USING the car park opposite the WA Magistrates Court is always a roll of the dice.
“Sorry I dinged your car – family of convicted murderer who feed their pitbull tabasco sauce – do you accept Visa?”
Some of the characters milling about reminded me of jury duty in Glasgow, where I found a man guilty of robbery and then had to share a lift with him as I left the court building. In a word, awkward. In keeping with the legal theme, my brief was to go for lunch at Long Chim in the State Buildings across the road from the Supreme Court.
The historic State Buildings were stylish and had that solemn, prim grandeur befitting a place that was once home to the treasury.
After passing several eateries in an upmarket food court, I descended a flight of stairs and followed the glowing neon sign towards Long Chim.
There was a dining room, but since I was on my tod I decided to sit in the cosy bar area which was more casual.
Long Chim deserves plaudits for its cool choice in music – James Brown and bonafide funk when I was there – as some venues peddle soporific muzak that sounds like Michael Bolton taking a bubble bath on ketamine.
The menu, inspired by Bangkok street-food, had an inventive range of mouth-watering starters (spicy pork with rice cakes, Chiang mai larp of chicken, crunchy prawns) and mains (yam pan, deep fried whole fish, baked prawns).
There was also a two-course $36 lunch with a small range of dishes inspired by Bangkok’s bustling Silom district including grilled squid gorlae, beef massaman curry and vegetarian noodles.
With interest rates and utility bills on the rise, the set menu was a prudent option, but I just couldn’t go past the cured kingfish ($20) and sour orange prawn curry ($34) from the à la carte.
The service was great – polite and friendly without being intrusive or having that dreaded forced enthusiasm – and while my meal was being prepared I sipped sparkling water and tapped my foot along to Sex Machine.
I couldn’t help wonder how many Supreme Court judges had dined here, slurping their spicy curry while discussing the merits of a double homicide.
It wasn’t long before the waitress returned and I was tucking into cured kingfish with shallots and chillies, which looked like a work of art with the diced fish neatly scattered over vibrant green leaves.
Unfortunately the flavours didn’t live up to the presentation – I was waiting for that trademark sweet kingfish hit, but it didn’t materialise and the chillies seemed to overpower the fish, while the greens added a strange dry texture.
The ingredients were all super high quality, but somehow the flavours didn’t get airborne.
Thankfully the sour orange prawn curry was fantastic: the murky, fishy broth was teeming with spices and flavour, with a hint of orange complementing the wilted spinach, soft onions, flowering choy sum tomatoes and rice.
The fleshy tail-on prawns were juicy and perfectly cooked (no rubber bullets) and it was a delicious meal with a seriously fiery kick (the waitress warned me the dishes were spicy so maybe ask for the heat dialled-down if you have a delicate palate).
Long Chim is a funky basement venue and I could imagine hanging out there with friends, enjoying some drinks and spicy dishes from the Silom menu.
They also have a seperate “tuck shop” if you want takeaway lunch and don’t have time to sit-in.
I rest my case, your honour. Long Chim’s food speaks for itself.
State buildings, Barrack Sreet and St Georges Terrace
by STEPHEN POLLOCK