It’s a Wednesday night in Crows Nest, and there’s a steady stream of couples, families and singles coming in to Korn Home Thai for a well-earned hump day meal.
As its name suggests, the restaurant is all about creating a homely place to enjoy some authentic Thai favourites. Set on Willoughby Road (and within a green papaya's throw to another 4 Thai restaurants slinging pad thai and choo chee curries), Korn is unpretentious and has a real ‘locals’ feel to it. The décor is simple, with the plain wooden tables subtle touches on the wall (like the exposed copper pipe and colonial-style decorations) lending a casual, almost hawker-like air to the restaurant; and there's the heart-warming sound of woks sizzling and utensils banging from the kitchen.
While the decor might have you feeling like you stepped into someone's house in the back streets of outer Bangkok, the menu at Korn isn’t just an ode to homestyle cooking. Of course, there are the classic stir fried noodle dishes, an array of curries, and staples such as Tom Yum and Banana Blossom Salad; but there are also some more modern interpretations of Thai cuisine, such as the Smokey Eggplant with Sea Scallops and the Smooth Flavoured Soft Shell Crab.
But first, drinks. And being a balmy November evening, a couple of fresh coconuts are in order. These are full to the brim with sweet coconut juice; and as always, so easy to finish off in a couple of mouthfuls - so I make sure to pace myself.
I'm tempted to kick off the meal with the Fried Chicken Wings (I mean, who doesn't like chicken wings), but I'm curious to see what the Thai Beef Jerky ($9.90) is like.
As it arrives, I notice that the pieces of beef are quite generous - about the thickness and length of the ‘stir-fry strips’ you see in the meat section of the supermarket. To my surprise, the beef is incredibly tender, while the edges of the meat have the feeling of a good chewy jerky - most likely from being finished off in the deep fryer, and I suspect they've been air dried in the cool room as well. Served with some roasted cashews and crispy kaffir lime leaves, it’s the perfect way to get our bellies hungry for more (and admittedly, has me craving a beer...).
For our source of carbs for the night, we decide on the the Pineapple Fried Rice ($18.90). Now, I have to confess - I've never actually had pineapple fried rice before (yes, it feels like the equivalent of ordering a ham and pineapple pizza in an traditional pizzeria) - but it comes highly recommended from the waitress as one of their specialties, so it's hard to say no after that.
The dish is well-presented in a hollowed-out pineapple, with at least 8 well-sized butterflied prawns, roasted cashews, and diced vegetables. The pineapple... wait for it... actually complements the dish quite well, and isn't too sweet or juicy; and the overall flavours are a little more complex than a ‘regular’ fried rice, with a hint of acidity, and a solid char on the rice courtesy of the wok. Would I have it again? Yep.
Next up is the Crispy Eggplant ($17.90), with Korn Thai’s signature chilli jam. The eggplant is coated in an impressively-thin (and almost non-existent) batter, which provides a terrific crunch, and contrasts with the soft, pillowy flesh within. The house-made chilli jam is on the sweeter side, so we add some of the slices of long red chilli to add a bit of a kick.
Now, if you luv-a-duck™ and are tired of ordering the same old red curry duck whenever you go out for Thai, you've gotta give the Crispy Basil Duck ($22.90) a try. It arrives glistening with a sweet and spicy chilli glaze, and topped with a generous handful of crispy basil. The batter – presumably the same one as on the eggplant (hmm… a double gym session might be in order tomorrow) – is still crunchy after being on the table for 20 minutes. What is this wizardry?
The best bit? You guessed it – discovering that the piece you're eating has a big strip of crispy skin on the end. Flavour to the max. 👍 👍 👍
As for dessert? Miss T goes for a scoop of the Thai Milk Tea ice cream (there’s also Pandan, Mango and Coconut available), which I know she’s loving because she’s stopped paying attention to the story I’m telling – but for me, it’s back to my coconut and the silky, jelly-like flesh lining the inside of the shell.
After all, it’s still 24 degrees outside, and this might just be the thing that helps me survive my first Sydney summer.
I dined as a guest of Korn Home Thai; however, all opinions are my own.