David Thompson is one of the few celebrity chefs you can easily agree is better than everyone else. At Long Chim Sydney, Thompson gives us Thai cuisine that feels authentic to the look, feel and taste of Thai street food, delivered by an enthusiastic and warm Thai floor team who seem proud to be presenting dishes that accurately reflect what people eat in Thailand.
Popping back to the blue-lit, industrial dining room with windows that look out onto Recital Hall in Angel Place, reminded me what a loss Thompson’s former restaurants - Darley Street Thai and Sailors Thai - actually were. Luckily though he’s gifted us with Long Chim, which even on the accessible Maa Long Chim ($68/head) nine dish journey, eats like the benchmark for Sydney's Thai cuisine.
Sriracha and fried shallot-topped Sydney rock oysters accentuated with a squeeze of lime help to get your palate in the mood for greatness.
If you opt for the inexpensive trio of Matching Wines ($30/person), you’ll find these spicy bivalves well-matched to the 2018 Leeuwin Estate ‘Art Series’ Riesling ($16/glass). Otherwise there are thematic cocktails, like the Muay Thai Mai Tai ($19), which drinks like a gentle blend of lime, coconut water, mezcal and tequila, rather than dark and light rum (which would be more faithful to the original). Mandarin and lemongrass give the Long Chim Negroni ($19) a hint of the exotic, but it’s not particularly friendly with the dishes, so drink it fast, the kitchen here is very efficient.
Crunchy Whitebait ($14) punch flavour with fresh herbs, dried chillies and crisp little fishes that have an almost anchovy-like intensity.
Glistening with dark soy, Chive Cakes ($5/each) have a chewy texture and a nice, garlicky hit.
While you may have a temptation to pass up the ubiquitous Chicken Satay ($5/each) they are the perfect vehicle to highlight the difference between Thompson’s Thai dishes and the ones put out by everyone else. Coal fire gives the juicy bird good complexity against a clever sour chilli sauce.
Saucing across the meal feels very real, tasting like it’s been freshly made moments before you eat it. Grilled Beef ($42) takes premium 100-day grain fed beef served charred with a perfect pink interior and teams it with a smoky tomato sauce bursting with chunky aromatics.
We are moved onto the 2016 Ashton Hills Pinot Noir ($19/glass) just in time for the Duck Larp ($25) - and it’s a cracking match with the savoury, ripe cherry notes of this enjoyable pinot noir. The duck salad, dusted in roasted rice powder, is another triumph, with moist mince and a round savoury flavour that lets the sweetness of the raw cabbage wrapping leaves shine.
Filled with ling fillets, the sour orange curry is savoury with a tannic, tea-like depth. Against plain boiled rice, it bursts with freshness and flavour in the same way Thai food used to before the wave of generic, pre-made, one-size-fits-all-proteins sauces ruined everything.
We enjoy it with Siamese Watercress ($16) that shows some Chinese influence in the perfectly wilted greens against nutty yellow beans and tenderly handled garlic.
The set menu finishes on Black Sticky Rice ($14) under a coconut cream topper with shards of burnt coconut candy and a matching glass of dessert wine. The rice slice is a bit gluggy, but with a booze and food bill coming in under a hundred bucks apiece, and a belly full of great tasting Thai food, it’s hard to not to leave invigorated by the evening and reinspired by Thai cuisine.
NOTE: You can see a previous visit to this venue HERE.
Long Chim Sydney
Corner Pitt Street & Angel Place, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9223 7999