I’ve always believed that a crisis will bring about changes; it is usually this period of time when the wheel of fortune takes a 180-degree turn. As a handful of eateries bid their goodbye to the F&B scene, we also witnessed a slew of new cafes and restaurants popping up around our sunny island, with Soi Candy being one of them.
Two thoughts occurred to me very quickly when I arrived. Nestled along Tanjong Pagar, Soi Candy stood out amongst its neighbours all thanks to its young, youthful vibe.
A graffiti mural converts the ordinary room into a bold, provocative space. Along with upbeat Thai tunes blasting in the background, I felt my consciousness weave in and out—one minute I’m in the streets of Thailand enjoying my meal of traditional Thai fares, and the next, I’m transported back to Singapore when a neighbouring diner exclaimed “Wah, damn shiok sia”, on top of his lungs in full-on Singlish.
The other thought is more of a concern. Will a Thai establishment be able to survive in this enclave known for its array of Korean restaurants? This I guess, boils down to the quality of their food and thereafter, only time will tell.
What I tried
My meal started with a plate of Crispy Chicken Skin (S$5.90) to nibble on over chatter and gossip as I waited for the mains to come. Curved around itself in the heat of the deep-fryer, each piece of chicken skin was browned to perfection, breaking into bits with a satisfying crunch. Savoury and slightly numbing to the tongue, this is the kind of dish that will make you crave for a mug of beer—more specifically an icy cold Chang.
If there was a dish that called for a repeat order, it would be their Spicy Chang Rai Minced Pork With Aromatic Thai Herbs (S$12.90). I was told that this was the most potent dish in Soi Candy’s menu, which of course didn’t occur to me as a problem since my philosophy on food has always been ‘the spicier, the better’.
But boy, that kick of chilli resulted in sweat runs that left me wiping my forehead bite after bite. Despite that, it was the fragrance of the fried shallots along with the kaffir lime leaves that kept me going back for more.
The herbaceous aroma alongside the spicy bites of minced meat resulted in flavourful mouthfuls that were just as addictive as they were fiery. If you are up for the challenge, eat it as it is. If not, pair it with the side of raw cabbage or cucumbers for that bite of freshness.
Soi Candy’s Fresh Sea Bass (S$29.90 – S$35.90, dependent on size) might not be the most attractive, but if a non-fish eater finishes almost half of it, you know the restaurant has treated their seafood right. Baked in a sea salt crust, the Fresh Sea Bass was moist and so lightly seasoned, you are almost able to taste the waters it once swam in.
Before your hands itch to dip the fish into the sauces by the side, try the seabass on its own to fully savour its juicy natural sweetness. Thereafter, feel free to go wild with the red chilli sauce for a sweet-spicy touch or the green chilli sauce if you prefer that tad of acidity in your dish.
Better still was their Thai Steamed Squid (S$20 – S$25, dependent on size)—a dish which truly embraced all the essential flavours of Thailand. Crowning the surface of the sliced squid was a heap of crushed garlic and freshly chopped red chilli, drenched in lime and fish sauce.
The Steamed Squid exuded an overt, fishy savouriness. It was fresh and chewy, with layers of deep umami which made it delightfully appetising. The best part of this dish was the bite of garlic; that striking note of raw pungency that complemented beautifully with the spiciness and acidity of the squid.
At first glance, the Signature 2-tone Noodles (S$8.90) at Soi Candy seemed like a mundane affair. Nothing about the green and yellow noodles excited me for the fact that they looked dry and poorly seasoned.
Thankfully, beyond its appearance, the mixture of jade and wheat egg noodles tasted surprisingly flavourful, attributed to the addition of lard which elevated the dish with rich, indulgent notes. Personally, I would love for the noodles to be cooked slightly longer. Just three more minutes in the boiling water with a dash more sauce and it would be perfect to go with the pork balls, minced pork, roasted char siew and fried wanton.
My love affair with khao soi started in a night market on my virgin trip to Chang Mai. Since then, I have forgone my trusty plate of pad thai for this Northern Thailand speciality whenever I see it on a menu.
Soi Candy’s rendition of Signature Khao Soi Gai (S$9.90) donned a classic look with thick mee pok noodles drenched in decadent curry gravy alongside a chicken drumstick, topped with a ball of yellow deep fried mee pok.
Here, every strand of noodle was enrobed in the brownish curry sauce deadly enough to kill that pastel-coloured shirt you are wearing with a stain that will be remembered forever. But trust me, this will all be worth it as the noodles were rich, smooth and slurpable.
The Signature Khao Soi Gai was made more indulgent with a chicken drumstick the size almost as huge my fist. Cooked till tender, a large chunk of meat slid off its bone with just a gentle tug of my chopsticks. This was the kind of curry chicken that if I had a serving of white bread by the side, I would have wiped the entire bowl so clean that it wouldn’t need any washing.
A Thai chef often emphasises on four main flavours in their cooking: sweet, salty, spicy and sour. At Soi Candy, Thailand-born Chef Candy’s deep knowledge of flavour combination along with her creative use of spices and herbs elevates the most common street food into beautiful works of art that truly represents her country.
I left the eatery thinking that there are still items in their menu that would return for, as this is the kind of restaurant where one visit would not be sufficient.
Expected Damage: S$8.90 – S$30 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
20 Tanjong Pagar Road , Singapore 088443
20 Tanjong Pagar Road , Singapore 088443