Review: Thai Hou Sek, 1 Utama – Thai Food With A Twist

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’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Tel: 03-7731-7933

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM

 

Stinky Tofu, Durian & Insects: Would You Try These ‘Exotic’ Foods?

Hey, guys!

Been meaning to blog more, but like the stereotypical millennial, I’ve been making poor life choices lately (like staying up until 3am every day. To play Witcher 3.)

But I digress. 

This post was inspired by a recent hotpot dinner, where I ordered century eggs. Whenever I have them, I’m reminded of a good friend of mine and how horrified he was when I sent him a picture of my “rotten” dinner (century eggs with porridge). This coming from a Finn, who eats blood cakes for lunch and enjoys salmiakki as a treat lol.

Jokes aside, I can see how food in some cultures can be viewed as gross to others. Before sushi was popularised in the West, many considered the idea of eating raw fish downright unhygienic / disgusting. But as with everything else, cultures and attitudes can change – and I think people are much more adventurous these days when it comes to food. So without further ado: here’s a fun list of ‘bizarre’ foods (I love that show, by the way) that I’ve tried. Let me know what you think and if you’d be willing to try them!

CENTURY EGGS

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For those who have never seen a century egg, it’s understandable to think it’s rotten – especially since the yolk is completely black and the albumen takes on a translucent, jelly-like appearance. A traditional delicacy in China, they are typically made from duck, chicken or quail eggs preserved in a mix of ash, clay, salt, quicklime and rice hulls for up to several months. The eggs have a pungent odour of hydrogen sulfide/ammonia, which comes from the preservative mix.In Malaysia where there is a large Chinese diaspora, century eggs are pretty common, and you can get them at the local market or Chinese grocers.

How it tastes: The jellied part tastes just like regular hard boiled egg but saltier, while the yolk has a rich and creamy consistency that is almost like avocado. Traditionally, century eggs are eaten together with slices of ginger (to cut through the pungency), but I like having it chopped up in porridge or served with noodles.

STINKY TOFU 

If there’s one food that epitomises the saying ‘its bark is worse than its bite’, it would be stinky tofu – a popular snack at night markets in China, Taiwan and Chinese-centric areas in Malaysia. As the name suggests, stinky tofu is, well, stinky. The best way I can describe it is if you mixed unwashed socks with the smell of wet dog and sewage, lol. The odour is a result of the tofu’s fermentation: traditionally, the tofu is marinated in a brine made from fermented milk, veggies and meat (recipes vary), and left to soak for several days to months. It is then served in soups, steamed or deep fried.

How it tastes: If you can get over the vulgar odour, stinky tofu is actually quite tasty, with a crispy exterior and light, fluffy insides. Here in Malaysia, it is usually served deep fried with a topping of chilli and various seasonings like soy sauce, which helps to mask the smell a little. It also has a somewhat… addictive quality. You know like how stinky feet is stinky but you’re still sort of drawn to it against your will ? …. or is that just me?

FERMENTED BEANCURD

广合腐乳
Victor-boy / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Yes, yes, we Chinese do love our preserved/ fermented food stuffs – but you have to understand that most of these were created in a time before refrigeration existed, so people had to come up with all sorts of ways to keep food edible for months, sometimes years. Fermented beancurd is commonly used as a condiment in Chinese cuisine, and there are several varieties, most of which have strong, pungent flavours (see a pattern here?). They are also nutritious, since tofu is very high in protein and contains virtually no cholesterol. Think of it as Chinese cheese.

How it tastes : Tofu on its own has no taste, so the beancurd takes on the flavour of whatever it is brined in. The most common type is the white one which has sugar, salt, chilli and rice wine. If you think about the culturing, it’s not unlike kombucha. Personally, I prefer the red fermented beancurd (nam yu) which incorporates red yeast rice. It has a pleasant, thick and rich aroma – great for deep fried pork ribs!

FROG FALLOPIAN TUBES (?) 

