The constantly improving culinary scene surrounding Todos Santos Park recently received a major upgrade with the opening of Yum Squared Thai Restaurant at 1965 Mt. Diablo Blvd. in Concord.
Under the guidance of Sakkapas Nukutkarn Oh and his wife Chef Navarat, this eatery joins nearby Lima and Luna as offering some of the best food in the region. After sampling their menu, Yum Squared is one of the few places I have tried that indeed captures the “true taste of Thai cuisine” (a phrase acclaimed on their website).
The two met as exchange students at Murray State. Oh then spent seven years learning the trade at the Silk Elephant in Pittsburgh, PA while Navarat returned to her homeland and graduated from one of the top culinary schools in Bangkok.
After years of traveling and cooking they moved to Brentwood and successfully opened Yum Squared in 2015, garnering enthusiastic reviews. In March they recently relocated to Concord, an unfortunate time to open a restaurant given the shelter-in-place conditions that began then.
Regardless, “We aim to serve family recipes from our childhood to enhance our customers dining experience,” Oh says. The main ingredient in those recipes must be freshness. Each day spices and produce are brought in daily including galangal root, mint, basil, tamarind, lemongrass, Kaffir Lime leaf, bamboo shoots, wild ginger, and others that make each dish pop of Eastern flavors.
Yum Squared offers a dining experience that will have your returning for more. In fact, we made multiple visits selecting various items of menu offerings each time. For starters, their diverse appetizer list includes a fresh shrimp roll with peanut sauce, satay chicken, fried calamari, and pot stickers. Take your pick, they all provide an excellent preview of coming attractions.
Seated outside during the recent hot weather, we skipped the soup course and opted for salad. Among our three visits, we tried the papaya, mango, and cucumber salads. They all featured a symphony of unique flavors highlighted by fresh limes used in the dressings. The Papaya salad features tomatoes, carrots, blanched green beans, dried shrimp, peanuts, and of course papaya. That was a perfect combination for us even though you can add extras to any of the salads. Yum Squared also has intriguing glass noodle, fruit, seafood, and beef salads that I will try in the future.
Our next course was Chef Navarat’s fried chicken with noodle. This is one of their signature dishes. Utilizing thigh meat marinated overnight with garlic, paprika, green onion, and assorted spices, the flavors and texture are simply extraordinary. We also enjoyed their version of the traditional Pad Thai which features choice of meat or seafood, egg crispy tofu, bean sprouts served with a tamarind sauce.
One course that should not be missed is Yum’s curry selections of seven unique varieties. Unlike Indian, Pakistani, and Burmese versions, Thai curry tends to place emphasis on spice rather than heat in their flavor profile.
We tried their green, pumpkin, and red curry’s which were all delicious. Our favorite was the Green one which was slightly sweet had flavors from coconut milk, kaffir lime leaf, basil bamboo shoots, and bell pepper. Chunks of Asian eggplant provided an additional dimension to this dish. You have your choice of chicken, beef, tofu, shrimp or seafood to be added to the sauces.
Many of the menu’s entrees are stir fries that the chef will customize for her guests’ tastes.
Noteworthy, is the wild ginger which features fresh garlic, chili, eggplant, mushrooms, and basil with a choice of meat or seafood. I favor the lump crab as the meat/seafood add-on.
Virtually every item on Yum Squared’s menu is served in abundant portions to be shared.
Should there be room for dessert, coconut and green tea ice creams are always a good choice. There is also housemade, Mango Sweet Sticky Rice, Pandan Custard Bread, and other selections to be sampled. Traditional Thai beverages including sweetened ice coffee and tea are available.
In July, Oh expects to have a liquor license and will be offering Singha and other Thailand beers.
They also offer a variety of gluten free dishes. Appetizers, soups, salads, lunch and daily specials are priced in the $10 and under range. Entrees and noodle soups range between $12 and $20.
Open daily between 11am to 3pm and from 4pm to 9pm. Reservations and Online ordering can be made at http://yumsquaredconcordthaicuisine.com/ or by calling 925-349-4343.