Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sailor's Thai

I've always wanted to try this place, ever since I purchased the
Thai Food book by David Thompson, the founder of the restaurant. Plus, it was rated one hat by the smh good food guide. The book is so gorgeous, bound in hot pink silk with two ribbon bookmarks (useful!), but I found it so dense with information and complicated recipes, that the only thing I have managed to make from it was Tom Yum Soup. Another problem I found with it is that the spelling of the dishes is different to the spelling that you see in the Thai places around Sydney, so even Tom Yum is not filed as such, but under 'dtom yam gung'.

The menu was short - one side for mains, another for the drinks list. Some of the items on the menu included:
· Pad Thai - stir-fried rice noodles with peanuts, dried prawns, and bean sprouts
· Som Dtam - green papaya salad with cabbage, coconut rice and bbq caramelised pork
· Raw Salmon marinated with chillies and lime juice
· Jewfish with large chillies & ..?
· Yellow chicken curry with mustard greens

My only complaint about the wine list is all the wines available were very young, with the oldest being 3 years old. But perhaps older, more complex wines aren't suited to the thai style of food.

Usually a risotto is my 'test dish' of any restaurant that I visit; hard to do well, but fantastic when it is. It looks like the green papaya salad has turned my Thai restaurant equivalent. So I ordered it. It came out very quickly, so I guess they had all the ingredients to hand & just had to plate it. The salad was very smooth, with crunchy roast peanuts, dried shrimp, a cherry tomato & raw beans. The coconut rice was topped with fried shallots, and had that nice glossy finish & a delicate flavour. The BBQ pork, however, was the star of the dish. Intense nuggetty little squares of pork, that must have been air or oven dried before roasting it again with a yummy sweet sauce - similar to the Chinese Char-Siew, but more like the flavour of beef jerky that you can buy from stalls in Chinatown. The whole dish was a meal in itself, and you had enough varied tastes so that you enjoy every bite. However, I found the salad a bit lacking. It seemed to missing one element, one edge - like just a little more crushed shrimp, or a tad more chilli, or a pinch more garlic in the sauce.

The second dish ordered was a yellow chicken curry with egg noodles. The garnish was different, deep fried egg noodles, and at first I thought that were all the noodles I was going to get. Thankfully there were also some served in the curry sauce, although it seems a strange concept. Curry is for rice, right? Good yellow colour, but I'm unsure what a yellow curry is supposed to taste like. Even squeezing in the lime segment, and adding a little of the black chilli sauce to the curry didn't seem to make a difference. I could taste top note of chilli, and a base note of a light coconut milk, but there was no depth, nothing in between. Unlike the salad, I think that with this one, the dish didn't seem complex enough to hold it's own. "Wagamama-Syndrome", I've nicknamed it, where the dish tastes boring and 'samey' all the way through.

Rice was served in a flat open bowl, and got cold very quickly.

Service was very quick, atmosphere was fun & communal. I kept wanting to reach over & try a little of the prawn spring rolls that my neighbours had ordered. Serving sizes were deceptively large. Total damage was $56 for two, with two dishes, serving of rice, and two drinks. Would I go again? Yeah, probably, but with a larger group.

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