Outcome: Unanimous Verdict.
Ratio decidendi: Still the benchmark for Thai in my book and a reliable go-to place to bring interstate visitors for an authentic meal that’s hard to get elsewhere.
Salient features: basil crispy pork belly ($18.50), sour curry with cha-om leaves and king prawn ($26.50)
Case note: In my mind, crispy pork belly to Thai is like char kuey teow to Malaysian – in that it offers a pretty good predictor of how the rest of the meal is going to turn out. At spice i am, they do it very, very well – crispy exterior without unduly compromising the meaty interior, it tends to be the first dish that’s finished on the table.
The sour curry with cha-om leaves and king prawns is a dish that’s truly unique to spice i am. The only part of the name that’s self-descriptive is the king prawn as the sour ‘curry’ is closer to a thick tom yum soup and the cha-om leaves are really mini-omelette pieces – a dish that I haven’t seen anywhere else. I’d order this over a tom yum dish as it’s easier to share.
I’m a big fan of drowning my rice in curry which is why I always order either a red or green curry. I’ve found that the massaman curries (generally) don’t work as well for this purpose, but this may be coloured by my personal dislike for its sweeter taste.
I also typically order the green papaya salad to balance out the other rich and salty dishes on the table. A mouthful offers a handy ‘reset’ button for the palate to carry on.
Obiter dicta: Doesn’t take bookings. Also, head down the road to its sister restaurant House for a pretty awesome pandan ice cream on brioche dessert. If you’re not too keen on crossing the bridge, Khao Pla comes pretty darn close to replicating the experience.