Time Out Sydney

Authentic southern Thai cuisine hits Haymarket

The more you learn, they say, the less you know. Take Thai restaurants in Sydney: just when we were getting a handle on the growth of Isaan food, from Thailand's northeast, along comes Caysorn, possibly the first place in town specialising in the cuisine of the southern part of the country. What's more, food fans, if this any indication of things to come, then we have plenty to look forward to.

It's a part of the world known for its heat, and if that's what you're after you won't be disappointed with Caysorn's menu. Kanom jeen - a vermicelli-like noodle made, traditionally, with pounded fermented rice - is offered in several versions (including lime leaf-fragrant nam ya fish curries with and without coconut milk and a green chicken curry with eggplant and bamboo). There's a self-serve station stocked with beansprouts, pickles, chopped snake beans and Thai basil. The house special is kanom jeen tai pla, the noodles sauced with a dark, complex salted fish curry that fairly seethes with chilli. It's seriously effin' hot, but there's more chilli on offer at the salad bar for the true masochists.
Nam priks are also a focus. In his authoritative Thai Food, Sydney scholar-chef David Thompson notes that these mortar and pestle-pounded are the most ancient style of Thai dish, and “are always accompanied by kreaung kiam (side dishes), ranging from a simple plate of raw vegetables to an omelette or deep-fried pork”. So it is here, with the classic nam prik gapi - squares of omelette filled with cha om, an acacia used as a savoury green, while the pairing with the tamarind-based nam prik makaam is vegetables.
It's not all incendiary stuff. The room, for one thing, is more on the tepid side. The light fittings are festive, chef Phanhip Sriswan's dux certificate for Superior Cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu is framed on one wall, and the shopworn Chinatown mall location is thrillingly obscure, but that's about it.
This is not to say the food that isn’t hot isn’t worth the effort. Quite the opposite. Pad gapi sator makes a feature of the sator, an almond-shaped bean usually seen in Sydney in Malaysian restaurants, sold as petai, or its rather more colourful (but accurate) name of stinkbean. At Caysorn it brings contrasts of taste and texture to prawns and pork stir-fried with shrimp paste.
Kao yum is perhaps the most interesting and unusual of the signatures. The words mean more-or-less “rice salad”: there’s the rice mounded in the middle of the plate, surrounded by little piles of exquisitely finely shredded basil, roasted coconut, beansprouts, dried shrimp floss and dried chilli. There’s a bowl of dark, sweet-hot sauce to the side, and you can customise it, mixing as you go, until you reach that Thai ideal of a dish of many flavours and tastes, all playing off another in perfect balance.
Caysorn’s best dish, though, is another of the fiery numbers. It's a gang ped of pork rib in which the meaty ribs are bathed in an strong, coconut milk-free curry that gives you a jab of pure kaffir lime-leaf intensity, and, just as you’re about to come to, follows up with a chilli haymaker. It’s a KO you’ll savour – at least, once you come back down to earth and regain your sense of smell and taste. You might want to follow this with a little toast and kaya – sweet coconut and egg jam – the perfect salve for a deep chilli burn.
With both unusual dishes, a perspective that’s so far unique in Sydney, and clear evidence of care and skill in the kitchen, Caysorn makes a winning new addition to the city’s Thai scene. Feel the burn, people.

Who won the Sydney Food Awards?

First published on . Updated on .

By Corbin Dallas   |  

Caysorn Thai details

Address
Shop 106-108a, Lvl 1, 8 Quay St , Haymarket 2000

Telephone 02 9211 5749

Price per person including drinks up to $50.00

Open Mon-Sun 11am-11pm

Caysorn Thai website

Book now
Caysorn ThaiBookings by Dimmi

Caysorn Thai map

Report a problem with this page

Restaurants and bars nearby

Kopitiam

122m - It's a tiny, blink-and-you'll-miss-it type cafe on screaming loud Harris...

Mecca - Ultimo

140m - When you think filter coffee, it's hard to not think of the classic American...

ATL Maranatha

357m - Imagine how much easier things would be if you could eat fried chicken,...

The Bear

360m - Take a walk down dark and dodgy Thomas Lane and look for the flashing...

More restaurants and bars nearby

Other venues nearby

Boxing Works

61m - Located in the centre of Sydney, Boxing Works is one of the only gyms that...

Foundry 616

89m - The man behind this brand-new jazz venue in Ultimo is Peter Rechniewski, the...

More venues nearby

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus