Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Absinthe Salon and House (Northeast Thai Street Food) - Surry Hills

I've been wanting to go to the Absinthe Salon ever since I heard about it. I've only had it once before, as a shot...after about 8 shots of other stuff. So my memory is errrr....slightly clouded....

I finally managed to organise a night out with the girls and agreed to meet at the Salon. It was a freezing cold, rainy dark night when we went. Trudging up Albion St in the rain, we eventually find ourselves outside a dimly lit building with bars on the doors and windows. The only way to enter, is to ring a doorbell so someone can let you in. It felt like I was attending a secret society meeting and only the most elite may enter.

Walking in, you find yourself in a quaint little front room, displaying various "absinthe equipment". Through the room, you're led into a small and cosy salon, where each table had an absinthe fountain on it.

We're seated whilst we wait for our other friends and given an absinthe menu. Hmmmm.....ok..... I have idea what I was meant to do. Maybe its the surrounding, or maybe its just be a long week. But I stared and stared at the menu, and I didn't understand a word it was saying! All I noticed was random numbers indicating the alcoholic level. 45%, 65%.....holy crapola! 72%!? Isn't that grade disinfectant!? Is it going to burn a hell hole through my stomach?!

When the rest of my friends arrived, the waitress kindly came over and gave us an explaination of the different type of absinthes. And since it was our first time, she would not recommend us jumping straight into the 70%+ type absinthes. Dang, I was looking forward to seeing if I could breath fire after drinking it! In the end, we each chose our absinthe.......based on the look of the bottle! haha luckily, they were all fairly low in alcohol content. I think I ended up with the highest one around 60%.

My blue bottle

The Absinthe fountain is filled with water and heaps of ice. TO prepare the drink the proper way (And no, apparently downing it as a shot is NOT the way to drink it..), you place their funky spoon/sieve thing over your glass of absinthe and then place a cube of sugar ontop. You then turn on the absinthe fountain and let the now ice cold water, slowly drip onto the sugar cube. The sugar cube will slowly dissolve into your drink. You can add as much water and sugar to taste, but the waitress told us what the recommended water to ratio was for each drink and we stuck to that.

I was expecting a burning taste when you drink absinthe and half expected to have to scull the whole glass. But what we had was smooth, mellow, and tasted of liquorice choc bullets! However, don't be fooled! After about 15mins, my face started to go slightly funny, as if I've just gone to the dentist! Luckily my friends confirmed that no, I'm not drooling haha

We slowly sipped our drinks as we waited for the rain to subside outside. We opted to have just 1 drink each since most of my friends are light weights anyway. The plan was to go to House, just a few blocks away for dinner.

House is the new Spice I am. Unlike other typical Thai restaurants, House specialises in Northeast Thai Street food, which resembles Laos food. Despite the rain, its packed to the rafters. We put our name down on the waiting list, and ducked into the Triple Ace bar to wait for that call. We eventually get a table before we start to chew our arms off.

Nua daed deaw - Dried beef

Hmmm...not sure how to describe this dish. Partly like jerky, partly like overcooked beef (In a nice way). I could've done with a big plate of this and an ice cold beer, especially when you dip it into their spicy sauce.

Tom Yum Powng Kai Embryo Soup

Wow.....I didn't know what to expect. When my friend suggested we try this, I thought it was going to be similar to Balut (Fertilised duck egg). But the "embryo" actually looked like cooked egg yolks, but had a bouncy texture of egg whites. Even my freaked out friend enjoyed it and went back for seconds. The soup was hot and sour and vibrant, albeit a bit too salty for our liking. I reckon a little bit more water would've been perfect!

Gai Yang - Chargrilled chicken

Oh my.....who knew a simple chargrilled chicken could be so moist and flavoursome! Sticky smokey skin, moist chicken paired with their various chilli sauces made this one of my favourite dishes of the night! Now where is the other half of the chicken.....?

Deep fried snapper

Hmmmmmm.....absinthe affected my memory....but I do remember the fish being incredibly moist and flakey on the inside, and crispy and crunchy on the outside. I didn't even bother with cutlery and grabbed a deep fried crispy fish fin and started crunching on it like they were chips!

Larb Ped - Duck Salad

Another must have whenever we go Thai, is a duck salad. Usually you would expect slices of roast duck in a salad. In this case, it aws more like minced duck meat. But it was fresh, salty and gave a really good spicey kick to waken me from my absinthe induced stupor! They even provide a tumbler full of cold raw veggies to help ease the burn of chilli.

Oh, and did I mention how cute the basket the sticky rice came in was?!

Whilst their food was great and on par with the quality churned our by Spice I am, we were there for one thing only. BTS. Or as the waitress shyly explained, Better Than Sex. On almost every table around us, you can see people sharing plates of this dessert. Not us. I ain't sharing this with nobody!


OMG......they're right. It is BTS! A big cold creamy scoop of thick Pandan and coconut ice cream, sits ontop of a cripsy, buttery fried piece of brioche. This was then drizzled with palm sugar syrup and topped with black seasame seeds. OH MY FRIGGIN GOSH!!!! My friend took one bite, and physically slammed the table with her fist because it was so good! The outside of the brioche was incredibly buttery and crunchy. Take a mouthful of that with the creamy ice cream and you're in heaven! I actually ate the entire outside ring of the BTS, before tackling the centre of the brioche, which was crispy on the outside, but airy and light in the middle. I knew I was going to slip into a food induced orgamsic coma, but I didn't care. I couldn't stop! Lord help me I couldn't stop!!!! Next thing you know, I'm slumped on the couch clutching my belly with a sugar glazed grin on my face. Yes my friends, that was BTS.

Absinthe Salon
87 Albion St
Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9211 6632
Bookings at least a week in advance is advised

(Northeast Thai Street Food)
202-210 Elizabeth St
Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9280 0364

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Simon Food Favourites said...

absinthe salon has been on my hopeful visit for so long now but i never seem to make the time. hospital grade disinfectant hehe that's funny for the 70%+ but i reckon i'd give the strongest one a go up first :-)

SoRMuiJAi said...

haha we had a good range of 45% - 60% to try. The lower the alcohol content, the lighter the liquorice taste. Apparently in a few weeks time, they will have a chocolate / coffee infused one!!! Can't wait to go back and try that!