Tarte by Cheryl Koh (Pastry chef at 2 Michelin star Les Amis)

Tarte-by-Cheryl-Koh

I’m not the type of person that goes gaga over desserts. I am faintly bemused by the parade of unicorn shakes, cheese drinks, bingsu and HK egg waffles that has taken over the minds of the populace by storm. I enjoy desserts, I just don’t normally seek them out. Tarte by Cheryl Koh was an exception. I made a pilgrimage after my Shisen Hanten lunch so I could check them out. Cheryl bakes all of the tart bases here personally!

Tarte-by-Cheryl

Cheryl Koh was awarded Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2016 by S.Pellegrino’s 50 Best list. She’s also the resident pastry chef of 2 Michelin star Les Amis. That’s very impressive credentials and the tarts she serves has an equally impressive price tag. Tarte by Cheryl Koh sells each small tart for SGD 10 (SGD 11 for dine in) which is high even by Singaporean standards. Despite that, I saw a constant stream of people dropping in to takeaway some tarts. I wanted to experience the café so I ordered a latte (around SGD 8) to go with my sweet tart.

Seasonal-Fig-Tart

I asked the girl which tart she thinks is best and she recommended the seasonal fig tart (SGD 11). There are beautiful slices of fresh figs on top of fresh cream and a buttery, crumbly tart base. The flavors go very well together, and they’re accentuated even more by my palate-cleansing latte. Their coffee is by Gryphon Coffee (a small batch roaster) and it’s very tasty! I was also amazed by how delicious the fig tart is. It’s mildly sweet so it’s not cloying. This is perfection in a tart!

Tarte-SG

I also ordered a pistachio tart (SGD 10) to go since I like their takeaway box. There are crumbs of pistachios on top of pistachio cream and their faultless buttery tart base. Delectable! All the tarts at Tarte by Cheryl Koh are newly made. They don’t keep a lot of inventory and there’s a constant stream of freshly baked tarts appearing. It’s a little costly but well worth the money. This is the quintessential representation of a perfect tart. 11/10!

Big Prawn Hor Fun @ Kok Sen Restaurant (Bib Gourmand)

Kok-Sen-Restaurant

Let me share with you one of the best things I’ve eaten this trip. It doesn’t have a Michelin star but it has won the Bib Gourmand award for three years running – ever since the inception of Michelin Guide Singapore. I hesitate to use superlatives but Kok Sen truly is Flavortown! I should add that I came here with a friend after our 1 Michelin star Labyrinth dinner so the review isn’t colored by my hunger. It’s even more impressive considering I was slightly full, or at least, satiated.

Kok-Sen-Singapore

Kok Sen is best described as a zi char restaurant. It has been serving up favorites for over 50 years! There’s no air-conditioning and the place is extremely packed. You’ll need to queue up for a table and tables are shared for parties of less than 4-6. It’s very noisy and slightly uncomfortable but the premises are very clean, especially compared to Malaysian dai chow places.

Kok-Sen-Big-Prawn-Hor-Fun

This is the famous Kok Sen Big Prawn Hor Fun (SGD 18 for small). It’s one of their signature dishes. The thick, sticky sauce is made with peanuts 🥜, sweet chilli sauce 🌶️ and egg 🥚. It tastes like a cross between satay sauce and chilli crab 🦀. The sauce coats the hor fun perfectly. This comes to your table piping hot and it’s best eaten immediately. The dish is topped with 2 big prawns 🦐 sliced into halves that’s cooked to perfection. I don’t know how something can taste so good but this wok hei packed dish is divine!

Kok-Sen

I was lost in the incredible flavors and my tasting notes were reduced to Trump-like simple hyperbole. So prawny! So umami! So salty! So belacan-y! So yums! So much wok hei! So saucy! So so so recommended! I’m lost in Flavortown!! There you have it. All I wanted to do was to shovel more hor fun and sauce into my mouth. I couldn’t get enough! It was a compulsion – my brain was telling me to EAT MORE OF THIS GOODNESS! I wanted to immerse myself and swim in that awesome gravy. I highly recommend Kok Sen. 10/10. You need to come here and try this.

