With the exit of one business partner, Appethai has morphed seamlessly into Soi 25 Restaurant & Bar.
Luckily for us, owner Tony Bao Q Doan still believes in the site, notable as being the former digs of Sydney Thai heavyweight, Sujet Saenkham, and his game-changing restaurant, Spice I Am.
With a name drawn from the Thai word for street, and a 25 for the day of the month Doan and his wife were married last year, the sumptuous golden-hued restaurant has kept the beautiful interior fitout Doan did for the short-lived Appethai.
The menu, in the hands of a kitchen team lead by Ken Pongsakorn (ex-Long Chim), has had an update; with the promise of even more modern Thai dishes on the way.
What currently sets Soi 25 apart from the six other Thai restaurants within a two-minute walk of its premises, is their Massaman Lamb Curry ($28). Like all Pongsakorn’s dishes, it’s made using a curry paste made from scratch daily, and it shows in the rich, spice-heavy, aromatic gravy.
While the centrepiece is obviously the four, high quality lamb cutlets, cooked on the bone sous vide to ensure you get tenderness and flavour, it’s the sauce that will keep your spoon returning. In a nod to Western dining sensibilities, the curry is garnished with a spoonful of mash for an alternative sauce delivery method to the Steamed Jasmine Rice ($3).
We enjoy it with the 2017 Clarence House Chardonnay ($19/glass) from Tasmania, which is lovely by itself with buttery richness, but not the best cuisine match for the range of dishes we selected. With grapefruit and pear making it taste almost uncharacteristically sweet, it’s the 2011 Bella Ridge Chenin Blanc ($16/glass) that goes gangbusters with our Hokkaido Seared Chilli Scallops ($15). Presented like a wreath floating on water, the scallops are interspersed with juicy pink ‘melon balls and adorned with crisp fish skin and black caviar. The greenish lake has a lovely green chilli bite with balancing fish sauce that dries up the chenin blanc I initially found too sweet.
Soft, pliable green Betel Leaves ($13/4) show Pongsakorn’s eye for quality produce. They’re topped with pungent dried prawn offset with sticky herbal palm sugar caramel, black caviar and finger lime to keep it from being too sweet, and all too easy to fold into your mouth in rapid succession.
While I enjoyed Appethai’s Wagyu Beef ($35), the Soi 25 version is even more refined. Tenderly handled MBS 7+ wagyu beef is grilled and fanned out to show off its pink interior against a crisp green salad and a tamarind green chilli dressing. It’s a good exemplar of the more mature flavours that this restaurant puts out, that sets it apart from its Thai neighbours.
We end on two bursts of Sydney’s impending summer – a Pandan Fusion mocktail that looks sweet but has a faintly floral roundness that I wasn’t expecting, and a Royal Tapioca Ball ($17) dessert.
Using more of those juicy pink watermelon balls set over an icy butterfly pea flower granita, this dessert is a textural playground with chewy red water chestnuts, fresh coconut and grass jelly balanced with lime syrup. What’s even better, in Pongsakorn’s capable hands, Soi 25’s creative dishes never lose sight of their Thai origins.
Soi 25 Thai Restaurant & Bar
296-300 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst
Ph: (02) 9368 1620