Sawadee-licious

Sawadee-licious

Thai cuisine that's all about extreme flavours!
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Have always been wanting to give MP Thai a try but there hasn’t been a particularly enticing reason for us to make our way down to Vision Exchange at Jurong East just to really go for it — so it was pretty surprising for us when we were going around the Central Business District looking for somewhere to settle for lunch when we found out about the new MP Thai Mini that had recently opened its doors at Shenton Food Hall at Shenton House. MP Thai Mini had taken over the former premises of another Thai eatery within the food court which doubles up as a live music bar in the evening — the stall of which it had taken over being the one which Kimberley Thai Kitchen had operated from. Whilst the food hall had seen a few new tenants opening up in the past few months, a number had since moved out — this includes Sanchon Korean Cuisine, The Saigon and King of Chicken Rice. Since MP Thai Mini operates out of a food court stall, the menu at MP Thai Mini is much more focused as compared to that of MP Thai’s original and independently run location at Vision Exchange. With that being said, patrons can still find quite a variety of individually-sized rice and noodle dishes here — a smart move to target the busy office folks that head here to dine alone or just are not too comfortable to order communal dishes to share with their colleagues. That being said, MP Thai Mini also does serve up a good variety of communal dishes such as Tom Yum Mama Hotpot, Steam Seabass with Garlic and Chilli, Handmade Esan Sour Sausage, Tom Kha Kai etc.; quite a good variety to choose from.

Since we have pretty much headed to MP Thai Mini ourselves, we only had stomach capacity to go for a single individually-sized dish. Whilst we did have had Thai food fairly recently, it has been quite a while since we have had our last Pad Thai; this was how we found ourselves going for the Pad Thai with Chicken Slices whilst dropping by MP Thai Mini for the very first time. MP Thai Mini does serve up their Pad Thai in a few variation of meat and seafood choices; other variants of the Pad Thai available at MP Thai Mini includes one with Pork Slices, as well as those which feature elements such as prawn and seafood. It is noted that patrons would be issued with an electronic buzzer upon order and payment at the counter; the patrons will be paged to collect their order from the counter once the food is prepared and ready for collection. Peanuts are placed on the side of the plate by the staff here, though patrons would be able to help themselves to chili flakes on the side and add them to the dish to their fancy. From the first look, one could easily tell that the Pad Thai served up at MP Thai Mini is the slightly wetter sort; some might call it sloppy considering hot wet it is but there is some serious flavour going on in this one. First taste of the noodles and one could already taste the sweetness and tanginess from the calamansi added in this one; all while the noodles come with a good chew and tossed with rather sizeable chunks of chicken that whilst is nothing much to shout on their own, does provide a good meaty bite to the dish. Adding sufficient chili flakes meant that it provides a burst of spiciness that further elevated the dish; one that gives the Pad Thai a good contrast of flavours, while the cubes of beancurd puff provided another sort of bite whilst laced in all that flavour which the noodles comes with — the greens and the beansprouts adding a bit of a wholesomeness to all of that. Hadn’t been to the original MP Thai so it ain’t up to us to comment if the quality of food is consistent here, but we are most certainly looking forward to give their other dishes a go here. Prices of the individually-sizes dishes starts from $7 with the most expensive item being the Omelette Lava Fried Rice (Crab) being listed at $12; not the cheapest dining option around here, though still somewhat decent considering where it is located at.

Got to know about the new NANGLEN whilst scrolling through social media randomly — NANGLEN is one of the latest F&B additions to the Tanjong Pagar neighbourhood; definitely not the area’s first tenant to be serving up Thai cuisine, though they are still considered a minority considering how Tanjong Pagar has always been known to be a spot that is filled with Korean dining establishments for quite a while now. Occupying the ground level of the shophouse at 20 Tanjong Pagar Road, the space which NANGLEN occupies is actually the same spot that the now-defunct Soi Candy Thai Noodle & Seafood Bar used to occupy. Whilst we do remember that Soi Candy Thai Noodle & Seafood Bar had a very bright and colourful look with a yellow signboard that is a stark contrast to the other establishments located along the same street, NANGLEN could be said as an establishment with a less striking look — the signboard for NANGLEN comes with a blue background, while the interior space features wooden-esque vinyl flooring that matches well with the cement-esque walls and the wooden furniture; the dining chairs featuring a mix of wooden chairs and benches, as well as cushioned seating they provides some level of comfort for the diners here. NANGLEN is an establishment that seemingly has a focus on their Tom Yum Mama dishes — there is an entire section of the menu that actually dedicates itself to their Tom Yum Mama offerings. That being said, other items served up at NANGLEN includes dishes that are segmented into “Starters”, “Som Tum & Yum”, “Mains” and “Dessert & Drinks”. There is a separate menu which lists the various types of alcoholic beverages available at NANGLEN — this would include various types of beer, Soju etc. which they have to offer.

