Published on July 4 2019.
In what may come as a blow to lovers of Thai food in Melbourne, the Southbank branch of David Thompson’s Long Chim is closing this weekend.
A statement from Thompson’s team confirmed the news, saying “the last Long Chim service is on 8th July 2019. Each party wishes the other every success in their respective ventures. Long Chim Sydney and Long Chim Perth will remain unchanged by the closure”.
A spokesperson at Crown Melbourne, which licensed the concept from Thompson to open the restaurant, echoed the sentiment: “after 2½ years, Crown Melbourne and Long Chim have agreed to part ways. Each party wishes the other every success in their respective ventures". Crown will open a new Thai restaurant, Ging (pronounced "gin", like gin and tonic), on the same site on 12 July with chef On Saengyojanr, a senior member of the existing Melbourne team, heading the kitchen.
“Our menu will be about going back to basics and doing them well, using the best ingredients we can source,” says Saengyojanr “Thai food is in my blood. I grew up watching and learning from my grandmother and my mother."
The menu is still being finalised, but the likes of Chatuchak-style boat noodles with pork and a sour chilli broth, a salad of pomegranate, chicken, mandarin and galangal garnished with toasted coconut and fried shallot, and a crab curry with cumin and celery are all on the slate.
"Ging Thai is about true Thai food – the smells, the tastes – but with a modern twist to it with certain ingredients and the look," Saengyojanr says. "I'm so excited to bring to life my take on Thai.”
Long Chim opened in early 2017 to very positive notices from the city’s critics. Larissa Dubecki gave it a five-star review in Time Out, describing its northern-style larp as “a masterclass in the sweet-salty-sour-spicy balancing act of great Thai food” (while also noting that “the soundtrack occasionally sounds like someone lost a bet”), The Herald Sun’s Dan Stock included it in his list of Victoria’s best restaurants in 2017, and Gemima Cody, reviewing for The Age, said it was a whole new level of complexity for Thai food in Melbourne, “like eating in high definition”.
The arrival of the Melbourne restaurant followed Long Chim opening in Singapore and Perth in 2015 and Sydney in 2016. The Singapore branch closed in 2019.
Here’s hoping that Ging will go on to do more good things for the city’s Thai scene; meanwhile the likes of Cookie and Chin Chin and – on the more traditional side – Jinda, Soi 38 and Issan Thai Street Food will keep the flag flying.
By Pat Nourse