Blogger Meet Ups, Dinner, Sydney, CBD, Thai
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I-San, Haymarket Sydney

Update : I-San is now closed and has been replaced by Thanon Khao San

Where is a group of hungry food bloggers to go on a Monday night at 9pm? While I love Sydney, it frustrates me how the city seems to shut down on weeknights leaving you wandering the streets in search of a feed. This is the situation we found ourselves in on a recent Monday night.

With the cold weather sending us all to chills we decided to go to Chat Thai, a city favourite for Thai. Unfortunately the restaurant was true to form and packed out! I guess we weren't the only ones with the same idea. Our patience and tolerance for cold only runs so far and we soon found ourselves headed for I-San, situated just around the corner.

The decor is oddly charming with its Fuschia walls and and widescreen TV Ton the wall playing Thai karaoke. Unlike Chat Thai we are seated immediately and only spot one other group in the restaurant, undeterred we ponder the menu and in the end leave it up to Billy and Helen to decide on our dishes for the night. Suze has picked up a can of Solo which will prove to be a wise decision considering our immediate future.

Sticky Rice, $3 per serving

I am amused to see that I-San seems to share the same wholesaler as Laos Village, serving up their sticky rice servings in these cute bamboo containers. Is this a Thai or Laos custom that I’ve never seen before? In either case the sticky rice is a hit with the table and seems to hit the spot more satisfying than normal Jasmine rice would. By the time we leave all of these little containers are empty.

Som Tom (Laos), Fresh green papaya salad in LAOS style $8.00

It seems a sad fact of life that while I adore the flavour of Papaya salad, my tolerance for heat remains… pathetic at best. The Papaya is wonderfully crunchy before heat and fire overtake my mouth and I find myself groping wildly for my tea all the while warning the girls around me. Karen decides to try it for herself despite admitting to an equally terrible tolerance to Chilli and moments later is doing the same dance. Suze takes the high road and wisely avoids the salad. In the end we abandon our salad to the other side of the table where it is quickly devoured.

Pad See Eew, Fried noodle with soy sauce with beef $9.50

The Pad See Eew is a hit with our end of the table, with a serving that definitely is not skimping on the meat! The noodles are slipperly and wide and go down a treat, I somehow manage to stop myself from devouring half the plate.

Khao pad pla muek, Thai fried rice with calamari and egg $13.50

The Khao pad pla muek is probably the favourite of the table as by the end of the meal we’ve ordered up 3 servings of it. The calamari is fat and plump, combined with the rich flavour of the the soy flavoured rice & egg means all of the plates are soon scraped clean.

Sai Krog, Lovely sausage "Thai I-San" style $8.00

I can’t quite pick the flavour of the Sai Krog and in the end I think the best description is that it was like the bastard child of a Chorizo and the Vietnamese Nem Nuong. That is to say, totally awesome. I can’t help but wonder why its served up with whole garlic and in the end can’t resist trying the sausage with a chunk of garlic. Surprisingly, it works really well and I’m not overwhelmed with a garlicky taste. Sadly I cannot say the same about my breath afterwards.

Jungle Curry, Spicy beef with vegetables, green peppers country style without coconut milk $11.50

The Jungle Curry was a little different to others I’ve had in the past, while still lovely and fragrant I was a bit surprised at the colour of the soup as I’ve always had Jungle Curry served in an almost clear broth. Perhaps this was because of the beef? The green beans are a welcome munch in the sea of beef.

Sai Uar

With our 3rd helping of Thai Fried Rice this unknown sausage comes out… After my experience with the salad I am wary of the sausage but venture in. My mistake! Despite a relatively deceivingly mild first bite, as the flavour spreads so does the chilli. Billy simply watches us bemused at our pain. He probably grew up eating this stuff as a baby! Edit: Thanks to Ja for naming our mystery dish!

As we leave the other group in the restaurant leaves at the same time, as if to prove that Sydney really is a small town the group turns out to be the group of thai boys who work at Wok Station, my regular lunch haunt just down the street from my Office! In the end I have no reservations recommending I-San. Our final bill is a paltry $15 each and I walk out with my firey garlic breath satisfied that this is one restaurant that hasn’t toned down its flavours to suit the western tounge.

I-San City Thai Restaurant
413 Pitt Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9211 4150


  1. ooh, i’ve walked past this place so many times, but have never really been tempted to go in. food looks good and cheap! i want to try the sausage :) will definitely give it a go next time!
    .-= Betty´s last blog ..Harry’s Cafe De Wheels =-.

  2. The bamboo container is very common for sticky rice in Thailand. Yeah, its the Laos and Thai custom (especially the north-east part of Thailand). I love the Sai Krog, Thai I-San sausage (I-San means North east part of Thailand). The unknown sausage is from the North part called “Sai Uar” (dont really know how to spell ^ ^”)

    And the fried rice with Caramari should be called “Khao pad pla muek”. “Khao pad pu” = fried rice with crab :) happy see people love Thai food 😀
    .-= Ja´s last blog ..Cafe XXII =-.

  3. Sounds like great food, and lucky you had people who enjoyed the red hot dishes. I like the idea of the garlic with the sausage. Garlic is great – you just have to make sure the people you’re spending the next few hours with eat some too :)
    .-= Arwen from Hoglet K´s last blog ..Quark Cake =-.

  4. Yeah, those bamboo steamers are used to serve the sticky rice all over Laos too. Wasn’t that fried rice smoky and great? I think i’ll have to go back!
    .-= lili – pikeletandpie´s last blog ..Quay =-.

  5. Karen: Haha the garlic breath was awesome, I felt like I could knock down buildings afterwards!

    Zuggs: It’s deadly but I just love it! If you have a decent tolerence for Chilli I definitely recommend it.

    Betty: lol it does have that little bit of a dodgy look to it doesn’t it? The sausage was great!

    foodie-central: No worries :) The Pad See Eew was ultra yummy.

    Ja: Thanks for the correction! :) I’ve fixed that up in the post now. I love knowing more about where the food I eat comes from! Is there anywhere else in Sydney you would recommend for Thai food?

    Reemski: Definitely stop over, it’s not as shiny as Chat Thai but I think it’s a bit more authentic.

    Mr Taste: Can’t beat that bill! I’m so tempted to try track down one of those containers now, they were so cute.

    Arwen: Haha yeh, they were shocked when we barely touched the salad. Glad someone could enjoy it

    lili: The fried rice was great! I think the rice and the sausage were definitely my favourites for that night. I think I’ll have to go back some time as well

  6. just curious says

    what about hygienic (ie is it open kitchen)? Anyone knows?

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