Tom Yum Mama Pot have been pretty much popularised in the past couple of years — the dish can be pretty much found in some Thai establishments around ever since the rendition of the same dish by Jeh O Chula in Bangkok, Thailand has been made known to Singaporeans that had travelled to Thailand several years ago. NANGLEN actually serves up Tom Yum Mama in several renditions; this includes the regular-sized variant, a large-sized variant, as well as those that features seafood such as crab, crayfish and river prawn — just to name a few. For our order, we went with the Tom Yum Mama Regular (1 Pax); despite so, the portion of the dish does seem to be good to be shared between two pax at the bare minimum. The menu does state that all Tom Yum Mama dishes served up at NANGLEN includes seafood, pork and milk — elements which we found in our order of the Tom Yum Mama Regular (1 Pax) includes instant noodles, roast pork, two squids, two prawns, two mussels, two chunks of fish, minced pork, two egg yolks and egg white; other components include lime and chili amongst many others which are included for the flavour.

The broth of the Tom Yum Mama Regular is being poured into the pot from a kettle only at the table, with the fossil fuel only being lit on fire thereafter. Digging into the Tom Yum Mama Regular, we were already pretty much taken by the flavours of the Tom Yum soup here. Whilst there is milk added to the Tom Yum soup here, one thing we note about the Tom Yum soup here is that it came with the right balance of flavours; tangy without being overly spicy, this was one Tom Yum soup that is likely to do well for those whom have lower than moderate tolerance to spiciness. We also liked it that the Tom Yum soup did not feel particularly heavy and was easy to have despite the addition of milk. All seafood elements came really fresh here; the mussels being meaty without being sandy; the fish free from any muddy flavours and the prawns delivering a good bite — nothing “old” or mushy. Meanwhile, the roast pork does come with a browned crust all over the exterior; almost akin to that of being fried — the way that it should be as though it would be served in a typical plate of Stir Fried Kailan with Roast Pork as opposed to do the Cantonese-style / Malaysian-style that we would be more familiar with. There was also quite a good portion of instant noodles served up with the Tom Yum Mama Regular; all being hidden at the bottom of the pot and for a while, felt like a bottomless pit of noodles that was pretty impossible to finish. Overall, the Tom Yum Mama Regular just felt like an item that is worth its price tag of $15 — quality seafood items in a flavoursome broth that we cannot get enough of with a portion size that would easily satisfy two hungry souls; definitely does resonate with the slightly steeper price tag that it asks for. We also quite liked the Thai Omelette with Pork that we have had; not a crispy omelette by any means (not that they promised it either), but come with enough slightly charred bits for some extra flavour, while the Home-made Iced Milk Tea and Home-made Iced Lemongrass Drink were pretty satiating — did not taste anywhere being diluted to say the least with a balanced sweetness. Needless to say, a spot that we look forward to returning to, with the Tom Yum Mama being a highlight for us for sure!

We were initially pretty saddened after hearing about the closure of Culture Spoon at River Valley Road; the multi-concept cafe was one that we had visited quite a fair bit over its run, itself being home to several concepts such as that of Wok with Man, Hungry Thieves, Cha Lau by Wok with Man, L Sucre and The Tea Affair during the time of its closure — after all, we had been visiting Culture Spoon for Wok with Man’s Crabmeat Fried Rice, which was a signature offering. The folks behind Wok with Man had since opened a new concept named Thai Noodle House by Culture Spoon following the closure of Culture Spoon. Unlike Culture Spoon, Thai Noodle House by Culture Spoon is a smaller operation in comparison to Culture Spoon itself — operating as just a stall within the Koufu food court at Tampines Mart, Thai Noodle House by Culture Spoon no longer carries the wide variety of what Wok with Man used to offer at Culture Spoon. Instead, Thai Noodle House seems to be focused on serving up food items that can be prepare a la minute; the emphasis being their noodle-based items. The menu features Thai noodle dishes such as Boat Noodles, Tom Yum Mama Noodles with Seafood, and their Signature Thai Wonton Mee with Pork Neck; that being said, patrons who prefer rice dishes may also go for Deep Fried Tom Yum Chicken with Rice, Thai Pork Soup with Rice or the all-familiar Thai Basil Pork with Rice. There are also a few side dishes that one can go for here; a few dishes offered in the “Sides” section include Thai Fish Cake, Fried Wonton and the Deep Fried Tom Yum Chicken.

