Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

It’s almost a year since I was invited to Spicy Thai – Thai Cafe for food tasting and there’s some new fare on their Isan-inspired menu besides the restaurant taking over another unit for expansion. Business has been brisk so much so that Ron (the owner) has to helm it full time, leaving his other business ventures in the hands of his capable partners.

Flashback to Jan 18th 2014:

Most of us have been to Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui and even Hua Hin but few can boast of their trip to Isan, the forgotten backyard of Siam!

Unable to travel to Isan in the near future, the next best thing is to be able to eat their cuisine but how can I be assured I am getting the real deal?

Ron, the owner of Spicy Thai - Thai Cafe, and I. Ron started his flagship shop at Jalan Besar 5 years ago and branched out to Aljunied in 2013.

Ron, the owner of Spicy Thai – Thai Cafe, and I.
Ron started his flagship shop at Jalan Besar (no longer operating as Ron has expanded this outlet and is concentrating on running his F&B here) 5 years ago and branched out to Aljunied in 2013.

Talking to unpretentious Ron Poh, the founder and owner of Spicy Thai – Thai Cafe, made me put my doubt to rest. Ron has traveled in and out of Thailand for about 20 odd years and finally decided to open a Thai restaurant that offers something extra apart from the usual Bangkok fare (the restaurant has some familiar Thai foods) most of us are accustomed to. With the success of his flagship shop in Jalan Besar adjacent to Yong Kee Seafood Restaurant, Ron branched out to Aljunied Ave 2 in 2013.

Coming out of the horse’s mouth (haha, pun intended for we are approaching the year of the Wood Horse), a number of Singaporeans complained about the taste being somewhat stronger. Ron explained that glutinous rice is the main staple instead of the famous Thai Jasmine grain for the majority of the village population. The farming folks needed something spicier (not necessarily related to heat-spicy) to make their simple meals tastier. Ron wouldn’t budge! He wants to stay true to Thailand’s northeastern cuisine and he understands that it will take some time for our local crowd to accept the kaleidoscopic flavours of 19 provinces.

Although Ron is not willing to compromise the authenticity of Thai-Isan food served in his restaurant, he has acceded to requests for lesser heat level for children, and non-dining customers wanting some healthy snacks instead of Chicken Wings to go with their ice cold beers and thus the birth of Nacho Chips with Mushroom Avocado Truffle Oil.

Side tracking a bit: Avocado has been titled “superfood” by dieticians as it is good for our digestive system. It has been shown to be a great way of reducing the bad cholesterol as well as benefiting the brain functioning. Avocado is also good for the stomach and intestine, acting as anti-inflammatory thus allowing us to significantly absorb more nutrients from our meal. Eating it with meals can also help reduce spikes in blood sugar. I’m glad we got to eat this Nacho Avocado before our main course arrived.

My friends and I were in for a treat after some refreshing Organic Wheatgrass Drink ($3.50) and Ice Lemongrass Tea ($1.80)! Let’s get down to business shall we? 🙂

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Nacho Chips with Mushroom Avocado Truffle Oil Dip $15
I suppose the nachos are store bought but they were fresh and crisp.
The dip was lightly perfumed with truffle oil and had a smooth consistency.
The mouthfeel was creamy soft and delightful.

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Basil Mussels $15

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Lala (Clams) Bee Hoon $18

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Thai-style Crispy Morning Glory with Shrimp Salad $10

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Hommok (Thai Style Otak) $16

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Creamy Butter Crab $Seasonal Price

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Deep Fried Pork Belly with Garlic $12

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Stir-fried Kangkong with Chilli $8

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

BBQ Pork Neck $10

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

BBQ Squid $Seasonal Price

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Dill Pattie (Cha Om) Omelette $8.
 Cha-om omelet is probably Burmese-influenced dish as Isan and Burma are very close in proximity.

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Jim Jum – Thai Walking Cat Fish with Spicy Lemon (tomyum) Soup $28

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Jim Jum – Thai Walking Cat Fish with Spicy Lemon Soup $28

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Red Emperor Snapper with Chilli Garlic $Seasonal Price

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Last year, I said I would try the Red Ruby the next time but my guests were more interested in these ever-popular mainstay of Thai desserts and their wishes are my command.

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Sticky Glutinous Rice with Mango $6

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Tapioca with Coconut Milk $3.50

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Lemongrass Jelly with Aloe Vera Cubes & Calamansi $2.50

Overall, the food was terrific! There was no doubt about the freshness of ingredients in all 13 dishes and 3 desserts!!! The only conflict was our humble opinions of the strength of seasonings used. After all, tastes are subjective issues.

Andrew started to WhatsApp his friends while eating. Excited about our meal, he asked for their menu so he could send pictures of it to his makan kaki chat group. He was already talking about the Thai Kway Chap that has “white” broth instead of the usual brown (from dark soy sauce) and the curled “penne” looking kway (rice noodle for the kway chap – our local version is flat).

