Air Jantrakool worked under a big-name chef for 15 years; David Thompson of Sailor’s Thai. She now runs her own kitchen at restaurateur Michael Corrente’s Balmain venue, Chon.
Corrente, who also owns nearby Blue Ginger, wanted to do something more casual and focused on the cuisines of each of Thailand’s four regions.
Jantrakool’s hometown is Chiang Mai, the northern capital. Food there is less sweet, and sticky rice is eaten as the regular filler instead of the jasmine rice common further south. The signature in Chang Mai is larb. This one has texture, thanks to the pork crackling, crunchy onion bits and lettuce leaves.
From the south there’s a charred-banana-leaf package holding a soft, caramelised piece of red curry-lathered barramundi, served with southern-style coconut turmeric rice, which is sweet and herby.
The north-east or Isan uses a lot of roasted rice powder: a nutty, herby spice that’s used in a fishy sauce with barbequed beef. The central dishes are curries and noodle dishes. Chon’s green curry is fibrous, thick and packed with strands of chilli, apple eggplants and chunks of supple Wagyu beef cheeks.
The dining space’s ceiling is covered in layers of spherical white lanterns, and the room is filled with pastel-blue and cream-coloured chairs and tabletops.
BYO is Sunday to Thursday only.