It wasn’t easy to decide if we would want to go for the Signature Thai Wonton Mee with Pork Neck or the Thai Basil Pork Noodle, though we did find ourselves going for the latter after noticing that the illustration on the menu board does suggest the item to come with soup wontons that are also featured in their Signature Thai Wonton Mee to be served on the side. The Thai Basil Pork Noodle comes with a default choice of noodles, and comes with Thai-style stir-fried basil pork accompanying the noodles; one can also find chunks of crispy pork lard in the noodles and a sunny side up as well. Giving the noodles a bit of a toss before consuming the dish, the noodles does get laced in a bit of that sauce below and all that minced meat, long beans and the basil it comes with. Taking a bite into all of the elements in one spoonful, it is needless to say that the Thai Basil Pork Noodle was one dish that we enjoyed. The noodle itself does seem to be like a form of Mee Pok that is not quite as broad as what we are used to in our local-style minced meat noodles; the noodles are definitely springy — soaks up the savouriness and garlicky notes of the sauce that it comes with whilst also coming with an evident hint of basil that perfumes throughout the entire bowl. The minced pork itself was especially flavoursome; liked how it wasn’t too salty and carried the aroma of the basil really well; the long beans and crispy pork lard adding a crunch factor to the dish at the same time. Meanwhile, the sunny side-up was a crowd pleaser with its molten egg yolk that oozes eagerly with a poke from the chopstick; the soup wantons were well-packed with prawns and meat giving a good bite within the silky smooth wonton wrapper. The soup that came with the soup wonton is likely to be the same one they is served with their Boat Noodles; absolutely comforting with its herbal notes. It is a pity that we can no longer enjoy Wok with Man’s stellar Crabmeat Fried Rice since it is not offered at Thai Noodle House by Culture Spoon; that being said, their delicious Thai food still lives on here at pretty decent prices (all noodle dishes are priced below $9) — something well showcased by the Thai Basil Pork Noodle that we had tried!

It seems that there has been a switch-up of tenants around Tanjong Pagar Plaza of the late — there are quite a couple of new F&B tenants which had moved into the premises in recent times. Located in the row of shops next to Tai Ho Soon coffeeshop where Bami Express is also located is the new Charm Noodle’s Restaurant. The establishment does somewhat have a bit of a mixed identity — while the signboard names the establishment as Charm Noodle’s Restaurant, the menu boards around the establishment seem to suggest that the eatery is named Charm Thai Cafe. Nonetheless, Charm Noodle’s Restaurant is a Thai eatery at heart; occupying its very own shop space on the second level of Tanjong Pagar Plaza, the space does feature quite a decent number of dine-in seating around. It seems that some work had went into making the entire space carry a vibe that screams Thai; from the yellow-painted walls to the signboard with a Thai script that is placed at the counter area, there is no denying in how Charm Noodle’s Restaurant is an establishment with a focus on Thai food. The dine-in furnishings can be described as a little bit more on the functional side, with the use of wooden tables and chairs that provide a basic level or comfort to its patrons. The menu at Charm Noodle’s Restaurant does seem a little restricted though, considering how they do only serve up a small variety of noodle-based dishes — there is an emphasis on boat noodles here, though one can also find a dry noodle dish, Pad Thai and even a Braised Pork Rice here. Beverages available at Charm Noodle’s Restaurant a little limited however, with the only drinks listed to be the Bandung, Thai Milk Tea and the Green Milk Tea. The only dessert item listed on the menu here would be the Mango Sticky Rice.

Skimming through the menu at Charm Noodle’s Restaurant, it was difficult not to go for the selection of boat noodles here considering how boat noodles make up the majority of the items on the menu here. After a little bit of contemplation, we found ourselves going for the Boat Noodles Braised Pork — there is also one variant that features fresh pork, though we were pretty drawn to the braised pork since the guy at the counter mentioned that the meat that comes with the Boat Noodles Braised Pork comes pretty soft. Apart from the bone-in braised pork, other elements that come with the Boat Noodles Braised Pork here includes pork meatballs and some greens; all in a boat noodle broth that we are all quite familiar with now that Thai boat noodles are quite a common find around the island — there is also a choice for patrons to opt between egg noodles and rice noodles for the noodles that come with the Boat Noodles. We opted for rice noodles for our order. Taking a sip into the broth, it seems that the Boat Noodle Braised Pork from Charm Noodle’s Restaurant does seem to be missing of the slightly herbal note that most of the Thai Boat Noodles that we have had comes with. That being said, the broth here does come with a slight tang that gets one going for more; there is also a slight spiciness here that comes from the chili padi added that gives it a light fiery kick to tickle the tastebuds — quite manageable for those whom are tolerable to lower levels of spiciness. The braised pork comes fall-off-the-bone tender; soft and even a little gelatinous — does not enquire much effort to chew off either. The pork meat balls were nothing much to shout about, though the greens gave it a bit of crunch; the rice noodles came with a nice, chewy texture though. Overall, a rather decent bowl of Thai Boat Noodles, though some might mention the slightly small portion at $8.90; an option that one can consider if around the Central Business District for lunch.