Brickfields Famous Char Kuey Tiaw & Cendol

Brickfields-CKT

Who wants to sit under the blazing hot sun on uncomfortable stools strewn by the sidewalk with loud motorbikes and cars zooming inches away from you while you eat a plate of CKT? Surprisingly, quite a lot of people. I’m not sure if the exhaust smoke adds to the flavor but this no-name stall in Brickfields is packed during lunch. Or so it seems when it was at the sidewalk opposite. Now that it’s at a roomier five foot way, it doesn’t seem that crowded.

Char-Kueh-Tiaw-Brickfields

I’ve been wanting to eat here and my adventurous lunch kaki and her friend jio me today. Brickfields Char Kuey Tiaw is just a stall built with corrugated sheets at a pedestrian sidewalk near my office. It’s a mystery how a place like this received operating permits. I imagine it was grandfathered in back in the days coz you never see stalls like this outside of a permanent structure now. The famous cendol in Brickfields is located right beside it.

Brickfields-Famous-CKT

You need a certain type of person to appreciate the CKT here. If you insist on air-conditioned comfort, Brickfields Char Kueh Tiaw is not for you. It’s sweltering hot, very noisy and quite uncomfortable. I have to admit, I did wonder why people want to put themselves through this. I’m not a huge fan of getting soaked with sweat and walking around for the rest of the workday with BO. But I wanted to try it. They fry each plate of CKT individually and have a sign stating they’re open from 12:03 pm – 9:32 pm. I thought that was hilarious.

Brickfields-Cendol

The cendol is slightly salty due to the unsweetened (or salted?) coconut milk. I like it but one of my lunch companions didn’t. I think the slightly salty cendol is nicely balanced. It’s a lot more interesting to eat this than a one-dimensionally sweet cendol. Your taste buds are a lot more interested and engaged with a sodium tinged cendol. 8/10.

CKT-Brickfields

I ordered the CKT with an extra fried egg (RM 8). I had been warned that the CKT here is not the dry wok hei type of affair. It’s a slightly soggy and moist plate. You will likely be let down on your first bite. The taste creeps up on you. There’s prawns, siham, lap cheong, and crispy fried pork lard – all the ingredients that’s supposed to be in a plate of CKT.

Brickfields-CKT-Us

I prefer eating rice with lots of meat so maybe my verdict is slightly colored by my penchant for flesh. I’m inclined to be more carnivorous during mealtimes to get my protein macros in. It’s not a bodybuilding thing, I’ve always liked eating lots of meat products. Taste wise, it’s alright but not the best plate of CKT I’ve ever had. I give it 5/10 but you may like it more if you enjoy eating CKT.

Saturday brunch @ Foo Hing Dim Sum, Puchong

Foo-Hing-Puchong

The last time I went to Foo Hing was over 6 months ago. I was writing an article for Malay Mail about dim sum and they were one of the places I covered. You can’t sample a lot of different items when you’re eating alone, so when May organized a casual dim sum brunch, I thought I’ll take this opportunity to find out more about what’s good here. I know they’re famous for their Portuguese egg tarts, and justifiable so, but I’m less familiar with their savory offerings.

Foo-Hing-Dim-Sum

I tend to order the same thing every time since I know what I like. These will inevitably be some variation of har gao (prawn dumplings) coz I love the stuff. But after watching an episode of Samurai Gourmet, I realized that I’ve been too safe and adventurous while ordering food. Their chai tow kueh (fried carrot cake) with chai bo (pickled turnip) is decent. I was tasked with finishing this and I didn’t mind at all.

Fried-Egg-CCF

I also discovered a very beautiful thing – this is chee cheong fun with egg. It doesn’t sound like much and it looks quite pedestrian but it’s delicious! They fry an egg with lots of oil so it bubbles up Chinese-style, and roll it in the CCF. You get the familiar comfort of a fried egg with the slippery texture of the thin rice wraps. It’s surprisingly good. This came highly recommended from May and I’m glad I had it. It’s something I wouldn’t have discovered by myself. Simple, yet delectable.

