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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
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
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.

Long Chim Sydney
Fish cakes at Long Chim Sydney. Courtesy of Long Chim Sydney.



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A seat paired with disco balls at Long Chim Disney.
  • Fish cakes at Long Chim Sydney.
  • Long Chim's dish.
  • Long Chim's dish.
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