For everyone who shed a tear when Sailor’s Thai closed earlier in the year, we have good news. There’s a new restaurant in the old sandstone Sailor’s Home building, and it’s carrying the Sailor’s Thai spirit, and two of its chefs. While the name, brand, menu and management have changed, two of the old restaurant’s head chefs, Patrick Pattrawut Leeracchevasit and Tony Suphap Samsen, remain.
Wild Ginger is managed by the Ranay Group, which has given the two chefs licence to express their ideas. Where many of Sydney’s Thai restaurants import ingredients from Thailand, Samsen’s philosophy is to use only local Australian ingredients. Hence the name: Australia has its own species of ginger and turmeric, two ingredients Samsen and Leeracchevasit use as the base of many of their curries, pastes and sauces.
Rather like the set-up at Sailor’s Thai, Samsen and Leeracchevasit’s cuisine is available through two different dining experiences. “Upstairs and downstairs is very different,” says Samsen. Upstairs George is more casual, with a long communal table (surely the longest shared table in Sydney) and a few bar stools offering quick noodles, stir-fries and curries. At the bar there are Thai beers, cocktails (including a boozy tom yum and a wild-ginger spritzer) and bar snacks such as the Thai-dressed oysters with native finger limes, Thai fried chicken and papaya salad.
Downstairs is more involved. The old sandstone walls are dimly lit, there are white tablecloths and even a degustation menu with optional matching wines. “We've picked Australian and New Zealand wines that go well with Thai food,” says restaurant manager Phuthita Veerasattra. Downstairs is where to sample the best representation of the chefs’ ideas, which include crispy salted Tasmanian beef ribs with native ginger, samphire, garlic and a red-wine sauce, and choo chee red curry with lobster and native crystal ice plant.
106 George Street, The Rocks
(02) 8283 8275
Sun to Wed 12pm–10pm
Thu to Sat 12pm–11pm