Thai Thai

The year’s coming to a close and we hear the sounds of annual leave forms being filed and, hopefully, approved. While there are more than a handful of destinations on our travel wish list, one of our favorite go to spots is always Thailand. That’s thanks, in no small way, to the fantastic food and lively entertainment, at a smidgen of what you’d normally have to shell out for a gay, old time. Here are our picks for some of the city’s best Thai restaurants, to tide you over till you can make a break for it.
33 Hyderabad Rd., 6476-9000.
Nestled in charming Hort Park, visiting this establishment is almost a trip in itself. With the view of the lush greenery in the glow of the sunset, you could almost believe you’re somewhere else entirely. The relaxed ambiance and lovely alfresco area have all you need for a romantic meal. But it’s not all about the ambiance, though that’s certainly divine. The food’s good too. Ease yourself gently into the evening with a grilled salmon soufflé on lemongrass sticks, dressed with a red curry sauce and sitting on a pomelo salad ($16), or some deep fried banana flowers with sweet chili sauce ($12). If you’re looking to build up a slow burn, the gaeng massaman—a slow-braised lamb shank in a massaman gravy ($32) is a good option. Alternatively, the wok-fried chicken with cashew nuts, spring onions and sweet chili jam ($22) is a tasty dish and only mildly spicy. The black sticky rice and date pudding, with mango ice cream and tamarind caramel sauce ($14) makes for a sweet end to your meal. And while the fare here tends to be more subtle in flavor, don’t let that deter you. The entire experience is a thoroughly pleasant one.
Patara Fine Thai Cuisine
#03-14 Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Rd., 6737-0818.
A short distance from the center of town is 18-year-old Patara Fine Thai. In the fickle world of F&B, we reckon its continued endurance speaks to the quality of the food served here. Expect an elegant restaurant that’s not the least bit stuffy (thank goodness!), with a clear focus on good, simple Thai cuisine; with dark wood accents and traditional fixtures completing the desired effect. For a real feast, order their seven-course lunch or dinner sets ($68) that feature classics such as Tom Kha Goong and Som Tum (spicy green papaya salad with prawns and toasted coconut). Other highlights include beef green curry with sweet basil, grilled beef/pork/prawns wrapped in betel nut leaves and Gang Kua Goong Sapparod (prawns and pineapple in a mild yellow curry). We should probably mention that the food is served on Benjarong (Thai porcelain), so you can dine like Thai royals do. If you fancy an attempt at doing it yourself, they also offer cooking classes so you can learn how to get it right.
28 Liang Seah St., 6337-5535.
Before you go off on an unsavory train of thought, we feel inclined to state that this joint has nothing to do with that business whatsoever, so get your minds out of the gutter people. This is actually Pornsak Prajakwit’s casual eatery (you should already know him from his TV work), but it does style itself as Sexy Thai Food. We’re not entirely sure about that, but we can certainly vouch for the delicious grub in a back-to-basics themed setting, with white walls and playful graffiti. We suggest giving the fried stuffed chicken wings a go ($8.50 for three), with a minced meat, mashed roasted chestnut and vermicelli filling, as well as the Pad Thai hor kai ($9.90), with noodles done just right and encased in a thin-skinned omelet (add a dash of sugar for a different taste sensation). Other staples include tom yum goong ($10.90), which packs a powerful lemongrass punch in its clear, spicy broth, and Thai green curry (also $10.90), with plenty of tender chicken strips in a rich, coconutty gravy. Wash it down with some ice cold lemongrass juice ($4.50) and Thai roselle and lime ($3.90), both light and refreshing beverages that are perfectly suited to calm your palate. A great spot for fuss-free Thai, just be sure to make a reservation on the weekends as it’s proving to be extremely popular with the younger crowd (hoping to catch a glimpse of Porn himself perhaps).
Soht & Baay
#04-11/05-01 ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, 6509-6058.
The highly-successful Soht & Baay, a direct export from Thailand, is helmed by the modest and cheerful chef Apasara. Its dominance spans two floors in the eclectic ION Orchard, but we suggest eating at the main bright and airy dining room, which affords a view of Orchard Road (if that’s your thing). If not, the food itself is definitely noteworthy. Until the end of Nov, kick things off with some special salad options, such as an unusual coconut shoot salad done in “Som Tum” style with charcoal-grilled jumbo prawns, or papaya strips accompanied by fried chicken wings and crunchy julienned cucumbers that contrast beautifully with crispy soft shell crab (from $15.90). Be sure to try the award-winning Tom Yum Kung ($13.90)—a full-bodied soup that’s both perfectly tangy and spicy. Another standout performer is the Plaa Krapong Tod Namplaa ($7/100g)—a whole sea bass fried till a golden crisp best enjoyed with a tart combination of shredded mango, red onions and homemade fish sauce. Scrumptious crab dishes are also available from now through Dec, including fresh blue crab in an intoxicating turmeric gravy, addictive black pepper soft shell crabs tossed with kaffir lime leaves and yet more crabs in a coconut milk-based sauce of tamarind, red onions and chili (from $15.90).
Other Highlights
Indulge in more Thai at these fine establishments:

Diandin Leluk
#03-25 Golden Mile Complex, 5001 Beach Rd., 6396-5515.
First Thai
23 Purvis St., 6339-3123.
Jim Thompson
45 Minden Rd., 6475-6088.
Mai Thai
#01-58 Blk. 44 Jalan Merah Saga, Chip Bee Gardens, 6474-3108.
Tawandang Microbrewery
#01-01, 26 Dempsey Rd., 6476-6742.
Thanying Restaurant
G/F Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa, 1 Larkhill Rd., 6825-3881.
Cooking Classes
The following places will have you perfecting your Pad Thai in no time:
Patara Fine Thai Cuisine
#03-14 Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Rd., 6737-0818.
Coriander Leaf
#02-03, 3A Merchant Court, Clarke Quay, River Valley Rd., 6732-3354.