David Thompson’s Thai Food is the most used, splattered and stained cookbook in my collection. It never makes it back onto the bookshelf. Large, hot pink and as complicated as it is rewarding, Thompson’s commitment to recording authentic Thai food is an inspiration. Safe to say, as soon as news of Long Chim Perth broke, I was pretty excited. I’m a shameless fan and booked as soon as reservations opened. (I was even too shy to say hello to the chef himself!) (You know what they say, never meet your heroes…)
In the basement of the new State Treasury Buildings, Long Chim is a den of eclectic Thai colour. Garland bearing garudas, piles of limes and vintage ice shavers surround a casual restaurant and bar. Outside, the courtyard is lit with an animation by Thai street artist Alex Face. It’s rustic, down to earth and reminiscent of David Thompson’s other paper ode to Thai cuisine: Thai Street Food.
First up is the Chiang Mai chicken larb. Served northern Thai style, the larb is a sticky salad that’s hot, sweet and savoury. It’s the only dish on the menu to which no alteration to the heat is allowed, because simply put, larb is meant to eaten spicy. The warm heat of the dried chillies really opens up the sweetness of the spices and crispy onions and puts the lemongrass right up your nose. All wrapped up in a cooling cabbage leaf, it’s simultaneously pungent, hot and cool.