Spicy Thai-Thai Café is a kind of back alley dining at its best. Well, it is situated at the end of the road, after rows and rows, and blocks and blocks of hawker centers and food markets. And when you’ve finally come to the end of the road – and maybe start to wonder: Hmmm, I think I’m on the wrong track… – you’ll realize Spicy Thai-Thai café’s extremely noticeable signboard and immediately squeal in shock/delight for finally hitting on this hidden gem. “Where taste buds sing”, it says.
When we first walked in, we had initially thought that it was a food court and that we were in the wrong place – well, it certainly looks like one with its stands and round tables and plastic chairs. And at that moment when we finally realized that Spicy Thai-Thai Café’s signboard was just everywhere, a waiter came up to us and offered us a seat (Ok, now we can confidently and safely know that we’re in the correctly place).
Spicy Thai-Thai Café prides itself to offering authentic Thai food. No, not just the typical – slightly commercialized – Thai food that we would usually find in every corner of metropolitan Bangkok or even Chiang Mai, but Thai food at its purest, most local form – those that you find in the villages of Thailand. That said, there are some of the usual symbolic Thai dishes such as Pineapple fried rice and Pad Thai, but of course, done in accordance to the taste of Thailand. From the dried herbs and spices, to even the pot for the BBQ and the charcoal for cooking, almost everything is imported on a regular basis from Thailand.
The menu is absolutely extensive – salads, appetizers, soups, vegetables, fish, meat, noodles, rice, dessert etc. They also serve steamboat and Thai Mookata ($35). On top of that, they have more than 10 varieties of different Thai chili – from sweet to sour, from mild and friendly to extremely spicy – each of which provides a unique flavor and distinct dimension on its own. So imagine, not only would you face difficulties in choosing what to eat, but you’ll also have trouble in choosing which chili to go with your meal! Definitely commendable on their wide selection of food catering to a wide variety of taste buds.
But thanks to Christina who gave us a comprehensive description of each and every dish on the menu, we finally came to a decision and ordered our food.
Thai Iced Tea-O ($2.50). Traditionally in Thailand, this is made with strongly-brewed Ceylon tea – a red-leafed variety – complemented with condensed milk, giving it its bright amber colour. However, these authentic red Thai tea leaves are not only extremely expensive, but also rare to find outside of Thailand. As a result, many restaurants resort to using regular black tea with the addition of red food colouring. This however, was a distinctive Thai Iced Tea-O – a healthy version I would say. As the name suggests, this has no milk. Yet, it was able to retain that creamy texture, almost like a milk tea. Also, this uses the traditional tea leaves from Thailand with the addition of their homemade pandan syrup. The result is a fragrant drink that is not overly sweet. Not only was it refreshing, but also promising start to our meal! There’s nothing like a sweet, cold Thai Iced Tea as the perfect complement to the hot weather and spicy food.
Raw Long Beans Salad ($6). Raw long beans are usually hard, stalky and extremely crunchy, and so we were a little skeptical when Christina had said that this was a must try. But I’m glad we gave it a try as the long beans were definitely something different to our usual palates. However, I felt that the dish on a whole was a tad too sour. Maybe a little too much fish sauce/vinegar (I don’t know hahah)?
Clear Seafood Tom Yam Soup ($7). I can’t take spicy food. Yup as much as I’m an Indonesian, I can’t take chili. So imagine what happens whenever I have Tom Yam Soup – I sweat and blow my nose as if it’s a waterfall, literally. Hence, it is only logical that I avoid spicy food whenever I’m out in the public. However, as Christina had explained, the cure to a burning tongue is not ice. It is in fact the opposite – warm water is the best solution to cool down a burning tongue. Thus, Spicy Thai-Thai Café capitalizes on this piece information and serves Tom Yam Soup which not offers exceptional Thai flavours, but is also manageable by the customers in terms of its spicyness. This is only possible with the use of charcoal, which enabled the soup to keep simmering hot consistently, without affecting the quality of its flavor. It has a nice balance of hot and sour flavours, coupled with a generous serving of perfectly-cooked fresh seafood.
Hommok ($15): Otak in coconut husk. Now we don’t usually get these in Thai restaurants in Singapore. This isn’t a typical otak made of fish paste. Instead, this is actually egg and fish cooked with coconut milk in a coconut husk. Again, a healthy version I would say 🙂 No flour. Yet, it was creamy and full-body, and the eggs were somewhat unique. Also, you could eat the fresh coconut meat! Extremely delicious.
Prawn Cake. This was hands down the best we had. There was no flour, but just prawns and egg to bind it all together. So you could imagine how substantial and clean it was – just prawns and nothing else, no cheating. Yumz
Spicy Meatballs ($12): Served with raw vegetables. This was not only a tad too dry for our liking, but also suffered from a lack of flavor. I couldn’t taste anything out of it, and I didn’t know what to either. It wasn’t spicy at all. Apparently you’re supposed to eat the meatballs with the raw vegetables together, but a little strange I guess as the vegetables evidently didn’t provide any flavor either and was maybe a little unnecessary on the plate. Maybe a sauce would do better justice to it.
BBQ Pork Neck ($10). This, I would say, is like an unconventional char siew. On the surface, it certainly seemed like char siew – with its BBQ sauce and flavor, and well, it’s pork! But it was slightly more tender and succulent than a typical char siew. And because it’s cut so thinly, we were constantly going back for more, piece by piece, because one was never enough 🙂
Pineapple Rice ($5). I love that there was a generous portion of floss, golden raisins and cashew nuts which provided the much needed texture. This was yummy of course, but again, how much could you go wrong with a simple dish like this? To me, this is like a comfort food of some sort 🙂 Also, one of the best vegeterian dishes ever hahahahahahaha!
Seafood Hor Fun ($6). Instead of the traditional Pad Thai, we decided to go for the slightly different Thai-version Hor Fun. But honestly, I didn’t get how traditionally “Thai” this was as it was like any common Hor Fun dish you could find anywhere in Singapore. The only difference was that unlike the typical Hor Fun which is usually drowned with a thick sauce, this was the dry, stir-fried version. Unfortunately, this was under-salted and lacking in flavor.
Red Ruby ($2.50)
Lemongrass Jelly with Aloe Vera ($1.50)
Mango Sticky Rice
Desserts to end our meal on a sweet note. While both the Red Ruby and Lemongrass Jelly were especially effective in cooling off the heat, it was the Mango Stick Rice that stood out for me. The mango was sweet and delicate, and the rice was sticky and warm. And there was just the right amount of coconut milk to add just the right amount of sweetness to the dish. To top it all off, there was roasted fragrant sesame seeds which simply raised the enjoyment a bar higher than the rest.
Overall, Spicy Thai-Thai Café is worth the visit if you’re looking for affordable authentic Thai food. Founder and Owner Mr Ron Poh’s dedication to Thai food is distinctly manifested in the food that he prepares – one where quality reigns over quantity, where hard work reigns over compromised work.
Spicy Thai-Thai Cafe
Blk 115 Aljunied Avenue 2
Tel: +65 67478558
Many thanks to Christina for hosting the invite!