Sweet Salty Spicy – But Mainly Spicy

18 05 2012

SSS is a Thai eatery that dishes up a wide variety of Thai delights in a casual setting.  As it is owned by the same operator and shares its premises with Cafe Epicurious (Rail Mall), diners get the benefit of mixing and matching their food orders between the 2 restaurants. Xinli from the the4Moose (you can view his review of SSS here) and myself were down for a tasting session about a week ago where we managed to chat with the chef/owner for a bit. Coming from a Caucasian background, we were puzzled as to why the he (who requests not to be named) would want to operate a Thai eatery and he mentioned that apart from having some friends who run reputable Thai restaurants in Sydney (Sailor’s Thai) and London (1-star Michelin restaurant Nahm), he felt that there was a major market gap in Singapore’s mid-end Thai restaurants. You can more easily find either affordable Thai eateries such as Ah Loy Thai and Nakhon Kitchen or the fine dining restaurants such as Patara Fine Thai Cuisine and Jim Thomson.

We started off the meal with the Tasting Platter, which comprised of 4 appetizers from the menu. Of the 4, 2 were note-worthy, the Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Chili Jam & Lemongrass Dressing and the SSS Crispy Rice Cakes with a Warm Chicken & Prawn Chili Dip, and are items that I would order again on future visits. The crabs are meaty and flavourful, and the chili jam was more of a curry cream sauce. The Traditional Prawn & Vegetable Rice Rolls with a sweet Tamarind Dressing & Crispy Garlic looked like sushis’ but apart from the beancurd, it was difficult to located any other flavours. “Miang” is a traditional street snack originating from Thailand and Laos, meaning “food wrapped in leaves”. How it is made is quite flexible as different types of leaves and fillings can be used. The ones offered at SSS use fillings of Prawns & Pomelo on Betal Leaves with a Palm Tamarind Dressing & Crispy Garlic. You are supposed to eat it in one mouthful but that is definitely not easy and it’s quite easy to mess up (as I did) and the dressing can end up all over your hand if you are not careful.

I would have loved to have some Thai Iced Tea, since the meal was course after course of spicy and curried dishes. Milk is one of the few drinks than can alleviate spiciness because of a compound present in it called casein. It effectively disengages capsaicin, a compound that gives off the spicy taste, from your mouth and helps to wash it away. There was no such option on the menu though so I settled for the Lemongrass Juice.

If I’m correct, the Thai name for the Spicy Chicken & Coconut Broth infused with Thai Blue Ginger, Kaffir, Lime & Lemongrass ($10++) is Tom Yum Kai. Nothing very exciting about the dish as the chicken thigh meat was rubbery though the sour tang of the tom yum was a great lead up to the mains.

The Deep Fried Silken Tofu Stuffed with Fresh Crab, Coriander & Minced Pork ($18++) is a bit overpriced to me. Eating the tofu without the accompanying thai chili sauce, you can definitely taste the fresh crab meat but the tofu might be a little bland for some. For me, I thought the milder flavours of this dish was greatly desired amidst all the pungent spices present in Thai cuisine.

Excluding any curries found in the appetizer or noodles section of the menu, there are 5 other types of curries available at SSS. For first timers who do not know which one is their appeals to their palates, I’d suggest opting for the Curry Triplets, which as the name suggests, allows diners to pick 3 of the 5 curries in small tasting portions. For Xinli and myself, we tried the Roast Duck Red Curry with Seedless Grapes & Fried Shallots, Green Curry of Baby Snapper with Apple Eggplants & Holy Basil and Jungle Curry of Scallops & Prawns with Long Green Beans & Sweet Thai Basil ($20++ inclusive of Jasmine Rice). My favourite of the 3 was the Jungle Curry because the prawns were really springy and I’m a huge fan of scallops as well. The jungle curry tasted a little like a belachan chili sauce, reminiscent of what you might find being fried with long beans at a nasi lemak stall. An interesting fact about jungle curry is that no coconut milk is normally used for this dish, as you would not expect to find coconut trees in the Thai jungles. The Green Curry was decent but slightly watered down.

I found the curry in the Chiang Mai Curried Noodle with Chicken & Mustard Greens ($12++) tasting a bit like sweet laksa gravy. It’s rather spicy on its own, but diners will also be given a dip made using sesame oil and spices which you can dip the noodles in. For some reason, the dip makes the noodles more fragrant and quells the spiciness to an optimal level. Personally, I find it a bit too rich to have it all by myself though so I would advocate sharing this.

I was really quite stuffed by now but it just felt inappropriate not to try any of SSS’s Thai desserts, so Xinli and myself shared the Black Sticky Rice with Cashews. In Singapore and Malaysia, we usually refer to this as Pulut Hitam but in Thailand, it is known as Khao niao dam. In retrospect, this was definitely too heavy a dessert so I gave up after 2 mouthfuls since it was very standard fare.

Special thanks to SSS for the kind invitation!

Sweet Salty Spicy

392/394 Upper Bukit Timah Road, The Rail Mall

Tel: +65 6877 2544

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