Last Updated: May 29, 2019
Nestled in Yishun, BKK Bistro & Bar is an authentic Thai supper spot that dishes out boat noodles for just S$0.80++ per bowl.
It’s located within ORTO, Singapore’s first multi-recreational park that’s open 24/7. Spanning seven football fields, ORTO has both day and night activities, such as prawning, long kang fishing, a trampoline park and paintball park.
Stepping into BKK Bistro & Bar felt like I was transported right back in Bangkok, slurping tiny bowls of tom yum boat noodles by the river.
The furnishings and exterior of the no-frills restaurant were simple and bare. Metal tables and chairs were strewn across an open space lawn under a vast sky, and a fishing pond was right next to the bistro so I got a similar “riverside” experience.
The main draw of BKK Bistro & Bar was definitely its Boat Noodles (S$0.80++).
Each bowl was tiny and sat comfortably in the palm of my hand, and lasted about two or three full mouthfuls. For those unfamiliar with boat noodles, these mini bowls actually have an interesting history behind them.
Traditionally sold at Thailand’s floating markets, boat noodles were first invented by Thai boat merchants. They had to do everything on the boat by themselves, from paddling the boat to cooking the noodles, and even to serving bowls of piping hot noodles to their customers.
If the bowl was too big, the soup would spill, especially on choppy waters. As such, they decided to keep the bowls extra small so it’d be safe for the merchant and the customer could eat it with ease too.
The boat noodles at BKK Bistro & Bar came with two varying soup bases — Red Tom Yum and Herbal Boat Noodle Soup.
Other than deciding between Glass Noodle and Rice Noodle, you also get to pick between six toppings: Prawn, Beef Ball, Beef Slice, Pork Ball, Pork Liver and Pork Slice.
That means you have a total of 24 possible combinations to choose from!
My personal favourite combination was Glass Noodle with Red Tom Yum and Pork Ball.
The glass noodles were silky and smooth with a nice firm and springy bite, making them completely slurp-worthy. Though they were heavier in texture as compared to other noodles like bee hoon, I especially enjoyed the slipperiness of the glass noodles which went well with the spicy and flavourful tom yum soup.
I didn’t quite like the rice noodles because they tend to clump together, so you’d have to loosen the clumps of noodles yourself using your utensils.
The starchy rice noodles also absorbed the soup faster than the glass noodles, so for soup lovers like myself, this was a complete nightmare.
We ordered a dozen bowls of boat noodles so by the time we got to the last few rice noodle bowls, there were only a few spoonfuls of soup left.
The tom yum soup was absolutely spot on for me.
First, the sourness from the kaffir lime leaves hit me. After that, there was that characteristic tangy spiciness from the chilli peppers. Then, an intense fragrance from the lemongrass, galangal and added herbs, and the savouriness from the fish sauce took over.
When I looked closely, I realised that the broth wasn’t clear. Instead, it looked slightly cloudy, with little bits of coconut milk, broth, herbs and other ingredients swirling around in the soup. That’s how I knew this broth was truly homemade and wasn’t concocted from paste alone, which was a definite plus in my books.
When it comes to boat noodles, its herbal soups vary across the stalls. It can go from clear soup (just like beef stock) to thick and muddy-like soup, and BKK Bistro & Bar’s Herb Boat Noodle Soup landed somewhere nicely in-between.
While I wouldn’t say it reeked of herbs like bitter Chinese herbal soup, it definitely had a ton of vegetables, herbs and spices in it. Minty, sharp and zesty, it reminded me oddly of thunder tea rice’s soup, but with a savoury full-bodied beef-like broth as its base.
It came with a generous sprinkle of coriander and chives, which added a burst of freshness to each mouthful.
The pork balls were lighter in colour and almost resembled chicken meat, but they were really springy and sweet.
BKK Bistro & Bar orders its ingredients twice a week directly from Thailand, which explains its freshness and naturally sweet flavour.
On the other hand, I didn’t quite like BKK Bistro & Bar’s beef balls. It had a slightly mushier texture, almost resembling mushroom balls, and it had a much stronger and more pungent taste.
This would definitely suit people who prefer stronger and heavier flavours, but I personally didn’t enjoy it as much as I did with the pork balls.
If you’re not a fan of boat noodles and prefer larger portions, go for BKK Bistro & Bar’s Medium Size+ (S$6.80) or Super Size+ (S$18.80). The Medium Size+ boat noodles come with either pork or beef and its portion is just sufficient for one person.
If you’re dining with three or four friends and would like to order something to share, go for its Super Size+. All toppings are already included, so all you need to pick is its soup base and noodle type.
BKK Bistro & Bar also offers a variety of other Thai dishes, ranging from appetisers like Thai Papaya Salad (S$8.80) to Gai Yang (S$13.80), also known as Thai street grilled chicken.
We got the Crispy Pork Belly Served With Honey Mustard Sauce (S$9.80), a recommended dish.
While the crispy skin wasn’t as crispy as I liked, I absolutely loved the salty and peppery flavours of the tender meat.
It went hand in hand with the honey mustard sauce, which was deliciously piquant, zesty and appetising.
Here’s a confession: the honey mustard sauce was so addictive that I ended up dipping most of my meat into it.
Before leaving, be sure to stack your bowls for the ‘gram!
It was definitely relaxing to sit at BKK Bistro & Bar and gobble down bowl after bowl of tasty Thai boat noodles, especially after a long day at work. While my dining companions and I unanimously preferred the Red Tom Yum over the Herb Boat Noodle Soup, we all agreed that the latter was still refreshing and zesty in its own way.
There was just something about feeling the open breeze and having so much nature around you that makes you feel like you’re not even in Singapore at all. That experience was amplified by the simplicity of BKK Bistro & Bar’s set-up, which mimics what a roadside or riverside stall in Bangkok would be like.
Expected Damage: S$0.80 – S$15 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
BKK Bistro & Bar
81 Lorong Chencharu, #01-09A (Beside [email protected]), ORTO, Singapore 769198