For those whom have been following the local F&B scene for quite a while, Rachelrax might be a brand that one could have heard of for quite a while. Previously having been an online-based business, Rachelrax had opened a brick-and-mortar store that was initially meant for takeaways and collections only in a shophouse along Lim Tua Tow Road which is a short walk away from Serangoon MRT Station. It seems that Rachelrax had recently seen a revamp — while they have still maintained their address and is still operating out of the same shop unit at Lim Tua Tow Road, Rachelrax had recently went through one round of renovations that have also added a dine-in area in its premises as well. The shop still maintains its striking pink facade which gives it a striking look when compared against the other units within the same stretch of shops; this colour theme extends all the way into the shop space where the interior also sports a pink-coloured theme matched against furniture that consists of wooden and rattan elements — one that is dainty without being immature. Being a shop that specialises in cakes and tarts, Rachelrax currently offers patrons with a small variety of cakes and tarts which are all displayed prominently in the display chiller at the counter; that being said, there are plans of which that they will be serving up savoury food in the future. With the conversion of Rachelrax from a takeaways-only concept to a dine-in establishment, Rachelrax had also started to serve up espresso-based specialty coffee as well, which includes the usual selection of Black, White and Mocha — just to name a few.

Having read up several articles about Rachelrax in the past and also skimming through the display chiller for the various tarts and cakes which they have to offer, what really caught our attention in the display chiller was the Orh Nee Tart — also one of the items which had been consistently mentioned across the various platforms that had mentioned about Rachelrax. Based on the description on the menu card displayed prominently in front of the items in the display chiller, the Orh Nee Tart consists of elements such as Taro Paste, Coconut Cream and Gingko Nuts. On first look, the Orh Nee Tart was quite a pretty tart to look at — the taro paste-infused coconut cream comes with a light shade of purple and is artfully piped into the tart. As one first lands their fork into the tart, one would find that the tart base is sufficiently firm — the tart base here is fresh and crisp; holds up the Taro Paste really well without having become too soggy. The tart base also slices down neatly without crumbling down into a mess; all that without feeling particularly dense as well. The Taro Paste was absolutely spot-on here; its earthy notes are absolutely on-point here, while the texture is smooth and sufficiently dense — all that whilst not being overly sweet with the emphasis being pretty much on the flavours of the Taro with a bit of richness from the coconut cream itself. Meanwhile, the Gingko Nuts added a soft bite with slight hint of bitterness that cuts through the earthiness of the taro paste. Overall, this was exactly the item that it replicates itself to be; all in the form of a tart — own that we really enjoyed.

During our visit to Rachelrax, we had also went for several other cakes and tarts — we had also given the Chamomile Cheesecake a go, whilst the Lychee Rose Tart was a recommendation by the staff behind the counter which we eventually also decided to go for. Between the two items, we seemed to have preferred the Chamomile Cheesecake a little more — an item which is described to come with elements such as chamomile-infused cream cheese, almond hazelnut, crumble and candied orange, the Chamomile Cheesecake comes with an aesthetic that makes it look closer to an entremet than being a classic cheesecake. One particular thing about the Chamomile Cheesecake was the execution of the chamomile-infused cream cheese — while the cream cheese on one hand is luscious and smooth with the flavour profile being sufficiently cheesy without being overpoweringly so, the infusion of chamomile adds a light and almost citrus-like tang that cuts through the inherent flavours of cream cheese really perfectly. The candied orange helps to add some sweetness and juicy bite that works out really well in terms of texture and flavour. The White was actually pretty well-pulled considering how Rachelrax is more of an establishment focused around their cakes and tarts — even with decent latte art to boast. A lot of attention seemed to have been placed to both the vibes and the food at Rachelrax; there are a lot of personal touches placed all around their wares that gives Rachelrax a character of their own — this includes the branding of the tarts, as well as the branded saucers and serviettes that they are using. The designs on those items do feel that a lot of effort has been placed in creating a unique identity here. Overall, Rachelrax is a pretty interesting spot to hit for dessert around the Upper Serangoon Road; despite there being no lack of cafes around, Rachelrax is a spot that we do think is worth making a visit down just to check out what they have to offer!

