Gin Khao – Thai Street Delights And More!

Some eat to live but I live love to eat 😉

Our transcultural * greetings of “Jiak ba buay?”, “Sik bao mei?”, “Sudah makan?” or “吃包沒?” meaning “Have you eaten?” takes the place of the conventional “How are you?” That’s says quite a lot about us, doesn’t it?

“Dining out in Singapore is more than just a social activity — it’s an integral part of the national identity. To Singaporeans, eating is often described as the national pastime and food, a national obsession. Even the Singapore Tourism Board promotes the local dining culture as a tourist attraction!

The Singapore diner is more than willing to travel all over the island to hunt down a certain restaurant or food stall that someone recommended. In Singapore, long queues outside restaurants and food stalls are a common sight as people come from far and wide to look for good food.” – excerpt from An Insight Into Dining in Singapore

The hectic lifestyle in Singapore made dining out convenient for the locals. It is a huge and dare I say, permanent trend. The market share is so big that the performance of F&B (food and beverage) industry is closely tied to Singapore’s consumer confidence index.

By domestic demand, we have lots of 24hrs eateries scattered around the island. Thus without a doubt, someone somewhere is currently eating and/or talking about food! The F&B scene in Singapore is very vibrant 24/7 and very very competitive, indeed!

How will Gin Khao, a new player, compete and what will be their strategy?

“Wanting to embrace on the wide acceptance of Thai Cuisine and not willing to conform to be a typical Thai restaurant, which is a dime a dozen in Singapore, our panel of highly qualified chefs decided to bring Thai Cuisine to the “next” level. Using traditional recipes from Thailand as the source, our chefs experimented with conventional and non-conventional herbs and ingredients to present a spectrum of contrasting flavors – sweet, sour and spiciness of varied degrees to YOU, our valued customers. The taste of our food offerings are specially tailored to suit the palates of the Local community.

The mission is simple: serve delicious, affordable food that guests will want to return week after week.” – excerpts from Gin Khao & Bistro website

The recent media food tasting event I attended was somewhat intriguing and mind taste boggling at the same time. No, don’t get me wrong. The food was not shabby. In fact, the dishes were pretty good! My personal favourite is the stir-fried squid with runny salted egg and tomyum marinated chicken wings but I felt the restaurant was bordering on losing Thai food ethnicity, if there’s such a thing. Going out to a Thai restaurant, especially one that is quite out of the way for me, means I do want Thai food specifically. It does not have to be authentic, I am not that rigid and I won’t be able to tell the difference, but there are certain criteria to be fulfilled. That said, let’s take a look at my lunch…

Gin Khao - RESTAURANT

Gin Khao literally means Eat Rice.

Gin Khao - DRINKS

From left to right:
1) THAI ICE ROSE MILK TEA, S$4.80 – Traditional Cha Yen with the addition of Rose Syrup.
2) PERRIER WITH HONEY AND LIME, S$6.80  – The name says it all.
3) COCONUT MOJITO – Coconut Water, Mint Leaves and Lime (non-alcoholic).

Gin Khao - STARTERS

The starters from Gin Khao had our thumbs up.
From left to right: LARD MOO, GAI TOD TOM YUM and PRAWN AND GREEN MANGO RELISH.

Gin Khao - PRAWN AND GREEN MANGO RELISH

PRAWN AND GREEN MANGO RELISH – S$7.80

Gin Khao - PRAWN AND GREEN MANGO RELISH

Chilled crisp mango and juicy prawn cubes served on mini crispy rice crackers with savoury sweet sauce meant sticky fingers as the sauce dripped but I have no doubt this appetiser will win the hearts of the young and old. It was, well, finger licking good!

Gin Khao - GAI TOD TOM YUM

GAI TOD TOM YUM.
Spicy marinated tomyum chicken wings deep-fried to a golden perfection.
Cleanse your palate with whatever drinks you have on hand, better still if it is plain water as you need to really appreciate these wings on first bite – that’s when the tom yum spices permeates! Afterwards, your tastebuds may become may acclimatised.

Gin Khao - LARD MOO

LARD MOO – S$7.80.
Of all the Thai street’s delights, Alvin said Lard Moo – a warm minced pork salad with mint is something he must try when visiting new Thai restaurant/eateries.
I wonder what’s his rating for this dish…
As for me, this was my first go at Lard Moo and I like it.
Gin Khao’s version had minced pork that was fabulously seasoned with fish sauce, chili flakes, lime juice, toasted sticky rice which rendered crunchy and chewy texture, and its assortment of fresh herbs brought it all together, wonderfully.
I hope the lard moo here is a good yardstick for it will set the benchmark for my subsequent tastings at other places.

Gin Khao - TOM YUM TALAY

TOM YUM TALAY – S$12.80.
There ws no doubt that Gin Khao employs fresh ingredients and the soup was tasty. But it was a tiny tad too sweet for me.
However, this is my personal taste that I like it a bit more citrusy sour from the fresh limes and more heat.
I am sure you can always request that the chef head northwards with the spicy level to your liking.

