The Hottest Thai Restaurant in Sydney
David Thompson's fiery Thai restaurant in Sydney ratchets up the heat. By IAN LLOYD NEUBAUER.
Published on Jan 11, 2017
CHILI-LOVING SYDNEY-SIDERS, your dreams are about to come true. The expatriate maestro of Royal Thai cuisine, Australian chef David Thompson has a new restaurant, Long Chim Sydney (dishes A$18-$43). In place of the complex flavors and fastidious presentation of Nahm—his famed restaurant in Bangkok—it serves raw, robust and at times tearfully spicy street food.
David Thompson in the open-plan kitchen. Courtesy of Long Chim Sydney.
"I've always been too precious, and obsessed in finding arcane venerable recipes to play with street food," Thompson says. "But I was ignoring a huge genre of the Thai repartee." 'Ignoring' seems a harsh self-critique; it is hard to imagine Thompson overlooking any detail of Thai cooking. He wrote the cookbook on Thai Street Food—a 100-recipe anthology published in 2009—and received critical acclaim for the first two Long Chim restaurants, in Singapore and Perth, both of which opened in 2015. So, Long Chim Sydney represents a victorious homecoming for the chef and another opportunity to take diners on a culinary journey to the gritty streets of Bangkok without passing immigration.
Set in a former storage basement in Sydney's CBD, the 190-seat restaurant features dining alcoves, communal tables and counter seats facing an open-plan kitchen. The layout, paired with track lighting and disco balls, coalesces in a strange, but effective, hybrid between a nightclub and a food court.
Long Chim Sydney set in a former storage basement in CBD. Courtesy of Long Chim Sydney.
But the real appeal lies in the menu. First-time travelers may want to play it safe with the mild Thai omelette or red curry with barramundi. Intermediate connoisseurs can try the hot-and-sour soup of leatherjacket and dried prawns in betel leaf, which ratchets up the chili dial a notch or two. Diners who can handle some serious heat should order the green papaya salad or deep-fried squid, the last dish so spicy that one customer dubbed it, "Satan in a bikini."
"I don't go out of my way to shock people with chili," Thompson says, "but I do go out of my way to be faithful to the original recipes." The fiery fidelity is more than just tongue-scorching—it is nuanced and deeply delicious. Beelzebub looks good in a two-piece.
Fish cakes at Long Chim Sydney. Courtesy of Long Chim Sydney.
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