In the front window of Yia Sou is a triple-layer charcoal rotisserie. Turing over the coals are thick pieces of glistening lamb, herb-encrusted chicken wings and juicy pork nuggets. Inside there’s a greying Greek man nonchalantly handing out chicken wings and broad smiles. “Eat this,” he says. No one’s paying, that’s just how it runs here.
It’s not flashy or on trend; it looks like a milk, bar but instead of beetroot and egg burgers with potato scallops, it serves food from the streets of Greece. The big seller is the souvlaki, the stuff hypnotising passers-by in the window. There are two kinds, as proprietor Chris Papadopolous explains: “You've got John or Johnny, call the big kid John and the little one Johnny. It’s like souvla and souvlaki, the ‘aki’ is the ‘ny’, if you will.”
Papadopolous opened the shop after a mid-life crisis brought on from a career in the corporate world. “I couldn't even cook bacon and eggs, but where there's a bit of desire, a bit of common sense and a bit of passion, you learn very quickly.” Papadopolous looked for help from his father-in-law, a veteran of Australian milk bars and chicken shops, and his mum. “My mum, as every good Greek boy would say, is a great chef. We grew up with mum hosting dinner parties every other night.”
Papadopolous says his recipes are all riffs off his mum’s cooking. “They're less oily, a bit more modern, but still traditional in structure.” The souvla is prepared with a spice mix of olive oil, salt and oregano. It comes off the grill juicy, salt-encrusted and steaming with the smell of a dry Greek summer. The Concord locals get their’s wound with chips and tzatziki inside a grilled disc of pita bread. If you’re going to go down that road, then add a slab of haloumi to your wrap.
As well as the meaty street food staples, Papadopolous and his team make a handful of traditional Greek dishes. The moussaka is chunky with lumps of potato and slightly sweet from being stewed with a drizzle of sticky dessert wine. The spanakopita and tiropita (a cheese triangle) is handmade by Papadopolous’ father-in-law. “They come from an area in Greece renowned for their pitas. They traditionally open up their own pastry, roll it and prepare it.”
Papadopolous makes the desserts. He is particularly proud of his galaktoboureko, a semolina-based custard cake encased in filo pastry. “It's lovely. It’s a recipe that's been handed down over two generations.” Otherwise try the loukoumades, fried dough balls doused with honey, walnut and cinnamon.