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Yes — you hadn’t seen that wrongly. Dropped by the fairly new maknomnom at International Plaza; didn’t really have any idea on what I wanted to have for lunch within the building but really got enticed by the selection of food that they have. Quite surprised that they actually serve Thai cuisine in the same style that mixed vegetable rice stalls would — the selection of food available for the day is displayed in trays behind the counter; one can just simply opt for white rice, or fried rice or fried noodles and just point at the dishes for the folks behind the counter to pick up what they fancy. The selection of dishes are almost akin to those that are typically served at Thai eateries — think items such as Thai Basil Minced Pork, Thai Green Curry, Moo Ping etc., as well as different sorts of stir-fried vegetables as well. For those whom are ant to avoid making decisions on what to order for their meal, there are also a choice of ala-carte dishes that one can order at maknomnom — think items such as Tom Yam Fried Rice, Phad Thai and even a Crispy Prawn Omelette with Rice. Surprisingly, they also do serve up snacks and desserts in the tiny space that they occupy — available on display includes the Nonya Kueh and Luk Chup, whilst the menu also lists a Mango Sticky Rice and the Tako as well. Beverages include mineral water, Iced Lemongrass and Iced Thai Milk Tea — pretty standard items one would expect out of a Thai eatery.

There were plenty of dishes that we found pretty enticing but we found ourselves going for the Thai Basil Minced Pork, Thai Green Curry and Moo Ping. The total bill does seem a little hefty at $9.00 if one were to compare it to a typical plate of mixed vegetable rice, but it does seem rather fair considering the amount of meat items we have ordered and how this does come with a Thai element. We really liked how the different elements are done here — no doubt the Moo Ping could have been more juicy and tender at other establishments, but we did like how it carried a good bite and a bit of smoky char amidst the savoury-sweet glazing over the meat. The green curry is especially creamy and hints of a nice fragrance; nothing too thick and jelak — a great addition for those looking for a “gravy” to drench the rice with. Only qualm with the green curry though was how the eggplants cold have been cooked to an even softer texture — that would have brought it to a higher level. If anything, the Thai Basil Minced Pork was pretty delicious; just enough fish sauce for that savoury note without being overly wet; hints of a light note of basil that is pretty refreshing even though it does seem to be just a wee bit spicy for those who are not too tolerable to spiciness in general. Overall, a pretty decent plate without being too unnecessarily expensive.

Sure, there are some things which we felt that maknomnom could have done better in terms of their offerings; that being said, we do feel that they do hit that spot for those who are looking for a more-than-decent Thai eatery to lunch at in the Central Business District. It does certainly carry some sort of quality — one that exceeds our initial expectations of what seems to be a simple establishment. Would really like to return to maknomnom to check out the other items that they have some other time!

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The Telok Ayer neighbourhood has recently seen a rising of Thai eateries sprout out around the area recently — whilst we had recently visited Simply Talad by Tin Box at The Clift situated along McCallum Street, Lapin is also a new addition to the area, and takes over the former premises of Kingyo Izakaya along Telok Ayer Street. Decked in a bright pastel colour theme, Lapin vaguely reminds us of Hue — yet another Thai establishment serving up modern contemporary Thai cuisine that is located at Jalan Besar; somewhat giving the street a contrast with its bright and flashy interior. The dining area is split into several sections; the main indoor dining hall, the “porch” area that is located just before the entrance where there are two tables of 6, and two bar tables at the front of the shophouse. Being a modern Thai establishment, Lapin serves up mostly communal dishes best to be shared between two to three pax — the menu features appetisers and sides, mains such as seafood, meat, soups and curries, noodles and rice, as well as quite a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

One of the items that really caught our attention whilst skimming through the menu was the Chef Special Yellow Crab Curry. Said to be a specialty of southern Thailand that comes also with galangal and turmeric, the item is available as-is as a curry, or also with in the form of a special set where it comes with Laksa noodles and assorted vegetables to become a full-fledged main course that can be shared between two. First taste and the Chef Special Yellow Crab Curry was a hit with our taste buds — think the yellow crab curry as a slightly different rendition of the green curry for those who are not too familiar with Thai cuisine; the addition of galangal and turmeric makes for the difference in aesthetics and flavour here where it adopts a yellow appearance and carries a zingy spiciness as opposed to the slightly sweet green curry — that being said, the yellow curry is almost of the same level of richness that is as decadent as the green curry. The inclusion of basil leaves also meant that there is this lingering hint of herb-y notes going around at the back of the taste buds, while they were actually very generous with the portion of crab meat here — definitely an item best to be had with white rice on the side so that there is a vehicle to drench all that yellow crab curry with to mop up everything in that bowl eventually.