Gin Khao - KHAO PHAT DTAENG MOE

KHAO PHAT DTAENG MOE – S$11.80.
There’s no denying that the fried rice has a unique presentation but I was utterly confused.
My tongue has its own mind, so forgive me if I’m lengthy here but fyi, this was how my tongue’s mind mapped on this staple dish:
1) squid and prawns = seafood fried rice.
2) deep-fried beanskin = vegetarian goose = vegetarian beehoon (not even rice).
3) cashews = pilaf.
4) pork floss = Thai pineapple rice.
5) watermelon = ??? Got me there!
Watermelon Fried Rice (first of its kind in Singapore) provides another option to the Thai staple on Gin Khao’s menu and is a refreshing change from the more intense fruity Pineapple Fried Rice.
If you must know, my preference is for the latter. It does not have an “All-time favourite” for nothing!

Gin Khao - STIR-FRIED SQUID WITH RUNNY SALTED EGG

STIR-FRIED SQUID WITH RUNNY SALTED EGG – S$14.80
This is a standard portion and I love the taste and pricing!
I do highly recommend this dish as it certainly has value-for-money but is this Thai cuisine or Malaysian-style cze char?

Gin Khao - KANG OB WOON SEN

KANG OB WOON SEN – S$16.80

Gin Khao - KANG OB WOON SEN

BTS is the acronym we use for “Behind The Scene”. Here’s how we achieve some shots on location without any professional assistance or food stylists.

Gin Khao - KANG OB WOON SEN

Kang Ob Woon Sen is a popular Thai restaurant dish.
They are usually cooked with prawns, crayfish and sometimes crab. There’s a staple of slippery, chewy glass noodles as base with herbs such as coriander roots, garlic cloves with skin on, ginger and galangal slices, cracked peppercorns and some pork belly fats or smoky bacon to give the dish an extra oomph!
Sadly, some of these ingredients were missing in the pot. I felt that the fresh crayfish was a bit under-seasoned and the tanghoon (glass noodles) over-salty.
There was none of the Thai aromatics I was expecting.

Gin Khao - MANGO WITH BLACK STICKY RICE

MANGO WITH BLACK STICKY RICE.

Gin Khao - MANGO WITH BLACK STICKY RICE

Sticky Rice had chewy bites and Mango was sweet!
My personal taste is for the rice to have some (if they didn’t add any or if they did, then a bit more) sugar as black sticky rice is not as sweet as the white sticky rice.
I also like a little salt to the coconut cream to bring out the contrasty sweet and savouriness of this rice dessert.

Gin Khao - MAN CHEUAM

MAN CHEUAM.
A typical Thai-style steamed tapioca (cassava) dessert that comes with Coconut Cream.
I can tell this was heated on demand as it came piping hot and there was a shallow pool of trapped hot steam in the plate.
Piped generously with coconut cream, the translucent tuberous roots were cooked just right.

Gin Khao Sam-2

Thanks to Alvin for this BTS shot.

Gin Khao - GELATO

GELATO.
These gelati are customised flavours for Gin Khao.
When it comes to gelato, what’s your flavour? Gin Khao’s signature gelati are the most unique tastes I have come across so far.
There are ice cream flavours that are reminiscence of one’s childhood (Asian) like ice kacang, cendol, gula melaka, nasi lemak (yes, nasi lemak! the coconut rice with spicy sambal) but today, I had bravely tested Tomyum and Green Curry Gelato!!!
Being interesting and creative may be distinctive but do not necessarily become synonymous with delicious. These congelato desserts are definitely an acquired taste for me.
I tried to be open-minded and had a few more scoops than I should venture but still not deep enough to uncover what the “corn-looking” stuff is, below the green curry gelato.

Mark and Alvin, my lunch kakis on that day.

Mark and Alvin, my lunch kakis on that day.

Situated near the sea in East Coast Park, this spacious restaurant has plenty of room for large scale parties and corporate functions. I had little interaction with the staff as Ann Marie took care of our needs but recalling their service, I must state that the wait staff were very attentive and efficient. And I guess it is safe for me to say that Gin Khao is both family and wallet friendly. Gin Khao has many one-dish meals on their Noodles and Rice section of the menu. I am sure youngsters will find the surrounding environment an invigorating change from the city malls, what’s more with cycling, rollerblading, prawning and beach activities within a stone’s throw away after eating at Gin Khao!

Thank you Gin Khao and especially Ann Marie for being so patient when hosting us. Thank you Mark and Alvin for sharing table with me.

See their full menu here: http://www.ginkhao.com.sg/menu

Gin Khao
Address: 1020 East Coast Parkway.
#01-01 Singapore 449787.

Tel: 6604 8996

Opening hours: Daily
Mondays – Thursdays
Lunch: 1.30 am – 3pm
Dinner: 5.50pm – 10.30pm
Friday – Sundays: 11.30am – 10.30pm

If you want to try cooking KANG OB WOON SEN at home, here’s a recipe from my friend, Alvin, who uses prawns instead: http://chefandsommelier.blogspot.sg/2012/04/prawn-vermicelli.html

* This form of greeting was passed on by our ancestors during the Great Famine Of China in the 1870s. “吃包沒?” in any dialect was started with the people showing concern for their village folks by asking if they had taken their meal.

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Comments
One Response to “Gin Khao – Thai Street Delights And More!”
  1. Nice review …
    P.S. Thanks for all of the likes …
    Love, hugs and blessings … ME

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