Dim-Sum-Foo-Hing

This was Ah Bok’s selection. It’s Chinese short pastry filled with BBQ pork and topped with pork floss. I also enjoyed this tremendously. I like sweet notes in my meat and this has it in spades. The texture of the pastry is also quite pleasant.

Deep-Fried-Prawn

I went with a few variations of deep fried prawn dim sum. There’s a tubular version with thin wonton wrap and a thicker, doughier one. They both taste similar, but the textures are different. Mouth feel is very important in dim sum.

Soy-Skin-Dim-Sum

This soggy mess of pork with soy bean curd wrap is also quite good. Again, something I wouldn’t have chosen myself but I’m glad I tried.

Portuguese-Egg-Tarts

Naturally, we finished with their yummy Portuguese egg tarts. I really like them but as I mentioned in the Malay Mail article, my favorite Portuguese egg tarts are the ones KFC had circa 2010. Haha. You won’t believe me but they’re the fucking bomb! Perfect pastry crust. Please don’t lynch me. 😄

Guilinggao

Foo Hing also have a range of tong sui desserts. I went with gui ling gao. I haven’t had this in a long time and I enjoy the bittersweet flavours. Pretty good. I read that most gui ling gao is not actually made with turtle due to the high cost of said ingredient.

Foo-Hing-Us

Dim sum at Foo Hing for the 5 of us worked out to around RM 30 each. I usually run up a similar bill by myself and I get to eat less variety. Dim sum is best enjoyed with other people so you can eat a range of different types. I also tapau 2 egg tarts home and tried their bakery style bun with BBQ pork filling (decent). We went for milk tea after and all the food and drink managed to fuel quite an intense workout session later. All in all, a nice Saturday morning.

Vishal Food & Catering BLR, Brickfields

Vishal-BLR

I got recommendations from 3 separate people to try Vishal BLR (banana leaf rice) after my previous post on the best lunch spots around Brickfields. I did a bit of Googling and heard a lot of positive things about them. Thus, I roped in my colleague and went to check it out just now. My office is in Menara 1 Sentrum but getting lunch partners interested in Indian food is a bit of a hard sell. The workplace is predominantly Chinese, and we usually go for Chinese food.

Vishal-Me

However, I’m a huge fan of Indian food and two of my favorites around here are Husen’s bombastic onion chicken and Singh Chapati House. I’m also going to Singapore in a week’s time and I booked 1 Michelin star The Song of India to check out their Deepavali dinner.

Vishal-Banana-Leaf

I decided to see if Vishal would impress. It certainly has its legion of fans. Vishal BLR is a 9 minute walk from my office, which is at the upper limits of how far people are willing to go for lunch. The furthest place we’ve been is 2 minutes less than this.

Chicken-65

I was told to get the fish cutlet and the “red color chicken”. Thanks June…that’s very helpful. 🙄 It’s not like most Indian chicken dishes are red. Hehe. She later clarified it looks like tandoori chicken and it’s fried, so I think I managed to get the right one. It’s Chicken 65 but I later found out this was the wrong red colored chicken. It wasn’t anything special.

Fish-Puttu

I also got some fish puttu, which is minced baby shark fried with egg. This tastes exactly like the dai chow shark’s fin and egg dish they serve at old school Chinese restaurants. The one you wrap in a lettuce before eating. It’s very plain. I expected more from Indian food. It didn’t make me go doo doo doo doo in joy.

Stringray

My third selection was stingray cooked in a sour sauce. “Eh, how come this dish sour one?” my friend squinted suspiciously. I also noticed she didn’t eat the stingray after that first bite. The flesh of the stingray was overcooked and rubbery and the sauce wasn’t the best I’ve had.

Vishal-Brickfields

I want to say that the flavors are beautiful and inviting. That it’s a symphony of seasoning on my palate. Or probably a Bollywood tune since it’s Indian food. That the distillation of spices and aromas into a song-and-dance in my mouth with lots of loose-flowing saris and grinning men doing the Indian head bobble on my tongue is a magnificent experience. That it was a “10/10 groomed mustaches” experience.

