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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Tawandang, Sydney

Ka Moo Tod deep fried pork knuckle at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney

A hunk of deep fried pork knuckle isn't the first thing you'd expect to find at a Thai restaurant, but it's the undoubted highlight at Tawandang. But hang on... pork, crackling, mashed potato and sauerkraut? It all makes sense when you find out that Tawandang started as Thailand's first Thai-German microbrewery, an east-meets-west concept that has expanded to include two branches in Bangkok (one of them seats 2,000 people!), one in Singapore and now one in Sydney.

Tasty Healthy Spicy backdrop in the dining room at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Tasty Healthy Spicy backdrop in the Tawandang dining room

The Sydney offshoot is a much smaller venue than its overseas brothers, nestled in the hubbub of George Street a few doors down from Two Sticks. The windows open right out onto the street giving a much welcomed sense of light and space.

Ka Moo Tod deep fried pork knuckle at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Ka Moo Tod $22.90
Deep fried pork knuckle with spicy sauce and mashed potato

Admittedly the Ka Moo Tod or deep fried pork knuckle is the only German dish on the menu, but it weaves itself into your meal seamlessly, the tender pork best doused with lashings of Thai chill dressing served on the side. The pork crackling is no end of joy, the blistered sheath deep-fried to a heart-stopping crunch.

Mashed potato at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Mashed potato

And then there are the matching scoops of mashed potato - smooth and creamy - and sauerkraut, ribbons of salted cabbage that provide palate-cleansing relief. A little hat of red chilli pulls your tastebuds back to Thai.

Yum Tua Pu winged bean salad at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Yum Tua Pu $14.50
Winged bean in spicy coconut sauce salad

The rest of the menu runs the complete gamut of Thai classics, from fish cakes to crying tiger grilled beef to pad thai. And then there are lesser-seen dishes like the Yum Tua Pu winged bean salad that seems to leap out at us from the page. It's all kinds of deliciousness, the winged beans (also known as four-angle beans) sliced thinly so they look more like Ninja stars, tossed through with fat juicy prawns, a tonne of garlic and a fiery dressing that effortlessly balances hot, sour, salty and sweet.

Yum Ma Muang crispy morning glory salad at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Yum Ma Muang $13.50
Deep fried morning glory salad served with spicy sauce

Is there a better salad than one that's deep-fried? The deep fried morning glory isn't just tasty, it's a veritable masterpiece, with each battered vegetable sprig distinctly separate from another. There's no greasy gush of oil either. And the accompanying bowl of squid curls with red onion and coriander in chilli sauce makes for a brilliant counter to the deep fried decadence.

Miang Goong steamed prawn with rice noodle and vegetables at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Miang Goong $12.50
Steamed prawn, mixed vegetable and thin rice noodle served with spicy sauce

I returned a couple of days later for lunch to try more things from their menu. The miang goong is normally only available at dinner but after a brief check with the kitchen, they happily oblige our request. It's an elegant offering of steamed prawn resting on a spoon with salad leaves, coriander and a bundle of vermicelli noodles.

Guay Teow Yen Ta Four rice noodle soup with fish ball in red bean sauce at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Guay Teow Yen Ta Four $11.50 (lunch menu)
Rice noodle with fish ball, squid, fried tofu in red bean sauce

The lunch menu yields smaller dishes and lower prices but are still big enough to share. The Guay Teow Yen Ta Four is a Thai version of the Hakka Chinese yong tau fu dish. Its basic elements are the same: noodles, fish balls and tofu in a soup made from red fermented bean curd.

There's plenty of treasure to be found. The deep-fried tofu puffs soak up the hot and sour soup like a sponge, and the fish balls are soft and springy, but it's the cubes of pigs blood I revel in most.

Pad Kra Prao Gai minched chicken with basil and chilli at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Pad Kra Prao Gai $13.50
Hot basil and chilli with minced chicken

The Pad Kra Prao Gai is a tempting little number too, a mountain of finely minced chicken stir-fried with basil, garlic, fish sauce, sugar and a decent whack of chilli. Have it with a side of sticky rice and you'll find yourself polishing off the entire plate in no time.

And it ain't a microbrewery unless there's beer. You can order beer by the glass or gather your mates and order a tap beer tower. The tower (which comes in two litre or three litre skyscrapers) is delivered right to your table so you can play bartender for as long as the amber liquid lasts.

They haven't forgotten non-drinkers either. There's Thai milk tea, Thai black coffee, Thai iced tea and Thai lemon iced tea. If one glass isn't enough, you can choose the all-you-drink option and pay $4.50 for as bottomless refills. Dentist bills not included.

Tub Tim Krob red ruby water chestnut in syrup and coconut at Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney
Tub Tim Krob $5.50
Water chestnut in syrup and coconut milk

And then there's the dessert menu. Choose from bananas, pumpkin, taro sweet noodles or rice flour dumplings drenched in coconut milk or coconut cream. We went with the Tub Tim Krob red rubies, little pieces of crunchy water chestnut encased in a slippery tapioca starch jelly served with shaved ice and coconut milk.

