I used to eat a lot of Thai food before coming to Singapore. It was one of those regular staples for working lunches with clients and colleagues – and I still think fondly of my favourite places back in Canberra (chief among them, Two Sisters in Dickson).
I’m not sure how this changed so much in coming to Singapore. My local (at the time) Bali Thai outlet at Novena just wasn’t quite what I was used to, so the desire for red duck curry and Beef Massaman slowly faded. I found out soon after that a lot of the chain Thai places precook most the food in a central location first thing in the morning then give it a quick reheat in the wok prior to serving – and it tastes like reheated leftovers as a result (not that there is anything wrong with microwaved leftovers – anyone that knows me knows how fond I am of them, but I do resent paying restaurant prices for reheated food).
I have to say that I have enjoyed many fine meals at Phad Thai in Mackenzie Road - I know the owners, they are good people, and provide a good dining experience. Apart from that, Thai food in Singapore has been something I’ve had every so often but never really raved about.
And so it was with an open mind but no great expectations that I entered Ah Loy Thai (in Tampines Mall Basement 1) today for lunch. When the Pineapple Rice came out, my low expectations were confirmed by the presentation – even the chain places go to some effort, but this looked well, not so wonderful:
But how did it taste? Actually rather good. Better than good. Great. Well flavoured, good texture, fresh ingredients. I think I could eat a whole plate of it as a lunch option for myself alone – that good.
Next came the Garlic Pork with Lemon Leaf:
This dish looked much better than the rice, and the taste was very good indeed – hot, full of spicy flavour, big chunks of lemon grass adding to the taste, with the odd chunk of well caramelised garlic scattered throughout it, superb.
Next, Mango Crispy Chicken:
I have to say that I am fond of mango in Thai food – the fish in mango sauce at Phad Thai remains my favourite Thai dish here in Singapore. This is a close second – despite the large chunks of red chili obvious in the photo above, the taste is pretty mild compared to the Garlic Pork. And the chicken is very crispy, very well flavoured, sweet, tasty.
Last came the Fried Calimari:
The Calimari is served with mayonnaise and chili sauce. Of all the dishes, this was probably the one that did not stand out – it was not bad, it just suffered by comparison to the rest of the dishes.
At meal’s end, the two of us had put in a creditable effort:
And the cost? Readers have asked me to include prices in my venue review posts – so here is the bill showing all-in costs:
Please note Ah Loy in Tampines Mall is a cash-only establishment – meals are paid for on ordering. I am not sure if their other outlet in Beach Road is the same, but take sufficient cash just in case.
Would I go again? Yes, I think I will. The menu has dishes yet untried, and if they were as good as today’s lunch, I will be back there again and again until I have sampled them all.