Vishal-Food-Catering

Unfortunately, I found the whole experience rather mediocre. Worst still, I felt like I have wasted my calorie allowance by eating this BLR. The prices are quite reasonable though – RM 6.20 for the rice with refillable veggies and curries and around RM 6 per small plate of protein. But I probably wouldn’t ever return. Have you ever been to Flavortown? I have, and it’s not here.

Top 5 delicious lunch options around KL Sentral

June-Tee

I want to preface this controversial listing by saying these are my personal favorites. I work in Menara 1 Sentrum beside nu sentral mall in Brickfields. I’ve been to most of the popular lunch options around here like Peter Pork, Money Corner, Sin Kee Restaurant. None of those made my top 5 list. I like the Western food stall at Money Corner and Peter Pork’s pork noodle are decent but I usually prefer eating rice during lunch.

#1 Husen Cafe

Husen-Cafe

I’ll eat here at least once a week. The dish I always order is onion chicken – a tomato sambal chicken with intense onion sauce. Husen Cafe serves chicken quarters, so you can either have a breast (white meat) portion or a thigh (dark meat) portion. I usually go for the breast as it’s easier to eat and the portions are a lot bigger. This is ¼ chicken and the chickens they use are huge! It’s more than enough for even the biggest eaters.

Onion-Chicken

It’s reasonably priced compared to other similar places. This whole shebang just cost me RM 10.

Husen-Chicken

Best paired with okra (ladies fingers) or onion raita (raw onions with yoghurt). Don’t forget their papadom! The owner will waive the RM 0.30 for iced water too if you’re a regular.

#2 Pu Xian Wei Restaurant

Pu-Xian-Wei

This is my go to lunch spot. We call it “China chap fan” coz it’s run by Mainland China Chinese. The food they serve are tweaked to PRC palates, so it has different flavors from what local Chinese are used to. It’s delicious! Google’s SEM (paid search) team is in the same building as my office and they have teams from all over the world based in Malaysia. I met a Vietnamese girl taking the LRT who’s on a 1 year contract and found out they have a free cafeteria inside their office. You always see people from Korea, Japan, Russia, and all other nations in the lifts.

China-Chap-Fan

The reason I shared that anecdote is coz you’ll often see the teams from Singapore, China and Taiwan wearing their distinctive Google plain blue/red lanyard in the China chap fan. They’ll come and eat here despite having free food at their workplace. That’s the best endorsement this chap fan place can hope for. It passes the taste test of Mainland Chinese people. It’s so good they’re willing to pay good money when they could have a free lunch.

Chap-Fan-China

I find them a little expensive at first but the Mainland Chinese lady calculating how much your plate costs will give you steep discounts once you’re a regular. Or maybe she just likes my face. Haha.

#3 Royale Nasi Lemak

Nasi-Lemak-Royale

My guilty pleasure. I’ve stopped going after getting explosive diarrhea twice in a row but you should be fine if you stick to the popular meats like their freshly fried chicken. The ayam masak hitam and ayam masak merah can be a bit dodgy at times. Those are made with fried chicken so it’s often cooked with the previous day’s fried chicken that’s been sitting unsold during off peak hours under a heat lamp in ideal bacteria breeding temperatures.

Royale-Nasi

Nasi lemak in the Northern states mean nasi kandar, so don’t be surprised when you don’t get santan flavored rice. The rice at Royale is scented with pandan though. It’s exactly like nasi kandar where you choose the dishes you want and finish it off with kuah campur. Their curries are delicious!

Royale-Pile

I always get their fish egg curry and sotong egg curry too. My dish usually comes up to RM 14-18 so it’s not a cheap place.

#4 Gu Zao Seafood Restaurant

Gu-Zao

This is the best fish restaurant I’ve been to. Their forte is seafood, although they also serve other proteins like chicken and pork. Most people go here for their Deep Fried Threadfin (RM 18) which is a whole ma yao served with delicious soy sauce. Their lunch sets come with rice and a side of vegetables for free. They’ve also recently started giving away free soup with sizable chunks of daikon radish inside. It’s noisy due to the acoustics but there’s air conditioning and the lady who owns the shop is very nice.

