Wednesday, June 04, 2008


pomegranite thai.jpg

I’ve only ever had one motto when it comes to food. "Never eat more than you can lift." For that, I have to thank my spiritual guide, Miss Piggy.

But now I have a new one. Never fight a Papua New Guinean for pork. Especially when the pork in question is the caramelized pork hock at Longrain.

Longrain is a terminally popular “modern Thai” restaurant in Surry Hills. They’ll tell you it has a “Manhatten feel” but they’re wrong. This is the quintessential Sydney restaurant. But, of course, they’ve gone and opened an even more glamorous branch in Melbourne. It’s my omni-restaurant, one that is suitable for all sort of occasions and I send *everybody* there. Fun first date when you want to see if your potential partner knows their way around a menu and can share? Longrain. Dinner for a group of less than nine that’s fashionable and noisy? Longrain because you can’t book. In need of a quick pick-you-up at lunchtime? Longrain and sit at the bar. The menu won’t tell you this, but about 40% of the dishes are available in smaller serves, so you can go by yourself and not have to just order one dish. Cocktails after work with some friends and you just want a nibble? Longrain and have a couple of plates of the betel leaves with smoked trout. The cocktails are sensational too.

I love this restaurant. It’s consistent, fun, delicious and even caters well to our vegetarian friends. They can have the salt and pepper tofu. You have the pork hock. You deserve it.

I’ve been so many times that I’ve eaten the entire menu. If you’re a first timer, have the crispy pork hock with five spice. It’s chewy and porky and fatty and the caramelized vinegar tips the whole thing over the edge. The soft-shell crab with pork and a papaya salad is the best soft-shell crab you’ll find in Sydney (that’s a challenge. Know anything better? Prove it). There’s a dab-hand at the fryer here, so the crab’s ethereally light and disappears in seconds. The barramundi isn’t killed to order (despite the fact that the menu tells you it’s from the tank. If you’re going to tell me it’s from the tank, I want to see the number of barramundi diminishing during the evening. I checked recently and the story is that it’s more humane to kill and skin them outside of service. I am not entirely convinced, but then, I am strangely into fish being killed to order for me).

Even the deserts are good, and I am not the biggest fan of the Asian banana/palm sugar/coconut combo. Have the sampler plate. I’ll eat all the roasted coconut ice-cream.

But best of all, for me, are the betel leaves with smoked trout. I think this one mouthful of food might have been what convinced me to move to Sydney. Obviously Bangkok might have been a more obvious choice if I wanted Thai food on-tap, but sitting at that bar in January 2006 and having that explode in my mouth made a lasting impression. It’s a bit like being mugged by a gorgeous man with a bottle of fish sauce, who tickles a chili under your nose and spritzes citrus in your left eye while he slaps your lips with a piece of smoked trout.

The light in there isn’t great, so instead of a photo of Longrain, you’ve got a similar betel leaf dish from Pomegranate Thai in Balmain. You could go there instead, but it’s not as good.

Longrain is at 85 Commonwealth Street in Surry Hills. I’ve developed a homing device that means I know when I am within about 400 meters of the place. I really hope you love it as much as I do.

Longrain is at 40-44 Little Bourke Street in Melbourne.

Pomegranate Thai is at 191 Darling Street in Balmain. They also have a place called Prasit’s Northside Thai at 77 Mount Street.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok but where is the one in melb's?

7:33 AM  
Blogger Suzi Edwards said...

Longrain Melbourne is at 40-44 Little Bourke Street.

There's this thing called google. You might want to try it :-)

4:39 PM  
Blogger grocer said...

I LOVE longrain too.

11:25 AM  

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