ThaiExpress –Sa-nook Menu available from 1 June to 31 August 2012

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Experience the quintessential flavours of Thailand at ThaiExpress, where there are over 15 outlets islandwide, conveniently located in both the heartlands and in the city.

ThaiExpress goes global, with numerous outlets in Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

Despite being a chain restaurant, ThaiExpress aims to offer consistent quality in their food at all outlets.

The concept of ThaiExpress revolves around providing customers with Thai cuisine – both the authentic and the bold, novel interpretations – at reasonable prices, in a contemporary, comfortable ambience.

The outlet at Plaza Singapura, for instance, has a soothing, modern vibe with touches of traditional elements from natural woods and warm colours.

I always love sitting by the window –a full-length window is a bonus. Not only is the lighting ideal for photographing food, but also the view that comes with it. I love gazing through the window at the world outside, at the frantic pace of life, while I indulge languorously in a comfortable air-conditioned setting.

Upon getting seated, a complimentary appetiser is served –a shot glass brimming with cashew nuts that are pre-tossed with spices and lemongrass. This will instantly perk up your appetite.

Mamuang is cashew nut in Thai.

In this review, I will include a few useful Thai phrases along the way, that I hope will help you become slightly more proficient in the Thai language.

For those who frequent Thailand, you will come across ‘ka’ or ‘krup’ being used frequently at the end of a phrase or a sentence. They have no specific meaning in themselves, but will make whatever you say sound gentle and polite –women use ‘ka’ and while men use ‘krup’.

For example, to say ‘hello’, women will say ‘Sawadee Ka’ while men will say ‘Sawadee Krup’.

Sa-nook Menu (Available from 1 June to 31 August 2012)

This summer, ThaiExpress introduces three set meals with the new San-nook menu. A set comes replete with a main, an accompanying side dish and a dessert.

Sa-nook means fun and enjoyment in Thai; Sa-nok is embedded in the Thai social philosophy and lifestyle; to Sa-nook, is to live life to the fullest.


Sa-nook Red Tom Yum Fish Soup ($8.90)

– Red Tom Yum Fish Soup
– Thai Horm Mali Rice
– Green Curry Chicken Ball
– Fragrant Coconut Milk Sago with Thai Red Atap Seed

The vivid red-orange hue of the Tom Yum Fish Soup is derived from a combination of spices and coconut milk. The coconut milk tones down the spiciness, but the soup still offers enough kick to tantalise your taste buds.

It comes with thick, succulent chunks of fish, well infused with flavours.

The flavoursome curry goes perfectly well with the fluffy Horm Mali Rice. I like to drench my rice in curry.

The Green Curry Chicken Ball is full of surprises within.

Bite into its crispy golden crust to find your teeth sinking into the comfortingly soft and moist greenish interior, with subtle fragrance of green curry. Not much is chewing required –it melts in your mouth. Aroi ka! (Delicious!)

The dessert component – the Coconut Milk Sago with Thai Red Atap Seed – comprises of coconut milk, sago pearls, corn kernels and palm seed dyed a crimson red.

Thai desserts (khanom wan thai) tend to use coconut milk (ga-ti) a lot.

The coconut milk richens and adds fragrance to the starchy and chewy sago pearls. This dessert is sweet enough to banish the blues, but not excessively sweet to cause a steep rise in blood sugar levels.


Sa-nook Thai Green Curry Chicken Fried Rice ($12.90)

– Thai Green Curry Chicken Fried Rice
– Chiang Mai Vermicelli Soup
– Pomelo Salad
– Sweet Black Glutinous Rice with Young Coconut and Longan

The Chiang Mai Vermicelli Soup has a thick consistency, but isn’t heavy on the palate. It is tasty and satisfying!

The Pomelo Salad is refreshing and offsets the heaviness of the rice component.

The star of this set is the Thai Green Curry Chicken Fried Rice.

I’ve been to Bangkok several times – more than 5 times over the past few years –but I’ve never eaten anything like that! The green coat certainly does not come from food colouring –it comes from the medley of ingredients used to cook the green curry.

Green curry, a staple in Thailand, carries a distinct fragrance from the herbs and spices used.

The rice is well infused with curry, and is studded with chicken pieces, long beans chopped into uniform bite-sized lengths, and chilli padi. I especially enjoyed the refreshing hints of basil.

Klin hom!

klin hom, pronounced as glin haawm, means fragrant and aromatic.

I didn’t get a closer shot of the Sweet Black Glutinous Rice with Young Coconut and Longan dessert (I finished it before I could take a picture!) Served warm, the black glutinous rice cling together in thick, gummy syrup. Yum!

Regular Menu

Flip the pages of the menu, and you may find it difficult to decide which ones to order. The regular menu includes soups (nam sup), salads and sides (pak sot), noodles (tai sen), rice dishes (khao), curries (kaeng), and more!


Tom Yum Pla ($7.90)
Tom Yum fish soup

If soups fused with coconut milk are too rich for your liking, order the clear version of Tom Yum.

Khor Tom Yum Pla Noi Ka (I would like to have Tom Yum fish soup).

Do not belittle this soup. Although clear in colour, this sprightly soup is spiced enough to prompt a stimulated appetite.


Poo Tod Kratiem Phrik Thai ($8.90)
Soft shell crab with chef’s secret batter

Soft shell crabs are the only crabs that I will order again, and again, and again, because I can indulge in the delicious crustacean without the hassle of prying the shell and picking the meat out.

Aroi ka! (Delicious!)


