To be honest, good authentic quality Thai food is hard to find in Singapore. Some eateries go overly commercial, some muted in taste to suit the local taste buds. It is a real struggle for restaurant owners and chefs, I know.
Cha Thai (not related to Sydney’s Chat Thai) manages to strike that fine balance.
While this is a new-to-market restaurant, the Cha Thai team has already established a name with Loaves Me at SMU, being one of the first cafes in Singapore to offer Shibuya brick toast a few years back.
Of course SMU students and Telok Ayer CBD diners are different ball-games all together. That is why much thought is already placed in the interior design – a clean wooden contemporary look, may have little indication that this is a Thai restaurant, except for the smell of curries from the kitchen. And the Thai staff calling out on orders.
The selection on its menu is wide, offering salads, tom yum soups, curries, rice dishes, desserts and beverages.
I did express my concerns about the presumably high price tag for some of their dishes. ”Phaeng krub?”
Then I learnt that quality ingredients are used, sauces and curry bases are made from scratch (no pre-mixes), fresh seafood are sourced from local farmers, and portions are more generous suitable for sharing.
Take for example the Pad Thai. At $22, this may seem to be a few dollars more than what another restaurant would offer. But tiger prawns are used as the accompaniment, and the rice noodles are imported regularly, direct from Thailand. So after taking a mouthful, you would realise that the noodle’s texture is smoother with a bright and translucent colour.
Usually I would order the Green Curry in any given Thai restaurant. At Cha Thai, I just wanted the signature Tiger Prawn Panang Curry ($28).
The gravy is luscious thick with coconut cream, only mildly spicy, and you would find an interesting addition – lychees. The Panang Curry generally has a sweet side to balance the spiciness. Chef uses lychees instead of just sugar for its natural sweetness and touch of juiciness.
Its Pineapple Rice ($18) is also quite different from the typical offerings. Instead of just frying the rice, the rice is curry spiced then baked, including ingredients of pineapple, cashew, sweet pepper bells and raisins. Therefore, you may find the rice mushier, but with warmth contained throughout the meal.
The one thing I thought that was lacking in that distinctive Thai flavour was the Cha Thai Fried Rice ($22), beautiful plated in a star-shape.
Here’s the tip. Request for one of the nine home-prepared sauces to go along. There are options such as Fish Sauce, Arjard, Sweet Chilli Sauce and Plum Sauce. My recommendation? The zesty Seafood Sauce.
For nibbles, tea time snack of Golden Brown Toasted Cubes ($8) with Pandan or Thai Tea flavoured dip is available.
For a cooling drink other than the predictable Iced Milk Tea, go for the Iced Butterfly Pea Juice ($3.90) which changes colour upon addition of lemon juice. A refreshing thirst quencher.
A set menu of a curry, rice, drink and fruit is available for $25. Also, there are chef’s specials which may be available – so check with the staff for different items if you are already a regular.
Maybank Dining Treats
From 1 August to 31 December 2015, Maybank Cardmembers get a $5 off with minimum $50 spent. Additional $15 return voucher for every $100 spent. Terms and conditions apply.
In addition, there is a 1-for-1 takeaway drinks promo for fans of Cha Thai’s Facebook. Get two Thai Iced Milk Tea for the price for one! Till end of Dec 2015.
80 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 048466 (Telok Ayer MRT)
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm Daily, Last Order 9:30pm.
Express Takeaway Lane Opens 8am – 6pm
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Cha Thai and Maybank Singapore.