I don't know if it's a fact or not, but I have it on good authority (hearsay at the pub when I had an ear infection) that South Australia has more serial killers per capita than anywhere else in the world. And, factual or not-ual, that's how I like to picture them: taking a stroll through a vineyard, biting into a well aged brie, sipping an exceptionally spiced and full bodied merlot - and then grabbing their axes and secretly, gleefully offing each other. Chef Nu Suandokmai spent a fair bit of time in the old SA, which just might maybe perhaps be why his brand of authentic lime-sliced-chilli-snapped-tamarind-twisting-homemade-middle-kingdom-authentic-curry-paste-kaffir-laced Thai is positively, absolutely killer.
This isn't Thai Fast Food, no, no. Not the kind of Thai we Australians think of if and when we think of thai. This is clean, schmicked up local, seasonal and largely organic produce which is lovingly put together according to middle kingdom recipes and plonked down on a lucky lively plate. It's authentic thai fine dining but elbowed in by a little French and Italian. Even though Nu's stands on a chandelier-light dappled sandstone corner on Blues Point Road, there's nothing to get the blues about. Life at Nu's is always wonderful.
This flaky crisp prawn wonton seed speckled with chilli-lime twine and a syrupy black-bean peanut-poked dipping sauce was the first hint we were onto a very good thing. Despite being fried, it was so delicate and light and full of discernible prawnliness. The sauce gave it a salty-sweetness that made the whole dish run the gamut of every kind of wonderful flavour.
The rice paper rolls were reviving logs of chilled, sober crunch. Salady and textured with seeds and a little chilli. The sidekick pot was ridiculously fragrant and fresh: dip and bite and double dip (no one's watching). All of these pleasant tapas style dishes still couldn't prepare me for the gauzed glory of all that came next.
Nu's vegetarian (or chicken) pad thai w tamarind peanuts + lime in an egg net. Sometimes I am difficult to impress but just the look of this dish had me smiling and clapping like a 5 year old at The Wiggles. I was caught in the egg net, happily, and I hope I stay trapped here forever. This was just unbelievable. So contained, so sculpted, so ready for a good right cracking. I took a fork to the net and tapped hard. Once, twice, three times and the egg shell broke to release a warm and wonderful tangle of gently baked vegetables (pumpkin included) and perfectly textured rice noodle and egg. Threading fresh coriander with sparky sprouts and darts of fire-engine-red chilli through the glorious mass (before adding a squirt of fresh lime and a pretty peanut spattering)is pretty much the best Thai-related experience I think I have ever had. The lightness of this dish was amazing, it hovered off the plate in a fragrant fresh and not-at-all oily heady haze. The egg gave it a bit of richness but never too much - we were looking at ourselves across the table stunned.
Thin slices of crispy barramundi + water spinach wok fried in Nu's chilli + kaffir lime sambal is basically a pescetarians crisp pork belly. Beautifully textured slices of fresh fish, rough and chewy chilli-licked edges tangled in fired green, oily in a good way and just magnificent to eat. Nu doesn't make the mistake of going so, so spicy that you can't taste anything else. This is one of his spiciest dishes but the chilli keeps its proper place and doesn't do a Gaddafi all over the rest of the dish.
Sweet like youth and gone twice as fast was the gaeng te po tamarind curry w king prawns, kaffir lime + water spinach. Oh-my-lord lovely. A rich, thick and furiously aromatic red curry swamp with lazy and unbeheaded prawns lolling around in all of that coriander smashed water spinach. The prawns were fresh in a way that made the flesh so perfect and salty soft and the tamarind is almost a physical presence at the table, it hovers all over this plate and draws you unrelentingly into the rich, round folds of coconut spiced oblivion. Jesus, Nu. Well done.
Nu's pedigree which includes having worked in some of the best French and Italian restaurants the whole world wide might explain why his dessert menu is a bit of a beautiful Brady Bunch of different influences. Don't be surprised to have to decide between a young coconut creme brulee or a tiramisu. The banana fritters w house made icecream + palm sugar dressing would have had my vote, but I was sadly outvoted on dessert that night. An amazing range of alco and non-alcoholic cocktails sits pretty with a full range of black and herbal tea infusions. Oh, and there's wine as well - most of it from alleged serial killer heartland.
Nu's is simply lovable, i'll be back as soon as I can. It happens at 178 Blues Point Road, McMahons Point. Phone 9954 1780 and Web with full menu and wine lists, Nu's history and bookings here. Nu's is also open for ladies and fellas who lunch, and if you do, it's here you should. Lovely service, swanky, comfortable interior and gobsmacking ethical and wonderfully flavoured homemade sauces, pastes, preserves, sorbets and ice cream. My boyfriend's mother who isn't that impressed by restaurant food said she's glad she's found this place, so you should definitely find it too! Thanks to Dan and Wendy for a lovely late night and to everyone at Nu's for the magic in the belly.
As an Old Dog, please let me be the first to say that I simply and irrevocably, love Nu's Tricks.