One door closes and another one opens.
Case in point with Korn, a spanking new Thai eatery that graces one of the main drags in Crows Nest. Why my sudden culinary migration across the bridge? Well, firstly I really ought to consider the north shore as part of my diet, and secondly, this is the incarnation of a place that shut its doors in my own neighbourhood; inviting me over to check out their new digs.
When a restaurant takes residence beneath an apartment building way off the well-trodden path of potential customers, they’re kind of up for a challenge. This was the case with Taylor Thai in Erskineville, a decent little restaurant that was failed by its location.
New name, new address and a hell of a lot more people walking past its doors. The menu seems to have evolved as well. The fit-out in Erskineville was a little stark and cold compared to the warm and rustic street-style that’s going on at Korn. And I can’t help but make decor similarities with Senyai in the CBD.
For a moment I felt like I was on some tropical island off the Thai mainland, thanks to orchids clutching the rims of our iced coffees. Curious flavour, though, like a cross between black tea and coffee. Perhaps it was a syrup of some sort.
Ordering the mieng prawn (8.9) was a given purely due to it featuring betel leaf, and we were chuffed by its presentation. In fact, it was evident that most of the food presentation had some effort applied. The trio of shot glasses is topped with a leaf harbouring a jumble of diced lime, ginger, shallot, coconut, peanut and a tiny shrimp. A real flavour explosion, especially when you dribble over some of that tamarind syrup lurking in the bottom of the glass.
The goong asparagus (18.9) felt a bit flat on the palate due to it not having those punchy Thai flavours I love so much. Prawns wok-tossed with asparagus and a little chilli sounds good in theory, but most of the flavour came from the small amount of sauce spooned onto the plate beneath the heroes of the dish.
No qualms with the salt & pepper squid (8.9); a plate that’s more main course-sized than entrée. The thinnest of slices of squid carry a good amount of crunchy and crumbly coating, with the right balance of seasoning and a little sweet chilli for the dunking.
And then there was this.
When you’ve known for a couple of decades that a certain someone has an aversion to eggplant you tend to adopt the “more for me” mind set. Not the case with the crispy eggplant (12.9). Massive chunks that are slightly crisp on the outside and at the same time a little caramelised and a touch sticky from sweet tamarind. The innards are soft and mousse-like, and together with the crisp fried basil leaves, it’s a little “When Harry met Sally” inducing.
And Sally didn’t stop there, as the banana blossom prawn salad (13.9) wasn’t far off. It’s as pretty as a picture with flavours that are packed to the Korn rafters. The tangle of sliced young banana, chilli, spring onion and coriander has a good dose of lemon chilli jam with several lightly battered and fried king prawns weighing it down. It’s one salad of champions.
Not having pork would be some kind of criminal act on my behalf. The chunks of belly may have been a tad overdone in the pad prik king crispy pork (18.9), but the flavour was spot on. Green beans, fried basil, chilli and a well-balanced sauce to help cut through all of that porcine fat.
Something that probably would have gone down better with a beer, than iced coffee, was the basket of fried taro (5.9). Nice soft crunch and very easy to wolf down; not before a little splash in the sweet chilli sauce.
The chu chee fish (16.9) was everything I expected it to be. Deliciously rich curry sauce generously spooned over an equally generous pile of battered fish. A firmer-fleshed fish would have been preferred – perhaps even salmon – but that’s just me.
Something tells me these guys will do better in their new location.
hnf & co paid two visits to Korn, the second of which was paid for personally