thai esarn – bayswater

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I’ve been asked a few times before: "Where’s the best Thai food in Perth?" And my honest answer used to be: "Bangkok."

There are a too few good, or even, passable Thai eateries in Perth – the food is usually too rich (too much coconut cream), not fragrant enough (tastes like it came from a jar) or overly sweet or salty (heavy handed with the MSG), hence rendering the memories of food enjoyed in the Land of Smiles disappointingly further out of reach.

Thai cuisine is intricate – its seasoning teeters on sweet, salty, sour and hot. Interesting textures with flavours that zing up your nose and into your stomach. Maybe so hot it goes in hot, comes out hotter. And we found something very, very close to this at Thai Esarn.

Mum and I had been to Thai Esarn maybe, three years ago (pre-blog days) and liked it. Back then, it was a bit awkward and the food a bit limp, but still amazingly good.

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Being the only table for a long time, we were left in peace to suffer our delightfully spicy dinner. Thai food isn’t good when it’s not spicy and this especially applies to Som Tum (paw paw salad). The innocuous. unripe green pawpaw is shredded and bruised in a large mortar and pestle with fish sauce, hot (hot!) chillis, dried shrimp, garlic and dressed with crushed peanuts.

The salad was ordered ‘medium’ spicy, yet it was quite hot! But I couldn’t imagine it any different – this is how it’s supposed to be – hot, crunchy, pungent and acidic. Fabulous. I can’t imagine what ‘hot’ is like, probably unbearable, so if you are not a chilli masochist, go easy.

 

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The Panang chicken curry was very good – fragrant with slivers of kaffir lime leaf sprinkled over just before serving. The curry was refreshingly not too rich, with a clean taste, letting the galangal and lemongrass flavours shine through.

As a bit of an experiment we ordered the Nham Krook Kao, a traditional Esarn (north east Thailand) dish of marinated rice which is deep fried until crispy, with lashings of pork rind, lime juice, spring onions and roasted chilli.

Crunchy, yielding textures with the sharpness of lime, steadily rising heat of chilli and the slipperiness of pork was complex and more-ish, with each ingredient at the peak of freshness. The cook’s skill is evident in this fantastic hash of rice and aromatics. A must eat.

 

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We spoke to the owner about this dish and he confirmed that Nham Krrok Kao was a rare dish – possibly the only such one offered in Perth. Even though Esarn food is found in bits and blobs in most Thai restaurants, I’d suggest to skip right to the specialties page at Thai Esarn because you’ll probably find something fragrant, textural and special.

The restaurant’s unexpected location in Bayswater translates to few dine-in customers. (Though the interior is quite nice – trimmed with beautiful purple and gold elephant table cloths and an antique armoir.) Instead, they do a roaring trade in takeaways, with a steady stream of locals coming and going.

Looking back at our last experience, the food has (unbelievably) gotten better. I suspect it’s a bit of a local secret!

I was a bit hesitant in writing this review, because now the secret’s out. Who knew there’d be great Thai food in Bayswater…

Now, whenever we go to Thailand, I don’t have to come home with a hole in my stomach from excessive chilli and spice. I can come here and gorge instead.

 

 

Up’s: Great, authentic Thai food – specialising in little found Esarn (Isaan) food. Very reasonable prices and friendly service.
Down’s: Order mild if you can’t bear chilli.

Food: 4/5
Value: 4/5
Service: 4.5/5
Atmosphere: 4/5

Thai Esarn Restaurant
1/5 Beechboro Rd cnr Drake St, Bayswater WA 6053
T: (08) 9272 9189

Sun – Thu 5pm – 9.30pm
Fri – Sat 5pm – 10pm

 

-M

Thai Esarn Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

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  1. Chris

    Right around the corner! Must give this a go sometime. :)

  2. Jess

    Sounds delicious! Seeing as it’s virtually around the corner, I’ll definitely have to try it. :)

  3. mei

    Chris & Jess – Haha both of you said almost the same thing… Must be sibling love. :)

  4. Emma

    You are right, this place is a gem! The Nham Krook Kao is amazing and I love a Thai that has sticky rice on the menu.

    Definitely a great find and we will be back for more very soon.

    Thanks for a great blog as well, love reading it and seeing the latest finds!

  5. mei

    Emma – Hi Emma! I love sticky rice too! So glad you like Thai Esarn. Apparently they have ‘off the menu’ dishes for the more adventurous diners… Wish I could find more gems like this one to share on the blog – thank you for reading.

  6. Emma

    Hi Mei – An “off the menu” menu – that is awesome. Going back ASAP!!! Since moving from Sydney I have been missing good authentic food.

    Love your blog, and the places you go. Please find a new gem for me soon. Will let you know if I do too :)

    P.S And you like Larner’s – they are my cousins! Great oysters

  7. mei

    Emma – You have a supply of fresh oysters!? Jealous! New gems, unfortunately in Perth, they are too few and far between! Will advise as soon as I find another. :D There’s a few new Thai places in Perth, each reportedly having authentic (even Sydney style) thai food. Let me know if you try any. ;) Thanks for dropping in again.

  8. Richard

    As a regular to Thai Esarn since they opened i totally agree with this review, Nam Krook Khao is my favourite dish closely followed by Nam Tok and i order it hot!!

  9. mei

    Richard – Hello Richard! Seems word has gotten out about Thai Esarn, it’s quite busy even on Sunday nights. Thanks for the tip – Nam Tok is definitely on the table next time. :)

  10. Lachlan

    Hi Mei. Emma is a friend of mine and took me here.
    Awesome stuff. My wife is going with a girlfriend tonight, and is bringing take away back. Bliss.

    Really the closest to good Sydney Thai I’ve come across.

  11. mei

    Lachlan – Hello there! I’m so glad you like this restaurant. I was recently told the food has changed somewhat and your comment has reassured me everything is still yummy. Thanks for dropping by and happy eating. :D

  12. Josie

    I know this review is a bajillion years old in internet years, but I never did get around to commenting. My husband and I moved to Bayswater around the same time as you wrote this, and it convinced us to try Thai Esarn, and particularly the Nam Krook Khao. We’ve been kind of obsessed ever since. Thank you.

  13. mei

    Josie – Hi Josie, my pleasure – glad you still love Thai Esarn! I’m quite keen to try the more adventurous dishes there (I think there’s one with marinated raw prawns?) – have you tried any? This reminds me, we haven’t been back in awhile…. hmmmm :D :D


 
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