Sometimes I think this is why people say the Chinese eat all sorts of sh*t, lol. Officially it is called hasma (in Cantonese, we call it ‘suet kap’) – basically dried fatty tissue from the fallopian tubes of certain types of frogs, typically the Asiatic Grass Frog. It is whitish in appearance, has a slimy texture, and is used as an ingredient in dessert soups. Back in the day, it was a luxurious item that would only be served to emperors and nobles. When I was a kid, my mom would boil these because in traditional Chinese medicine, suet kap is believed to have multiple health benefits, such as being good for the skin and respiratory system. I guess if I was an adult and someone told me I was eating frog fallopian tubes, I’d be hesitant but since I literally grew up eating this it doesn’t seem so gross.

How it tastes : Like birds nest, hasma is tasteless on its own, and is usually flavoured with rock sugar in dessert soups.

DURIAN

Ah, the king of fruits. I’m not a diehard fan as some of my fellow Malaysians are – if you served me durian I’d probably eat it – but I wouldn’t go out of my way to look for it. Malaysians love durian though: we even have ‘durian buffets’ where you can eat to your hearts fill.

Durian has an extremely pungent smell. There have even been cases where buildings were evacuated due to ‘suspected gas leaks’ – turns out someone brought some durians on-site. Personally I don’t find the texture or flavour intolerable. BUT. I have been told that durians that have been shipped overseas taste gross, because of how it has been shipped / the durians are way past their prime. Then again, Andrew Zimmerns had a freshly opened durian in Asia, and he described it as having a ‘taste like completely rotten mushy onions’. So, if you ever get to try it, I’ll let you be the judge.

How it tastes : Heaven … or hell. There is no in between. For me, it has a texture and taste similar to sweet custard, but with a much stronger flavour.

ESCARGOTS

How to eat escargots
DanceWithNyanko / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

Escargots are a good example of the powers of branding. How else can you explain why snails – something people usually see as slimy and icky – are considered a gourmet delicacy, served in fine dining restos and high-end establishments? Escargot is associated with French cuisine, but it is served in many parts of Europe. The snails are usually from the species Helix pomatia. Here in Malaysia, we have our own version, called balitong – small sea snails that are a pain to suck out of their shells and have a texture similar to a chewy clam, cooked in sambal/chilli.

How it tastes : I had escargot once, on my grad trip. It was cooked in garlic butter which made the dish very fragrant, and the snails had a bouncy texture which I enjoyed.

SALMIAKKI 

Halva - Väkevä Salmiakki
Tiia Monto / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

Weird as some of the items on this list may seem, I enjoy most of them – with the exception of salmiakki. Also called salty liquorice, it is a common confectionery in Nordic countries. The candy is flavoured with salmiak salt (ammonium chloride), giving it a strong astringent and salty taste. These days, you can find salmiakki flavoured ice cream, chewing gum and even alcoholic beverages.

How it tastes: My Finnish friend sent me a box of these. I love you bud, but by god. Our friendship was tested that day. It was not only extremely salty to the point of being bitter, for some reason it also reminded me of burnt rubber tyres – like if someone tried to make that into a flavour, it would taste like salmiakki.

Never again.

You know shit is real when Japs, known for their extreme politeness, react this way lol.

INSECTS 

Cambodia 08 - 035 - insects for snacks at the market (3198822589)
McKay Savage from London, UK / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Eating insects is considered taboo in the West, but here’s a fun fact: insects are eaten by about 80 percent of the world’s population, a practice known as entomophagy. In recent times, companies are trying to introduce insects into the Western diet as part of the sustainability movement, since they are extremely high in protein and available in abundance – making insect-eating much more environmentally friendly. For some countries, eating insects stems from a history of poverty; people had to make do with whatever they could catch. Deep fried insects, such as crickets and grasshoppers, are common street food snacks in countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

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How it tastes : I don’t really like insects – how they look, how they crawl, etc. so it was difficult to get over that mental barrier of eating them. Took the plunge on a trip to Phuket. They didn’t taste bad or anything – it was just like eating crispy whitebait (I had crickets). The silkworms had a chewy exterior and crumbly insides, which I actually liked more than the crickets.

BALUT

Inside a Balut - Embryo and Yolk
Marshall Astor from San Pedro, United States / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

The idea of eating a developing duck/chicken embryo sounds abhorrent. But if you think about it, balut is really just that – an egg. With a baby duck in it. And feathers. lol.

