I don’t /really/ understand why I put up a rather moody silhouette of a photo as the cover, but bear with me (because this isn’t going anywhere).
In any case, Spice I Am…ahh, if you’ve ever found your Thai to be a little too much on the mild side, yet find that simply adding more chilli just kills the dish, then you’ve come to the right place. Spice I Am is one of the ONLY Thai restaurants I’ve been to that maintains exceptional quality but at a spicier tasting point. If you don’t like/can’t take spices, this place obviously isn’t for you.
If you do however, as per the name of the restaurant (oh that poor English is so deliberate I’m sure), then you’re going to just LOVE it.
Date Visited: 17/12/2012
Address: 90 Wentworth Ave Surry Hills, NSW 2000
Go-to dish: Basil Crispy Chicken
Spice I Am has several locations, but the one of most interest (and purportedly still the best) is at Surry Hills. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seat many people; take a look at the picture below:
Seriously, the total dining area doesn’t get much more than that – that one picture pretty much captured 80% of the seats. You have to come early as they don’t take bookings. I guess really good restaurants get to do this (still sucks for us though). Luckily, The Lady and I arrived pretty early, before 6pm, so all was well and good – the restaurant became PACKED less than 40min later.
So I was saying how Spice I Am is awesome for those who want great Thai food at somewhat spicier-than-average levels of chilli. Rest assured, even if your chilli tolerance is low, you can order almost any dish with a lot less chilli upon request. I think it’s fantastic that this option is offered, as if you go in groups there are sure to be discrepancies in chilli tolerances (Y). Overall though, it’s spicier than your average Thai place.
Between The Lady and I, we ordered one entrée (well actually, it’s a salad but they’re so light I refer to them as entrées) and three mains. Yeah, we were kinda sorta hungry. Mmm.
Most of you would have had Som Tum before, even if you didn’t know the name. A hallmark of this salad is often the pungent seafood, whether it’s fermented or preserved, which gives off that aroma. It’s off-putting to some, but as an Asian, I love the stuff.
- This salad is pretty much my favourite salad that doesn’t include copious amounts of meat. It’s all about that zest.
- Love the texture of this salad, the julienne papaya is crunchy and sweet, much like the rest of the salad, actually
- The spiciness is great, it really elevates the salad to a new level – I always think spices can add something to an otherwise ordinary savoury dish, and this dish is already extraordinary
- The dried shrimp + the fish sauce pretty much comprise the pungent element of the dish, which I like, though many probably won’t
A great salad which has great texture and great flavour. I don’t need anything more than that. Well, except meat, always like meat.
By a close margin, this tasted good enough to take dish of the night. Rightly so, as it’s one of their signature dishes. Like most people, I’m a sucker for fried chicken – heck, I even like KFC, even though I haven’t had it in forever. That batter, the succulent chicken, the spiciness and tang, ever so zestful.
- Good quality chicken, though it was actually overshadowed by the batter, not that this is a complaint per se
- Still, too much chicken alone is boring – the batter:meat ratio is excellent. I always like a bit more batter, at least on the taste side, and SIA delivered that pretty amply. The batter is amazingly crunchy, similar to honey chicken batter, but with that taste of Thai
- LOVE basil – without it, this fried chicken would just be normal fried chicken – albeit quite well-made. Basil’s minty, peppery taste is the kind of subtle addition that can completely change the taste of a dish. This dish became more or less perfect with it
Yeah, definitely a eat-anywhere, anytime dish (Y).
Ahhh of course, what Thai meal is complete without Pad Thai? Actually, I usually don’t get it for the carbs and whatnot, but at even the slightest suggestion from The Lady and the order was made. The iconic Thai dish, that’s for sure.
- I didn’t really expect SIA to screw its Pad Thai up, and lo and behold, it did not. This Pad Thai pretty much satisfied on all fronts
- Prawns were plentiful, I don’t remember how many there were, but I didn’t recall that I was left hankering for more. Well, that was a lie – I could always eat more prawns, but the proportion of prawns to noodles was pretty decent
- I was surprisingly enamored with how much of a contribution the bean sprouts made to the dish. That fresh crunch, delicious
Overall, delicious noodles, full of flavour. The only thing I have to say here is that the flavour of the Pad Thai itself never really made its way into the prawns, and as such it felt like I was eating the prawns…separately.
Ahh, mussaman (or massaman) curry, the king of curries, is served. So this dish actually looks incredibly spicy, but it’s not as bad as you think. Do note however, that you’ll still feel it’s quite hot if your spice tolerance is close to zero.
- I really liked the beef, where it was tender and succulent; unfortunately, a large amount of it was actually pretty fatty fat fat. That sucks, as it’s really good beef otherwise
- A good curry is a curry that tempts me to eat rice in copious amounts (aside from sushi, I basically don’t eat rice), I felt like I wanted to dump a whole vessel of rice into this curry and just have my way with it. Luckily, I refrained – back in my unhealthier days, I simply DRANK all the curry in the end. Wow
- The roast potatoes are delicious, soft and almost fluffy throughout, they’re an excellent complement
An all-round excellent curry that could have used some better cuts of beef.
Already thinking of when I can next go to Spice I Am. One of the best Thai restaurants in Sydney.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
The Good: food is amazing, ultra-quick service (all dishes arrived within 10 minutes)
What could be improved: service could have been staggered (I had a feeling they wanted turnover), some dishes required the smallest of improvements, overall very spicy, even for me
I give a grand total of eight and a half Caesars out of ten – 8.5/10