by Rita Bratovich
Wok Station Thai Restaurant has an enviable location diagonally opposite Union Square in Pyrmont, making it a great pit stop for passing commuters, a convenient place to meet for lunch and a handy spot to have dinner before a night out – or as a night out itself.
The cantina style interior gives it a convivial vibe, while its simple elegance makes it suitable for a casual meal or a special occasion.
Owner, Joy, only recently purchased the restaurant, having moved to Sydney from Port Macquarie several months ago. She began her hospitality career as a chef and has always been interested in improvising on authentic Thai cooking to create eclectic and inspirational – yet still very traditional – dishes.
When she arrived in Sydney and started hunting for a restaurant, Joy was immediately attracted to Pyrmont.
“I like the environment around Pyrmont. People are so friendly, and the restaurant is right in a good spot,” she says. “There’s lots of human traffic around here.”
Joy is the fourth owner of Wok Station and has managed to retain a loyal base of pre-existing customers as well as gathering new fans. Her goal is to try and please everybody:
“We changed the menu [to] make it more convenient for customer. And if [the] customer still want[s] to order some food from the old menu I’m happy to do it.”
Currently, she’s working on some new lunchtime menu items which will include wanton stir fry; crispy wanton with pad thai sauce; salmon and soft-shell crab special. They also have a promotional deal running: for every $29 worth ordered you get a free glass of wine.
With winter coming on, it’s getting very quiet at night in Union Square, so the restaurant relies heavily on lunch time trade and evening take-away meals. They also provide catering and Joy will happily discuss a custom menu. Watch for the intricate sculptured fruit garnish on the side of the platters, proudly carved by Joy herself.
As a newcomer to the area, Joy is very keen to make herself and the restaurant known and loved. Her commitment to customer service, quality and community is strong:
“We cook fresh food here and all the ingredients are from local product – we support local… I would like people to come and try my food and give me a comment – comments are brilliant for small business!”
To that end, Joy often walks among her dining patrons, directly asking for feedback and actively responding to any problems or requests. It is paramount that the restaurant has a warm, welcoming ambience – that it feels almost like home. Staff are enthusiastically encouraged to be pleasant and smile.
“I tell my staff ‘everyone has to be friendly – no friendly, no job!’” she says firmly. “[Customers] want to come in and have a glass of wine and see a beautiful smile.”
Respect and congeniality are natural reflections of Thai culture, Joy believes.
On the menu are lots of familiar Thai favourites but once you taste the food you’ll realise it’s not just the usual fare. For starters, try the fish cakes, they’re juicy, firm and flavoursome; or the salt and pepper squid – it’s just the right texture and not too heavy on the salt or pepper; or the vegetable fried spring rolls with their crisp, flakey pastry and tasty filling.
The mains menu offers a wide selection including salads, stir fries, curries, noodles and barbecue, and the generous servings are perfect for group sharing. If the red curry beef is anything to go by, their curry sauces are a lovely balance between thick, sweet coconut and spicy tang. Perennial favourite, Pad Thai Chicken will satisfy fans with its evenly cooked noodles and lots of vegies and chicken pieces. The laab gai is a moreish bowl of minced chicken, fragrant Thai herbs, lime sauce and chilli pieces. Be warned, hot is hot, so if you prefer it not just let your server know and they’ll go easy on the chilli.
Wok Station Thai Restaurant, Shop 1-2, 135 Harris Street, Pyrmont; 11:30am – 3pm and 5:30pm – 10pm 7 days; BYO and licensed; gluten and vegan options; take-away and home delivery (Uber, Menulog); ph: 9518 8188; order online at www.wokstationpyrmont.com.au.