Fried-Threadfin

I also recommend their Asam Tilapia and Taucu Tilapia (both RM 17). They’re both equally good, though the edge goes to the fermented soy beancurd one. I usually order tilapia instead of the threadfin coz there’s a lot more meat and its RM 1 cheaper. The tilapia here is more delicious than dedicated seafood restaurants who charge twice this price!

Fish-Shop

Their 3-egg steamed Chinese omelet with salted egg, century egg and normal egg is delicious too. The prices are higher than the surrounding F&B outlets but it’s air conditioned and the fish is amazing.

#5 Singh Chapati House

Singh-Chapati-House

I said I usually prefer rice but I also enjoy a good meal of chapati. The chapatis at Singh are freshly made and hot from the plate. It’s quite packed during lunch and the huge number of Indians eating here is a testament to their authenticity and taste. You serve yourself from the bain maries outside and tell your waiter how many chapatis you want. It’s kinda like a chap fan stall where you pick the curries you like and it’s calculated when you sit down.

Chapati

It’s quite expensive – each small piece of chicken is RM 3, but the taste is spot on. They use a lot of spices in their curries so there are wonderfully complex layers of flavors. Expect to pay around RM 16-18 per pax here for lunch.

Singh-Chapati

Did I miss out on your favorite? Let me know in the comments! I’ll try it if it’s within a 10 minute walk of KL Sentral.

Michelin Bib Gourmand zi char: Ka Soh (Outram Park)

Ka-Soh

Ka Soh has two outlets in Singapore and even a Malaysian outpost but only the one at Outram Park has received the Bib Gourmand award. They specialize in traditional fish head noodles – no dairy byproducts are added to achieve the color as a shortcut, the milky color comes from boiling the fresh snakehead fish and fish bones for 4 hours. They’re also known for their fried shrimp paste chicken (har cheong kai).

Kok-Sen-Us

I was in Singapore to celebrate my dad’s birthday and this was one of the places we ate at. Unfortunately, we were all exceedingly full due to a late heavy lunch after church, so we could only manage a few dishes. Ka Soh in Outram Park is in a hospital compound – the building belongs to an alumnus of medical professionals.

Prawn-Paste-Chicken

I was told I had to try their Prawn Paste Chicken (SGD 15.50). This is a very Singaporean dish where they fry chicken wings dipped in fermented prawn paste batter. The ones at Ka Soh was exceedingly crunchy with a nice prawn flavor. I love the crispy batter that coats the piping hot chicken.

Signature-Fish-Soup-Noodles

Signature Fish Soup Noodles (SGD 8.50) is what they’re known for so we got a bowl to share. It’s decent but it’s not my favorite thing. I can appreciate the creamy mouthfeel but I’m not a huge fan of the insipid soup. It’s not my favorite thing but I’m glad I tried it.

Signature-Pork-Ribs

Signature Pork Ribs (SGD 18.50) was recommended by the waitress and this turned out to be my favorite dish. It doesn’t look like much but it tastes delicious! The pork chop is marinated in a blend of spices and deep fried. It’s then cut into juicy strips and served with a sweet soy sauce dip. Excellent execution. I was forcibly kidnapped and taken to Flavor Town!

Sliced-Thick-Fish-Vermicelli-Noodles

Sliced Thick Fish Vermicelli Noodles (SGD 8) is the dry version of the above. I did enjoy this more than the soup ones. I may have a slight bias against soup noodles since I prefer stronger flavors to subdued ones. I’m what they call 重口味. 😄

Kangkung-with-Prawn-Paste

Kangkung with Prawn Paste (SGD 12) is the obligatory vegetable. It tastes exactly like what you’ll expect it to taste like. Stir fried well, but nothing exceptional. To be fair it’s hard to wow with a vegetable dish unless you have extraordinary ingredients or unusual cooking techniques.

Fried-Yam

We ended with Fried Yam (SGD 8), which is their signature dessert. It’s nicely done with a crispy exterior and a smooth, warm and creamy yam interior. We all enjoyed this dish but it’s a very rich and cloying Chinese style dessert. It’ll be hard to eat more than a few pieces.

