Thai cuisines are one my favourites and it’s something you usually can’t go wrong with, especially if you love spicy food. Since Thailand is quite a big country, the food in the northern area differs from what you’d typically find in the usual Thai joints around.
And if you’re interested in trying out some authentic Northern Thai grub, I’d highly recommend you to head to Un-Yang-Kor-Dai, Singapore’s first and only restaurant that specialises in North-eastern Thai or Isaan cuisine.
Un-Yang-Kor-Dai, which translates loosely to “anything goes, started in Khao Yai by Panchana Vatanasathien, who used to be a lawyer and an adviser for the Amata Foundation.
Before we get on to the food, I would like to warn you that the food here is spicy. So, to help you guys, I’ll include a spicy rating for each dish.
Spicy factor: 4/5
First, we had the Thai Papaya Salad with Fresh Prawns or Som Tum Thai Kung Sod ($13.50). This is a dish that has its roots in Isaan, although it’s served in most Thai establishments. Here in Un-Yang-Kor-Dai, the papaya salad features crunchy leaves topped with refreshing cubed papaya and prawns. This dish had a nice sourish tang and was so spicy that it left my lips burning! As a lover of spicy food, this is something I’ll definitely order again.
Spicy factor: 2/5
Another appetiser I had was the Crispy Spicy Minced Pork Sticks or Larb Stick ($10.90). But since I had the papaya salad before this, I couldn’t taste much of the spiciness. Nonetheless, these golden brown crispy sticks were a really nice starter that went well with their homemade sweet and sour sauce (that was also a little spicy).
Spicy factor: 5/5
What’s Thai food without some Tom Yum? The Tom Yum Fresh Prawns (with coconut milk) or Tom Yum Kung Num Kon ($18.90) had be breathing fire like a dragon. Be sure that you have a full glass of water before you start on this dish, because you’d be done with that glass before you’re even done with the whole bowl. One thing I really liked about this was that the coconut milk added in did not overwhelm and helped cut some of the spiciness of the soup.
Spicy factor: 1/5
And on to the mains! We first tried the PenLaos Signature Grilled Chicken or Kai Yang Sa-moon Prai PenLaos ($12 for half; $21 for whole). The chicken itself was nicely marinated with coriander and peppercorn then grilled to a perfection. The chicken was not at all spicy, which was a nice break from all the chilli-filled dishes.
But this dish comes with the Isaan Spicy Dipping Sauce (spicy factor: 4/5), which spiciness took me by surprised. I guess it’s safe to say that this sauce made me cry happy tears.
Spicy factor: 1/5
The Gilled Pork Neck or Kor Moo Yang ($12.90) was easily one of my favourite dishes here at Un-Yang-Kor-Dai. Similar to the chicken, the pork neck was marinated with a special homemade blend and grilled. This too wasn’t spicy but you can always ask for some of the Isaan Spicy Dipping Sauce to spruce it up!
Spicy factor: 3/5
Earlier, we had the papaya salad. And now, we have the mango salad, which we’re supposed to eat with the Deep-fried Whole Sea Bass with Premium Fish Sauce. The Pla Ka-Pong Tod Num Pla ($28) features sea bass that has been filleted before it is deep-fried to give it that extra crunch. For the full Isaan experience, eat this together with a scoop of mango salad, which fortunately is not as spicy as the papaya one.
Spicy factor: 2/5
Here’s a dish that’ll get your attention! The Stir Fried Lobster with Salted Egg Sauce or the Kung Mang Korn Phad Kai Kem ($78) is a dish specially created to cater to the Singaporean palate. The lobster was drenched in fragrant salted egg sauce with lots of mushrooms. Live lobster was used, ensuring super fresh and juicy meat. However, as with most lobsters, there wasn’t much meat to enjoy.
Spicy factor: 0/5
Finally, the Glutinous Brown rice of the Kaho Niew Dum ($2) is a common staple in Isaan culture and is served in a katip, a handcrafted Thai basket made from bamboo and palm. Usually, this would be eaten with hand. I personally, thought that this was a good addition to help neutralise the fire in my mouth from all the spicy dishes.
After all that that fiery food, I desperately needed something cold and sweet to settle myself down.
The Thai Milk Tea Pudding or Pudding Cha Thai ($5.50) is a definite must-try! I am personally not a huge fan of Thai milk tea but this was amazing. The pudding was so dense (and wobbly too!) that every bite was bursting with flavour.
Here’s another all-time favourite Thai dessert, the Sweet Stick Rice with Mango or Khao Niaw Ma-Maung ($9). Super sweet Thai mangoes were used here and it was just amazing! The sticky rice was also topped with sweet coconut milk giving it that creamy texture.
To help you get through your spicy meal, I would recommend having the Lemongrass and Pandan Drink or man Ta-Krai Bai Toey ($4.80) to help wash the spice away.
For someone who really enjoys spicy food, Un-Yang-Kor-Dai is somewhere I’ll definitely come back again. Plus, if you’re looking to try out some authentic Isaan food, here’s definitely the place to go!