It didn't take me long to buy a copy of the SBS Eating Guide to Sydney. SBS stands for Special Broadcasting Service, which is a major network in Australia. Each year they publish an Eating Guide that contains a wealth of information about restaurants in the city. This guide is casual, and covers a lot of cheap, hole-in-the-wall type places. Arguably, the more important guide is the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide, which is more about serious fine dining. The Good Food Guide has a 20 point rating system, with special "Chef's Hats" for the city's best restaurants. The Good Food Guide Chef's Hats are the Australian version of Michelin stars - fine dining establishments all strive for them, and just a handful get the coveted 3 Hats.
Given my budget, I found both guides equally useful. While the SMH guide had all the fine dining info, the SBS one had lots of affordable places and tons of ethnic cuisine. This next meal at Ploy Thai was definitely an SBS suggestion. While I'm at it, let me also plug Grab Your Fork, a great Sydney food blog with a ton of pictures and information that I used liberally during my stay.
Anyway, back to Ploy Thai. One thing that struck me quite immediately in Sydney was the abundance of Asian food. Sydney obviously has plenty of immigrants from all over Asia. Most notably, there seem to be a good deal more Southeast Asian restaurants than we have in the US. I mean sure, we've got our fair share of Thai and Vietnamese, but Sydney has a ton more Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean places - I guess the geographical proximity really has an effect.
Ploy Thai is a little place on George Street, which is the main street that goes through downtown Sydney, connecting all the way from Circular Quay (the water) up to Sydney University. The inside is bare, to say the least, though clean and comfortable enough. But it was the random bits of Thai writing on the mirrored walls (admittedly mixed in with some English stuff) that signaled to us we were at the right place.
Laksa?? I know you're wondering why the hell I ordered laksa - a Malaysian-Singaporean soupy curry-like noodle thing - at a Thai place. Yeah, in retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have. But basically I saw laksa written on the wall, and it'd been a LONG time since I'd had any, so I just went ahead and got it. That and, I guess I didn't want to trouble the waittress by asking for a translation for all that cool Thai stuff. But anyway, I'd find out later that laksa is everywhere in Sydney. I guess it's sort of like pad thai in America. You can find laksa in Malaysian/Singaporean places, Indonesian places, Thai places... just about anywhere. And the version I had at Ploy Thai was delicious, as un-Thai as the dish may be. The soup was incredibly fragrant, and had a rich, slightly sweet flavor. The chicken, though white meat, was still very tender. The noodles buried underneath were yummy. So I don't regret my decision too much. Then again, I also would've like to try some larb or something. Oh well... life is too short.