This restaurant is now closed.

Sailors Thai has had a few addresses in the harbour city. This bastion of Sydney Thai food is now only found in the Rocks precinct which, on most Friday and weekend nights, is a bustling, raucous area famed for its pubs.

The restaurant is in one of the historic stone buildings and boasts a deck overlooking Circular Quay. It’s one of those iconic Sydney views, as long as there’s not a gigantic cruise liner tied up at the passenger terminal. One of the restaurants to pioneer communal dining, there are three zones – the deck, the ‘canteen’ at street level featuring one long table abutting an open kitchen and the restaurant proper in the basement.

Greedy Girl had visited Sailors Thai a couple of times during its tenure at the Ivy, a bit further down George Street. Never a cuisine she relished, mainly due to a long-established issue with coconut products, she didn’t particularly enjoy either occasion. Meeting up with fellow foodie Madame Lapine, initial plans to head out to the suburbs were shelved after a rather delayed flight from Melbourne.

It’s not the easiest restaurant to spot. Signage is very muted and it’s not hard to miss the small doorway. Having scored a table out on the deck, a favourite for various Sydney celebrities, Madame Lapine risked being blown away while waiting for Greedy Girl to navigate her way. She opted for a quiet end to the communal table and that’s where we ordered a bottle of red, a starter to share and a couple of dishes. We figured we could always order more.

And so our evening transpired. The canteen area is not as expensive as the main restaurant downstairs but it’s not exactly the cheapest Thai food in Sydney either. The main restaurant, at the moment, is only open for dinner a couple of nights a week.

The restaurant was founded by superstar chef David Thompson in 1995. Thompson is the chef behind Bangkok’s noted Nahm restaurant, which ranks highly among the list of Asia’s 50 best restaurants and took 22nd spot on the world’s 50 best list last year. Since then, various chefs have come and gone but the restaurant has retained a reputation for exceptional Thai cooking.

And there was certainly no reason for us to think any differently. Our food was excellent, the wine we chose quite drinkable and worked well with the cuisine, and the restaurant itself was reasonably quiet. It would have been an all-round good experience had the service been half decent.

Madame Lapine was sipping on a cocktail by the time Greedy Girl arrived, flustered and parched. There was also a bottle of sparkling water and Greedy Girl tried to attract attention from a waiter to get a glass. When she finally did, the attitude was clear – you’ll get a glass when I’m ready. Rightio.

We ordered three dishes to start – Tao Hu Tod (also known as deep fried tofu mousse with shiitake mushrooms), Kao Pad Bhoo (Alaskan king crab Thai fried rice) and a chicken Pad Thai (pictured at the top of this post).

Sydney Thai food: Sailors Thai

Tao Hu Tod

These were spectacularly good. The mousse was inside the crumbed coating and the little dish of plum sauce helped cut through the fried flavour. With eight pieces to a serving, they were a great starter to share.
While Greedy Girl had hoped to revisit her recent Bangkok experience and have a green or red curry, she was persuaded to choose rice and noodles – two items she infrequently eats at home.

First to be served was the Thai fried rice with big chunks of Alaskan king crab. The rice was a little softer than Greedy Girl would have liked but there’s no denying it was a great mix of flavours. The chef didn’t stint with the amount of crab in the dish.

Sydney Thai food: Sailors Thai

Kao Pad Bhoo

But far and away Greedy Girl’s favourite was the Pad Thai. We opted for chicken rather than prawn and it was one of the best balanced, most delectable offerings she’s had. Perfectly cooked noodles, nicely browned tofu squares and the sauce a perfect mix of sweet, salty and sour. The reality of two high-carb dishes, however, meant no room to order anything more.

And so we departed, having drained our wine, to set off for a nightcap.

This is very good food, and the balcony area on a fine day would be a treat, especially for visitors to Sydney seeking that elusive dining with a view. The service, however, was rather lacking.

Sailors Thai

The Foodie World star rating
106 George Street, the Rocks, Sydney
Sailors Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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