First there was House - everybody's favourite North East Asian Thai restaurant brought to you by the folks from Spice I Am. Now there's Home - a restaurant that bears more resemblance to Chat Thai than any of the Spices. But then, Home isn't related to either family - it's an independent operation offering Sydney yet another place to eat amazing Thai food.
It's a hard restaurant to get into. Every day of the week sees lines of Thais waiting outside for a table. But there's plenty to look at while you're waiting. The big windows reveal chefs doing some death-defying deep frying in woks the size of small boats, plus dumplings and noodles being made under your very nose in the open kitchen.
Secure a table and be rewarded with hot and fragrant dishes that, while not packing such a power-punch of texture and flavour as say, Spice I Am, or that fermented rich tang you get at House, have a certain special charm all their own. The menu is easy to penetrate: start with crisp hunks of pork belly with greens, or super-hot-and-sour prawn soup.
Try some soft, glutenous dumplings filled with fine shreds of garlic chives, or some grilled Isaan-style sausage, packed with chilli and served with peanuts, raw ginger and dried chillies. Order a side of sticky rice with the stir-fried pork belly with holy basil and chilli sauce. The duck larb topped with deep-fried duck bits is smooth and sour, the pounded duck meat ground down to an almost smooth paste. We're pretty keen to go back, too, for the massaman curry - adorned with a drizzle of coconut cream and whole spices. Yes, this is A-grade stuff.
Everyone has a guilty pleasure, a food skeleton in the closet along with pesto and cappuccinos, but these things have their place and when done properly, are delicious. So it is with the pad Thai at Home. The classic dish of rice noodles stir fried with egg, tofu and here, chicken, comes with tiny little piles of chilli powder, sugar and wedges of lime so you can balance out your own dish to taste.
Desserts are worth a look with the usual banana fritter end of the spectrum hanging out with green sticky rice and sweet potato dumplings with condensed milk.
Home, readers, is where our heart is - check it out.
Essential eats! Pad Thai + pad pik khing + laab ped.