Wok hei, the smoky flavour often found in stir-fried dishes, is common in Chinese, and especially Cantonese, cuisine. But directly applying smoke to food is a different story. Narada Kudinar breaks that tradition at his Sydney smokehouse Yan and Melbourne counterpart in South Yarra (set in the former Yagiz space).

Here, diners are encouraged to start their meal by peeling smoked king prawns and dipping them in a ginger-shallot sauce. The aim is to infuse the hands with a subtle smokiness and prepare diners for the rest of the evening. This entree might be followed by grilled corn with teriyaki butter, fried tofu with Sichuan pepper and beef short ribs with sansho pepper. Only about half the dishes on the menu contain a smoked component, though all flavours are designed to pair well with smoke.

Cocktails are similarly East Asian-inspired and might include the Yuzu Tom Collins – made with yuzushu (yuzu liqueur), lemon and soda – or Toki Toki Hayaki! consisting of soda, pickled ginger and smoked Toki whisky.

Kudinar ensures dessert-lovers are well catered for. Yan’s Hong Kong milk tea layer cake was inspired by Top Chef winner Melissa King’s Hong Kong milk tea tiramisu and puts an Asian twist on an Italian classic. A combination of black tea and milk tea powder is used instead of coffee, and smoked rum gives it a slight alcoholic kick.

Another popular dish is the coconut milk ice-cream. It’s wispily presented in a hollowed-out whole coconut, on a layer of coconut jelly and topped with a generous sprinkling of shaved, toasted coconut. There’s no smoke involved but the dish is unmistakably Yan’s.

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Updated: May 18th, 2023

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