Commonly sold on the streets in the Philippines, balut eggs are boiled and eaten from the shell, with the eggs incubated for a period between 14 to 21 days. You crack it open and suck out the broth, dip it into some vinegar or salt, and eat the yolk and the chick.

How it tastes : I first tried balut in LA’s Filipinotown. I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater, but even I couldn’t stop the involuntary churning in my stomach as I cracked the shell open and saw the half-formed chick inside. When I finally summoned up enough courage to eat it, I was… surprised. It just tasted like egg / chicken (I mean, duh). Still, not something for the faint-hearted.

 

What are some dishes in your culture that other people might see as weird / exotic? Share them with me in the comments below! 🙂 

Review: Chiang Rai Style Restaurant, Bandar Puchong Jaya

Next to Malaysian cuisine, Thai food holds a special place in my heart (or should I say, stomach?), thanks to its unique flavours (sweet, salty, sour, savoury and spicy), and liberal use of spices and herbs, which Malaysians love. The city of Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand is especially famed for its cuisine, which has influences from neighbouring cultures such as Burmese, Laotian and Chinese.

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There’s a Chiang Rai Style Restaurant in Bandar Puchong Jaya that dishes out northern Thai cuisine, so the fam and I went there one weekend to satiate our cravings. The resto is simple and sparsely furnished, but one comes here for the food and not the ambience. Even so, expect to fork out above average prices for their dishes.

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Framed photographs of the Thai royal family adorn one side of the wall, alongside faded photographs of the dishes they serve.

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Minced chicken/pork with basil is a must-have at any Thai restaurant, so we ordered one (chicken). The version here came served on tomato slices with deep fried century eggs, which was a nice addition. The minced chicken meat was tender and juicy, having fully absorbed the juices from the stir frying process.

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Can’t go to a Thai resto and not have tom yum. We opted for a small pot, which came chock full of seafood – clams, shrimp, mushrooms, squid. A rather rare ingredient that they use here is crab; you don’t see that too often in other places. Tastewise, the broth was not too strong but still sour and appetising enough to go with bowls of rice.

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I enjoyed their stuffed chicken wings with chilli dip. The wings are deboned then stuffed with rice noodles and pork, so you get crispy chicken skin on the outside, juicy minced meat on the inside, and a springy, crunchy and slightly gelatinous bite from the rice noodles.

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All in all, a good spot to satisfy your Thai food cravings in Puchong. 🙂

CHIANG RAI STYLE RESTAURANT

No 12A-01, Jalan Kenari 18A,
Bandar Puchong Jaya,
47100 Puchong, Selangor

Phone: +603-8070 9686
Opening hours: 10.30AM – 3.00PM, 5.00PM – 10.30PM

Best Tom Yum and Fried Squid @ Thai Thai, Sunway Pyramid

Been awhile since I went to Sunway Pyramid! The original plan was to have hotpot with C, but we ended up getting Thai food instead at Thai Thai. Despite being rather pricey, they’ve been consistently good on previous visits, and they did not disappoint this time either.

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The interior hasn’t changed much – but they added some colourful murals of plants/flowers and animals on one side of the wall.

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Thirst quenchers: Ice blended coconut shake and iced three-layer Thai milk tea. A bit hard to drink because they don’t give straws anymore, but gotta do our part for the environment!  The coconut shake was refreshing and sweet – good ice to coconut ratio. Milk tea was milky but not too sweet.

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I highly recommend getting the Tom Yum (you can choose from chicken, seafood or shrimp). We ordered the chicken for 2 pax (RM39++). It was hard to get the soup out with the spoon because the pot was kinda narrow – but taste wise, this is one of the better tom yum soups that I’ve had in the Klang Valley. Sour with a spicy kick (but not to the point that you breathe fire; just makes you sweat a little), it’s chock full of flavour from the lemongrass, chilli and other herbs. The chicken meat was also cooked to tender perfection. You can easily polish off bowls of rice with this.

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I also suggest getting the fried squid appetiser. Coated in crisp batter, the springy pieces of squid come with a sweet Thai chilli dip.