Ka-Soh-Outram-Park

The bill came up to SGD 109.20 (around RM 332) which is quite a standard price for Singapore zi char. I honestly didn’t find Ka Soh exceptional. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but there are many similar quality zi char places in Singapore offering equal, if not better quality cooking. I find the Bib Gourmand listings in the Michelin Guide to be less accurate than the star listings. It’s great as a guide, but it’s certainly not an exhaustive listing.

Michelin Singapore Bib Gourmand roundup: A Noodle Story, Hong Kee Beef Noodle, J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff

A-Noodle-Story

A Noodle Story was one of the Bib Gourmand destinations I was most excited about. It’s Singaporean style ramen and the chefs are young folks getting into the hawkerpreneur life. It looked really good in photos. A Noodle Story is located at Amoy Street Food Centre, which is a huge building with many stalls. It’s exceedingly hot and packed during lunch time, so be warned! I had to queue for about 30 minutes before I got my bowl of noodles and nearly got heatstroke in that time.

Noodle-Story

The noodles come with lots of toppings like potato prawn (strings of crispy potato wrapped around a juicy prawn), oozing onsen egg, tender char siu made using Spanish pork belly, and Hong Kong style wontons. There’s also strings of what I thought was saffron (which is impossible, considering the price) but turned out to be peppers. It’s a nice touch. I really enjoyed the firm, toothsome and flavorful noodles. Recommended.

Hong-Kee-Beef-Noodle

Hong Kee Beef Noodle is located a few stalls down. They also won a Bib Gourmand for their beef stock that’s cooked for 24 hours. I got a bowl of their beef noodles to share with my dad. There is no queue for this stall. I tasted the noodles and immediately disliked it. I could barely discern any flavor! It’s quite tasteless to me. I thought they forgot to put salt in.

Beef-Noodle-Hong-Kee

It should be noted that my dad is a fan of subtle and simple flavors. He ate the noodles and gave it the thumbs down as well. “Too bland”, he declared. I honestly tell you, if something is too plain for my dad, it’ll be tasteless for 99.9% of the population. The seasoning game is too weak in these noodles. I may like it better if there was more flavor (or sodium) but the dreary broth and noodles taste insipid. Not my thing.

J2-Famous-Crispy-Curry-Puff

J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff is also located in the same center. I was too full to eat since I gobbled down a dumpling from Hoo Kee Bak Chang after the noodles. Luckily, curry puffs take very well to travelling so I bought some to eat in KL later that night. My sister also asked me to tapau her a few of these. These used to be the only curry puffs to be listed in Michelin Bib Gourmand, but Rolina was also included in the new 2018 guide.

J2-Curry-Puff

It’s quite good! I liked these curry puffs. My favorite was the black pepper chicken but I also enjoyed the sardine one. I usually don’t choose sardines coz I thought they’re something you take straight from the can and stuff it in the pastry. Not so with J2. I hear they only pick the large sardines and season it with their own in-house blend. They only sell 500 curry puffs each day. The crust is nicely flaky and crispy. Worth trying.

Double feature: Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee + Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken

Hong-Heng-Fried-Sotong-Prawn-Mee

The chef-owner at Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee must have watched too much Young & Dangerous coz Hong Heng is the fictitious gang in the series led by Ekin Cheng. I watched him (the chef, not Ekin) apply his pek yao skills to the wok. They serve their noodles with just a spoon coz the chef cham (chop) the mee already, as befitting his stall name. You don’t need chopsticks to pick up the truncated length noodles. There’s a queue even at the odd afternoon hour I visited but it moved fast.

Bib-Gourmand-Prawn-Mee

“I take inspiration fron gu wak chai”. He didn’t actually say that, I simply add one. 😄

Tiong-Bahru-Prawn-Mee

The noodles are flavored well but a bit too bland for me. I think adding a bit more salt would have elevated the dish. Maybe he under seasoned my batch. I love their chilli sauce and it’s a comforting dish of noodles. I just wish it were saltier. Worth a try.

