Sunday, January 31, 2010

'Arrrrr', aka, Sailors Thai, The Rocks.

Recent reports on the rise of chlamydia in Sydney have only added to my general reluctance to have a good time with a sailor. Little did I realise that you can say 'Ahoy, there' to a great night of seduction, sailor style, and wake up the next morning with a fanci-full belly, a floating heart, and a swaying, mesmerized mind...and no STI to speak of! That's if your sailor is donning a hat. Oh get your mind outta the gutter. What I meant, was a chef's hat. Which can sometimes be as unreliable as a prophylactic. Anywaaaay...

CakeyKnifeyMateys! My ship has finally come in. I have conquered, upon the high seas of damn fine taste and spicy abandon, the desires and the delights of Sailors Thai at The Rocks. It was a long, hungry time coming, but two visits here in as many months have left me with more than just a little bit to tell you about. With my camera, my mouth and the life changing lingo I picked up ever since I set my facebook to 'pirate', I am set and ready to tell ye scurvey dogs the booty that awaits ye mouth. Sit back, grab ye some grog, hoist a bit of a jolly roger, and let this wench tell ye how it's done. Arrr.

All (tragic) jokes, aside, this is the kind of piece that makes me a little bit nervous to write. When I am so impressed with a place and can't flaw anything at all, I really want to do a good job telling you about it. This is hands down, belly up, my favourite new fine dining spot. The Sailors restaurant (as opposed to the george st bistro), is set upon a stage of two sunken, sandstone layers in a cosy crevice of pastel walled-shadowy lit loveliness. The feel of the place is precious, it's got atmosphere, but one you can still move around and be comfortable in. It's got drama, but it doesn't take itself too seriously. It's got charm and style and good taste, but it also winks and smirks at you, just a little. It's the type of place where you can seek out some impeccable food, impeccably served, and still have a bit of fun, god forbid. Avocado green walls play off strawberry pastels, and candles make the whole space feel like a bit of a shrine. Or maybe that was just because I left it worshipping.

But truth be told, the interior design aint got nothing on the service. That's especially not if tag team Janine and Jet have anything to say about it.

Wherever you eat in Sydney, service that comes with a nose in the air and a 9.4 foot pole partially lodged up a sigmoid colon always looks a tad contrived, and so out of place. Especially in Convict Country. Stuffy service usually ruins the lightheartedness of a good meal. Some places sadly equate The Snobby with The Good. Whereas good service is usually prompt, knowledgeable, kind and unassuming. From the heart, and never Down Ze Nose. There was no way Jet was ever going to be stuffy. We hit it off right away. Jet's one of those guys whose sheer playful craziness emanates from deep within his mind, through his skull, out of thousands of hair follicles and into a very quirky 'Do. One crack at his hairstyle was all it took to get him firing back. He's lively, cheeky, friendly and the best type of waiter: the kind who surprises you. You know what i'm talking about. Most waiters baulk when you tell him to bring you a bunch of the best stuff off a menu. Not our Jet, he doesn't miss a beat. After quickly inquiring as to whether there are any allergies, menus are whisked away, drinks are ordered, and we wait, hungry and anticipating, under his very capable command. Want to know what happened after?

Yamba Prawns, Peanuts, Chilli and Lime w Palm Sugar Dressing on Betel Leaves. I felt like The Hungry Little Caterpillar eating something so moorish on so vivid green a leaf. These are punctuation mark as prawn, so fucking delicious. I don't know what it is, but when prawns are really, really fresh they tend to have a fluffiness to them, the edges of them don't look so hard and set. These prawns looked as good as they tasted. So much so, that if someone told me I had a head like a Sailors Thai Yamba Prawn with PeanutChilliLime, I just might be flattered.