We only ordered two dishes to go with our rice because the stuff is rather pricey, but they have loads of other dishes as well, such as the popular Thai basil chicken, fried omelette, steamed fish, mango sticky rice, and more.

Prices average from RM20+ up to RM60++ for dishes such as the whole fish.

Thai-Thai Restaurant
LOT G1-135.Oasis Boulevard, Sunway Pyramid, No.3, Jalan PJS 11/15, Bandar Sunway,46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel: 03-74919428

Business hours: 10am – 10pm (daily).

Review: Mor Mu Dong, Phuket – The Michelin Bib Restaurant In A Mangrove Swamp

When I went to Phuket recently, I wanted to look for off-the-beaten path experiences to write about, rather than the usual attractions. That was how I stumbled upon Mor Mu Dong, a hidden gem in the Chalong district that apparently has a Michelin Bib Gourmand (it’s kinda like a ‘budget’ Michelin star award).

Because it’s far from commercial centres and rather difficult to find, not many foreigners frequent the place. It is, however, very popular with the locals – which is always a sure sign of a winner!

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Our driver took us through small roads past quaint housing estates, until we pulled up to a …mangrove swamp? The place looked trippy: there was a garden filled with shrooms (mushroom shaped buildings, that is) and various nipah huts, some floating over the water’s edge, others on stilts over the sand. You dine cross-legged on the floor in the private huts, while the larger huts have simple plastic tables and chairs.

 

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Despite the scorching weather, it was surprisingly cool inside one of the larger huts. The rustic settings were quaint and charming – from the old-school calendars (the type where you have to tear off pages each day), to the standing fans set up at strategic corners for better ventilation and cooling. Peering up, we noticed that the inside of the roof had been covered with cartoon bed sheets, presumably for an extra layer of protection against the heat.

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View from our table!

It was lunch time and the restaurant was filled with locals, mostly families. There was only one other foreign couple. There are waiters here who speak English though, and the menu has an English translation. Food is Thai style and they have lots of dishes, from chicken, pork and beef to seafood offerings, veggies, tofu and egg.

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If you like spicy food, their signature is the Pla Tu Yat Sai, or boneless mackerel. This tedious dish involves deboning the fish and blending the scraped flesh with chilli paste and curry powder, before stuffing it back into the fish and deep frying it. When we ordered, the waitress cautioned it would be spicy, but thankfully my Malaysian palate held up well (ie some sniffling but no pain in the ears or crying). Really liked how crispy it was on the outside, and packed with the flavour of fish and spices on the inside.

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We also ordered stir-fried squid with garlic (fresh and garlicky!), flambe-style morning glory and Tom Kha Gai (chicken boiled with coconut milk and galangal), which was good but not as good as the one we had at OrientAsia @ Movenpick Karon Beach. The dishes were served with pineapple and guava slices as well as cucumbers and long beans with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.

While the settings are rustic and the service is basic, Mor Mu Dong is a must for those looking for an unconventional dining experience – and prices are reasonable too!

HOW TO GET THERE 

Look out for Phuket Zoo as a landmark. Turn left down the last road before Palai Seafood on the beach and  carry on until you see a blue Luk Lay restaurant sign. Keep going straight and turn into the first lane heading right.

MOR MU DONG 

9/4 Moo 3, Soi Pa Lai, Chao Fa Road, Mueang, Phuket

Business hours: 10AM – 9.30PM (Daily)

Tel: +66 (0)76 282 302

Travelogue: One Night In Singapore

Where would you go if you only had a couple of hours in Singapore? 

Some might make a beeline for Clark Quay and its vibrant bar and club scene, or maybe Orchard Road & Bugis for a spot of late night shopping – but being the nerd that I am, I wanted to go see the Super Trees @ Gardens by the Bay. LOL.

9.00PM

C and I set out from our hotel at Shangri-La, where we took a Grab to the nearest MRT (Somerset – red) and traveled to Dhoby Ghaut. There, we changed to the yellow line heading to Promenade. Gardens by the Bay is literally at the station’s doorstep.

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Spanning over 100 hectares, Gardens by the Bay is one of Singapore’s most visited attractions, with beautifully landscaped gardens, conservatories and groves – a literal green oasis in the middle of the city. Walking through the nicely manicured lawns and neat pavements, one can’t help but marvel at the ingenuity behind its design and architecture, as well as the massive effort it must take to upkeep the place.

