A new one from the Spice I Am team looks to Southern Thailand for inspiration
Pungency and funk. Two words you may, until recently, have associated with Sujet Saenkham’s cooking. But there’s a new flavour from the chef behind Spice I Am and House, and this time it’s Southeast Asian. S.H.E.H (hey, don’t blame us – it’s on their business cards) now lives on the top floor of the Triple Ace bar, where Harry’s Singapore Chilli Crab used to reside. Downstairs at ground level, you’ve got House, banging out Isaan style barbecue dishes. Across the road, there’s Spice I Am, rocking out northern Thai favourites. That’s a whole lot of chilli on one tiny patch of Surry Hills.
Here at the Eating House, it’s not only Thai dishes that get a workout, but Malaysian and Chinese as well. So that might mean the sweet savour of Brussels sprouts stir-fried with slices of Chinese sausage. A Thai yellow curry of tofu, cashews, green beans and white cabbage brings brightness and gentle spice. Or it could well be a Malaysian char kway teow, all glossy sticky noodles, prawns, baby squid and bean shoots with a really nice wok hei, or breath of the wok, to all you gwailo/farang/ang mo readers. It’s not quite as fluffy and airy as you might find at some of the straight-up Malaysian places in Sydney, but it’s damn fine all the same.
Slippery little rice paper dumplings, one filled with minced pork, the other with diced roasted peanuts, are captured in a spiced chicken broth, lifted with white pepper. It’s the lightness and subtlety of dishes like this that sit in direct contrast with, say, an almost rendang-like chicken thigh curry. And while the five spice duck tongues are kind of just chewy and a bit meh, the kanom jeen set of fermented rice noodles served with fish curry sauce and a creamy, slightly sour mung bean paste is an absolute triumph of texture, spice and flavour.
The room is functional and nice enough, with plenty of communal seats by the bar, and tables and a few more intimate settings out back. You will want to book, though. It’s slightly more upmarket than sitting in the beer garden with a bucket of Singhas at House, though only a little more expensive than their no-bookings canteen, Spice I Am.
Northern Thai downstairs, Southeast Asian upstairs and the Triple Ace Bar right in the middle. It’s an interesting mix. Get amongst it.
|Venue name:||Surry Hills Eating House||Contact:|
Level 1, 198 Elizabeth St
|Opening hours:||Daily 5.30-10.30pm|