Stir Fried Asian Mushroom with Silken Bean Curd, Yellow Beans and Garlic Chives, all Coriandered to within an inch of its frothy, brothy, steaming life. Dishes like this are the only time I understand vegans. This was a perfect incarnation of madness as mush-fu. Fungtastic Stuff. It had the perfect balance between solidity and soup and leaves you with a feeling of something approaching gastric levitation. Thick, meaty, rich brown mushrooms and a tofu so delicate, against a salty garliced broth... We had this both times, don't skip it if you go. But then again, definitely do not pass up on this...

Jesus Christ has returned to earth as a Rich Southern Red Curry of Prawns. The second coming is way more delicious and less nail-y in the crucifix than the first, but it does involve quite a few resurrections of the taste bud kind. This is the best curry I have ever laid lips on. I'd happily run my family over in a stretch Hummer for one of these. One bouncy Bechara, by one. It is a dish whose elements meld so perfectly together that you'll really have a terrible, toothsome little time distinguishing any of the individual flavours - and this is often the mark of an amazing dish. Separate flavours become a composite, more than the sum of their spicy parts. This dish is packing more bass than Balzary. It's spiced and thick and laguid and slow and so so deep. The depth of the curry makes Jim Caviezel's eyes look like muddy puddles. This is Nietzsche deep. Deep end of the pool deep. DeepDeepDeep. Like an Emo who just had a genuine emotional revelation, Deep. The taste just goes down and down and further down. One or two mouthfuls eaten really slowly was all I got, but I will be taking the memory of them to the grave with me. It's a curry that tastes like the essence of curry. Curries seem quite hard to do well, sometimes a bit too much here and a little too little there, and they sink into their own blandness. Not this one, it's a dream to moosh up with some perfectly fluffy rice and spoon down into an biblically awakened mouth. No. 1 Crush Stuff. It's a smooth warmth you'll get lovingly lost in.

They like wrapping their food in leaves here, eh? Meet some Barramundi Grilled in a Banana Leaf w Red Curry Paste and some Pickled Ginger to boot. Boo-ya. Delicate, not too cooked, achingly molten fish with just a sparse pasting of fire as curry, the depth and heaviness of the fish cut with the spike-sharped sluice of some burning ginger. It's a stylish and satisfying combination.

Vast amounts of champagne, merlot and beer were happening while all of this food frenzy was going on. Simon pointed out how well thai/chinese food go with beer, and I have a nice photo of wine glasses and beer, so I just thought i'd advert to that. That's before, I advert, to this...

Okay. I know it looks like the embryo of a gremlin rolled in a couple of kooky sesame seeds, but this is the Hiroshima of all bloody mouth bombs. I've already told you that coconut and I have agreed to disagree. I looked at this dessert menu, and failing to happen upon the word 'chocolate', I was already a little heart broken. Let's say, I was definitely not expecting my mouth to be the scene of the wildest orgy of dessert flavours even known to mankind. It was like a Roman bath house around the reign of Nero, in there, with a lot less sweaty men and marble. This is the Candied Coconut Dumpling w Sweet Coconut Cream, and it was the end of life, as I knew it.

I must have been shaking a fair bouncy-bit with unbridled joy for this to be the clearest shot I got of the dumpling's delectable innards. Words fail me. How do I tell you what this tasted like. It was like burning and sugar and Platonic Sweetness against candied-smooth-shining-whining lustre with sesame crunch and coconut clouds spinning around and around. It was like swimming in clouds and drowning in music. It was like a mermaid for your mouth, with her Siren song echoing through and through. It is the most surprised I have been by a dessert in 29 years. I'm not messing with you, try this before you die or be gone!