Non-coconut lovers don't miss out. Green mango with sweet shrimp sauce might be an acquired taste but sticky rice with mango should find plenty of fans.

Tawandang Thai-German restaurant, Sydney

Tawandang on Urbanspoon

Tawandang [facebook page]
706 George Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 0138

Opening hours:
Sunday to Wednesday 11am - 12 midnight
Thursday to Saturday 11am - 1am

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
25 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/06/2014 10:19:00 pm


  • At 8/06/2014 10:35 pm, Anonymous ragingyoghurt said…

    i had deep fried salad once, some years ago. i think about it still. *sigh*

  • At 8/07/2014 12:00 am, Blogger Yvonne Tee said…

    Gotta love the term "deep fried salad". What an oxymoron!

  • At 8/07/2014 12:10 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think that deep fried pork knuckle is calling for me... :D

  • At 8/07/2014 2:03 am, Blogger Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said…

    The pork knuckle looks glorious!!

  • At 8/07/2014 7:37 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Errmahgerd!!! I need some deep fried pork knuckle in my life right now!! hahaha been wanting to come here and have the bottomless Thai milk tea lol

  • At 8/07/2014 7:38 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    Now that's one handsome knuckle! Pity there isn't a snout to go with it.

  • At 8/07/2014 7:50 am, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Talk about lack of identity! Forgivable only because it's deep fried knuckle with crackling.

  • At 8/07/2014 9:16 am, Anonymous Sierng said…

    That pork knuckle looks so good. I have walked & Driven up and down George St so many times, and have never seen this place.

  • At 8/07/2014 9:40 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    that pork knuckle is the best! totally don't want to share

  • At 8/07/2014 10:42 am, Anonymous Francesca said…

    A great round up- I will know where to go when next in Sydney

  • At 8/07/2014 11:40 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    So many treasures! I love the idea of a giant fusion pork knuckle and bottomless ice tea! Something tells me my guy will get excited, when I relay the words 'skyscraper of beer!' Lol!!!

  • At 8/07/2014 12:28 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    that's a really epic pork knuckle!

  • At 8/07/2014 5:06 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    That pork knuckle looks delicious!

  • At 8/07/2014 6:53 pm, Anonymous Michael @ I'm Still Hungry said…

    Apparently, they do a really cool German beer bazooka as well - would love to see that! Also, 2000 seats in the Bangkok venue? This place must be doing something right to be able to afford that.

  • At 8/07/2014 7:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Walked past here a few times and always thought it was just another Thai restaurant. The pork knuckle looks so good, I need to check it out!

  • At 8/08/2014 10:02 am, Blogger Cassie | Journey From Within said…

    I need the pork!!!!
    And omg deep fried greens? I'll eat greens any day then hahaha :p

  • At 8/08/2014 4:39 pm, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    Looks like another good Thai to keep all the other good ones honest!

  • At 8/08/2014 7:15 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    Uh-oh! That deep fried knuckle reminds of the Crispy Pata at a Filipino restaurant I visited in Sydney. It looks just as tempting as the one you posted. Your photos show irresistible food :)

    Gourmet Getaways

  • At 8/09/2014 1:20 pm, Blogger irene said…

    Deep fried salad? Simply genius!

  • At 8/10/2014 12:54 am, Anonymous Felicia @ Next Stop: Food said…

    Oh myyy, I love morning glory and I can't wait to try it deep fried :P And I need that pork knuckle in my belly now hehe

  • At 8/11/2014 10:13 pm, Blogger Von said…

    I love Tawandang!! :) I went there for my birthday, and they brought out a huge happy birthday sign for me! Totally wanted to keep it but it was too big to carry onto the bus home :( Been meaning to go back to try everything else on the menu (especially keen on the fish!), but haven't had the chance! The morning glory looks so good- wanted to order it but they ran out on the day :(

  • At 8/12/2014 8:31 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    I'm fascinated by this concept of Thai-German fusion - it's definitely not something I would have imagined! I can see how schnitzel might work with a hot herby dressing though...or maybe bratwurst with a fresh Thai salad?

  • At 8/13/2014 4:06 pm, Anonymous Bella Jum said…

    You really made me hungry, I really wish I could visit this place now T.T what I'm craving most is that deep fried pork, num num num.. hopefully soon I could go there.

  • At 9/03/2014 10:33 am, Anonymous Drool Worthy World said…

    I've heard about this place! :O Always wanted to try Thai-German fusion! Such a unique combo!

  • At 9/17/2014 1:36 pm, Anonymous Madeleine said…

    There is more than Singapore, Bangkok and Sydney branches of Tawandang - there is also one in Phnom Penh! It goes by the name of Spark and Tawandang.


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