Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Spicy Thai - Thai Cafe, Delicious Thai Cuisine in Aljunied

Ron was someone I knew from my days in IT, and he and his partner ran an SI company that supported me and my company for over a decade. And that is the thing about working with reliable vendors, there is a sense of trust and confidence.

So, when Ron decided to start a Thai zhe char styled kopitiam in Aljunied, there wasn't a sense of trepidation. For I know, knowing how he and his partner work, they will always deliver the goods, and then some.

Ron took the decision to take over an entire kopitiam just for his Thai food, and the space is palpable.

There is both an indoor air conditioned area, as well as a more alfresco area which seems the more popular of the two. From the outset, it looks like any other typical zhe char place, and you might be forgiven to think that it serves just your standard Thai fare.

You would be wrong. Ron frequents Esan, which is not that popular a tourist spot in Thailand, and hence, a lot of his food bears the mark of Esan cooking. In fact, Spicy Thai prides on delivering Thai food that is a fusion of classic Esan fare mixed with a touch of creativity to tailor to a more discerning crowd here.

Deep Fried Kang Kong

A clear example of this creative touch is this addicitive plate of deep fried kang kong. Dapped in a light tempura light batter, the kang kong was crisp and flavorful, and the accompanying dipping sauce was appropriately spicy and slightly sweet, bringing the flavors of the kang kong to the forefront.

Dill Omelette

A Thai dill was used in the making of this tasty little concoction. The omelette was fried to a dark golden brown color, and the dill was a simple but effective addition that gave the perfect herb aroma to a well cooked plate of eggs.

Basil Black Pepper Crab

We have had black pepper crabs before, but you probably never had it with deep fried Thai basil. Just that bit of little herb boost really lifted this dish to another level. The crabs were succulent and sweet, and well judged. The basil was nicely crisp and not too overpowering either.

The Thai cook that Ron hired also added tons of other ingredients, including pork slices to elevate the flavors further, and it was really a kaleidoscope of surf and turf flavors that really worked very well on this dish.

Lad Na

I have never had crispy hor fun before, and this was a delightful first for me. While the sauce was quite standard and gluey, it was the fat strands of crispy hor fun that won me over. When the hor fun was soaked fully with the juices of the plate, it was just a wondrous bite every time.

Sleeping Fish

The most unique dish on the night was this curiously named Sleeping Fish. It was called such due to the fact that the head of the fish being curled up as if in a sleeping position. The reason was that back in Thailand, the households there did not have steamers larger enough to contain the entire fish, so the fish had to be coiled up just to fit in, hence the curling head fish.

Eating it presented a separate challenge, as it is akin to having a lettuce wrap. You take bits of the fish meat, some coriander and vermicelli, and drizzle a light vinaigrette over the mixture before taking it whole into your mouth. There was a burst of flavors and texure that came with every bite. A bit messy, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Ron Poh

Ron can be considered a veteran in the IT business, but he has decided to venture to F&B here as he feels the IT industry is slowing down and there are less opportunities there. It is a stark reality, and many like him are also going out of their original industries to do something different these days.

However, as with all eateries, the main problems are always rental and labor costs. And food costs these days are also escalating at an alarming rate. Yet, despite all this, Ron seems to have the confidence to want to succeed in this new venture of his.

Knowing him, I suspect that he will make a go of this as his track record in the IT line has always been exemplary. Many clients, including myself, would always swear by his service and dedication as Ron and his team value the quality of their work more than anything else.

Having sampled his food, I believe that same level of excellence and dedication to his diners will persist and if nothing else, his willingness to research and innovate will only bode well for the future.

Spicy Thai - Thai Cafe
115 Aljunied Ave 2

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