Food and Drink
Posted by Dan Kuseta
11. Jul, 2011
I’m a spicy fan from way back. Maybe it’s because I used to be a smoker and need something to break through my dulled tastbuds, maybe it’s because I don’t get out much and loading up a dish full of chillies is the closest thing I get to living on the edge. Either way, I like it hot – so my interest was naturally piqued when I passed the not-so-subtly named I Spicy on Victoria Street, Richmond last week (to clear up any confusion the restaurant’s logo is ringed with a giant red chilli).
Walking into the lively little space I’m hit smack bang with the aroma of Thai cooking billowing from the kitchen that takes up half of the dining room. Here chefs pound herbs with mortar and pestles and whip up stir-fries in seconds, a scene anyone who’s eaten from the street vendor stalls in Thailand will recognise.
The menu offers a pretty authentic range of Thai dishes, from the usual Tom Yum and Pad Thai to more adventurous specials like Raw Prawn Salad and BBQ Calamari Stuffed with Marinated Chicken. During there week there’s a lunch special between 12pm – 5pm when selected mains are $7.90.
We decide to go classic and order Tom Yum with Prawn and Rice ($8.90), some Tod Mun Pla (fishcakes made from blended fish, red curry paste, kaffir lime leaves and sliced green beans, $8.00) and the iSpicy Noodles ($8.90). It’s before 3pm so we order some tea, but if it were a little later we’d be tempted by the ‘buy three, get one free’ deal on Singha beer.
The Tom Yum arrives first in a modest sized bowl, proof that good things come in small packages. The best Tom Yum I’ve had in ages, this firecracker of a soup is like being kissed and punched in the face at once. The rich, tomato-y base lures you in before the chilli hits you hard, but it tastes so good you keep going back for more. Generously sized prawns, fat mushrooms and loads of coriander and lemongrass round out the taste.
Next our fishcakes arrive, three deep fried medallions served with a sweet dipping sauce. They’re OK, but didn’t set my world (or mouth) on fire. Still, that Tom Yum was a hard act to follow and it was nice to have a cooling dish before the noodles.
I choose flat rice noodles served dry rather than in a soup, which I find allows the individual flavours more room to strut their stuff. A large bowl (proving good things also come in large packages) arrives, piled high with marinated minced chicken, fish balls, tofu, handmade noodles, coriander and chilli doused with spicy hot and sour peanut sauce. This dish has all the things I love about Thai cuisine – the heat of the chillies countered by the sour peanut sauce, the intensity of the meat balanced by the freshness of the herbs, and the noodles to anchor it all. Fantastico.
As a card carrying lover of hot stuff and Thai food, ISpicy has been my most pleasant discovery in quite awhile. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
80 Victoria St, Richmond
Open daily 11am – midnight
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