One restaurant in particular has been instrumental in introducing Sydney to Thai dishes beyond the Friday night, in-front-of-the-TV dinner staples: pad Thai and massaman curry. Although there’s nothing wrong with the afore-mentioned dishes, if we ordered them exclusively, we would be missing out on dishes such as ka nom jeen nam ya (fermented rice vermicelli with fish curry sauce) or sai krok Isaan (fragrant Isaan sausage made from pork, garlic, coriander and cooked rice). The chef responsible for expanding our palates with these regional dishes found at Spice I am and House respectively is Sujet Saenkham.
Saenkham and his partner Padet Nagsalab’s newest venture, Surry Hills Eating House, continues to explore the rich variety of regional Thai cuisines. Staying close to the fold, Surry Hills Eating House is on the other side of the Triple Ace Bar, where Harry’s Singapore Chilli Crab sat for many years. Order a few Thai beers from the bar – lined with patterned black-and-white tiles – and take a seat at the dark-wood tables in the dim space, perfect for rainy nights.
Surry Hills Eating House specialises in southern Thai food, which has a Chinese and Indian influence. You may not recognise many dishes, but it’s unlikely you’ll be disappointed with whatever you choose – from beef curry with roti to gai pae sa, steamed chicken in a ginger rice wine sauce, to cassava cake for dessert. If you’re familiar with the ever-present queue at Spice I Am, you’ll know to get there early.