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The highlight of the Gardens is the Supertree Grove – towering structures of light and steel made to resemble – you guessed it – trees. I think they’ve become even more iconic since the Crazy Rich Asian film: think Singapore, think Supertree Grove.

Theyre’ not only there to look pretty: the trees are essentially ‘vertical’ gardens, with complex technologies such as photovoltaic cells that help it to harness solar energy for the plants, a rainwater collection system for irrigation, as well as air intake and exhaust functions for the conversatories’ cooling systems.

There are light and sound shows twice daily at 7.45 and 8.45PM. Too bad we missed it by the time we arrived. There’s also a restaurant up in one of the trees, and a pedestrian bridge ( you need to pay for that though) if you want to get upclose to the structures.

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A great spot for photos is this illuminated bridge that connects different parts of the vast park, as you’ll be able to see some of the super trees as well as the Singapore Flyer in the distance.

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Also close to the Promenade side of the Gardens is the iconic Marina Bay Sands building,  designed to resemble a ship at the top. There is a convenient pedestrian bridge linking the two, so we made a quick detour to see the sights before returning to the MRT station.

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Tree-lined pedestrian avenue.

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The grand interior of one of the buildings.

10.30 PM

From Promenade, we rode the MRT one stop to Nicoll Highway – C’s usual haunt for food back when she was still working in Singapore. We hadn’t had dinner and our stomachs were rumbling by the time we got to the Golden Mile Complex, which C described as ‘shady but they have good food’ lol. Anything for good food!

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Built in 1973, Golden Mile is an old but clean (is there anywhere dirty in Singapore even?) shopping complex that reminded me strongly of KL’s Ampang Park. Like how Lucky Plaza is a hub for the Filipino community in Singapore, Golden Mile plays host to many Thai businesses, including numerous mookata (grill and steamboat) buffet joints, karaoke spots, mobile phone shops, bars, clubs and the like.

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We popped into a random one that was packed despite the late hour and got a set for two, which was chicken and seafood. Did not realise that it came with liver or would have skipped this, but the rest of the items were good, especially the chicken meat which had been marinated in a flavourful garlicky concoction. Shrimps were large and meaty, but I do wish they had given us a bit more squid.

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For those of you who have never tried mookata, all I can say is that you’re really missing out! It’s extremely popular in Thailand, where it is known as mu kratha, and features a uniquely designed pot with deep edges for boiling, and an elevated centre for grilling. They give you a few slabs of lard to ‘oil’ the grill with, so the meat comes out tasting extra fragrant.

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Of course, no meal would be complete without the quintessential Thai milk tea. The version served here was humongous; almost as tall as my head.

Our meal came up to SGD  25 per pax (screaming at self not to convert it into ringgit) which was reasonable given the portions.

1.30 AM
The last train back to Somerset ran until 12.30AM, and it took us another hour to book a Grab because there were problems with C’s SIM – but all in all, a good couple of hours spent taking in a slice of Singapore. Hope this helps if you’re ever in town for a super short stay. 🙂

 

Review: Sawadeethai, Bandar Puteri Puchong

The Pops celebrated his b’day recently. The initial plan was to head to a Nyonya restaurant in Bandar Puteri Puchong for dinner. Upon arriving however, we discovered that said eatery had been replaced by a place selling Thai food. 😦

Not wanting to waste any more time, we decided to give Sawadeethai a shot.

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Quite empty despite being a weekend. The interior looks pretty generic: marble tabletops and dark wood furniture; the only indication that it is a Thai restaurant being the framed elephant tapestries at the back.

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Our orders were served up reasonably fast. First, fragrant Thai rice, served in a classic silver rice pot.

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Green curry chicken, loaded with an assortment of vegetables and tender, boneless chicken chunks. The coconut milk was pronounced but not overpowering, and it was not too spicy (which can be good or bad, depending on how much kick you like).

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One of my favourite things to order at a Thai restaurant – grilled pork skewers! These were the right balance of lean and fat, tender and flavourful with a slight char.

