Finally, Melbourne gets a taste of David Thompson’s ribald and raucous Thai food… and it was worth the wait.
the detail. Specifically, in the chicken larp. Try ordering the headline hot act at Long Chim and you’re guaranteed a look of waiterly concern followed by an interrogation about how much heat you can really handle, quite possibly followed by an intervention. But if you can stand the heat you should order the larp, because it sums up so much of what is great about Long Chim. A lot of press around David Thompson’s street food canteens – the diffusion label to his highflying Bangkok restaurant Nahm – has focused on the chilli factor, but it’s missing the point to treat dinner here as a culinary dare. Sure, the northern Thai larp is hot, but it’s really a masterclass in the sweet-salty-sour-spicy balancing act of great Thai food: a roiling fried mass of shallots, garlic (even the skins), kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, nubbles of chicken and herbs and plenty more, duking it out in a fight to the flavour death. To have the fourth Long Chim landing in our midst – after Singapore, Sydney and Perth – is the lime juice to the pad Thai; the Sriracha to the fried school prawns. Long Chim revs the engine on Bangkok street food while raising it ten by virtue of excellent produce (hello, Australian seafood). You need to order the beef rice noodles, wok-fried until they’re screaming for mercy, with a dark, sticky soy dressing and holy basil. There’s a bowl of what is essentially a whole pig (well, its ears, feet and belly) distilled into a five-spice broth with a bouquet that goes on until next Wednesday. Get the mashed prawn curry. Its notes of ginger, galangal, shrimp paste and turmeric go together with the coconut milk base like Diana Ross and Barry Gibb. To drink, the wine list plays a strong hand in the aromatic whites and lighter reds, although stubbies of Chang beer ($10 each – no, we’re not in Phuket anymore, Toto) is the boon companion. Long Chim isn’t a bargain, and most people will have that annoying friend who claims they can get a green curry/beef skewers/laksa for half the price in Richmond/elsternwick/carnegie. And good luck to them. For our part, we’re plain thrilled that Thompson’s ridden shotgun into Crown town. crown Melbourne, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank 3006. 03 8582 3082. www.crownmelbourne.com.au. Sun-thu noon-2.30pm, 5.30-10pm; Fri, Sat noon-2.30pm & 5.30-11pm.