While the highly rated Chin Chin seems to be all the rave in Melbourne, my trip to the modern Longrain on Little Bourke Street still shows that the top spot for Modern Asian is still up for grabs. Modern Thai food has come a long way from the awkwardly sweet and deep fried things they were before, but was this a change good enough? This was my first visit to Longrain in Melbourne and I loved its airy venue which paired high ceilings with its long tables that swept across the diner. On top were glasswares arranged neatly for the afternoon service. It all felt very "upmarket". Its a nice feeling. But remember, Longrain gets pretty busy so remember to make your booking via the telephone or the OpenTable website here.
To get the pace going, we order a couple of betel leafs! Mine was the betel leaf with pomelo, mint, green papaya, peanut and toasted coconut slices. Som Tam on a leaf? Maybe!
Like how most Thai salads are, this one had a refreshing punch the moment you take it in whole. There is something about the crisp vegetable crunching in your teeth whilst your palate is serenaded by the Thai dressing that simply awakens your senses. Love that sweet-sour-salty combination! Not to mention that juicy pomelo and betel leaf that are sweet at first but carries a slightly bitter aftertaste. This was an appetiser that leaves your mouth clean for the next.
Longrain’s signature dish of Eggnet, pork, prawns, sprouts, and peanuts served with a cucumber relish came next.
It is easy to see why the dish is so likeable. Firstly, it is big. Really bloody big. But there is a little catch and it is that the dish is not filled entirely with meat and seafood but rather, massive amounts of juicy bean sprouts that compliments the herb and meat contents. This to a certain extent felt like a noodle-less Pad Thai! It was yummy! Its savoury, then a bit sweet but more importantly the dish was fragrant thanks to the little strips of kaffir lime, chill and lovely mint. I really enjoyed this dish. At the end though, I felt a little sad for the cucumber relish. The balance in this dish was already optimal so I had no need to add anymore sweetness from the relish!
The next dish was the special of the day recommended to us by Longrain's waiter. It was a whole fish filleted and deep fried served with a tangy tamarind sauce.
I love seeing my fish filleted with the whole lot deep fried to perfection. Here the batter was thin so it only had a mild crisp from the deep frying. What it lacked in crispy batter, it made up for by ensuring that the flesh was kept superbly moist. Drizzle a little lime juice over the fish before dipping it into the Tamarind sauce and wow! It was an amazing meal! This was one of my favourite dishes that day which I believe Hendra enjoyed too. It aced both presentation and taste well.
The next dish to hit the table was the dish of pork hock. Need I SAY. The dish looked good!!! At Longrain, the presentation is almost as important as the cooking.
Before we started, the waiter explained to us that the dish has a lot of sugar. To balance the sweetness, Longrain uses a chilli-vinegar concoction that brings a sense of balance to the dish. True enough, I can imagine the dish being immensely sweet without the vinegar. Whilst this dish was quite good, it can very quickly become overwhelming because of that deep fried fatty pork hock combination with a fairly sweet and sour sauce. Definitely not a dish to be ordered for one, but its something to be shared around the table. It is almost as if one piece is too little but two on the other hand is too much!
Last but not least was a dish of stir fried king prawns, and mussels in a turmeric x chilli sauce.
The dish looked meagre on the first sight. All we had were 4 prawns and 3 mussels. But fret not, each piece of seafood were still rather plump in size. But Mei reckon that the garnish of fried kaffir lime leaf would already cost a fortune! She is most definitely right because Kaffir Lime leaves are really expensive! Putting prices aside, this dish is pretty damn tasty thanks to it sauce. Also, the turmeric is really mild so do not worry if you dislike that herb. In a nutshell, it was a rather tasty but a little expensive :P!
While I would have loved to order a dessert to end, my stomach thought otherwise. I was very full! With a bill the creeped close to $190, Longrain is by no means a cheap affair. For 4 diners, we might have been overly ambitious and ordered too much but no regrets here for sure. The service was decent, food was tasty, the ambience comfortable and more importantly, the company that afternoon was spot on. My best comparison for modern Thai would be Nahm Thai which has now been branded to Nunam as well as Galangal Thai and Red Opium, all of which are in Perth. Out of these four places (including Longrain), it is clear that Longrain is a winner for the many reason which includes better value, greater creativity and more originality. Nahm Thai dulls in comparison to the lot especially when most Perth people considers Nahm Thai to be Perth’s finest modern Thai restaurant. In my opinion, only Galangal Thai’s Pad Prik King and Red Opiums incredible tapas selection comes close to challenging the delicious fish and egg net dish I had today at Longrain :)! Oh do not forget, Galangal Thai is possible the cheapest contender of the lot albeit its small serving sizes!