You need to understand Cantonese to get the cheeky wit behind Thai Hou Sek‘s name. Tai is a homonym for ‘very/too much’, and hou sek means delicious. It can therefore be translated as ‘too delicious’, or simply, ‘Thai food is delicious’.
Ignoring the semantics, Thai Hou Sek prides itself in Thai food with a Chinese twist, served in a distinctive setting reminiscent of Bangkok’s colourful Yaowarat Road. Speakeasy vibes abound, accentuated by cosy lighting, a neon-lit elephant and a wall papered with newspaper clippings and vintage posters of Thai ads. Across the room is a mural of King Bhumibol Adjulyadej – in shades. It’s a perfect representation of Thailand, a modernizing country that still holds dear to its roots and traditions. Meanwhile, a bar at the back dishes out both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, from creative signatures such as Thai Hou Yum (jasmine tea, assamboi, lime) and Sparkling Ribena Lychee, to cocktails like Lemongrass Mojito and Cucumber Sake Madness.
The menu is extensive. Choose from mains to share if you’re in a group, or single rice and noodle dishes. The restaurant also offers lunch sets to cater to the weekday office crowd. While you can opt for chicken and seafood, it is clear that pork takes center stage. Expect classic flavours with a modern touch when you tuck into dishes such as Pad Thai with Seafood and Bacon, Pad Kra Pao Pasta, Papaya Salad with Luncheon Meat, and Siu Yuk Tom Yum.
Despite the full house, service was fast and efficient during our visit. C had the classic Pad Kra Pao; stir fried minced pork with basil and chilli padi, served with steaming white rice, fried egg, and a side of crackers. Portion was generous.
Also ordered one of their bestsellers: Siu Yuk Tom Yum. The dish is good enough for 2-3 people, and comes loaded with chunks of roast pork and juicy mushrooms. The soup is everything a good tom yum should be: sour and appetising, great with rice, and spicy with a kick.
I got one of their lunch set options: Tom Yum Mama Noodles with Siew Yuk (RM16.90). The pork is served on a platter with a side of crackers, while the noodles are served in a bowl, topped with egg (look at that beautiful yolk!). Mama Noodles are the Thai equivalent of what Maggi is to Malaysians, and I like the springy, al dente texture. While the soup is not as thick as the Siew Yuk Tom Yum dish, it still packs a punch. Pork skin is crispy and crunchy, and the meat has layers of lean and fat that literally melts in your mouth. If you eat it on its own it might feel a bit greasy, but you can set this off by dunking it into the sour tom yum soup.
You can get a drink with your set lunch for a few extra ringgit. Can’t have a Thai meal without iced Thai milk tea: sweet, cold and refreshing!
For dessert lovers, Thai Hou Sek offers a selection of classics like Mango Sticky Rice, Tab Tim Krop (water chestnut rubies, jackfruit, mango slices, served with vanilla ice cream and coconut milk) as well as Pumpkin Custard and Coconut Ice Cream Surprise.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first time at Thai Hou Sek – service is fast, warm and friendly, food’s great, and the ambience is cosy. It can get pretty crowded over lunch time though, so either come earlier or expect a wait. Prices are above average.
THAI HOU SEK
S132, 2nd Floor, Old Wing, 1 Utama, Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM