I am the queen of hot foods. You see, I’m from a family where spicy foods are enjoyed from a young age. My dad has been known to bite into chillies at the markets to test their heat, and my brother can down so many chilli giblets (a specialty dish my mum prepares), it’d give Adam Richman (Man V. Food guy) a run for his money.
Over the years, I’ve introduced the family to many of Sydney’s spiciest dishes, so when I mentioned that I’d become a regular at House, we quickly knew this would be the location for the next family eat-up.
Gai Yang (Char grilled marinated chicken served with Jim-Jaew dipping sauce, $16), and Som Tum Pu Pla Raa (Salad of green papaya and salted crab with fermented fish galic, lime and chilli, $8)
One of my favourite things about House, is the location. Away from the chaos and parking dilemmas of mid-city, House is located at the border of Surry Hills, where Sopranos used to be. It is also in walking distance from home (yay!), Central station and Town Hall, and parking is aplenty.
The food at House can be distinguished by its salty, chilli and sour characteristics. It stems from the cuisine from the traditional area of Isaan in North Eastern Thailand, so while this is a Thai restaurant, you won’t find your typical Pad Thai or green curry here.
It’s a beautiful balmy summer evening, and the outdoor dining space is glittering from various spotlights, fairy lights and lamp posts.
With 8 stomachs to feed, I go on an ordering rampage, ordering duplicates of some dishes, just in case.
From the grilled menu, we have some gai yang (char-grilled chicken, $16), moo ping (skewers of pork, $10/four pieces) and two of the ping lin (grilled marinated ox tongue, $10).
They’re all aromatic, full of the wonderful charred flavour, and so invigorating with the tamarind based dipping sauce.
Of course there’s mini tubs of sticky rice ($5) to counterbalance the explosions in our mouths.
Sticky rice ($5)
From the fried menu, the deep-fried marinated whole snapper ($18) with garlic and pepper is served with again, more jim-jaew and tomato & chilli dipping sauce. Both sauces are as popular around our family table, but I personally much prefer the salty, sour and chilliness of the jim jaew.
The snappers are relatively small. We easily demolish two, with my kid bro, mum and Zen executing their fine skills at picking through the fins, tail and head for every last bit of meat – a task I have never fancied.
Ping Lin (grilled marinated ox tongue, $10), Pork Liver Salad ($12), Jackfruit Salad ($12) and Pla Tord Kra Teim (Deep-fried snapper, $18)
There are over 17 salads on the menu at House, a rather impressive figure for any restaurant!
The pork liver salad ($12) is a combination of pork liver with eschalots, shallots, Vietnamese coriander, mint, ground chilli, ground roasted rice and lime. I adore the dryness of the salad, especially the robustness which the ground roasted rice and ground chilli adds.
The jackfruit salad ($12) is a bowl of shredded young jackfruit mixed with Thai herbs and served with a side of raw vegetables. Unlike ripe jackfruit which is sticky and sweet, young jackfruit has a meaty texture and a slightly tart flavour. It’s not a very exciting dish on its own, but it complements many of our other dishes very well.
My favourite of them all, is the som tum pu pla raa ($8) which I always order super hot. I absolutely love the pungency of the salted crab and fermented fish – mixed with the fresh crispness of shredded green papaya, some garlic, lime and chilli, this salad is tongue-numbingly divine.
You’ll also find larb ped ($18) on the House Specials menu, a delicious salad of minced duck.
And from the soups menu, we try the tom kruang nai ($14), and the jaew horn ($18).
The tom kruang nai features lots of offal in a light herbal broth; very reminiscent of pho (but slightly sour) or bun mam (but less fishy). The jaew horn on the other hand, is much more cleansing – filled with a mix of chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, squid, pork liver and seasonal greens.
Tom Kruang Nai (Spicy mixed entrails beef soup with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, garlic, Vietnamese coriander, lime and chilli, $14), Larb Ped (minced duck salad, $18), Jaew Horn (hot pot of chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, squid, pork liver and seasonal greens, $18), Moo Ping (char grilled pork skewers, $10/4 pieces)
The hotness of tonight’s meal has left some of us slightly red faced, sweaty and panting, so when our three serves of the BTS arrives, it is a most welcoming sight!
Naming a dish ‘better than sex’ may set it up for high expectations, but this spectacular combination of toasted brioche with pandan & coconut icecream, Thai caramel sauce and roasted black & white sesame seeds, is the ultimate pleasure.
BTS (Better Than Sex, $15)
202 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills, NSW
Phone: (02) 9280 0364