Patinya Kanasa and her partner, Ruttanaporn ‘Thor’ Somrit always dreamed of having a restaurant of their own. It was a vision they aimed for as they worked in other people’s restaurants. It was on the Gold Coast that they brought their dreams to life.
The couple opened Yum Siam in August 2021 on the ground floor of the Aqua building in Labrador looking out across the sparkling Broadwater,. There is passing foot traffic due to its Broadwater location, with multiple high rise and unit complexes nearby.
“We chose this site because there are other good restaurants around us,” Patinya tells us. “These places bring people to the building, which is good for us. Everything was unknown because of Covid, but we were offered good incentives to open, so we had to take a chance,” says Patinya.
Born in Thailand, Thor in Chiangmai and Patinya in Isan, the couple noted the most popular dishes and the best practices in the restaurants where they worked gaining experience, Thor notching up kitchen and menu design along the way.
Their extensive menu of over sixty dishes carries their own version of Thai favourites as well as Thai dishes some Australians have come to love, such as the simple but tasty Garlic and Pepper Beef. Thai BBQ, Crispy pork salad and Thai BBQ pork are all bestsellers.
While traditional Thai recipes form the base of their dishes, many have been adapted to use local produce and to suit modern Australian diners. No MSG is used, and gluten-free and vegan options are available by request.
“Lamb Shank Massaman Curry is one of our bestsellers. You won’t find it in restaurants in Thailand, because they don’t have lamb there, but Australians love it,” Patinya tells us. “You’ll also see that there are two types of whole fish on the menu: Tilapia, which Thai people love, and Barramundi that Australians prefer.”
I ask about the practice of adapting cuisine to another culture and, nodding, Patinya says, “Thai food is not all Thai, though. We have always picked dishes and techniques from neighbouring countries, such as stir fries and cashew nut dishes from China, noodles and laksa from Malaysia and pawpaw salad from Laos. But what we do is to make those dishes our own way, usually spicier than the original version.
[I think back to my original question and reframe it for Australia. What is ‘Aussie tucker’ after all but a conglomeration of cultural appropriations!]
So, while the food at Yum Siam has been adapted to some degree, every dish is made in house, even the fishcakes, Patinya points out, and meals are made fresh to order rather than reheated. [No ‘ding’ cooking!]
“What is important is that we keep consistent. People want each dish to taste the same as it did last time they dined here,” she says. She adds that though the food looks simple, it is not as easy as it looks to make it really tasty. It means doing things the hard way rather than taking short cuts.
“We season the lamb and marinate it overnight to get the flavours into the meat. Then we cook the meat in the curry, [rather than just adding cooked meat to the curry].”
“I want to make customers happy,” Patinya says, “so I am staff too, working with customers. It’s a family business. If I am not here, my mum Kung is serving.”
Despite the waterfront location of Yum Siam, prices are reasonable, cocktails especially so! ($12 – $16) Smaller one-plate lunch dishes are also available at $13.90 per serve including rice or noodles.
With dishes made to be shared as a banquet at the table, you can either order dishes to share or enjoy a banquet menu from $39.50 – $49.50 per person.
“The name of our restaurant tells you what we want to achieve: Yum is delicious food, Siam recognises the heritage of traditional dishes of Thailand. That is who we are,” says Patinya.
Yum Siam, Shop 5/300 Marine Parade, Labrador Ph: 07 55312560
Open: Mon – Sun 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 9pm Fully licensed, BYO wine only