Thai Baiyok

Special thanks to Thai Baiyok for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Formerly located at The Heritage Club, Thai Baiyok (ไทยใบหยก) moved to Lorong Selamat around 2 years ago. Being a regular traveler to Thailand, the owner has been operating several Thai restaurants for over 10 years.
Thai Baiyok features an ensemble menu of northern, central and southern Thai cuisine. Southern Thai cuisine tends to use more spicy ingredients, while central and northern recipes are generally less spicy but still flavorful by Malaysian standards.
Nearly all ingredients are sourced from Thailand whenever possible. Like authentic Thai restaurants in the kingdom, the chefs personally prepare various types of curries and sauces. At Thai Baiyok, there are six chefs including several ethnic Thais, each manning a different station in the kitchen.
Our appetizer started with something special: Goong Chae Nam Pla (กุ้งแชน้ำปล่า, RM20.00). Six pieces of raw shrimps are served over ice. It is a little known fact that Thais also enjoy raw seafood like the Japanese, but raw shrimps is something I have not encountered before.
To mask the rawness of shrimps, sour and spicy dipping sauce is provided. The sauce is made from chopped bird's eye chili, garlic and coriander. Lime juice serves to "treat" the raw shrimps before consumption. Although this appetizer is an exquisite treat, not many locals may find raw shrimps to be palatable. However if you are the adventurous type like me, I suggest that you give this appetizer a try.
Apart from steaming, Pla Kaphong Daeng Rad Phrik (ปลากะพงแดงราดพริก) is an alternative way to enjoy fish in Thai style. The fish is deep-fried until it becomes crispy, then covered with chili paste which has sweet, tangy and spicy flavors. Pineapple pieces are used to provide extra sweetness.
The choice of fish is mangrove red snapper (ปลากะพงแดง), well-sought for its sweet, firm flesh that works well with any type of gravy. The price of this dish depends on fish size and the prevailing market price, and is usually between RM42.00 and RM65.00. Besides the mangrove red snapper, barramundi (ปลากะพงขาว) is also available.

Moo Yang (หมูย่าง, RM14.00) is a succulent dish of barbecued pork with dipping sauces. Tradition dictates the use of charcoal for roasting, but Thai Baiyok modernizes the cooking process using an infrared heater. Thanks to intense marinade, the pork is highly addictive and is bursting with sweet, savory juiciness. Once initial flavors set in, saltiness starts to take over the palate. I think less salt in the marinade is preferable.
This barbecued pork dish is served with nam chim chaeo (น้ำจิ้มแจ่ว), made from glutinous rice which is roasted and then pounded. There is also chu chi (ฉู่ฉี่) sauce which is not quite as spicy as nam chim chaeo, therefore does a better job in preserving the sweetness of pork.
The Thais are fond of curry; no exception here at Thai Baiyok. Kaeng Som Goong Cha-Om (แกงส้มกุ้งชะอม, RM18.00) is yellow curry with fried omelette and three large shrimps. Made from several spices such as turmeric and assam, this yellow curry is wildly popular in southern provinces of Thailand. Unlike northern versions, the yellow curry is not sweet. Instead, it carries numbing spiciness which binds to the tongue instantly. I think the level of spiciness should be toned down to suit the local palate.
The omelette is infused with cha-om (ชะอม), leaves of a plant that grows in the northern parts of Thailand. Although wild cha-om is commonplace there, cultivation in Malaysia is almost non-existent. Therefore, this supposedly-affordable ingredient has to be imported from Thailand at significantly higher price. Although many Thai restaurants serve omelette with cha-om, this is the first I see it being paired with curry. Not a bad pairing, I must say.
As for vegetables, the choice today is Phak Ruam Sataw Phat Kapit (ผักรวมสะตอผัดกะปิ, RM13.00) which means "fried mixed vegetables and stink beans with shrimp paste". Four types of vegetable are used here: stink beans or petai (สะตอ), winged beans (ถั่วพู), broccoli (บรอกโคลี) and okra (กระเจี๊ยบเขียว). These vegetables are stir-fried with fermented shrimp paste (กะปิ) and fresh shrimps, resulting in pleasant and balanced flavor.
The dish of Fried Tanghoon (ผัดวุ้นเส้น, RM8.90) uses glass noodles (วุ้นเส้น). Made from mung beans, glass noodles turn translucent when moist. Due to its starchy texture, glass noodles are quite difficult to prepare well, especially when they are served dry. Although the noodles harden when cooled, their appeal hardly diminishes. The glass noodles are served with shrimps, chicken and vegetables.
As for drinks, bottled Betagen (บีทาเก้น, RM5.50) are available. Betagen is a popular brand of fermented milk yogurt in Thailand. Its flavor is quite similar to Yakult's, but this drink is milkier than Vitagen's.
Overall, Thai Baiyok offers a complete spectrum of authentic Thai food. If genuine Thai dishes are your favorites, it is easy to assemble a hearty meal from its extensive menu. Besides family-style dining, set lunch is also available for working people who need a quick meal during noon breaks.

Name: Thai Baiyok (ไทยใบหยก)
Address: 105, Lorong Selamat, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-227-8308
Business hours: 11:00am-11:00pm, closed on Tuesdays
Coordinates: 5.41668 N, 100.32480 E
Directions: From Macalister Road (Jalan Macalister), turn to Lorong Selamat. Thai Baiyok is approximately 100 meters down this one-way road, on the right. There are private parking spaces in front of the restaurant.

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