Un-Yang-Kor-Dai – Authentic Issan Cuisine Has Eluded Us Till Now
Ever since my Bangkok trip, I will get an insatiable craving for Thai food almost every week. This brought me to Un-Yang-Kor-Dai, a new Thai restaurant hailing from Khao Yai, Thailand, a two-hour drive from central Bangkok. Situated at South Beach Road, this is the first outlet outside of Thailand, and the franchise specialises in Authentic Thai and Issan cuisine. Due to its geographical proximity to Laos and Cambodia, Issan cuisine is spicier, and more sour than what we are used to.
Un-Yang-Kor-Dai has a modern interior complete with soft lighting, wood furniture, and colourful paintings, giving off rustic vibes that really make one feel at home. We wanted to get a sense of the authenticity Un-Yang-Kor-Dai claim to offer and so ordered their PenLaos Signature Chicken (Half- $12), Tom Yum Fresh Prawns with coconut milk ($18.90), Papaya Salad with Salted Egg ($10.50), Iced Thai Milk Tea ($5), and Tri-Colour Yam in Coconut Milk with Egg ($6.50).
The PenLaos Signature Chicken is a speciality of Un-Yang-Kor-Dai so, naturally, it was a must order! The strong smell of pepper and spices in the grilled chicken will hit you first, indicative of how much care and attention was given to marinating it. The meat was mostly tender and flavorful, with the charred bits of chicken skin being especially fragrant. The grilled chicken also came with a housemade spicy sauce that was specially created for it. The sauce was of a thicker consistency and enhanced the flavour of the chicken in parts where the marinate did not penetrate as much by giving it a sweet and spicy tang. The friendly waitress also gave us an extra dipping sauce, just to let us try the different sauces that Un-Yang-Kor-Dai does. The Issan dipping sauce is actually meant for the Grilled Pork Neck, so its flavour profile tasted odd when paired with the grilled chicken. Interesting ingredients such as rice powder and cilantro were used in the Issan dipping sauce. It was definitely more savoury, and bore a distinctive sourness with a strong taste of fish sauce.
Brown Glutinous Rice is the core of everyday Issan cuisine. It is traditionally served in colourful ketim baskets and, likewise, Un-Yang-Kor-Dai practises it too. Lift up the lids to reveal the piping hot, sticky brown gooeyness! Un-Yang-Kor-Dai prepares this iconic staple by soaking a mixture of 20% black glutinous rice and 80% white glutinous rice overnight to achieve that beautiful, deep purple hue. I found the whole experience strange because in Singapore, sticky rice is seen either in sweet desserts or savoury dishes. It is almost impossible to find it entirely on its own, replacing the usual rice in our diet. The stickier, denser texture of the brown glutinous rice will take some getting used to for most people.
Another popular Thai dish that Un-Yang-Kor-Dai has brought to Singapore is Salted Egg Som Tam. And yes, we checked that it was entirely unplanned with the salted egg craze in Singapore! Different parts of the salted egg made the Som Tam taste different. The extremely salty egg white made the otherwise sour and tangy papaya strips more savoury. The egg yolk on the other hand, added a strange grainy texture to the salad. Not bad, but I would still love my papaya salad without the addition of salted egg!
I have tried many tom yam koong and Un-Yang-Kor-Dai’s rendition of this beloved soup was not particularly outstanding. It ticked all the boxes expected of a tom yam koong — spicy sourness punctuated with aromatics from spices (lemongrass being my favourite). However, there was a surprising hint of milkiness at the end of every sip which made the soup richer!
For dessert, the Tri-Colour Yam in Coconut Milk with Egg is a traditional Thai dessert that is a rare sight in Singapore’s Thai eateries and restaurants. The tiny pearl-like balls are made from yam, pumpkin, blue pea, and rice flour. The trio of pretty colours made the dessert really attractive! The fragrant, rich coconut milk complemented the chewy texture of the rice balls well, and the egg added was quite a delightful addition. If you have not tried this (I’m quite sure you haven’t), this special dessert is highly recommended!
The majority of the local Thai food eateries focuses on the more common and typical Thai cuisine. What sets Un-Yang-Kor-Dai apart from its competitors is its interpretation of the uncommon Issan cuisine. I applaud Un-Yang-Kor-Dai for bringing us something different, and hope that you will find Issan cuisine unique, just as I did too.
Address: 57 South Bridge Road, #01-02, Singapore 058688
Phone: 6787 8575
Email Address: [email protected]
Opening Hours: 11am to 10pm daily. Closed on Monday.
MissTamChiak.com made an anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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