Haw Mok Talay ($7.90)
Thai seafood otah

The Otah is one of the most popular side dishes at ThaiExpress. It isn’t exorbitantly priced for that size; it is served in a huge oblong slab instead of the regular thin strips that we usually come across in Singapore.

Spices are used delicately –the otah is aromatic rather than cough-inducingly hot.


Kanom Pang Na Kung ($7.90)
Prawn Toast

The Prawn Toast is a highlight from the appetiser round.

This dish is said to be a favourite amongst young Thai princesses and princes; it is used to keep the royal children quiet during solemn state ceremonies.

It is an interesting partnership of bread and seafood –all fried together to a deep golden brown. The crispy crust encases fresh succulent prawn that sits on a toast. It bursts with delightful flavours and pleasing textures.

Jop Mak (I like that very much).


Tau Hoo Si Ew Dam ($8.90)
Dark Soya Tofu

I was searching for a crispy battered deep-fried tofu on the menu, but to no avail. We settled for the Dark Soya Tofu, which wasn’t as soft as I’d like my tofu to be, but it sufficed. Though not lacking in flavour, it’s not something that I’d order again. Personal preference!

Useful Thai vocabulary: Si-lo dam (dark soy sauce) Si-lo khao (light soy sauce)


Mee Sua Phat Kee Mao Talay ($9.90)
Fried mee sua with seafood and vegetable

For a direct translation, Phat means stir-fry; kee mao means drunken; Talay means seafood. I’m just guessing, “kee mao” can also be interpreted as “imbued” (with seafood flavours), as the literal use of alcohol is null. I’m no expert. Correct me if I’m wrong.

This dish was satisfying, and not lacking in the taste department. I like!


Kang Ob Woon Sen ($14.90)
Glass noodle with black pepper crayfish in claypot

The provenance of this dish begins in a Thai palace: a young palace chef combined juicy fresh crayfish and tender glass noodles and simmered them in thai garlic and pepper sauce to celebrate SongKran –the Thai New Year.

Thaay-ruup Dai Mai ka (May I take a picture?)

The glass noodle is flavoursome, with scents of black pepper (prik thai dam) that pervade rather than invade. The texture of the crayfish could’ve been more succulent though. I would gladly devour the noodle, but just the noodle.


Senyai Phat Krapow Gai ($10.90)
Stir-fried kway teow with basil chicken

Regulars will recommend the Stir-fried Kway Teow with Basil Chicken.

It comes with chilli padi, so be cautious of what you’re putting into your mouth if you can’t take the heat!

Useful Thai phrases when it comes to spice levels: “Mai ow phet” means you do not want any spice and “Ow phet nit noy” means you would like just a little spiciness. “Phet” means “spicy”.

It is delish. All three of the noodle dishes that I tried didn’t disappoint.

Khun hui mai (Are you hungry?)

Milkshakes


Avocado Milkshake ($5.90)

Avocados are known to be rich in unsaturated fats, which help to keep your cholesterol level low.

The avocado milkshake is smoothly blended with a touch of milk and ice (can’t taste the ice cream, so I’m not sure if they added any, like how milkshakes are meant to be). Anyhow, it is a healthy milkshake. Yum.


Red Bean Milkshake $5.90)

The Red Bean Milkshake is one of their specialties. It is a must try!

For someone with an aversion to the texture of red bean, I enjoyed this exceedingly –it is smoothly blended. I love red bean potong ice cream on sticks (oh how nostalgic). It tastes akin to that ice cream, but in a slurpable version, in absence of that discrete red bean texture.

Annai Aroi Kwaa Gun Ka (Which one is more delicious?)

The Red Bean Milkshake is a personal favourite.

Dessert


Lemongrass ice-cream with diced mango and red ruby ($6.50)

For something light on the palate to end a heavy (and spicy) meal, the lemongrass ice cream will offset the heat perfectly. I don’t think there’s any cream involved in this dessert, it seems more like a sorbet than an ice cream.

Very light and refreshing!


Khao Niao Mamuang ($6.50)
Sweet glutinous rice with fresh mango and coconut milk

You will find this dessert everywhere on the streets of Thailand. Surprisingly I’ve not tried it when I was in Thailand –the combination of rice, and fruit, and coconut milk, just seemed bizarre to me.

I figure, I have to try this someday, and that day was it.

We were stuffed to the brim before this dessert arrived, and we weren’t sure if we could stomach this assumingly heavy dessert. But when it arrived, it was gone in less than a minute. I love the generous pool of coconut milk that surrounds the juicy mango and sticky rice.


Thai Chendol ($6.50)

The Thai Chendol is a highly raved dessert that I personally adore.

Unlike the typical Chendol we find at local hawker dessert stalls, the Thai Chendol comes with jackfruit slices, red ruby and green chewy flour bits, in a rich coconut milk base that flavours the smoothly crushed ice, and sweetened with traditional Thai palm sugar.

This is a must try!

Gin Muen Duerm (I want the same thing that I always have).

I will order this again when I’m back.

ThaiExpress offers an extensive menu to cater to wide-ranging appetites. There is something for everyone.

After tasting the delectable spread of Thai food, Yaak pai muang Thai mark Ka (I want to go to Thailand, very much).

ThaiExpress
Plaza Singapura
68 Orchard Road
#03-24 Plaza Singapura
Singapore 238839

Tel: +65-6339 5442

Operating hours:
Daily: 11.30am to 10.30pm
Last order at 10pm

Website: http://www.thaiexpress.com.sg

For the list of outlets in Singapore, visit: http://www.thaiexpress.com.sg/index.php?page=singapore