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Stir fried kailan. The red chilli was just for garnishing as it was not spicy. Vegetables were fresh and crunchy.

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Pandan chicken – boneless chicken pieces wrapped in fragant pandan leaves and deep fried. Again, flavour was just right without being overly salty, and the chicken was juicy with a nice, crisp exterior. Good stuff.

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The only hit and miss was the squid. Unlike the Chinese-style which usually has a crumbly coating, this version’s batter resembled the Malay-style cumi-cumi goreng more. Each piece was probably 60-70% batter over squid, and the coating was tasteless. It was only decent with the sweet lemon sauce.

All in all our bill came up to just over RM100, which was pretty reasonable, as the portions are generous. A good place to go to if you’re craving Thai food and don’t want a long line.

SAWADEE THAI RESTAURANT

22, Jalan Puteri 2/3, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 10AM – 3PM, 5PM – 10PM

 

Review: Authentic Thai Food @ Frame Thai, Happy Mansion, Section 17 PJ

As I’m sure it is with many other workplaces, “what to eat” is a question we ask everyday in our office. One of my colleagues said he knew this place for awesome Thai food – although he did caution that it would be ‘a little hot’. We were game.

That’s how we ended up at Frame Thai @ Happy Mansion in Section 17, PJ. For those not familiar with the area, Happy Mansion is made up of a few old flats, with the ground floor revitalised to house chic cafes and eateries. Frame Thai occupies a small corner at the back, and can be easy to miss because of its tiny shopfront. It also looks nothing like a restaurant from the outside.

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Gas cylinders, trash bags and cartons, some Thai groceries, dimly lit interior. If the colleague hadn’t pointed it out I would have walked right past, thinking it was a grocery store. Don’t be fooled though – this is probably one of the most authentic Thai outlets I’ve been to in PJ/KL.

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You know sht is real when they have durians

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The inside was extremely stuffy, and I felt sweat trickling down my back. The few fans (it was not air conditioned) provided little ventilation, and heat/smoke from cooking filled the air. Definitely not a place you can ‘hang out and chill’. The upside was that there were lots of Thais dining, and you know what they say about restaurants – if you want authentic food, always look to see if there are locals dining there.

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Part of the menu. You can opt to order single dishes with rice/noodles, or sharing dishes for larger groups.

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A backroom with groceries (sauces, snacks, canned goods) imported from Thailand.

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One does not simply go to a Thai restaurant and not have Thai Milk Tea. The version here was not overly sweet, with a nice fragrance from the orange blossom water (which also gives it its signature orange tinge).

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The colleagues both went for the Spicy Basil Chicken Rice, which came served with a fried egg. Tried a bit and by god it was spicy. But as CH puts it, “It hurts so good.” Flavour was excellent, though. For those who like their spices to pack a punch, this will hit the spot.

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I went for the grilled pork skewers (three pieces – RM10) and spicy sausage. Both were really tasty and great with rice. The sausage had a strong flavour of lemongrass and sported a chewy casing that contrasted nicely with the mushiness of the mashed meat on the inside. Pork skewers were grilled and basted to sweet perfection, smoky, tender and juicy. Meat lovers will really enjoy this – I certainly did.

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Last but not least, we cooled down with a creamy coconut ice cream, garnished with crunchy peanuts. Again, not too sweet but just right, creamy without being cloying.

Frame Thai is a great lunch/dinner spot that is the epitome of good Thai food – not fancy, no frills, and even though the experience dining in was slightly uncomfortable due to the cramped space and stuffy interior, the food was rewarding. The fact that the staff + diners are all Thai means that you’re getting some of the most authentic Thai food this side of PJ/KL. Would love to return to try some of their other dishes.

  • Service: 4/5 (fast and fairly efficient)
  • Food: 4.5/5
  • Ambience: 2/5 – hot, stuffy but kinda rustic, like you’re dining in an actual street side stall somewhere in Thailand
  • Price: reasonable, around RM10+ for single meals.

FRAME THAI 

AG-3, Ground Floor,Block A, Happy Mansion, Jaya,, Jalan 17/13, Seksyen 17, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Opening hours: Daily (10AM-8PM, closed Wednesdays)

Phone: +60 3-7954 4688