Folk working in the CBD are really getting spoilt for choice when it comes to lunch options.
Yet another Southeast Asian eatery, Ang Kor Wat, has sprouted up along Shenton Way in the Tanjong Pagar district.
The bright white signage is eye-catching enough that it may even draw you in like a moth to a flame. I mean, how could you resist those Pad Thai and Thai Basil Rice posters?
There is ample outdoor seating to accommodate large groups, ideal for casual lunch meetings or gossip sessions with your makan kakis.
The interior itself is kitschy yet charming, decked out with Southeast Asian, mainly Thai, accents.
I actually liked the mishmash of decorative items, which made the entire space feel down-to-earth.
Falcon milk cans, a display shelf with a line of Polaroid pictures, and menu highlights in colour-coordinated penmanship? Very cute.
Why name the restaurant after the historical Cambodian monument if there’s only Thai cuisine on the menu? Take a moment to read the lovely message on the chalkboard.
Ang Kor Wat is serving Thai food for now, but they’ll gradually branch out into Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine.
In a bid to rejuvenate ourselves, we kicked things off with Thai Milk Tea (S$2.50) and Lemongrass Drink (S$2.50). Nothing to shout about, but they provided a much-needed respite on that sweltering afternoon.
We unanimously agreed that the Crispy Pork Belly (S$6) was the standout dish.
Marinated for 24 hours, each piece of crispy pork was remarkably tender and fatty, with a subtle hint of spice.
All my self-control went out the window, and I just kept going in for more.
I could go and on about the refreshingly zesty roasted rice dipping sauce. The concoction of chilli, lime juice, fish sauce and a bunch of other aromatics, when paired together with the pork, was a match made in heaven.
Posters of the Minced Pork Basil Rice with Sunny Side up Egg (S$6.90) were plastered everywhere, and so I had to try it.
The sizable portion of basil pork and rice looked promising.
I’m no pad kra pao connoisseur, but there was definitely too much sauce pooling around the meat.
I did enjoy the textural contrast of the juicy, savoury minced pork and crunchy long beans. Apart from that, it was a pretty standard rendition of the classic Thai stir-fry. Good, but not outstanding.
Pity about the sad sunny side up, which didn’t add much of value to the dish.
Moving on, we were pleased to see the Superior Tom Yum Soup (S$9.90) on the menu.
Despite its fiery red appearance, the broth was a little too sweet for my liking. The sour tang and heat did eventually make an appearance after a few spoonfuls, leaving me with a spice that tickled the back of my throat.
The bowl was bursting with ingredients. Tiger prawns, clams, calamari, fish fillet, oyster mushrooms, tomatoes, baby corn, and goodness knows what else. You name it, they had it.
I won’t say no to an abundance of ingredients, because they certainly add a fresh, pronounced flavour, but it just felt…distracting.
The Thick Tom Yum Soup (S$6) or Clear Tom Yum Soup (S$6) would’ve sufficed, letting me focus on the broth itself.
The special Seafood Basket (S$69.90, portion for two pax) puts a spin on one of the best communal dining experiences, seafood boil.
Disposable gloves and bibs are provided, so don’t be afraid to get down and dirty.
It was truly a feast for the eyes, as the entire bucket of seafood came cascading down. We marvelled at the beautiful mess of crayfish, prawns, mussels, clams, and corn, tossed in a sweet and mildly spicy tom yum sauce.
I also spotted ginger, shallots, and kaffir lime leaves scattered around, adding to the overall shiok factor of the finger-licking good sauce.
The crayfish, which I affectionately refer to as a “budget lobster”, is one of the most versatile crustaceans out there.
I prised it open to reveal a chunk of tender meat brimming with oceanic sweetness. I’ll take this over lobsters any day.
The clams and mussels were fresh and briny, so no complaints on my end!
Is it just me or is there something immensely satisfying about ripping off prawn heads?
At any rate, tackling the seafood was easy and we lapped everything up. That was one addictive sauce.
Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see the Seafood Basket on the menu. It’s still being tweaked and Ang Kor Wat will release it very soon. Expect garlic butter and black pepper sauce — yum!
Update: as of 27 July, the finalised Seafood Bucket contains 700g Live Mud crab, 350g Live Venus Clams, 250g Live Mussel, 300g Live Tiger prawns, 2 Corn cob, and 4 mantou. Get messy with Garlic Honey butter, Tom Yum, or Thai style dip. Preorders can be made via this form.
As we took our leave, we witnessed a birthday cake being brought out in celebration of a server’s birthday. The sense of camaraderie was palpable, and I couldn’t help but silently revel in the genuine happiness of the staff.
Perhaps it is this exact feeling Ang Kor Wat is trying to convey.
We all need a breather; take some time off to relax and spend quality time with loved ones over a meal.
Will dining there make you feel like Julia Roberts or instill in you a desire to embark on a 6-month-long pilgrimage? Maybe not, but the affordable food and warm service may do you some good.
Besides, the prospect of getting to try Cambodian cuisine is enough to make me return to Ang Kor Wat.
Expected Damage: S$15 – S$20 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
Ang Kor Wat
76 Shenton Way, #01-01, Singapore 079119
Ang Kor Wat
76 Shenton Way, #01-01, Singapore 079119