Lapin’s menu may not really carry quite a wide variety of offerings as compared to most conventional Thai eateries; the inclusion of some sides such as that of the Truffle Fries in the menu also seems to be a move that is more tuned towards the drinking crowd — not something one will usually find in a usual Thai establishment as well. Still, Lapin does offer some pretty interesting dishes on their menu such as that of the Chef Special Yellow Crab Curry and the Lotus Flower which can be said as rather unique overall. No doubt the prices at Lapin is charged at a slight premium above that of other Thai eateries, but it is pretty much justified with the quality of food that they are putting out, along with the modern approach they are going for in-line with its locality. We were also pretty satisfied by the Sundried Pork Strips and the Pineapple Fried Rice that we also went for here; a spot that we would consider revisiting for some quality Thai food with a modern take!

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Yet one of those days where we made a visit to a spot but was told that there wasn’t any space available for walk-in patrons — and then we found ourselves walking down Circular Road looking for another spot to settle our dinner at. Walked past Bior Restaurant & Bar; a Thai establishment that was recommended by a friend of ours and decided pretty much to just wind up here for dinner instead. Being an establishment that serves Thai cuisine, the menu at Bior Restaurant & Bar offers items ranging from starters to salads, soups, omelette, vegetables, meat, fish and claypot dishes that are pretty much catered for communal dining. However, it is noted that single diners can also opt for soups to be served in a small portion here (the other size option here would be the “large”), whilst also offering rice and noodles as well. Desserts here are pretty much limited to four options — Mango Sticky Rice, Red Ruby and Thai Chendol, while both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages are also available.

Thought that their Thai fare were actually pretty impressive in general but if there was one item we would choose as a favourite — it is probably the Tom Yum Red Chicken. We did feel that they do their Tom Yum soup really well; we were actually pretty intrigued by it when we were skimming through the menu and noticed a photo of the Tom Yum Goong Mama on the menu; hence the choice to go for the Tom Yum Red instead of the Tom Yum Clear. We really liked how this was a good balance of sour and spicy — tangy yet tickles the taste buds; the level of spiciness being just about right for those whom are tolerable to moderate levels of heat, all that together with a slight hint of spices used in the preparation of the soup. The soup comes with a quite a good portion of chicken and some mushrooms within; enough for a single diner to have together with a bowl of rice on the side or even for two to share along with other communal dishes to go along.

Despite being one of those establishments that seem to be more of restaurant-cum-bar concept along Circular Road, Bior Restaurant & Bar dishes out some pretty well-executed Thai dishes for an establishment of its type — really liked their Tom Yum Red Chicken, as well as the Minced Pork with Basil Leaves that was savoury yet fragrant. That being said, we did feel that the food here does seem to contain a bit of MSG though we aren’t particularly sure about it since there were just so much spice involved. The folks here are also pretty friendly — perhaps one of the few establishments of its type that actually does attempt to make connections to its patrons whilst being warm and sincere; it is also little wonder how the patrons here do seem to be regulars as well. Amidst all of the nightclubs and KTVs, as well as the bars and upscale Japanese dining concepts along Circular Road, Bior Restaurant & Bar is a little bit of a hidden gem for something a little more wallet-friendly and family-friendly in the area.

Went past the new Simply Talad by Tin Box at The Clift — the new Thai eatery by the Tin Box Group which runs multiple live music venues takes over the former premises of the now-defunct Taiker Song (some may also associate the shop unit with the now-defunct Ash & Char). Decked with ornaments and wallpapers that are associated with Thai culture, the dining establishment also features two dining areas — one being the main air-conditioned dining hall, and the other being the outdoor space that consist of bar counter seating. The menu at Simply Talad by Tin Box offers patrons with options ranging from rice dishes and noodle dishes, all the way to salads and snacks, as well as communal dishes such as omelette and soups. They also do offer a small selection of desserts on the menu which were unavailable during our visit, which includes the Thai Red Ruby and Thai Roti w. Egg & Banana, whilst they also do serve up both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as well.

Of all the dishes that we have tried, it is the Thai Wanton Mee that we found to be the more well-executed ones of the lot. The Thai Wanton Mee here does come with the usual suspects — wanton, char siew, pork lard and greens. Tossed in the usual clear sauce that is typical of that in Thai-style wanton noodles, the noodles were springy and savoury like how we have expected it to be — served with three wantons, the wantons were also well-packed with meat and carried a good bite with a silken skin. The char siew was from a cut that had a balance of fat and lean meat — pretty decent, while the pork lard was fried to a crisp and provided a contrast of texture with the entire bowl. The Thai Wanton Mee comes accompanied with a bowl of soup and a saucer of chili flakes on the side — adding the chili flakes does ante up the spiciness quite a fair bit, so those whom are not particularly tolerable to spiciness may want to add it in to the bowl of noodles sparingly. The accompanying bowl of soup was actually pretty light and refreshing — coming with daikon, the soup tasted pretty clean save for the slightly peppery finish; something which we could definitely have on its own.

