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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Caysorn, Haymarket

caysorn haymarket chinatown

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.

caysorn haymarket chinatown
Decor inside Caysorn

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. 

caysorn haymarket chinatown
[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.

caysorn haymarket chinatown
Goong Paer Tod $6.90
Tumeric batter with school prawns, green leaf and chilli sauce

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.

caysorn haymarket chinatown
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.

caysorn haymarket chinatown
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.

caysorn haymarket chinatown
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.

caysorn haymarket chinatown
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.

caysorn haymarket chinatown
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. 

caysorn haymarket chinatown
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.

caysorn haymarket chinatown
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.

caysorn haymarket chinatown

Caysorn Thai on Urbanspoon

Shop 106-108A, Level 1, 8 Quay Street, Haymarket, Sydney
(take the escalators on Thomas Street or enter via the glass doors on Quay Street)
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 5749

Opening hours:
Monday to Sunday 11am-11pm
Licensed and BYO
22 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/17/2011 08:03:00 am


  • At 11/17/2011 9:18 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Have been eager to try this place and by the look of it I'll be visiting very soon. My stomach is already cramping from the sound of all that chilli! And a big hello to pandan custard with soldiers!

  • At 11/17/2011 9:37 am, Anonymous Julia said…

    I've eaten there 2 weeks ago, definitely different from the thai flavors I'm used to. I didn't find it that hot though!
    I liked it but it's not something I could have every week!
    Loved the bread and pandan custard as well!

  • At 11/17/2011 10:11 am, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    have wondered about this place! thanks for the review... love the sound of all that chili! yum!!!

  • At 11/17/2011 10:39 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    Been meaning to try this place as well but haven't had the time. And fried chicken is definitely a unifier. LOL This version looks great!

  • At 11/17/2011 10:55 am, Anonymous betty said…

    yum bread!

  • At 11/17/2011 11:25 am, Anonymous Nic@diningwithastud said…

    That pandan custard is such a great colour! Looks delicious

  • At 11/17/2011 1:26 pm, Anonymous rockahenry said…

    that red pork rib curry looks like it should be sitting in front of me then in my belly as of 2 minutes ago!

  • At 11/17/2011 6:35 pm, Blogger Elisa said…

    Like the look of the pandan custard... May have to try some when I'm next in Sydney.

  • At 11/17/2011 6:48 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    The first photo! The last photo! The first photo! The last photo!!

    P.S. Is there any chance you have a sister who is currently at the FECCA conference in Adelaide?!

  • At 11/17/2011 6:52 pm, Anonymous Chopinand @ ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    I doubt any of the Newtown Thai restaurants are on par with Chat Thai tho. The school prawns and crispy fish would be up my alley, turn up the spice level!

  • At 11/17/2011 7:57 pm, Blogger ayie said…


  • At 11/17/2011 8:08 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Hannah - lol. I think you and pandan custard soldiers would get along very well! And alas, no I don't have a sister at the FECCA conference, but it was worth a shot! ;)

  • At 11/17/2011 9:47 pm, Blogger Kalyan Karmakar said…

    wish i read this post when I was at sydney a couple of weeks back...was very close to hay market and went there for yum cha ...the photographs are fantastic specially the bread dipping into the pandan custard

  • At 11/18/2011 11:24 am, Blogger Mel said…

    The Goong Paer Tod looks great - I love crispy pranws with the shells still left on. Not sure how I'd fare with the really hot stuff though.

  • At 11/18/2011 11:34 am, Anonymous Sara - Belly Rumbles said…

    All looks so good. I really want to try the Goong Paer Tod, crunchy tasty yum.

  • At 11/18/2011 1:49 pm, Anonymous Connie said…

    very interesting dishes! first time to hear about acacia shoots.

  • At 11/18/2011 5:13 pm, Anonymous Angeline said…

    Acacia shoots are one of the stinkiest foods in the world I read somewhere. When you cook them it has a chemical smell that I compare to the smell of someone getting their hair permed. It tastes delicious though!

    Your blog makes me want to move from Canada to Sydney!

  • At 11/18/2011 9:33 pm, Anonymous tania@mykitchenstories said…

    This place looks good. Photos wonderful as usual

  • At 11/20/2011 8:58 am, Blogger Gummi Baby said…

    Thanks for the warning, I'm not a lover of hot spices although those prawns and the chicken do look tempting... :D

  • At 11/20/2011 1:51 pm, Blogger ameanderingmango said…

    Thanks for another great review Helen - happy to know that another Thai place has opened up! Will be checking it out shortly..

  • At 11/20/2011 8:01 pm, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    I think that restaurant sounds great. There are so many Thai restaurants that have the sameness like the Chinese restaurants of the 1970's and this one seems authentic and different. Love pandan custard.

  • At 11/21/2011 12:11 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Friend ate here just the other day and was utterly defeated by heat, numbing and tears! Oh, the tasty tasty pain haha.


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