At Surry Hills Eating House it's not Thai food as you know it. There's no option for you to choose a protein with your curry or stir-fry like typical Sydney Thai eateries. Instead there are prevalent Chinese flavours with generous lashings of chilli. A love for spicy food will definitely help here. If you're not partial to chilli, I recommend asking the wait staff about milder dishes as the spice level isn't specified on the menu.
The restaurant is a new addition to the Spice I Am family, focusing on cuisine from the Southern Thai region. It's great to see Spice I Am showcasing different areas of Thailand in their various restaurants. I'm also a fan of the North Eastern Thai food at House, which is of the same restaurant group and just next door to Surry Hills Eating House.
We begin our meal with Mieng Ka Na ($16), a striking plate of sweet and sour flossy pork, green lime, ginger, eshallot, and fresh chilli served with green Chinese broccoli leaf. This is on the spicier side, and it's punchy in so many ways. There's spice from chilli; there's fragrance from ginger; there's sweetness from the seasoning; there's nuttiness from coconut. And of course there's that beautiful flossy pork. It's a textural experience. I personally leave the raw Chinese broccoli leaf aside. But its simplicity does offer recluse from the multi-layered flavours of the pork.
Another starter we try is the Kuay Teow Pak Mor ($12), which is minced pork, spring onion and peanuts wrapped in rice paper steamed and served in broth. The texture of the rice paper is sticky and almost gelatinous. I find it comparable to rice noodles, except in a large sheet format. It perfectly complements the tasty pork mince inside as well as the broth it's sitting in. The flavours and texture remind me a lot of zhu chang fen in a yum cha setting.
We move along to mains with Gai Pae Sa ($20). It's Chinese Phuket steamed chicken, steamed fresh water spinach, ginger rice wine sauce and chilli ginger dipping sauce. The aroma of ginger lingers as soon as it hits the table. The dish reminds me a lot of Hainan chicken rice, especially because the succulent chicken is so delicate, accompanied by notes of ginger.
The highlight for me is the Gaeng Het Pho ($28), a Phuket style curry of bar cod fillet, Thai black mushroom and betel leaf. This curry is definitely on the spicy side, but I enjoy chilli so I love its richness. I find the Thai black mushrooms are an acquired taste - they're unexpectedly hard and hollow.
A refreshing longan drink ($5) is perfect to cool you down from the heat of the chilli in many of the dishes. We originally wanted to order an iced milk tea, but sadly it was sold out. The same goes for the black rice pudding dessert. Our dinner was on the late side at 8.30pm, so it might be worth going earlier, so you don't miss out on any dishes.