While many people are flying to Bangkok, you can experience modern Thai cuisine right at Jalan Besar that could just transport you to the land of smiles.
And this Thai restaurant has been gathering pretty-good reviews on Google.
Sandwiched between a row of similar-looking light-coloured buildings on Tyrwhitt Road, HUE has a distinctly striking sapphire blue façade.
Signifying water, the exterior of the building encapsulates the essence of Thai culture, especially creating a magical lantern-like effect once the lights come on in the evening.
Food lovers at the restaurant get to savour contemporary preparations steeped in Thai heritage while enjoying a hip and instagrammable ambience.
Although casual, the interiors of HUE have an understated stylishness about them. The highlight, though, is the neon-lit bar counter.
Bright and certainly eye-catching, the bar’s colour changes every day of the week. Why?
Once again, this is in tune with Thai culture, where each day has a colour assigned to it.
The colours represent a different celestial body and god, resulting in various blessings that bring joy, prosperity, luck, and peace. (Didn’t know that.)
Hue, meaning “hungry” in the local language, is not just about appearances. It also takes a novel approach to traditional Thai cuisine.
Inspired by recipes from an old royal Thai cookbook, it transforms familiar flavours into thoughtfully-plated dishes which can be pretty-surprising in terms of the taste profile.
At the core of each preparation are fresh ingredients and modern-day cooking techniques. Hungry? Here are some of HUE’s recommended dishes:
Oychestra ($18 for 3pcs, $32 for 6pcs, $60 for 12pcs)
A great dish to start your culinary journey at HUE’s is the lyrically named Oychestra. A cold plate of fresh oysters with a trio of special Thai dressings, it makes for an unique beginning to any meal.
The staff suggests eating the oysters in a particular order for maximum pleasure.
The lemongrass dressing acts as a refreshing palate cleanser with a hint of spiciness to awaken the tastebuds.
Follow it up with the sour coriander dressing that had an unexpected fieriness.
The third and final oyster pair featuring a pineapple dressing eventually lessens the heat level with a sweet and fruity taste.
What The Fish! ($24)
The chefs at HUE didn’t miss out on the opportunity to have a little fun when plating What The Fish!, their sashimi salad.
On the platter, you would find moderately cut pieces of kingfish and salmon topped with fish roe and shallots.
Pork cracklings give the otherwise soft texture of the fish a hint of crunchiness.
However, the flavour in every bite is due to one of two dressings, the larb or coriander – you make your choice, but I would say go for the larb.
As with the oysters, the coriander dressing is ideal for gourmands who like sour and spicy food. On the other hand, the larb, made with rice powder, has a characteristic sweet and sour flavour.
In my opinion, the larb dressing is subtle enough to allow the individual tastes of the fish and the condiments to really come through.
Three Little Pigs ($19)
There is much playfulness at HUE, and you can notice it in the names of their dishes, like pork belly being called Three Little Pigs.
Crispy pork belly is an all-time favourite in the streets of Thailand. Not surprisingly, the oven-roasted version of the dish served at the restaurant is one of its best-sellers.
Besides the roasting, the chefs further stir-fry the salty and meaty pork belly with garlic, coriander, and white pepper to make it more appealing.
The three herbs give the dish a particularly Thai flavour. And you can always make the pork belly spicier by adding chopped green chillies on top.
Garlilicious Prawn ($28)
If the name doesn’t give you a hint, your first taste of the Garlilicious Prawn most certainly will.
Fresh, moist, and grilled, Tiger prawns cooked in garlic butter and seasoned with oodles of chopped garlic would typically have a pungent flavour profile.
However, the prawns are whipped together with HUE’s special truffle salsa to balance the garlicky taste and give it a refreshing quality.
Not a Tom Yum ($19)
I’m always curious about trying signature dishes at restaurants, and the one to taste at HUE is their Not a Tom Yum.
The dish takes quite a bit of inspiration from the original Southern Thai recipe but then amplifies it with an abundance of savoury seafood flavours.
For starters, the prawn-based broth is spicy. At the same time, the charred seafood (tiger prawn and squid) manages to hold its own with a unique smokey taste.
The Thai spices and herbs give the dish a lovely aroma, again helping reduce the intensity of the soup.
And then there is the deep-fried omelette on the side. Crunchy and modest in flavour, the omelette balances the entire dish and gives it an almost comfort food-like appeal.
Moo Ping is among the most-loved street foods in Thailand. Pork skewers with a sweet and savoury marinade, grilled on a charcoal flame, have a delicious meaty charm about them.
The Moocano is a contemporary rendition of this famous snack that uses pork collar meat.
Giving volume to the dish, the chefs at HUE pair the chargrilled pork with sticky glutinous rice.
The high point is the restaurant’s special golden brown lava sauce used to glaze the tender meat of the pork’s neck.
The dish comes with extra helpings of the lava sauce and cilantro dressing. You can then pour either or both, per your spice level preference.
Paper Fish ($23 for 180g, $45 for 360g)
Paper Fish consists of a steam-baked, hearty fillet of Barramundi cooked and presented in parchment paper.
As a result of this cooking technique, the various Thai spices and herbs used to marinate the fish get ample time to infuse the moist skin.
Upon removing the paper, you get a pleasant aroma of the herbs, which also flavours the otherwise soft meat.
To further complement the fish and give it some colour, HUE serves a range of condiments such as tomatoes, lime, cilantro, garlic, and chillies.
Wrap It Up ($19)
At HUE’s, you get to do precisely that with their modern DIY version of the classic Thai street food, Kway Teow Lui Suan (spring rolls with herbs).
The dish came on a round wooden board with each ingredient for the wrap encouraging the eater to let their gastronomic creativity run.
While the butterhead lettuce forms the cover for the wrap, you can add fillings like sauteed minced pork, crushed peanuts, chillies, coriander, and dressing to complete the bite-sized spring roll.
It might seem like work, but making your own wrap is amusing, especially when dining with friends or family.
Sohm Choon ($15)
Summers call for a light and cooling dessert, and Sohm Choon ticks both boxes.
The uplifting concoction is primarily a combination of sweet and sour fruits with lychee-flavoured shaved ice. The fruits include lychee puree, orange wedges, and lime zest.
I found the roasted peanuts and ginger to be great additions, as they give the dessert a textural change and a punch in every bite.
Remember to finish your dessert before the shaved ice melts.
123 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore 207549
Tel: +65 9018 0992
Opening Hours: 6pm – 10pm (Tues – Wed), 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10:30pm (Thurs),
12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm (Fri – Sat), 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10:30pm (Sun)
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with HUE.