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Southeast Asian Delights

Southeast Asian Delights

The best of the vicinity.
Christabel Tan
Christabel Tan

I thought I would always be faithful to mango salad. Not with this Thai Papaya Salad ($5) around.

The word “FLAVOUR” flashed across my eyes, a dizzying display that left me feeling like a deer in headlights. Spicy, tangy, sweet, refreshing – intermingling sensations wrestled with one another for dominance, before being tied together by fresh tomatoes and crunchy, aromatic peanuts.

Executed with aplomb, this must-order of an appetiser bears a fiery heat that eventually settles, giving way to an experience of satisfaction so profound you’ll be asking for more.


Even if you have little tolerance for spicy food, I reckon this Tom Yum River Prawn Noodle ($10.50) shouldn't do you much harm, if any at all. Don't get intimidated by the abundance of herbs and diced red chilli in the thick, aromatic gravy; it's more sour than spicy, but the gradual buildup of heat isn't one to be denied.

They don't skimp on ingredients either. Rice noodles aside, each bowl contains a couple of seafood items (prawn, sotong, mussel), mushrooms and hard-boiled egg. Pretty solid for the price you're paying (that's made even better with Burpple Beyond).

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Sometimes, after placing a large order with mixed expectations, I just get an inkling that some dark horse of a dish will swoop right in and steal the show. The Sticky Shiok Sotong ($17) was THAT dish. It all happened without warning, as I instantly fell prey to the dark, glossy kecap manis glaze.

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Thick, saucy and intense are adjectives that come to mind with regards to the modern local Asian cuisine served here. White rice is a must. So yes, to all my carb-conscious friends out there, you have been warned.

The Chilli Full of Crab Tofu ($19) isn't a complicated dish: crispy soft shell crab and a large slab of beancurd doused in a gravy (spot the crabmeat!) that's sweet and tangy, essentially a milder, toned-down take on the standard chilli crab gravy you find in chain seafood restaurants. Dare I suggest incorporating a bit of spice, and maybe including a couple fried mantous on the side?

The unpictured Hurry Hurry Chicken Curry ($12), boasting potato chunks, a whole chicken leg and a thick, spicy gravy, fell slightly flat. It was lacking a certain depth of flavour and fragrance that would've left a lasting impression.

A decent chicken curry, no doubt, but you'd be better off giving it a miss to make room for the other more noteworthy dishes. I did like the doughy charcoal youtiao, which called for some serious dipping action.

A trip here wouldn't be complete without ordering the Sate Babi ($15.88), Chinese Indonesian style pork satay. The mixed selection of meat, innards and skin is ideal, but as someone who has yet to develop an appreciation for offal, it's nice having the liberty of choice. Unlike our local satay, larger and leaner chunks of pork are glazed with a sweet, sticky soy sauce.

Honestly, I couldn't tell the difference between the Sate Babi Manis (sweet marinated pork satay) and Sate Babi Asin (savoury marinated pork satay). Both possessed a characteristic sweetness and those much welcomed charred bits.

I also tried the Sate Kulit (pork skin satay), which I reckon fans of the gelatinous fatty skin (the kind you find on braised pork belly) will enjoy.

All skewers are served with shredded galangal, green chili shallot pickles and even more sweet soy sauce.

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The solo diner-friendly Nasi Campur Babi ($12.88) is Kota88's signature dish. You get to try a bit of everything; char siew, roast pork, sweet pork satay, braised pig ear, siomay, soy egg, ngoh hiang, and a choice of white or chicken rice. It's fun, it's fresh, it's variety on a plate. Could use some sort of vegetable, but that's just a minor quibble.

For me, the crispy roast pork stood out, and that's what I'll be getting on my next visit.

Tried the Quang-style egg noodles ($11) that came with a dry tiny BBQ pork rib, prawns, fish cakes, peanuts, a cracker and a whole lotta fresh herbs. I didn't think that the noodles would be mee pok noodles, and everything was pretty dry. This also took a really long time to come. Stick to the pho!

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Joining the salted egg bandwagon is the premium crab meat and salted egg char kway teow ($14.95)! I felt like the presentation was a little awkward, with the crab meat and salted egg yolk (of a crumb-like consistency) sprinkled on top. The kway teow was pretty decent but was a little bland flavour-wise, which could've been accentuated with more salted egg yolk.

The mango sticky rice with mango ice cream ($6.50) was pleasant, but otherwise pretty average. Would've preferred for the mango to be served on its own, without the skin!

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Ordered the signature Beef Boat Noodles ($7) and I must say while it may not be the most authentic, this isn't a bad place for satisfying cravings at cheap (gst & service charge - free) prices! Silky rice noodles in a broth bursting with sweet, sour and spicy flavours - but the beef slices could've been a tad more tender.


Indonesian ala-carte buffet dinner: pretty worth it for $28.50/person! Honorable mention goes out to the grilled chicken, vegetables in coconut stew, ladyfingers in bean sauce, fried sweet & sour fish, pickled cucumbers and of course the TAUHU TELUR which was definitely the star dish of the night!

And yes these are only 6 out of the 19 dishes.......

I'll desert you for desserts

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