What perfect timing for Chef David Thompson, expert in all things Thai cuisine, to make his triumphant return to Sydney.
In recent times a growing number of authentic Thai eateries have sprung up across town. Think Boon Cafe, Caysorn, Yok Yor Thai Food Factory in the city and even Chon in Balmain which opened last year. Thankfully they are taking on the dumbing down and over-Sweet-Chilli’ing of Suburban Thai food (that's been the depressing order of the day for so long) and winning.
Chef Thompson, who left Sydney 15 years ago must have known how hungry we were for more,
I have fond memories of dining at Chef Thompson's Darley Street Thai and Sailor's Thai before he left Australia for London. Having been the world's first Thai restaurateur to earn a Michelin Star with Nahm when he was in London, Thompson then moved to Bangkok where the Bangkok version has won countless accolades.
I had the pleasure of eating at Nahm, Bangkok 4 years ago, where some of the dishes were so hot the waitress warned me in advance and I sensibly changed my order on her advice. But it was a truly memorable dining experience.
Following the success of Long Chim in Singapore and Perth recently. David Thompson opened the temple to some of his favourite Thai Street Food in Angel Place, central Sydney in August this year. Long Chim translates as "come and taste"and I couldn't wait to do so.
Sydney's Long Chim is a casual set up in a large industrial style space with an open kitchen allowing the diners to watch the talented chefs at work. Front of house service is impeccable, warm and welcoming. They accept, in fact, positively encourage walk ins. There was no table available when we arrived but after a quick drink nearby we were called to say our table was ready in exactly the amount of time we were given as an estimate.
Perhaps the best part of the Long Chim experience is that you don't feel you're in the restaurant of one of the world's best chefs; there's no pretention or snobbery here. You just come away with the feeling that you've been fortunate enough to enjoy some of the finest food by one of the world's best chefs.
The menu is split into 4 sections: Entrees, Dishes for one, Dishes to Share and Desserts. Keeping to Thai tradition we opted to share each dish. Could have chosen any of the dishes on the menu but for those we left behind we now have many reasons to return.
Beginning our Long Chim experience were two retro style cocktails with their own Thai twist. Bangkok Painkiller was a variation on a Pina Colada but with the tang of mandarin sherbet and Mig 21 was a variation on An Old Fashioned with a hint of absinthe.
And then came a surprisingly Ped Mak Mak (translates as very spicy) entrée; Dried Prawns and Toasted Coconut in Betel Leaves, mouth burningly good. Make no mistake - Long Chim will take no prisoners in the chili department. If you can't stand the heat literally stay away from this kitchen.
Second entrée of Chive Cakes gave a cooling relief to our burning tongues. Incredibly moorish and our top dish of the night. Dumplings were filled with tangy chives and bathed in a Dark Soy, Garlic and Chilli sauce.
For our main dishes to share we opted for the Charred Rice Noodles with Pork and Yellow Beans – a smoky modern take on the popular Pad See Ew.
Alongside the Noodle dish we chose a tangy Mashed Prawn Curry with Coconut and Turrmeric, the restaurant’s unofficial signature dish. Loved this very original dish and would say its a must try when you go to Long Chim. It's not too hot, similar to a yellow curry and a clever alternative to a Prawn Curry for those who, like me, are a bit over big prawns floating around in curry sauce. Also good to know that the coconut cream in Long Chim's curries is made in house.
Choosing the final dish was a no brainer - Stir Fried Thai Watercress in Garlic and Yellow Beans. This was very similar to Fried Morning Glory. a side dish I eat pretty much on a daily basis when I'm travelling in Thailand. Not easy to find on menus In Australian Thai restaurants so I was happy to find it at Long Chim. We were also given a plate of crispy iceberg lettuce at this point to 'recalibrate' our tastebuds.
Fully satiated by our entrees and mains we were faced with the usual dilemma of whether to be gluttons and order dessert. Of course we had to take one for the team and tried the Coconut Cake, a sticky and sweet delight with grated coconut on top. If you love coconut you'll enjoy this dish. If you don't...not so much!
Our meal including cocktails and beers came to $254. In Sydney terms, this is, and I can't believe I'm saying this, good value considering the calibre of the chef/owner. The week earlier we'd eaten at another newly opened eatery by a renowned Australian TV chef who'll remain nameless here. That meal cost more than double and I can't recollect what we ate and won't be returning in a hurry. Long Chim, though not exactly street food prices, was a delectable dining experience with some true Thai flavours that are just so hard to find in Sydney. Go whilst it's still possible to nab a table.
Chef David Thompson - Welcome Back and all Hail to the Returning King of Thai Cuisine.
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