Joe Kitsana might be the hardest-working man in Sydney hospitality. He’s been on the scene for more than 20 years, notably at David Thompson’s Longrain, where he worked from its opening in 1999 until 2006.

In June 2016, he took over the lease of a tiny Darlinghurst cafe and eventually turned it into a Thai restaurant that he ran entirely on his own. Front of house, waiter, dishwasher, head chef: it’s all Joe. On paper it doesn’t make sense. But Kitsana pulls it off with astonishing grace.

He’s since moved up the road to a bigger space, where you’ll find all the dishes that made the original such a hit. A starter of chunky Hanoi-style crispy chicken spring rolls served with punchy nuoc cham and fresh herbs is a must, as are the dumplings swimming in a chilli, ginger and soy sauce.

Kitsana has also brought back old favourites of stir-fried and slow-braised pork hock, and a crispy lemon chicken. Then there’s the unmistakable decor – charming floral enamel plates that match the ones on the tables.

To drink, there’s a small offering of spirits and Singha beer, but Joe’s place is also BYO – he’ll keep your riesling cold in the fridge for you.

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Updated: July 9th, 2024

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