Last week NORA launched its Small Dinner Club, a weekly five-course degustation of progressive, neo-Thai fare that is the next phase of Sarin Rojanametin and Jean Thamthanakorn’s mission to dine differently.
Two sittings of 16 people each can book up to three months in advance on the first ticketing system in Australia designed specifically for restaurants. There are a few limits; no bookings over four people and dietary requirements are not catered for. It doesn’t appear to put people off – some have already booked three weeks in a row.
Dinner costs $65, plus another $65 if you want to drink a selection of boundary-pushing booze matched by Lou Chalmer of Clever Polly’s. Or opt for a juice pairing with flavours from South East Asian fruit and techniques such as fermentation ($45).
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Rojanametin wouldn’t give too much away about the upcoming menu, but he did tell us he’s sourced black-fleshed silkie chicken from Andrew McConnell’s almost-open specialty butcher, Meatsmith.
NORA has also redefined what it means to make everything from scratch. Rojanametin and Thamthanakorn took an eight-week course so they could make their own crockery. Drawing from their Thai background, they then crafted their own linen tablecloths to replicate the “shitty, pink tissue paper you see in the outskirts of Bangkok at really cheap restaurants”.
On the last Friday of the month, an international guest chef will star in the kitchen, which will cost slightly more. The Small Dinner Club launched last Friday with Peter Johansen (ex-Maaemo, a two-Michelin Star restaurant in Norway), who cooked Thai for the first time. Next up is a top-secret Canadian who works in Melbourne.
“Every chef I’ve spoken to is super excited because they love cooking something unfamiliar,” says Rojanametin. “Every little detail says a lot about what we do. We are marrying raw, Thai roots with modern, Western techniques.”
The Small Dinner Club is taking place every Friday with sittings at 6.15pm and 8.45pm at Nora, 156 Elgin Street, Carlton.