A few weeks ago we heard about a new northern-Thai restaurant in the city, Show Neua. We were told its food is just like what you’d find in the Chiang Mai streets. Not just any street though, Kamphaeng Din Road.
There you’ll find one of the region’s most loved market stalls, Midnight Sticky Rice. From 11pm to 4am it operates like a tapas bar, minus the booze. It’s fun and loud, and tables are covered in tiny plates of dried, fried or fermented morsels. “It's so popular,” says Pitt Yimsiri, Show Neua’s co-owner. “It's in the nightclub area; everyone goes there before they go home.”
Yimsiri was the co-owner of Thai Hot Pot, a fun sushi train-styled hotpot venue in Haymarket. After selling that business he was keen to open a street-food restaurant, so he got in touch with his old chef, Yuwat Khuwimon, and Show Neua was born. “I asked him if he wanted to join. I [said], 'Let’s make me proud, let's do something that stands out from other restaurants'. He said, ‘What about northern food?’”
Khuwimon was born in Chiang Mai and has been cooking its regional food since he was seven, working in his mum’s restaurant.
Of Thailand’s four regional cuisines, food from the north is the hardest to find in Sydney – the only other restaurant serving it is Cheng’s Kitchen on Campbell Street. It’s rich and generally less intense in spice and pungency than food from other places.
In the north people eat sticky rice instead of jasmine rice, and the streets are filled with stalls selling fried meat on rice, liver-spiced pork larb and, most popular of all, khao soi (a curried chicken noodle soup topped with fried noodles and pickled vegetables). “When we opened, a lot of Thai people came, they missed their home. Khao soi is always the first thing they order,” says Yimsiri.
You can get khao soi and other specialities (alongside standard Thai offerings) at lunch, but you need to wait until night to get your hands on the Midnight Sticky Rice stall dishes. They’re labelled “Northern Street Dish” and there are 15 plates on offer.
Fried meats are popular. There’s pale-orange pork crackling dipped in a tangy, emerald-green chilli paste, as well as bronzed chicken wings, fried mackerel, deep-fried pork and crisp pork belly. Crimson-red minced pork comes with a tomato relish, and there’s yellow turmeric- and galangal-spiced sausages.
All of it is made from scratch by Khuwimon, who says he’s proud to be jettisoning massaman curry and tom yam for something close to his heart.
The only thing missing is a late-night licence. “We say midnight, but unfortunately because of Australian rules, we can’t serve it at midnight. But when we say Midnight Sticky Rice, all Thais still know what we mean,” says Yimsiri.
Shop 2A 710 George Street, Sydney
(02) 8385 8064
This is another edition of Broadsheet's “Local Knowledge” weekly series, where Nick Jordan explores the eateries at the heart of Sydney's different cultural communities. Read more here.