Comforting Flavours, Traditional Recipes at Chalerm Thai, The Capitol Kempinski

Chalerm Thai -Three course

CONTENT: Yiew Kai Jie

Expect textbook Thai staples that are meant to be as similar to their counterpart dishes in the streets and restaurants of Thailand, with sauces and spices imported from The Land of Smiles for a truly authentic experience.

Chalerm Thai Chef Roy Ng imparts his 13 years of training in the kitchens of Singapore’s best Thai restaurants into his food. His dedication to his craft has seen him awarded the Thai Select award by the Royal Thai Embassy (Singapore) and is translated to the palate with must-haves like the Tom Yam Goong, built with classics like Phad Thai Kung and culminates in a colourful end with sweet delights like Thai Trub Tim Krub.

Start off with a quintessential Thai favourite, the Som Tom Kung (papaya prawn salad – $12). This salad is unmistakable for its sweet, sour and mildly spicy dressing tossed with finely chopped crunchy young papaya that will effectively invigorate the palate. The Yum Pan Boong Krob (deep-fried crispy morning glory with chilli sauce dip – $8) is also a good choice – the lightly battered deep-fried flowers and leaves are highly addictive with their light airy texture and crispy bite, layered with a veil of spice from the chilli sauce dip.

Chalerm Thai - Tom Yum Goong

A must-have dish on any dinner table while indulging in Thai food, the Tom Yum Goong (Thai seafood tom yum soup – $15) was incredibly disappointing. Despite its promising visual impression of a steaming bowl of hot, sour and spicy soup filled to the brim with seafood and other core ingredients, the soup lacked the spice and was incredibly lackluster in terms of flavour. It simply missed the heat and the comforting sour aftertaste that was supposed to kick in at the back of the throat as it goes down the gullet.

Chalerm Thai - Phat Thai Hung

The Phad Thai Kung (Phad Thai stir-fried rice noodles – $14) comes with two large prawns, a teaspoon of ground chilli, ground peanuts and a whole sprig of spring onion served on the side for you to mix it up to taste. Silky rice noodles are wok-fried to smoky perfection, complete with beansprouts for crunch and egg for creaminess.

The highly popular Phu Nim Phad Pong Karee (stir-fried soft shell crab with yellow curry – $20) did not disappoint as the soft shell crab was extremely delicate and combined the sweetness of the crab with the richness of the yellow curry with each mouthful. However, one should consume the crab as soon as possible as the curry will begin to overcoat the soft crab and make it too soggy to eat.

Fish and seafood here are done in the most minimalist of cooking styles so as to let their natural sweetness shine. The Pla Kra Pong Nung Manao (steamed whole sea bass -$32) is dressed only with a simple spicy lime sauce for a dash of tartness and spice. Prawns are fried to golden perfection and served with sweet tamarind sauce (Kung Tord Ma Kham – $18) or with yellow curry (Kung Phad Pong Karee – $18).

Chalerm Thai - Kor Moo Yang

The grill fires up with classic street food meat dishes like Kor Moo Yang (grilled marinated pork neck with spicy lime sauce – $18) or Nuea Yang (grilled marinated beef with Thai spicy sauce – $20). While their accompanying spicy sauces packed a spicy kick, the proteins could have been smoked for a little more in order to imbue them with that unmistakable smoky essence from the grill that enhances their flavour and wets the appetite when the dish is brought to the table.

Balance can be found in the vegetable options like the Ka Nar Phad Num Man Hoi (stir-fried Chinese kale with oyster sauce – $10) and the must-order Phad Pak Boong (stir-fried Morning Glory with soybean paste – $10). When it comes to omelettes, the Kai Jiew Nua Phu (crab meat omelette – $16) is a definitive Thai classic that will delight as a nice side or a snack on its own. The Khao Phad Sapoarod (pineapple fried rice – $15) lends the rice a sweet, juicy taste with chunks of fresh pineapple, cashew nuts and raisins, topped with a sprinkling of shrimp floss.

Chalerm Thai - Kao Phad Sappoarod

The Dessert
End the meal on a sweet note with traditional desserts like Kao Neow Muang (mango sticky rice – $10). Fresh mango is served in thick slices next to a little sticky rice made richer with coconut milk, a combination of sweet and salty that never fails. The Bua Loy (warm pumpkin yam dumplings in coconut milk – $8) will entice lovers of coconut milk, with a sweet and salty creamy combination complete with chewy pumpkin and yam dumplings for a bit of bite to the dessert. The exemplary Thai Tub Tim Krob (red ruby with jackfruit in coconut milk – $8) is also on the menu.

All the best flavours associated with the food of Thailand were expected to be found at Chalerm Thai to add on to Arcade @ The Capitol Kempinski’s varied array of food concepts, however we were disappointed as the core dishes were rather lacklustre in their flavour and did not have a depth of complexity as one would expect from a high-end restaurant. Only time will tell if they are able to put more heart and soul into the food and improve their flavour.

Chalerm Thai is located at Arcade @ The Capitol Kempinski. 13 Stamford Road, Singapore 178906.

Chalerm Thai is open daily from 11am to 10pm.

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