surprisingly good – though a tad salty – rustic home-style thai cooking at this small cafe along middle road, near the more famour rocher beancurd store. we’ve driven by this place countless times on our way to grab a spot of beancurd late at night, and this was the first time we remembered it in time for dinner.
the food is simple, tasty and very rustic – in that it’s hearty and rather unpolished – and the place is almost unbelievably crowded, filled to the rafters on a sunday night.
our favorite thai place in singapore is aroy thai, and this place is a little less refined – it doesn’t feel more or less authentic, but there is a certain earthiness to the cooking here: dishes are a little oilier, saltier and stronger-tasting. I should underline that this in no way made it less enjoyable – just different.
I’m prefacing everything by saying I thought every dish had a strong savoriness, like an intense umami – which might have led me to think it was saltier than it actually was; the mango salad was refreshing, and came served warm over fried fish fillets, which I thought was an uncommon and nice touch. the tom yam was cloudy and chock-full of fish, seafood and prawns – a bit too salty for drinking, to my thinking.
the mains were similarly good – I love how thais and vietnamese cook their vegetables so the plate of mixed greens was a tasty no-brainer, the butterflied-and-fried prawns weren’t greasy and had crisp highly-edible shells; and the steamed fish we thought pretty good – a small-medium specimen doused in an appetizingly sour soup. we finished with minced chicken with basil leaves – this is one of my favourite thai dishes – cooked with a very savory sauce, and rich without being too fatty.
I can still taste the dishes while writing this (despite this meal being nearly a month ago) and I still can’t decide if I’ve been privy to a well-aimed umami bomb, or walloped a large load of salt – I recommend going at a meal here with lots of rice. it’s rather what I expect eating out along those street street-corner makeshift restaurants in thailand would be like – hearty food for people who’ve had a long day and want something tasty and comfortingly familiar to go with a large bucket of rice.
expect cafe-service; orders are taken quickly and efficiently by a waiter who knows what he’s on about, dishes come quickly except for a hiccup when the place filled to near squeezing – and tables are pretty close together so you won’t want to be sharing secrets here.
but it’s good for a large boisterous crowd, and they take reservations – plus reasonable prices and comforting food, and this might be one of the best mid-low range restaurants in town.
Aroy Dee Thai Kitchen
262 Middle Rd
tel +65 6336 8812
$$: twenty-ish a person
p.s. a bowl of cold barely-sweetened beancurd post-meal, just round the corner, does wonders for muting those overstimulated tastebuds.