Khaosan Road in Sydney’s Haymarket.
One name sums up Sydney’s Thainatown. Aroy ma? Noodlies, Sydney food blog takes a look.
Thanon Khaosan Thai tries to emulate the carefree excitement of Thailand’s most famous backpacker area with street food dessert stall, mixed wood panels, a feature wall of Thai number plates and of course, a tuk tuk. That kinda makes sense given it’s location in Thainatown, a mini Khaosan Road in Sydney’s Haymarket.
It’s the dessert cart that’s most successful in evoking Thailand; colourful exotic desserts in a street food environment. Not surprisingly it’s a main feature of the eatery, managing to outshine the parked tuk tuk next to it.
There’s so much to choose from but of course all your fav Thai desserts are there. Sticky rice mango with coconut cream is a big seller, sweet and sticky with tropical fruit zing – what could be more evocative of the land of smiles than that?
The green coloured tapioca mixed with mini chunks of water chestnut and corn is worth a try for the texture alone. It helps that the topping is a thick layer of coconut cream. Maybe, maybe it looks challenging but think of it as a fun, holiday experience when you try something exotic.
Be warned, the dessert cart has now separated from the restaurant itself. You’ll need to buy the desserts separately, and while you can eat at the table, you’ll need to use the plastic utensils that come with it.
Inside, Thanon Khaosan transports you to south-eat Asia, helped by subdued lighting plus a cavernous interior. Everything works remarkably well, except for the suspended bamboo bird cages. It might have been novel a few years ago. In 2015, it’s just tired and clichéd.
As you expect, the staff are polite and friendly, conjuring the “land of smiles” experience. It doesn’t take long for them to take your order via a smart device. But tonight at least, the food takes time to come even though it’s only 6.30pm and the place isn’t at capacity yet.
First to arrive, and my favourite dish of the night, is the lab moo. For a change we’re going pork instead of chicken and it pays off. The meat has more presence than chicken and there’s plenty of sour zest to counter balance. I’m also loving the liver hiding underneath, not minced, and just delicious. I could have eaten a double serve.
Tonight our kho moo yang (grilled chicken) is under done, the outer not charred resulting in a wet texture and wimpy taste which no amount of the moreish tamarind sauce could remedy. It’s a shame especially after such a winning start.
There’s a short delay before our huge hot pot tom yum goong arrives looking sensational, lots of bouncy mushroom, mouth-watering colour, immediately reminding me of the coconut rich execution at our favourite street stall in Silom. In the mouth it lacks a lemongrass hit which helps to cut the coconut and sour, allowing you to sip more. Perfectly good, and decent, but not enough to excite.
Which is all a bit of a shame. The funky decor promised much, but it’s a mixed bag including patchy food and service. The separate dessert stall arrangement doesn’t help either.
Thanon Khaosan could have been a once-a-week Thai mistress, instead, this one is a twice yearly affair.
Thanon Khaosan Thai
413 Pitt St, Haymarket, NSW
(02) 9211 1194