Update : I-San is now closed and has been replaced by Thanon Khao San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