Longsong, Melbourne, Australia
Though restaurateurs John and Lisa van Haandel made an encouraging start with the launch of modern Thai joint Longrain, in 2005, it’s taken the pair close to 12 years to deliver their second act. But, as they say, patience is a virtue and, in a joint effort with chef David Moyle, the arrival of Longsong has certainly been worth the wait.
Set in a former horse stable above its sister restaurant on Little Bourke Street, Longsong is a visual departure from the more traditional dining offerings in the city’s China Town neighbourhood. Not quite a restaurant and not your average bar, the enormous space has been arranged by local firm JCB Architects to feature a small seated area – with tables that can be booked – and a substantial standing section, with a corner terrace and concertina windows to one side, and plenty of room to mingle and nibble on Moyle’s grilled skewers such as the tender calamari blackened with squid ink; perfectly rendered duck hearts; or the chunky shiitake mushroom offering.
We suggest nabbing a seat under the floating lantern installation, near the open kitchen, where you can watch the chefs churn out dishes from the restaurant’s only cooking apparatus: a wood-fired stove and grill. The menu changes often, but if you’re lucky, the perfectly crisp pork belly served with Asian greens and roti is a treat. Wash this down with a glass from one of the kegs filled with moonshine wine, while listening to the beats from the onsite DJ.