Tiong-Bahru-Hainanese-Boneless-Chicken-Rice

Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice is also at Tiong Bahru Food Center. They have an unusual addition I’ve never seen before – pickles! It really adds a lot to the dish as the acidic sweetness cuts through the fattiness of the chicken and rice. I also think the tau keh nio is quite pretty. Hehe. She’s a friendly person too, and when she heard I was from KL, she told me they started an outlet in JB, Malaysia but it didn’t do well so they closed it. Apparently Malaysians have different taste buds and requirements when it comes to chicken rice.

Tiong-Bahru-Bib-Gourmand-Chicken-Rice

I really enjoyed the chicken rice here. The drumstick was nice and moist and the tender meat speaks well to me. I also liked the onion notes in the chicken rice. But it was the pickle that stole the show – it’s such an awesome ingredient in chicken rice that I wonder why other stalls don’t include this. The chilli dip is spot on too. Delicious.

Tiong-Bahru-Chicken-Rice

I’ll go again.

Cooking my own Thipsamai branded Pad Thai (Bib Gourmand)

Thipsamai

Thipsamai is a Bangkok institution that serves up pad thai in a huge multi-room sprawling empire in Pratuphee. There is a long queue snaking out the front every single night. The army of chefs work fast though so the line moves relatively quickly. They’ve recently been honored in the Michelin Bib Gourmand listings and I decided to check them out after my visit to Raan Jay Fai.

Thipsamai-Bangkok

I had eaten at Elvis Suki, Raan Jay Fai and Tongue Fun ice cream in the past 3 hours so I was quite full. Fortunately, Thipsamai has a gift shop inside their restaurant that carries complete, ready-to-cook versions of their famous pad thai! Enterprising bastards! I decided to forgo eating there and get some packs to bring home instead. I also bought one of their branded plates and glasses so I could replicate the meal at home. At least, that’s what I told myself but I really wanted souvenirs too.

Pad-Thai

For my first attempt, I armed myself with large prawns (can’t have pad thai without shrimp), roasted peanuts (which I crushed), spring onions, firm tofu, egg and butter. I used the regular green version (the red one has shrimp oil). The packaging said to fry the dry pad thai noodles in oil till soft before mixing the sauce packet with an equal amount of water and pouring it in.

HB-Chopping

I thought it was a bit unusual to fry dehydrated noodles with butter without rehydrating them first but it works!

HB-Cooking

Here’s another photo of me doing domestic things while wearing a stringer that shows off my muscles for your viewing pleasure.

Maha-Nakhon

I paired it with a Maha Nakhon bottled beer I painstakingly brought back from Bangkok. This was the only one that survived. Another Cheers can exploded in mid-air from the air pressure differential and soaked all my packed clothes. The pad thai was decent but I felt like it could be improved.

Pad-Thai-Cooking

Thus, I refined my processes during my second try a week later. I used the red Thipsamai pad thai box with shrimp oil this time. I also bought bean sprouts (which I forgot the first time around) and Thai bird eye chillis. I fried the eggs first in a separate frying pan and made a flat omelet that I sliced into strips before adding it during the final stir. I also cracked in a raw egg to help things bind together.

Pad-Thai-Thipsamai

I threw in half of the bean sprouts, omelet, Thai chilli and spring onions and used the other half as a raw garnish so it remains crunchy. I also had a squeeze of lime and crushed peanuts as a topping. This version is insanely delicious! I love the combination of sweet notes from the peanuts and butter, the salty overtones from the pad thai sauce, the raw elements in the bean sprouts and spring onions, followed by a nice kick from the Thai chillies. I’ll rate it 10/10 if I’m allowed to rate my own cooking.

Thipsamai-Pad-Thai

I respect how Thipsamai pad thai leverages on their success by selling branded food and souvenirs. I’m all about resourceful minds and I enjoy food related souvenirs. That’s the only type of souvenir I buy. I got one of their vintage fridge magnets to put on my fridge and their Thipsamai plate and glass (same as the ones they use in-house) has been one of my favorite crockery for plating. I’ll be sure to revisit when I’m in Bangkok again to see how my own take on their ready-to-cook pad thai compares with the restaurant version.

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