightly on the too rich side without the silky coconut ice cream. I seemed to be missing the passionfruit though, and The Sister couldn’t pick it up either. I wasn’t sure what form the passionfruit was supposed to be in – a puree? Half a passionfruit? Nevertheless, it was a decadently sweet, gorgeous dessert; absolutely divine for all chocolate lovers.
We had also ordered another item off the dessert menu, the Layers of Cocoa Custard, Coconut Cream, Tapioca, Basil Seed and Fresh Pomegranate ($5) as it was a mere five dollars and it sounded intriguing so why on earth not?
The layered custard arrived in a little rounded glass and it was easy to see that much care had been taken in its presentation. With a narrow opening, I hazarded a guess that the layers would have been piped in rather than spooned – it was just too neat. The cocoa custard and coconut cream were both very light and not cloying in flavour in the slightest, with the Tapioca adding a lovely textural element with its characteristic chewiness. The basil seed and fresh pomegranate also added an interesting crunch factor, so crunchy I realised I had one stuck in my teeth a little later. Small shards of fresh coconut completed the petite dessert. It was a simply beautiful and refreshing little combination, and for five dollars you really can’t go wrong when choosing a little something to end your meal.
Thai and tapas…who would have thought it?
Yok Thai Gub-Glam Tapas & Wine
4/6 Rangers Road, Neutral Bay NSW 2089
(02) 9953 8988