The first thing to love about House Thai is that it’s brought to you by the same team that gave us Spice I Am (just a few doors up on Elizabeth Street), reminding us that flavour and heat aren’t mutually exclusive.
The second thing to love is the focus on regional specialties. House Thai specialises in Thai northeast street food, specifically Issan. This means that one of the key ingredients here is fermented anchovy – but don’t fret, it’s used as a dish enhancer rather than an overwhelmer.
Unusually for Surry Hills dining, there’s a courtyard out front, which is basically a converted beer garden from the adjoining pub (the Triple Ace), but notched up to make it diner-friendly and decorated with lights.
No matter what the warnings, nothing can prepare you for the heat of northeast Thai food. Executive chef Sujet Saenkhan works hard to create authentic dishes, full of fresh ingredients that take this above and beyond ordinary Thai food. Try the Nua Daed Deaw (fried, sun-dried beef strips with with Jim Jaew spicy dipping sauce) for a case in point, or a salad of Yum Naam (steamed, fermented pork sausage with ginger, coriander, peanuts and loads of chilli).
Sure, the spice can make it a little bit hard to breath after a while, and the short walk from the dining room through to the bar can start to feel like a trek in high altitude, but if you love authentic regional cuisine, it’s worth every bite.