When probe further, Andrew recounted that the fish with tomyum (Jim Jum – Thai Walking Cat Fish with Spicy Lemon Soup) had a nice intense flavour. Jim Jum came nicely warmed up over charcoal fire and the free topping up of the spicy lemon stock was a nice touch as the fish simmering in the fiery tomyum made it very tasty with a good balance of sour in the broth. The other fish (Red Emperor Snapper with Chilli Garlic) had substantial firmness and garnishing with bite. Both fishes were fresh and delectable. Andrew remarked that the Coconut Otak (Hommok – Thai Style Otak) with a tinge of sweetness from the coconut was an explosion of flavours in his mouth. The Lala Beehoon was charmingly flavoured with juices of the unprocessed clams. He would have liked it a little moist but maybe it was in the beginning and he had eaten it when cold (could be my fault for taking photos for this post).  He went on to say that the BBQ Pork Neck was middling for him – texture was good but he had wanted it more smoky but perhaps it was not meant to have the smoky taste. He doesn’t like crabs and offered “but that’s a personal decision. I am not crazy about butter cream either. Basil Mussels was tasty. Thought the sticky rice from the mango dessert (Sticky Glutinous Rice with Mango) had good chewy texture to it”.

Benny is not a big fan or lala or mussels but he was happy with the Creamy Butter Crabs and liked both the fish dishes. He also likes Tapioca with Coconut Cream although he commented that the cream was a little runny. He wanted to take-away some for his wife but they were sold out by the time he placed his order.

Zexsen liked the Jim Jum, especially the tomyum (lemongrass) broth that it swam in. He also liked the BBQ Pork Neck and Deep-fried Pork Belly. He felt that the Creamy Butter Crabs were a tad mild and that the Basil Mussels were adequate.

Vanessa really liked the Hommok. She found it “super unique and refreshing taste. Fishes were fresh and enjoyable – no fishy taste but could go even more aggressive in seasoning, not that they’re bland but I like it stronger.” Chris, who organised this food tasting session had earlier said that we could request for stronger seasoning if we find it too mild so that’s what we’ll do on our future visits. Vanessa also liked the Lala Beehoon, Basil Mussels and Cha Om Omelet. She didn’t get to eat the Stir-fried Kangkong with Chilli for it was gone by the time the dish rotated to her. She found the topping up of tomyum soup for the catfish a gracious gesture from the restaurant, too!

Personally, I like the Basil Mussels – the gravy went very well with the steamed rice. Lala Beehoon is another dish I liked and would prefer to have more vermicelli. I’m a glut for carbo but lala lovers would be swooned by Spicy Thai – Thai Cafe’s generosity with the clams! The broth of both fish dishes were so appetising they really perked up our appetite! We literally ladled them into our soup bowls and drank it. There were all sorts of citrusy and spicy flavours coming through in harmonious balance. As for the pork dishes, I preferred the moist tender BBQ Pork Neck in comparison to the Crispy Pork Belly. We finished everything on our table. Whatever was leftover by the guys, I gobbled them. Waste not want not 🙂

While 5 of us may have contrasting taste experiences, all were agreeable that the ingredients were fresh and the fishes were awesome! I wondered if I had stressed enough for them to not compare this Thai cuisine with the punchier Bangkok style that we are accustomed to. Even though more spices are used in Isan cuisine, they aren’t altogether heat related. Still, the Lemongrass Jelly with Aloe Vera dessert was a welcoming treat to soothe our feverish tongues.

Influenced by the enthusiasm on my companions’ first try at Isan cuisine, I sent Vanessa to the kitchen to take some photos of the chefs who whipped up our meal. Here’s the men behind the scene…

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Before I forget, here’s the charcoal-grilled Chicken wings to go with some beer 🙂

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Head Chef (left) Meedee Boonpeng and Asst Chef Arkhom Wongson preparing our meal. Both chefs have been cooking for more than 20 years.

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Spicy Thai – Thai Cafe’s Head Chef Meedee Boonpeng.

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Chef Arkhom Wongson preparing our meal.

Spicy Thai Thai Cafe

Chef Arkhom Wongson.

Northeastern Thai Cuisine found at Blk 115, Aljunied Ave 2.<br /> The Dimsum stall is no longer there as Spicy Thai-Thai Cafe flourished.

Northeastern Thai Cuisine found at Blk 115, Aljunied Ave 2.
The Dimsum stall is no longer there as Spicy Thai-Thai Cafe flourished.

If you haven’t tried Isan Thai cuisine, it’s about time you head down to Spicy Thai – Thai Cafe!

Spicy Thai – Thai Cafe
Address: Blk 115, #01-35,
Aljunied Avenue 2.
Singapore 380115.

Tel: (+65) 67478558.

Operating hour: Daily
11am – 12 mn

P.S. Mookata (Thai BBQ/Steamboat) is also available here.

Happy eating and bonding 🙂

Click here to see previous post: The Forgotten Backyard Found @ Spicy Thai – Thai Cafe!

See more photography work by Vanessa here: vcluxe.com

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