Spice I am

9o Wentworth Avenue

http://www.spiceiam.com/

Out of the plethora of Thai restaurants in Sydney it seems as though the same three always come up – Longrain, Sailors Thai & Spice I Am. So they were always going to be on my list to try. I was in Surry Hills during a morning and walked past the last on this list just as it was opening at 11.30am. It proved too tempting. A return trip to Yoshi could be postponed.

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It’s  a tiny place with about 10 small tables that rapidly fills up from 12pm as office workers arrive early to grab a seat. I was thrust a menu and ordered a quick lunch with a couple of house specialities.

I’ve generally been a little sniffy about Thai food – i.e. just stir fries & green/red curries. But you can over simplify most national cuisines… But if it’s tasty, then it’s tasty and the two dishes I had for lunch were terrific:

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Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad) – sliced papaya with dried shrimp, chili and peanuts. You’re meant to specify how hot you want this and I asked the waitress to decide…. It was lethal, but so, so good. A great textural dish with lovely sweet & sour packed with a heat which just grew and grew until you were gasping for something carbonated to douse it. You couldn’t really eat it in one go, so I had to return to it at intervals as the heat from each mouthful gradually receeded.

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I was glad to see some cooling rice with my other dish. This came with Crispy Pork Belly with (more) chili, chinese broccoli and oyster sauce. Another very simple dish which really hit the money. The pork belly was that great combination of crunchy fat with moist unctuous meat. It rocked. The chili behaved itself, the broccoli was nice and firm and the oyster sauce was light as it should be and not a cloying dish-spoiler it can be. I sat there a happy man, polishing off the dish, rationing my Coke with the remaining Som Tum.

It’s easy to see why this place is mentioned so much and popular. It’s good honest cooking with good flavours, well cooked/prepared for a decent price – $25. This restaurant makes it look so simple, that you wonder why aren’t there more places like this. Though having said that, there is a second branch in Darlinghurst, with apparently the same food in a flasher setting  at double the price. Why mess with the formula? I know I’ll be coming again, but staying well clear of Darlinghurst.

8.5/10

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