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For Thai at the more upmarket end of the spectrum, head to Sailors. Make a booking in the formal dining room or pull up a seat at the communal table in the more casual canteen upstairs for classic Thai flavours with a lean towards premium-quality, ethically sourced produce. Sailors Thai, 106 George St, The Rocks, (02) 9251 2466
Chat Thai is your go-to for top-quality Isaan food in Sydney. If their ever-expanding empire (five shops strong) doesn't prove it, the crowds lingering for a taste of their northern-style grills, fiery salads and signature sticky rice certainly does. Chat Thai, Level 6, Westfield Sydney, cnr Pitt & Market sts, (02) 9221 0600
Surry Hills landmark Longrain has been dishing up some of Sydney's best modern Thai for more than a decade. Today, the communal tables are still abuzz with patrons getting happily stuck into spanner crab-topped betel leaves, exemplary curries, and eggnets filled with prawns, pork and peanuts. Check out adjoining canteen off-shoot Shortgrain for cheap (well, cheaper) and cheerful lunchtime eats. Longrain, 85 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, (02) 9280 2888
Spice I Am (Surry Hills)
One of the strongest players in Sydney's Thai game, Spice I Am (the original Surry Hills spot is our top pick) continues to kick goals with its consistently authentic offerings. It's loud, it's cramped and it's casual (read very casual) but the excellence of those mussel pancakes, that steamed fish curry wrapped in banana leaf, and the pork with bean sprouts and mint wrapped in flat rice noodle are well worth your while. Spice I Am, 90 Wentworth Ave, Surry Hills, (02) 9280 0928
When it comes to Chinese, it doesn't get any more Sydney than Kylie Kwong's distinctive Cantonese-Australian cooking at Billy Kwong. Northern-style dumplings are jazzed-up with warrigal greens, while blue swimmer crab is tossed through native basil and black bean and chilli sauce. Everything's organic or biodynamic where possible and the current bookings policy means you can skip the notorious queues and cement your spot at a table. Win. Billy Kwong, Shop 3, 355 Crown St, Surry Hills, (02) 9332 3300
Sydney is brimming with excellent Cantonese, but there's something about the polish, impeccable wine list and big-night-out feel of Mr Wong that makes it stand apart. Go for the dumplings at lunch (they're made by ex-Hakkasan dim sum sifu Eric Koh, so you know they're going to be good) or dive straight in to the likes of sweet and sour pork hock, drunken chicken or roast duck at dinner - you'll leave a happier person either way. Mr Wong, 3 Bridge La, Sydney, (02) 9240 3000
Golden Century has been setting the benchmark for Cantonese cooking in Sydney for over two decades. Head there for the live seafood, the formidable wines, or a lifesaving congee fix (they start dishing it up at 10pm) after a night on the town. Golden Century, 393-399 Sussex St, Haymarket, (02) 9212 3901
Sydney has been subject to a spell of killer Korean openings as of late, and modern-leaning Moon Park is no exception. Bibimbap is jazzed up with crab, sweet baby corn is made tasty with cheese, and fried chicken is given extra kick through a zingy soy brine. Add a list of interesting, mainly natural, wines and you've got a winner. Moon Park, level 1, 34 Redfern St (cnr Elizabeth St), Redfern, (02) 9690 0111
The dark and alluring basement room at Spice Temple, Neil Perry's regional Chinese fine-diner, plays host to some of the most obscure (and might we add spicy) plates in town. The menu spans China's less-explored cuisines from Sichuan to Guangxi, so expect the likes of minced pork tossed through silky steamed eggplant and garlic, lamb pancakes, and fish drowned in heaven-facing chillies and Sichuan peppercorns. Hot stuff. Spice Temple, 10 Bligh St, Sydney, (02) 8078 1888
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