Sydney may be over-run with Thai restaurants (hello Newtown) but newcomer Caysorn comes with a difference - serving up dishes from the country's south. Typically these dishes are heavier, more robust with spices, and have a chilli factor that is off-the-charts hot.
You'll find Caysorn on level one of the Prince Centre in Chinatown, above Menya and the Chinese dumpling houses on Thomas Street. It sits on the site of the former short-lived Korean all-you-can-eat, now transformed into a smart and buzzy restaurant that is reassuringly popular with Thai ex-pats.
[front] Thai iced milk tea $3.50 and
[rear] Iced longan drink $2.80
It's hard to resist a Thai iced milk tea, even if you can feel the excessive sugar eroding your teeth with every sip. What it will do is soothe your burning tastebuds with great effectiveness — strongly recommended if you plan on ordering the hot stuff. Those who prefer a stronger beverage will be relieved to know that Caysorn is licensed, with beers starting at $5.50 for a Blue Tongue Light.
I've been to Caysorn twice now, and each time Goong Paer Tod has been the table's favourite. It's like a patty of whole school prawns, clustered together with tumeric batter and deep-fried until deep orange. You can eat these prawns whole, dipping them into the accompanying chilli sauce before relishing the crunch of prawn shells as they shatter into crispy shards with every bite.
Nahm Prik Kapi $8.80
Spicy shrimp paste with cha-om omelette
There is much to love about the Nahm Prik Kapi spicy shrimp paste, a salty fishy concoction that is the star of the dish for Thai palates. We're equally entranced by the cha-om omelette, a fluffy eiderdown of egg filled with acacia shoots.
Gang Ped Pork Rib $14.50
Spicy curry with pork rib and kaffir lime (without coconut milk)
Gang Ped Pork Rib sets the chilli scene, a richly spiced curry that is filled with chunky pieces of pork rib - worth nibbling on to extricate all the meat from around the bones.
Tai Pla Kanoom Jeen $8.50
Salted Tai Pla spicy curry with grilled fish, cashew nut and vegetables with
Kanoom Jeen rice vermicelli and vegetables
It's the Tai Pla that separates the serious chilli fans from the wannabes. This is seriously hot, a dark and murky fishy curry that starts with a gentle burn and ends with furious blinking as you try to hold back the tears. Even the G-Man, a Thai ex-pat, admits this is crazy hot.
The Tai Pla is served with Kanoom Jeen, fresh vermicelli rice noodles that is another specialty of the south. The noodles are meant to counteract the spiciness of the curry, a rather futile attempt in this instance.
Kanom Jeen self-serve vegetable bar
The self-serve vegetable bar is the fun part that comes with ordering Kanoom Jeen. It's a help-yourself mix of raw green beans, cucumber slices, pickled radish, carrots, bean sprouts and sprigs of aromatic Thai basil. We douse them cautiously with the Tai Pla curry. It's an addictive way of eating your vegetables.
Pla Sam Rod $10.50
Tossed crispy fish with three flavour sauce
Plam Sam Rod arrives as three whole fish, deep-fried and topped with a thick paste of chilli, garlic, fish sauce and tamarind.
Had Yai Fried Chicken $6.90 (two pieces)
Deep fried marinated chicken with fried shallot
And we move onto my constant favourite: fried chicken. Is fried chicken not the greatest unifier across all cuisines?
The Thai version is devoid of batter, dusted only lightly with flour and then deep-fried until the skin is thin and brittle and tanned a golden brown. It's even better dipped into chilli sauce in-between mouthfuls of sticky rice.
Toast bread with pandan custard and Thai milk tea $5
We finish with a slice of toasted sweet bread, cut into fingers so we can dip them like soldiers into the saucer of warm pandan custard. It's eggy and rich and sweet with coconut - the perfect antidote for our chilli trauma.
Licensed and BYO
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11/17/2011 08:03:00 a.m.