First published on 12 Aug 2010. Updated on 13 Apr 2011.
Disappointed by Spice I Am's Victoria Street branch? Love the original on Wentworth Street but can never get in? We hears ya. But never mind, because here's House.
It's the same team from Spice I Am, doing not the tricked-up top-dollar stuff that Darlinghurst is known for, but the street food of northeast Thailand. That means plenty of salads, grills and fermented, dried and sour gear. It's fitting that Sydney's hottest new Thai restaurant also does the hottest salad we've eaten in Sydney. A bit like a som tum, tum zua sees shreds of green papaya mixed up with fermented kanom jeen rice noodles, cherry tomato halves, green beans and Thai eggplant dressed in piquant lime, garlic and preserved fish. Heatwise, it's thermonuclear, with tiny bird's eye chilli seeds coating the noodles.
The restaurant lives in the space adjoining the Triple Ace Bar. What was once an unremarkable red-sauce joint called Sopranos is now a massive courtyard strung with lanterns, promising happy, beery times when the hot weather returns. And while you might complain about the noise of traffic and trains rumbling along Elizabeth Street on the other side of the fence, old Bangkok hands reckon it's pretty authentic. Speaking of authentic, larb ped is a slightly less violent way of experiencing an Isaan specialty. Roughly minced duck is fried with ground roast rice - a crunchy meaty, tangy mess finished with little deep fried duck bits, green onions, deep fried shallots and a whole lotta chilli. It doesn't all have to be so fiery, of course. The grills section of the menu has "bar snacks" written all over it. We can speak for the likes of juicy, sweet pork skewers and the sun-dried-then-deep-fried beef strips. We say run, don't walk, to House. 202 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills 2010. (02 9280 0364).
02 La Tana
La Tana is the trattoria Sydney’s been waiting for, with great food and friendly service at reasonable prices. 435 Cleveland St, Surry Hills 2010. (02 9310 2311).
03 Azuma Kushiyaki
The cooler version of corporate sushi restaurant Azuma specialises in tasty things on sticks. Try the deep fried chicken skin. Ground Floor, Regent Place Shopping, 501 George St, Sydney 2000. (02 9267 7775).
And the punters just keep on a-comin'. If you want evidence of where Sydney's eating at midnight, look to roti house Mamak. 15 Goulburn St, Haymarket 2000. (02 9211 1668).
05 Miss Chu's
Miss Chu has become a firm favourite with inner east locals and no wonder. This hole in the wall offers some of the best rice paper rolls in the city. Shop 1/150 Bourke St, Darlinghurst 2010. (02 8356 9988).
Sydney's best cheap food - Cheap Eats 2010