We are a Thai eating city. From salads to curries to grills, here's the best Bangkok for your buck
Caysorn specialises in southern Thai cuisine - a part of the world known for its heat. Kanom jeen - a vermicelli-like noodle made, traditionally, with pounded fermented rice - is offered in several versions but the house special is kanom jeen tai pla, noodles sauced with a dark, complex salted fish curry that fairly seethes with chilli. Haymarket.
The Westfield venue is the flashest of the lot. Order the pad Thai luxed up with roasted-and-boned duck with its very own condiment set. This is the Prada of pad Thais right here: all silky noodles, tamarind, duck and green onion. Old favourites are executed with precision here, flavours are sharp and seasoning is bang on. Sydney.
The menu here is easy to penetrate: start with crisp hunks of pork belly with greens, or super-hot-and-sour prawn soup. Move on to some soft, glutenous dumplings filled with fine shreds of garlic chives, or some grilled Isaan-style sausage, packed with chilli and served with peanuts, raw ginger and dried chillies. Sydney.
It's the same team from Spice I Am, only offering the street food of northeast Thailand. That means plenty of salads, grills and fermented, dried and sour gear. They also do the hottest salad we've eaten in Sydney. Surry Hills.
Let's Eat is the rare Siamese outsider in the very Vietnamese neighbourhood of Illawarra Road. Order the Tar Zan in the Jungle. Putting the name to one side, it's as rich in herbs and eggplant (both apple and pea varietals) and as pungent as any jungle curry, but deploys those flavours not in a wet dish but in a stir-fry of prawns - a must-eat menu item. Marrickville.
As much as we love the downstairs bar, the restaurant up top is a destination in-and-of-itself. Pork hock falls apart in sweet striations and a dry red curry of squid teased with pork crackling is the reason Longers still packs 'em into the 100-year-old warehouse. Surry Hills.
House and Spice I Am may only be a two-step away, but neither one offers a comfortable dining room like Muum Maam does. There's some genuinely tasty gear on offer. Their version of crisp pork belly with Chinese broccoli is a winner and the red curry of beef with crisp noodles is a rich mess of potato, meat and sweet curried coconut cream. Surry Hills.
Get there early for a seat or head up to the Hollywood/Tio's/the Wild Rover for a drink while you wait (they'll take your name and number if they don't have a table straight away). Our favourite here is the kan nom jeen - fermented rice noodles with fish curry sauce and pickles. And if they have dessert on, get it - they do the best mango and sticky rice this side of Thailand. Surry Hills.
Among the selection of snacky-type things, there's not merely salt-and-pepper squid, but a whole S-and-P menu, covering tofu, squid, prawns and soft-shell crab. Among the more interesting smaller things are the tod mun, the trad fish cakes leavened here with a healthy addition of minced pork. The hoi joh are also impressive - minced crab and, yes, pork, wrapped in beancurd skin and deep-fried. Haymarket.
Also see Best Thai Restaurants for a date.
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