Joe's Table is a sandwich and soup shop during the day but at night it turns into a Thai restaurant. There's a little twist here though, with one man cooking and serving all the customers. Try dishes like a delicious prawn and durian curry and a heavenly smoked ice cream that arrives under a cloud of smoke!
Kings Lane is usually a small lane that runs perpendicular to Palmer Street but on this chilly Autumn evening, Nina and Garth are busy using it as a catwalk strutting up and down it imitating Mr NQN's walk. I stop them before he develops a complex and say, "Look behind you". I point out that that is where we are dining tonight. It's such a narrow street that they're surprised that Joe's Table is there.
Joe from Joe's Table is Joe Kitsana who worked at Longrain and Phamish. But now it's a solo show with the gentle and softly spoken Joe playing dual roles of waiter and chef in this fascinating one man show. Bookings can be made by messaging on the facebook page (and he is remarkably fast at responding). And while you are there, he is an efficient, friendly apparition darting back and forth.
It's a smallish restaurant, tables of four bump elbows with each other but somehow it all works if you have a bit of patience. Dishes are best shared because they are arrive in batches because he is of course cooking everything and taking orders by himself. You can BYO or order wine or beer. Nina orders red wine, Garth Thai beer and Mr NQN ginger beer while I stick with water (boring, I know). On the night that we visit the crowd is a bit older which means that there's no thumping music or noise although Nina does her best to make music.
Steamed prawn and crab dumpling with young ginger and black vinegar dressing $19 for 4
We ordered two types of dumplings and both arrive first. For omnivores there's the steamed prawn and crab dumplings topped with finely shredded young ginger and a tangy black vinegar sauce.
Pan fried garlic chive dumpling with chilli, ginger and yellow bean soy $17 for 4
My favourite dumplings however are the vegetarian pan fried garlic chive dumplings that are crispy and fat rounds with chilli, ginger and yellow bean soy. I love the crispy texture to these sizeable dumplings.
Prawn and Durian Yellow Curry $31
I don't usually go for the specials but I was curious to see what the durian would be like in a curry. Admittedly I'm not a huge fan of durian as I can't separate smell and taste but Joe assures us that it is young durian so it acts more like potatoes in the curry. And you know what? It's fantastic. There is a mild durian aroma but it has such a delicious flavour with the yellow curry. This would be good for those who haven't tried durian yet but are curious about it.
Hanoi style fish fillets $29.50
This was another special and I liked the sound of these fried fish fillets with dill and coriander and steamed fresh rice noodles. Joe instructs us to pour the sauce all over and squeeze the lime. They're a lovely fresh dish with a generous amount of succulent fried fish pieces.
Vegetable Red Curry with snake beans and sweet basil $26.50
"This rice is great," says Nina and I fail to pick up that hasn't eaten any of the vegetable curry because she thought it had meat in it. Then the poor thing takes some and finds it fiery hot. "Am I the only one that finds this hot?" she says and we all look at her and nod yes. It's so mild and she's so confused about how she is finding it hot. As for me, I love the flavours and the crunch from the snake beans, mushrooms, sweet basil and sweet peas.
Stir fried Crispy Pork Hock with homemade chilli jam, snake beans and cashew nuts $25.50
By now I think we over ordered but that's very typical of me (I'm amazed that Garth still lets me order for them ;) ). The stir fried pork is crispy dry and sticky with house made chilli jam, cashew nuts and snake beans. Try as we might, we can't finish this.
Warm Patsavoura with walnut, orange and cinnamon $15
There's an unexpected appearance of a patsavoura, one of my favourite Greek desserts. Meaning "wet mop" it's syrup drenched filo pastry with walnuts, orange and cinnamon and it's as delicious as it sounds especially served warm.
Smoked Ice Cream $15
But we end on my favourite dish (well apart from the durian curry and chive dumplings). The smoked ice cream comes with a flourish, under a glass cloche to reveal the Thai perfume candle (tian op) smoking away. Thai cuisine has several types of dessert categories and one of them is smoked desserts. You light the double ended horseshoe shaped candle and place the food next to the candle in a jar or under a cloche. The flame extinguishes and you leave the frankincense, ylang ylang, sandalwood, jasmine and rose scented candle to perfume the food from anything from 1 to 24 hours. Joe explains that he smokes the coconut milk for 24 hours and then churns the ice cream over 2 days to get it smooth. It's a gorgeous balance of flavours from the freshly grated coconut, toasted sesame seeds, salt and creamy, cold coconut ice cream.
We pay at the counter not wanting to make Joe make a trip out to the front of the restaurant again when he clearly has so much to do. He stops cooking, totals the bill and swipes our cards all the while going back to the pans to cook. "What happens if you get sick?" asks Nina. "We have to close the restaurant then," he says but explains that luckily, he hasn't been sick for over a decade.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever been to a restaurant like this where one person does everything? How do you feel about durian? And have you tried Thai smoked desserts and do you like them?
This meal was independently paid for.
1/28 Kings Ln, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Tuesday to Saturday 12–3pm, 6–9:30pm
Sunday Closed Phone: (02) 8385 7110