MELBOURNE | Nana Thai Style Hotpot & BBQ is a venue that evokes memories of eating hawker food in street-side spots in Thailand. The small, narrow space is filled with the sound of clattering cutlery, lively conversation, and Asian and Western pop music in the background. Groups of friends eat communally on small tables with plastic red stools. There’s an energy that’s unique to this sort of restaurant in Southeast Asia, and Nana Thai nails it.
The venue, which used to be housed in an easy to miss car park location near Parliament Station, moved to its current digs on Bourke Street in early 2020. It’s owned by Bangkok-born Nuttanan Lohayanjaree (aka Mint) and Northern Thai-born Panta Thanapaisan (aka Wan). The duo moved to Australia to study postgraduate degrees, and missing a literal taste of home, decided to open their own restaurant.
The menu draws upon the Central Thai flavours that Nuttanan grew up with, and the Issan flavours on which Panta was raised. You can find things like som tam and other papaya salads, grilled and deep fried dishes, soups, and more. Try the combination grill (grilled pork neck, deep fried pork intestine and deep fried pork liver), and the Mama Tom Yum Soup (instant noodles, deep fried pork belly, prawns, calamari, pork balls, egg and coriander, in tom yum soup). Both were recommended to me when I asked what I should order, and both are outstanding. Bold, vibrant, punchy flavours that excite the taste buds.
Of course, the signature hotpot is a must order. There’s two types on offer here. Mookata and moojum. I opted for the mookata set. That’s pork neck, pork belly, hot and spicy pork neck, sliced pork liver, bacon, prawns, calamari, combination vegetables, glass noodles, egg, soup and BBQ sauce. The mookata (pork skillet) comes to the table and is heated up. You grill your meats on the skillet, and the juices flow into the sides, combining with hot water to form a broth in which you cook your noodles and vegetables.
Wash it all down with some Thai milk tea, pink milk (palm fruit syrup with milk), and a Leo beer. It’s a fun experience, and definitely one worth doing with a few friends. I don’t know when we’ll be able to travel to Thailand again, but Nana Thai definitely helps ease the wanderlust.
Nana Thai Style Hotpot & BBQ
169 Bourke Street
Mon – Sun: 5:30pm to 1:00am