November 24, 2014
Thai Village has been a haven for luxurious Thai-Teochew cuisine for over two decades. But since receiving a fair share of flak for impudently promoting its signature Braised Shark’s Fin Soup amid an increasing audience of environmentalists, Thai Village restaurant has been looking to go forward with an evolution of dishes that the new generation can appreciate.
Nevertheless, there remains a healthy range of impeccable seafood dishes from which to choose that we’ll explore below.
When I first got to Thai Village at Indoor Stadium and settled in on my cushioned seat enclosed in the private room holding just a large round table, I thought the chamber could make the perfect setting for an aristocratic Chinese Reunion Dinner. Outside in the main dining area, however, one can imagine a more casual family affair in this spacious restaurant.
It is easy to mistake that Thai Village serves only typical Thai cuisine like Tom Yum Goong and Green Curry. What is offered, though, stretches far beyond that range to also cover Chinese-style dishes of a seafood variety with which we all are familiar. As to how the restaurant inherited its seemingly incongruous name, I learned that Thai Village’s founders were once humble disciples of a Thai culinary virtuoso who lived among a Chinese-Teochew community in Thailand. How this all comes together by paying homage then makes perfect sense.
The spread of dishes prepared for our tasting session features favourites from both its a la carte menu and various sets that only are available in the Stadium outlet.
Cold Dish ($42++ | $56++ | $70++). It is apparent that the Chinese aren’t the most creative with appetizers, but Thai Village’s version of this assorted plate features possibly the best of the gamut in an astonishingly near-symmetrical cross, with fresh shrimp topped with a mayonnaise matrix, drunken chicken, fried salted egg in a light wasabi dressing, spicy baby octopus, as well as prickly spring rolls.
The salted egg puff was especially delectable with a contrasting heat from the wasabi, while the spring roll was a crispy delight that kids will love.
Wagyu Beef and Mushrooms ($88++ | $132++ | $176++). One of the newest dishes Thai Village has developed, the wagyu beef and mushrooms cubes here are immaculately stir-fried in large chunks for you to comfortably stuff the mouth. It was also a pleasure to learn that the restaurant imports authentic top-tier A3 Japanese wagyu, evident from a tender yet springy profile that the beef exhibits. A delicious savoury gravy from the au jus also coats the huge portobello mushrooms perfectly for a consummate blend.
If you are familiar with Japanese Wagyu beef prices, you will notice that the prices at Thai Village are really very affordable compared to other restaurants serving Wagyu. For the same portion, you can easily be charged 50% more elsewhere.
Chilli Crabs ($30++ | $45++ | $60++). There is nothing disappointing about the sweet chilli sauce laden with egg. It urges you to drench the fried and absorbent bun in the viscous essence, and also will see you taking more ladles of the goodness minutes after. The size of the huge Sri Lankan crabs, that comes ready-to-peel, is admirable.
The chili crab sauce has a good balance of spice and sweetness, not overly heavy on each attribute while still having a thick texture that latches onto the crab and bun so you get the full flavours together.
Salted Egg Crabs ($60++ per crab). Having had the identical dish the night before, it worried me how this was going to go down. But I was pleased to find some sensory remodeling in that parts of the shell were deeply fried for easy peeling, which saves on the fastidious finger work, and like the Chilli Crab, the pristine sweet crab flesh within makes for a nice contrast with the toothsome but potent salted egg varnish – grainy in texture which shows how much salted egg was used.
Baked Thai Style Cod Fish ($30++ | $45++ | $60++). The dish deserving of the least glamour with regard to presentation wins my vote for the afternoon’s favourite. This soft package of delectably slimy skin with near boneless, bouncy fish soaked in a sweet and shadowy sauce is the epitome of methodological preparation of cod.
Strong garlic and buttery notes with a hint of smokiness from the whole pot being cooked and served, I’d say this dish is a must-try for ardent fans of fish and collagen.
Yam with Abalone ($48++ | $72++ | $96++). Though one might mistake every piece for a curry puff, know that underneath the crust lies a generous serving of abalone confined by copious portions of yam paste. The crisp outer layer, when bitten into gives way to soft yam mash and finally hitting the firm abalone provides a multi-tier journey through this dish. A premium fried dumpling most Chinese will be familiar with.
Abalone Rice ($35++). For a better gauge of Thai Village’s Mexican-picked sizeable 1 head abalones, I believe one should go for this impressive amalgam of sea cucumber, mushroom, rice, and the giant delicacy, all of which is doused in a thickly brown gravy full in the essence of the mixture. Think mui fan, but have its appeal raised tenfold.
This was Seth’s favorite dish hands down, simple and easy to go down – just so comforting after a long day.
Baked Lobster with Cheese (part of the $168++ set). It is Managing Director Lee Tong Soon who informs me of his preference for locally-farmed lobsters, as opposed to the popular Boston alternative that proves to be firmer than local varieties.
Baked using 3 cheeses (parmesan, cheddar and brie), the lobster flavour could possibly be a little overpowered, but its distinct texture prevails in the taste skirmish. Usually enjoying both key ingredients, I would have loved to just dig my hands into all corners of the shell, but even with a fork and knife its easy enough pull out the meat. Creamy and blending with the sweet lobster meat, this is our local version of the Lobster Thermidor.
Mango Pudding ($4++). This deceptively pale mango pudding is surprisingly the most authentic of its kind, since the pudding is formed from real mangoes, whose bits are also found at the base of this cup.
Yam Paste with Ginko Nuts ($5++ per bowl | $18++ | $27++ | $36++). A traditional Teo Chew dessert, the thick yam paste has its taste elevated when combined with coconut milk to bring out a sweet fragrance and silky texture.
Besides Singapore, Thai Village has also opened outlets in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia, a testament to its solid foundation in producing sensual seafood suitable for families. With traditional and new dishes that all generations can enjoy, we can be hopeful that Thai Village’s next step of a broader appeal will be a successful one.
Expected damage: $80 – $100 per pax