House on Elizabeth Street has a bit of a reputation...a HOT reputation. The food is authentic Isaan style from Northern Thailand...where the generous use of chilli is not frowned upon (at all), fermented anchovies are used liberally as a seasoning and the dishes are generally quite dry, not saucy like the Thai food most of us might be more familiar with. The food is designed be shared and enjoyed with friends and family, as is the way in Thailand.
House has long been on my wish-list so I was thrilled when Rachel organised a blogger meet up via twitter. And the #ThaiFoodParty was born.
I think I probably missed out a bit on the true “House experience” as I wasn’t ordering any meat dishes. Unlike other Thai restaurants there wasn’t a lot on offer for vegetarians (other than a few salads), and really only a few seafood dishes. I didn’t spot any tofu on the menu at all (yes, meat lovers rejoice). I have friends who LOVE House...they rave about the pork and duck dishes, but as I’m guessing they’re not free-range I abstained.
So what did I eat? A really delicious Tum Mua Pla Krob ($8.00). In English that's a green papaya salad with crispy anchovies, dried shrimp, beans, Thai eggplant, cherry tomatoes, peanuts, garlic, lime and chilli. This dish had a bit of a chilli kick to it but it wasn't anywhere as severe as I was expecting. It had a good amount of "dressing" too which helped wet the rice.
I also ordered the Pla Som Tod ($14.00) which is a deep fried fermented fish, seasoned with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, eschalots and chilli. It looks a bit like fish fairy-floss, very dry, packed with dried chillis and very very fishy in flavour. I think this dish is probably great when ordered with "something" that goes really well with it...but I'm not sure what that would be, which is always the difficulty when eating WAY outside your normal eating-zone with others as unfamiliar with the cuisine as I was.
I only snapped a few dishes that the others were eating. The Jaew Horn ($18.00), an Isaan style hot pot of chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, squid, pork liver and seasonal green was a big hit down the other end of the table, and looked perfect for (another) wet Sydney night. Gai Yang ($16.00) was another popular choice - char grilled marinated chicken served with Jim-Jaew dipping sauce (the sauce was pretty spicy judging by the coughing and glasses of water being reached for).
It's not only spicy food that House is well know for. Their BTS (Better Than Sex) dessert gets a pretty good rap around town ($15.00). Toasted brioche served with pandan coconut gelato topped with Thai caramel sauce and sprinkled with roasted black and white sesame seeds. It's good...but is it better than sex? Depends on how bad the sex is your having I guess.
I really loved the Nam Kaeng Sai ($5.00) - Thai style shaved ice desert with sweet potato, sweet taro, pineapple and toddy palm seed was topped with Thai caramel sauce and coconut milk. Totally DELICIOUS and totally moreish...and totally better than sex...the dessert, not actual sex.
House is at 202 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills. Phone them on 02 9280 0364.