We also have had their Train Fried Rice, Tom Yum Soup (Prawn), and Thai Prawn Cakes; most of which are pretty decent — the Tom Yum Soup (Prawn) being a little bit on the salty side whilst could have been a little spicier for a punchier flavour overall, but still something which we were fine with. That being said, we do feel that the service staff are especially friendly and sincere here — they were not only able to answer queries with regard to the food served, but also were extremely apologetic for items that were not available; they also do engage in small talk and also asking for feedback on the food as well. Whilst there might be some room for them to tweak their recipes further to find a balance between the expats and locals that patronise them, Simply Talad by Tin Box is that sort of place that leaves one in a good mood for a post-workday hangout near the office.

Checked out the new HUE restaurant along Tyrwhitt Road — the F&B establishment that focuses on serving up modern iterations of Thai cuisine is located along the same stretch of shophouses as The Tiramisu Hero, Druggists and Black Fairy Coffee just right across Jalan Besar Stadium. From the outside, the restaurant bears a rather raw and industrial look, but the interiors reveals a really refreshing space where modern contemporary style meets an Asian theme; somehow very soothing, zen and stylish — fits into their character very well. Expect familiar Thai dishes being spruced up in their own style for that touch of modernity here, with funky names such as “Not a Tom Yum”, “Mamasan”, “Three Little Pigs” and “Padthai Remix” for their dishes — there are sections on the menu dedicated for starters, mains and dessert, while beverage options include a wide range of alcoholic options, with a small variety of non-alcoholic drinks available.

Green & Curry is pretty much a word play on the Thai Green Curry — while the Thai classic usually features seafood, chicken and beef options, here they have interestingly done one up that features an assortment of chargrilled vegetables; think items like zucchini, corn, king oyster mushroom, cherry tomato, long bean and garlic. Truth to be told, this rendition, despite sounding pretty vegetarian, was especially delicious — we wouldn’t have expected how the green curry was still as flavourful, and also appreciated the fact how the rendition here didn’t come too creamy so it did not turn into a jelak affair; instead, it was pretty delightful and easy to finish as the green curry just keeps one going for more. We also loved how the produce featured here were fresh; each carrying a texture of their own that helped to keep things interesting — that crunch from the baby corn that gave the dish a bit of sweetness, the juicy cherry tomatoes which gave a good bite and a refreshing zing that cuts through the flavours the green curry, soft bite of the zucchini, and the chewy king oyster mushroom. Needless to say, the Green & Curry would have worked best with rice on the side, but we still mopped up the plate clean nonetheless.

Thai cuisine is something that is rather difficult to justify in the realms of casual dining and fine dining establishments — especially considering how such establishments often end up using premium ingredients for their dishes, resulting in being seen as “less authentic” to the “true spirit of Thai cuisine” to some. HUE restaurant manages this aspect especially well; their touch of the modernity retains some part of the dish in it’s original form; all that whilst switching up the items for a hint of unfamiliarity that seemingly works. Having tried the few dishes that we have ordered, HUE Restaurant’s food definitely left an impression — a spot that is recommended for family gatherings, date nights or even a night’s out for those looking to spend the night with drinks and modern Thai cuisine in a swanky yet relaxing setting. Looking forward to returning to this spot to try out more items soon!

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The Minor Food Group has been expanding their F&B business with new concepts of the late — the group had recently opened Mamma Mia! Trattoria E Caffe at Suntec City Mall, whilst also opening another concept that focus on Thai noodles named Siam Smith Thai Noodle Bar at Palais Renaissance; the former having taking up the space beside a new bar named Binary. Focusing on Thai noodle soups, Siam Smith Thai Noodle Bar features items such as Beef Noodle, Tom Yum Soup Noodle and Soup Noodle with various condiments such as seafood, beef slices, Thai Hainanese Chicken etc. depending on which soup noodle is being opted. They also do offer small bites that are pretty much sides that can be shared around the table, whilst also offering rice dishes for those who aren’t big on the noodle soups — items include Thai Holy Basil Chicken over Rice and a Pan-Seared Salmon over Rice.

