This second branch of the family-run KaoSarn Thai restaurant in Brixton Village Market takes the street market vibe of the original and attempts to transplant it into a high street restaurant. Not suprisingly, this isn’t a complete success; part of the charm of the original was its seemingly improvised setting, complete with tables in the walkway of the old covered market. However, the charm of the staff remains the same, and goes some way to explaining the queue of people waiting for a table on our visit.
Like the first branch, KaoSarn Battersea is also BYO alcohol, which helps keep the bill down and is another factor in its success. The menu has expanded partly as a result of a better kitchen, with gas rings; in Brixton they’re working in an all-electric kitchen, which is far from ideal when cooking Thai dishes.
New additions include khao soi, a Burmese and northern Thai dish of egg noodles in a coconut and chicken soup, spiced like a yellow curry, which tasted – in a good way – mild and creamy with a simple spice mixture.
Another new dish is best described as ‘number 33’ – a whole sea bass deep-fried then laced with a mixture of hot and sweet, salty and sour red onion and papaya that went well with some palliative coconut rice.
The classic dishes that KaoSarn is known for are still done well. The grilled half chicken with sticky rice and som tam (a spicy papaya salad) gives a pleasing mix of textures and tastes, with piquant details such as the chilli dip; chopped and tempered in oil, with a bit of salt and sugar added.
Not quite as ‘scene’ as Brixton, then – but the simple Thai dishes and BYO policy is a big enough draw.