The best green papaya salad is here.
Spice I Am.
Champion It Is.
Green papaya salad (som tam) $7.90
If you like your som tum pallid, watery and flavourless you won't like this one.
Spice I Am makes their green papaya salad zingy, crisp with plenty of heat. There's a healthy dousing of fish sauce, a wink's worth of lime juice and a chilli kick that gets the adrenalin pumping and the endorphins flowing.
It's a party for the tastebuds and the generous handful of dry roasted peanuts add a pleasing buttery crunch.
Bael fruit drink $3.00
I had abandoned Thai cuisine recently, sick of insipid same-old same-old dishes sweetened to Western palates. But after a green papaya epiphany, Thai-yerd became en-Thai-sing once again.
And so we headed to Spice I Am for a weekday lunch. This hole-in-the-wall eatery sits between two backpacker hostels on the Central-side of Surry Hills. The seating is cosy and you could practically pick the peanuts off the pad thai on the table behind you.
A vermillion red feature wall marks one side of the eatery; framed prints hang on the other. And yet my attention is undisturbed by the shiny silver exhaust fans in the kitchen. They are gleaming like new. Perhaps they are new. But they are mesmerising in their resplendent magnificence.
A smiling staff member wearing a funky logoed t-shirt takes our order. The place is filled with a motley assortment of businessmen, backpackers and locals but a sense of ordered efficiency prevails.
Green curry chicken $7.90
Within minutes our drinks arrive. I choose the bael fruit drink out of curiosity which tastes much like a berry drink with a splash of salty plum.
Our green papaya salad is shared and then our other dishes arrive with rapidity as we frantically perform a game of crockery chess to make room on the table.
The green curry chicken is gooood. With a complexity of spices underlying its creamy texture, the Thai pea eggplants burst on the tongue with surprising freshness.
Massaman curry beef $7.90
The Massaman (mussaman) beef is also sighed over. The chunks of beef fall apart with a mere poke of a spoon, melting in the mouth amidst a pool of ochre-coloured sauce. It is a little on the sweet side but the beef is so tender that all is forgiven.
Cashew nut chicken $7.90
The cashew nut chicken has a little more kick than your average Chinese version using a special blend of chilli jam and a hint of lime.
Crispy fish pad prik king $9.90
My choice for our shared meal was the pad prik king, a tasty mass of fried, hot, sour spiciness. Fish fillets were fried in a coating of curry sauce and pork rind. Green beans are crisp and barely cooked, and a smattering of microscopically sliced kaffir lime leaves garnish the dish like festive tinsel.
Our dishes are scraped clean by eager spoons and desperate forks, capturing every drop of sauce for ransom by our bowls of fluffy white rice. We are pleasantly satiated but our eyes still wander greedily as towers of tantalising pad thai pass us by.
Next time. Next Thai-m.
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Spice I Am
90 Wentworth Avenue (corner Campbell St and Elizabeth St)
Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 928 00 928
Open Tuesday to Sunday
Lunch 11.30am - 3.30pm
Dinner: 6.00pm - 10.00pm
BYO no corkage
Closed on Mondays
A second more upmarket version of Spice I Am can be found at:
Spice I Am Restaurant
296-300 Victoria Street
Tel: +61 (02) 9332 2445
Lunch: Thursday to Sunday 11.30am - 3pm
Dinner: Daily 6pm - 10.30pm
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Spice I Am (Aug09), (Aug07), (Nov05)
12 comments - Add some comment love
11/22/2005 11:14:00 pm