Say goodbye to the earthly now the moment you bite into this, the whole world falls away as the first bite becomes a flavour cupid who sends arrows of piercing delight down your throat. Your shoes slip off, your chair falls away from under you, voices recede and vision blurs, you're falling, falling, falling and you're smiling, too. Your eyes have to be closed. Go inside and be present, cherish it. Savour it. Keep it with you and in you. I don't know if they actually inject crack into this dessert or not, it's simply stunning. It's something I could never recreate or understand, it's the first time in a while that i've eaten something that made me wonder again about how magical food is. It's mesmerizing. It's agonizing. It's mouth merlin. So, so SO Sticky-Chewy-Dancing-Prancing-Nutty-Sweet-Sweet-Sigh-So-So-Smooth-Swaying-Coconut-Breathed-Pale-Green-Golden-Browned perfection. It's like dying and being born and making love and kissing and poetry and music and suns rising and suns setting and distant oceans and faraway lands and The Sopranos, all happening at once, inside your mouth and your mind and behind your eyes. If this little dumpling had a ring finger, I would've Tiffany-15-carated-Engagement-Ring'ed all over that baby. I thought it just might be an accident, surely this entire 'not a whisper of chocolate' dessert line up couldn't be delicious as well?

That tapioca and young coconut pudding will make you think twice about judging little green spawn-ish globs with traces of milky white. Divine. Delicate and subtle and squishy and creamy. This was fun to eat. And weird, too. I smiled after the first bite.

The Smoked Coconut Ice Cream and Pineapple and Ginger pinkies are twinkling just remembering this. The Coconut ice cream was gentle, it didn't have an overpowering coconut taste, so creamy and smoked and delicate, eyes will be crossed and drool will be chin-ed. The sorbet was as divine, Dan's a bit of an ice cream nut, he devoured both relentlessly. I almost got a bit jealous, actually.

The tasting plate also featured White Sticky Rice w Mango and Sweet Coconut Cream, little glistening jewels of rice infused with bewitching coconut and little slices of perfectly ripe, pert mango, it tastes like blushing, so easy to eat and so smooth. Beautiful lychees like little sweet sea creatures punctuated, in dazzling red, the flashes of orange and green and ivory. So tropical and winsome. So thoughtful and beautiful. So precious, like treasure. The plate was beautiful. I stared at it for a fair while before I attacked every last drop, glob and crumb.

Jesus Christ. Jet even brought out the best jasmine tea I have ever had, and perfectly made. Tea at good restaurants is usually a token add on to a menu, no one really cares about making it well. This was hot and sharp and bang on, and after the numbness of all of the wine and dessert and curry joy, it gave me red cheeks and a nice, slow, calm, warm belly. Can you just hear me sighing?

Sailors Thai. What more do you say? This is an epic experience, fun, surprising and commanding. The original owners actually made a point of going to Thailand and finding the authentic methods, techniques and styles that this wonderful cuisine finds its true expression in. This is standout thai, much more sharp and well put together than most of what's out there. Those of you who like something different should find a fair bit in the menu to play with. The food really dazzles and sparkles here, goddamn it, it speaks!

I asked the boys to pose like sailors out the front...? Should've sent this one to Davey Jones' Locker.

Sailors Thai in The Rocks happens Downstairs, at 106 George St The Rocks.

Thanks to Mr DCG, Yoni, Simon and Janine. Special thanks to Jet, you might be named after an awful band, but you're alright!

Get yourself to the restaurant at least once. For a cheaper but still delicious option, try the busy bistro upstairs.

It's Thai-tanic, with less Celine Dion - and thank fucking God for that!


Fouad @ The Food Blog said...


Wow. a food reviewer who can actually express themselves. I love your style, your humour, and the photography! Great job with the blog. Keep it up!

Bechara, Tannourine? Just a wild guess...


amanda said...

hello fouad! thanks for your comment. i think my parents are from NEAR there, they come from the bottom of a valley near the cedars that i can barely say and definitely cant spell. ive been there once and loved it. wherere you from? very happy to meet you and even happier than you love life of pi. keep in touch, amanda.

Fouad @ The Food Blog said...

Hey Amanda

I grew up with Becharas in Byblos (Jbeil). Their parents were our landlords and they were practically family. We had our first communion together. I'm originally from the south but we moved to Jbeil during the war. I love it there too. I'll certainly keep in touch, and you keep up the good work.