Soht & Baay

ION Orchard is a schizoid mall: The lower levels are filled with food‑crazy Singaporeans and writhing shoppers—whilst the higher levels are where tai‑tais roam coolly. One weekend, we escaped to the higher levels and realized … there was nothing to eat. Finally, like an oasis in the middle of a desert, we spied the gleaming new, two‑story hope that was the first local outlet of Thailand’s Soht & Baay. So we climbed up and were greeted … with an empty restaurant. Seriously. No one was about, which made us paranoid—in a food‑reviewer kind of way. Our budding suspicions were laid to rest when we were served: The staff, while helpful, were glaringly untrained (they didn’t give us fresh towels). However, the interior was pretty cool (especially the window seats), with shelves of little (crystal? plastic? glass?) Buddhas and stately stone replicas placed strategically. While the décor was okay, the lighting was way too dim. Finally, our award‑winning tom yum kung arrived. It smelled and tasted fabulous, after the server had painstakingly apportioned it out. The soup had just enough body; was suitably spicy; and had just the right dash of sour/tangy. However, we would have loved more seafood. Ditto for the gang keow wan talay (authentic green curry with squid, shrimp, fish and eggplant). It was one of the best green curries we’d had in yonks—it was thick and flavorful, with a delightful creamy body and earthy texture. Again, we could have done with a more generous serving and more seafood—there were only bits finding their way amid lots of random vegetables—an injustice; considering the price. Next, we had the pricy plaa‑krapong tod nam plaa (golden‑fried sea bass with shredded mango red onion fish sauce)—which was fresh, crispy and tasty; but not earth‑shaking. Our meal ended with the usual mango sticky rice —which came with three tri‑colored mounds of rice flavored with a flower, coffee and beetroot—a tasty and innovative take on the dessert. Overall, Soht & Baay has potential, but it needs to look at how to offer better service and value‑for‑money before it becomes exceptional.Have you tried the Deep Fried Sea Bass? It’s one of I-S Magazine’s 50 things to eat in Singapore before you die (2010).