Kaffir & Lime
Think of Kaffir & Lime as a refined Thai Express. Both have the same menu—the only difference is that the front page of the former’s menu is devoted to dishes that use both the kaffir leaf and lime. As such, don’t expect anything out of the ordinary. The fare here is pretty commonplace (think breaded chicken with lime sauce; sea bass with lime sauce; and stuffed cucumber in lime sauce soup). Still if you’re in the area and want a quick bite, (and your expectations aren’t insanely high), this place will do just fine.
Located in Paragon’s basement, Kaffir & Lime can be quite easily lost in the scores of other restaurants that populate the area. The reason why it’s not is simple: It sports ThaiExpress’ distinct orange colors, and a long queue to boot. Kaffir & Lime is the latest new concept by the huge ThaiExpress Group who already count New York New York, Xin Wang, Pin Le, Shokudo, Double Bay and Tang Dian Wang among its siblings. The first thing you probably guessed when we said “long queue” is that these guys don’t take reservations. Bingo. Honestly, Kaffir & Lime is more like a refined ThaiExpress. Both have the same menu—it’s just that the front page of the former’s menu is devoted to dishes that use both the kaffir leaf and lime—both essentials in Thai cooking. The rest of its menu is available at ThaiExpress. Alright, we thought. Why not try? We hadn’t eaten at ThaiExpress for yonks simply because of the many new restaurants popping up everywhere. After queuing for a while, we got into the open-concept restaurant, which was pretty packed; with servers buzzing everywhere and the strange small puddles of water we see at every ThaiExpress outlet. So of course we selected dishes that consisted of the kaffir-and-lime combo for which the restaurant was named. We decided to complement our plain white rice with the starter of breaded chicken with lime sauce accompanied with a limey dip, which was crispy and fairly tasty, but extremely commonplace. OK, we thought. The mains had better live up to it. Sadly, this wasn’t really the case. The sea bass with lime sauce comprised a rather small fish, deep-fried to a golden brown, with (you guessed it) copious amounts of lime and kaffir leaves strewn on top. Again, it was serviceable, but the fish was really way too small for the price (we kind of got more bones than fish). But the stuffed cucumber in lime sauce soup made up for the two dishes. Consisting of a spicy, tangy broth peppered with large chunks of hollowed cucumber pieces filled with meat, this soup was the highlight of the meal—it was different, tasty and left a strong impression. Although our Chiangmai mango milkshake and red rubies with coconut ice-cream weren’t too bad—the former was nice, thick and flavorful, the latter had crunchy ruby bits and fresh coconut ice-cream—we wish ThaiExpress had tried harder to impress us—with service that was less surly and more careful (we almost got our heads knocked into by an oblivious server); dishes that were more authentic and tastier; and a better setting overall. But maybe for the prices, no one expects too much. Still, we did.
If you're craving Thai curries, papaya salad or just stir-fried pad ka prao (basil leaves and minced pork), this list of what is arguably the best Thai restaurants in Singapore got you covered.