After repeated visits to Bedok, this area in the East is finally growing on me. It was curiosity that led me to pick Nangfa Thai Kitchen from the multitude of Thai places in the Bedok North area. Just 2 spaces down the same row is Nakhon Kitchen, an eatery that shares a strikingly similar layout.
This could be old news to Bedok residents, but the history between both restaurants is quite interesting. Here’s a short summary of what I’ve gathered to be somewhat accurate:
Nakhon Kitchen was established first in 2008 at the Bedok location where Nangfa is currently situated. In 2014, it was shuttered and re-opened as Nahm Thai Kitchen.
The name unfortunately clashed with a 1-Michelin star restaurant in Bangkok, which led to them adopting ‘Nangfa Thai Kitchen’ instead. Then, rather brazenly, Nakhon Thai Kitchen re-opened just steps from their ex-franchisee. Talk about competition!
As my Thai mother tends to avoid her native cuisine in Singapore, I had to pull out a few stops to drag her along — including convincing my dad that it would be worth the long journey from West to East.
Thankfully, the old-school songs and audible conversations (in her language) at the eatery were quick to snuff out her habitual complaining. It was comfortably chilly and generally clean, so we opted to sit outside for the less cramped ambience.
What I tried at Nangfa Thai Kitchen
I tackled a plate of Pineapple Fried Rice ($6) first. The mound of gorgeous yellow grains and its cotton-esque floss dressing was only slightly blemished by the sad husk of a pineapple slice at its peak.
Just the first dish and I was already blown away. The saturated yellow was not just for show — it was heavy with wok hei and spiced generously with turmeric that resulted in flavourful mouthfuls of rice. With the sweet floss backing the moist grains, it never got too dry or clumpy.
In stark contrast to the fried rice, we found the shrimp completely devoid of any sign of freshness. The 2 pieces that came with the Pineapple Fried Rice contributed little outside of their meatiness.
Like many places in Singapore that serve this dish, Nangfa Thai Kitchen places less emphasis on the pineapple aspect of the recipe, but I still enjoyed it.
We opted for zero spice in our Pad Thai (S$6) Noodles. In our defence, when the Thai waitstaff raises an eyebrow at ‘less spice’ and informs you it makes little difference, it’s best to reconsider. So we did. Surprisingly, my mom agreed.
Bracing myself for a mountain of raw bean sprouts (like how most street vendors serve it), the sight of them stir-fried in reasonable amounts evoked a sigh of relief.
2 camps formed after our first taste of the pad thai. I loved that it was outrightly sweet, savoury and greasy — the pillars of every plate of pad thai. My mom found it criminal that there was a detectable presence of ketchup beneath all that, which flipped on her complaining switch.
Squeezing every drop of juice out of the lime managed to wipe some of the foreign elements with zestier, sour notes to the rice noodles and eggs. Unfortunately, we were still stuck with a minor side of grumbling.
The shrimp were a complete write-off, as lacking as those in the Pineapple Fried Rice.
Ground cayenne peppers (or chilli) and crushed peanuts on the side are standard condiments, one for a controlled piquancy while the other brings a boost of nutty fragrance and crunch.
We had pork (not listed on the menu) with the Thai Green Curry (S$8), served in a decent sized bowl and a long ladle for sharing around.
The consensus was that it tasted like a genuine rendition of green curry and this being the dish that received the least criticism, I would give it the native Thai’s stamp of approval. Though it was every bit as fragrant, the spice level was quite diminished — perhaps to give local palates more enjoyment (and me, breathing room).
I was happy to be able to bask in the curry’s gentle warmth and mild sweetness.
The next best component had to be the pork slices. With the soupy curry, their soft meat made it remarkably easy to sip and chew at the same time.
We did our best to uncover as many components as we could, finding long beans, Thai basil, red chilli and a generous amount of pork in the mix. In fact, the 3 of us were unable to drain the bowl dry by the end.
Pieces of Thai eggplants revealed themselves later in the meal.
Basil Pork Rice (S$6) takes on a wetter form at Nangfa Thai Kitchen. And in keeping with their other dishes, they also sweeten it up a touch for local preferences. My mother immediately pointed out that Thai basil had been used over Holy basil, which wasn’t too surprising.
I didn’t mind the dampened saltiness but the basil’s contribution was lost to this ultimately saucier rendition. The few hits of piquancy came from whatever amount of chilli had been used, which did not amount to much.
Since my father was handling the pork basil rice, he had to suffer the dry yolk of the fried egg. Outside of that, 2 cucumber slices make up the rest of the dish.
Our hearty meal was rounded out with a plate of Stir-fried Sambal Petai with minced Chicken (S$10). I avoid these pungent beans and this day was no different.
Yet again, this dish was noticeably sweeter than the average sambal petai with minced meat. I took a few spoonfuls of chicken slicked in the gravy-of-sorts, which had taken on the beans’ strong smell. My tongue was greeted by tempered sambal notes and a mild flame.
According to both stink bean lovers, these were as good as they come. You can trust their judgement because the plate was wiped clean and the house didn’t exactly smell its best after we got home.
Much of the criticism was from a native who has had little to no experience with Thai cuisine in Singapore (as bizarre as that sounds). As someone who has tried our localised takes and the ‘real’ thing, it would be difficult to describe Nangfa Thai Kitchen as completely authentic.
The heightened sweetness of the dishes makes them much easier to appreciate for a less picky eater like me. Perhaps other menu offerings are more faithful. However, you could request for the dishes to be prepared how they are (for the most part) in Thailand as the staff sounded pretty much native to me (ingredient availability aside).
Iced water is free-flow at no charge, which can be a lifeline if you choose to tackle the dishes fully spiced. Otherwise, day drinkers (on specific occasions) like my dad can choose to have a small bottle of Singha Beer (S$6) to go with their meal. I, on the other hand, will have Homemade Thai ice milk tea (S$3) any day.
Expected damage: S$6 to S$16.30 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
Nangfa Thai Kitchen
136 Bedok North Ave 3, #01-166, Singapore 460136
Nangfa Thai Kitchen
136 Bedok North Ave 3, #01-166, Singapore 460136