It seems that there are intentions to expand Siam Smith Thai Noodle Bar beyond its current operations at Palais Renaissance — the Smith Baked Pie is being mentioned as an exclusive at Palais Renaissance, and is available in three different variations; Beef, Chicken and Seafood. Essentially a baked pie that features Thai Red Curry and fried on the side, we went for the beef rendition — the item also does come with pickled cucumbers on the side as a palate cleanser. Digging into the pie, one will be able to notice how the pie isn’t really quite the ordinary pie — there isn’t a flaky, buttery pastry here; instead, we are greeted with a layer of dough almost akin to that of a Prata (Thai Paper Prata, perhaps?). Conceptually similar to the Massaman Curry with Crispy Thai Prata served at Thai Express but in pie form, we really loved that chewy layer of dough over the top; the perfect vehicle for that creamy, coconut-y rich Thai red curry that is beneath, which eagerly drains out of the bowl as we pulled the pastry apart. Inside the red curry, one can find bits of basil, chili padi, and chunky slices of beef — liked how the beef wasn’t particularly gamey, yet easy-to-chew; the red curry also providing much of the spicy kick that sets the taste buds tingling. The fries came unseasoned; they were crisp without being greasy but otherwise rather decent and nothing much to shout about — we found ourselves dipping them into the red curry to mop up the remaining sauce. The pickled cucumbers were a great break from the heavier flavours going on here; gave a zingy, refreshing crunch.

Whilst we felt that the Creamy Tom Yum lacks a spicy punch that made it feel like it stopped short somewhere (we were told that they adjusted the level of spiciness to suit their clientele here), we were actually really impressed with the Smith Baked Pie; the right notes of creamy, spicy and richness that got us yearning for more; all that with a genius pairing with the right sort of dough — definitely the dish not to be missed when one dines here!

Whilst curating a list of hawker/coffeeshop stalls that I wanted to check out, Huay Kwang Thai Wanton Mee is one of the locations that I have actually planned to check out — its location within Kampong Ubi Industrial Estate though wasn’t quite the easiest place to drop by. Was pretty glad to know that the same folks had recently opened a new standalone eatery along the shops situated at the void deck of Blk 202 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 — can’t really miss their location since they are situated just right beside the coffeeshop. Apart from the Thai Style Char Siew Wanton Mee, Huay Kwang Thai Wanton Mee also serves up other Thai dishes that have been popularised locally in recent years — think items such as Thai Style Pork Trotter Rice, Thai Style Kway Chap amongst others items like Tom Yum Kway Teow and the Char Siew Wanton Black Sauce Noodles as well; just to name a few.

Having wanted to try their Thai-style wanton mee for quite a while now, it is needless to say how I went for the Thai Style Char Siew Wanton Mee. Coming in three different portion sizes (namely Small, Medium and Large), the three sizes do come with a slight variance of the ingredients added. To enjoy the full-on experience, the Large portion will be the way to go; patrons can also opt for noodles to come in a standard portion size, or go for a larger portion of noodles which is a free upgrade with the bigger portion sizes — we went for the standard portion of noodles for our order. Here, the Large portion comes with fried and soup wantons, char siew, pork lard, as well as a mix of Thai fish and pork sausages — also comes with stalks of greens and with noodles (there is an option of Egg Noodles, Mee Pok or Kuay Teow; we went with the Egg Noodles). Of the various Thai-style wanton Mee I have tried, Huay Kwang Thai Wanton Mee’s variant is probably the more balanced one of the lot — came pretty close to Soi19’s rendition for how it was tossed in ample amounts of sauce; not too wet, yet enough to lace every strand of noodle with its lightly savoury goodness. Dousing the entire portion of chili powder into the bowl, it provides for quite a spicy kick that tantalises the tastebuds even for one who is able to take moderate levels of spiciness; enough to get one all sniffling and sweaty from that heat it gives. Between the fried wantons and the soup wantons, I found it surprising that I actually preferred the soup ones more here instead; shaped differently from the fried ones and replicating the form of money bags, I liked how much meat was packed into a single wanton — the meat fillings here are also noticeably less salty than most others though still flavourful. The fried ones are still rather well-executed; fried till golden brown and is crisp and free from grease with a decent portion of meat packed within. The pork lard is also crisp without being too dried up, while the sausages aren’t too dry here — the pork ones being almost similar to that of lupcheong with a softer bite, while the fish one carried an even softer bite when compared against the pork sausages, whilst not being too salty. The Char Siew in this variant is much like the ones from other Thai-style Wanton Mee stalls — nothing particularly inspiring but decent to have.

Given it’s proximity with Ang Mo Kio Central, Huay Kwang Thai Wanton Mee does make for a relatively convenient location to get those Thai-style Wanton Mee cravings satisfied. Whilst we have only given this one item a try, we felt that the execution was actually pretty on point — pretty comparable to the more reputable names serving the same around, though without the crowd. Would say that this is a spot I would not mind returning to — am also pretty interested in the other items such as the Thai Style Kway Chap and Tom Yum Kway Teow if I do drop by again!

Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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