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Kaosarn Review

Lizzie Mabbott likes it hot

Written by . Published on July 28th 2011.


Kaosarn Review

THAI food is notoriously shit in London. A spate of Thai Squares have popped up all over the place, serving sweetened, gloopy curries that don’t even tingle the tastebuds, so westernised that a Thai person wouldn’t even recognise it. I generalise, but many others are similar; excepting a couple of places dotted here and there, I just don’t bother any more. 

I eagerly had a taste and again, was disappointed that it wasn’t bum-twitchingly spicy. Not even a nose-running heat. 

Those of us with chilli-battled appetites crave that searing heat, the nose-running holy-shit-my-head’s-on-fire kind of sensation that at once is masochistic and addictive. So it was of some excitement when I read that the recently opened Kaosarn in Brixton Village was authentic, none of this dumbing down the heat for the farang. Brixton Village is a relative newcomer; an arcade of shops, restaurants and cafés. On our visit, the weather was nice enough to sit outside in the courtyard. Across from us outside another café, a huge kettle-drum was smoking lazily, wafts of jerk chicken scenting the breeze.

Tom yum goongTom yum goong

We decided on tom yum goong (£4.90), which came with a healthy amount of mushrooms bobbing around in the well-balanced hot and sour broth. Five, meaty prawns satisfied us nicely and there was an intense hit of lemongrass and lime leaves. Moo ping (£4.90), which are pork skewers, were juicy and tender, liberally flavoured with charcoal with a chilli dipping sauce that was heavy on the lime and fish sauce. Incredibly moreish, these would be an awesome beer snack.

Porkskewers Moo PingPorkskewers Moo Ping

Onto the mains and our food arrived somewhat erratically. Fried fish with chilli and crispy Thai basil (£7.90) was actually battered and deep-fried. Served with rice, the batter became rather too much and after the first bite, the batter casing was broken open for the soft, delicate and perfectly cooked fish to be extracted. The sauce flavoured the rice and we ate it greedily. Laab salad consisted of minced, chopped chicken with toasted ground rice (£6.90). Heavy on the mint and coriander, it was surprisingly tame. Other versions I’ve had of this Northern Thai dish have been face-meltingly spicy.

Fried fish with crispy basilFried fish with crispy basil

Finally, our grilled chicken with sticky rice and Som Tam (a green papaya salad, £11.90) arrived. It jumped out of the menu at us for its proclamation that it is the ultimate Bangkok dish, as well as being served with Som Tam, a favourite of mine. Traditionally, the shredded green papaya is pounded in a mortar and pestle with chilies, lime and fish sauce; I eagerly had a taste and again, was disappointed that it wasn’t bum-twitchingly spicy. Not even a nose-running heat. 

Grilled chicken sticky rice som tamGrilled chicken sticky rice som tam

The chicken, however, was grilled so that it was really tender and falling off the bone. The chili sauce from the pork kebabs made a re-appearance and sauced the chicken well. Sticky rice was served how I’ve had it in roadside stalls in Bangkok, arriving in a small clear plastic bag.

LaabLaab

We had more than enough food for the two of us, so for £45 in total, it was quite bargain-ous. I’m not sure what it would be like if we’d sat inside, but the staff looked somewhat harried and we were neglected a couple of times and in the end I just went in to ask for our missing salad ourselves. The food was rather a mixed bag; the fish dish wasn’t really to our taste, but the chicken was excellent. I’ll return to try out a curry, but ramp up the heat and they’d have an addict in me.

Rating:       12/20

Breakdown:  6/10 food
                   3/5 service
                   3/5 ambience

 

Kaosarn
Village Market, Granville Arcade
London, SW9 8PR

 

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Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: We get carried away.

 

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AnonymousAugust 3rd 2011.

Does the squash racket come with the fried fish?

AnonymousAugust 4th 2011.

Yeah this place got 'Jay Raynerised' and now all the food blogger bores are heading there in droves and finding it ain't all that.

However - Brixton Village is really interesting and has some welcome and intriguing food options, this Thai place among them.

It's easy to forget a few years ago there was eff all there.

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