106 George Street The Rocks, NSW 2000
Descending the well-worn sandstone steps at this Rocks institution is to trace not only the history of Sydney but also its love affair with Thai food, sparked by former owners David Thompson (whose Nahm in Bangkok ranks among the world's best) and the late Peter Bowyer. While the latter's presence is missed in this gracious dining room with its soaring ceilings, Sailors stalwart Ty Bellingham is back at the woks ensuring the food retains benchmark status. An intense red curry relish, served with cloudlike crisp rice cakes, is the sweetest note in a menu that tends more to the sour, salty and hot side of the Thai equation. A stir-fry of gently spiced snapper contrasts with shredded ginger and fragrant green peppercorn for multi-level heat. Braised then crisped beef ribs carry an addictive vinegar dressing and the hottest green chillies this side of Bangkok. Soothing desserts such as pungent durian ice-cream or salty-sweet coconut jelly mark the meal as one of uncompromising authenticity.