With Chinese New Year nearly upon us, many restaurants will be offering special Lunar New Year menus featuring seasonal dishes usually eaten at this time of the year. One of these restaurants will be Tamarind Hill, owned by the luxury hospitality chain Samadhi Retreats. To get to it, you’ll have to drive (or take a long walk) deep inside Labrador Nature Reserve, where the forest will part to uncover a bungalow that looks like it was built in the colonial era for the residence of a British official. That’s not far off from the mark; it started as Labrador Villa, the residence of George John Mansfield, a British shipping magnate. But in 2018, it’s now a fine dining restaurant specialising in Thai and Shan cuisine.
One of the most charming things about being on exchange is being able to visit places around your host university and discovering what each place has to offer. Facilitated by a relatively affordable bus ride away, I made my way to New Haven where I caught up with my friends who were studying at Yale University. For dinner on the first night, we decided to head to Jeera Thai’s – a place well known around the university students for cheap and decent Thai eats.
My dish of Spicy Basil Fried Rice ($8.95) was particularly enchanting and spicy. While I yearned for a stronger infusion of basil flavours, I thought this was very appropriate for a cold winter day that demands a little heat in your body. Made with fresh chilli, garlic, onions, egg and basil sauce with a choice of beef/chicken/veggies/tofu or shrimp. It was almost perfect after a cold bus ride from Hartford to New Haven. Be forewarned that this dish is exceptionally spicy. I was demanding iced water by the time I was done by my second bite. Refreshing though. After all, American food thus far has been on the side of relatively compartmentalized safe flavours.
Those who would want some soups to start with could choose from the Thai Coconut Soup ($3.95) or the Thai Tom Yum Soup ($3.95). Both were decent enough to warm the tummy but could do with a better infusion of flavours to drive up the taste. Still, the tom yum was a little lacklustre in spice and overall notes. The coconut soup on the other hand was creamy and delish, decadent enough to entertain your tastebuds with sweet coconut fresh aromatics in a savoury chicken broth.
Pad See U – Flat rice noodles stir-fried with Chinese broccoli, egg and sweet soy sauce with beef/chicken/veggies/tofu or shrimp ($8.95).
A great catchup!
Jeera Thai is a charming little place that is a little too small for my liking. Ideally, one should order delivery or takeout if you don’t wish to jostle with the few others already in the restaurant for some elbow room. The food is good enough and cheap, and the touches of hotness in its dishes (despite how demanding it is to the tastebuds) is refreshing from the regular American palate. I would love to be back there, or simply order something to go.
216 Crown Street
Tel: 203 562 5856
Thai cuisine in Singapore is generally a creation of comfortable flavours from central Thailand, with a mild, subtly sweet and flavourful play of spices and fresh herbs in each dish. My most memorable Thai restaurant thus far has been at KHA Martin 38, whose adventure into the regional Thai brings about fresh new flavours that almost shocking and awe inspiring. However, for something that is more homely and palatable to the local tastebuds and at family friendly prices, Joo Chiat’s latest restaurant Rochor Thai will seek to please. My journey to the restaurant was not the easiest, and I had to walk a fair distance after alighting at the bus stop across Holy Family Church. But after walking in the sweltering heat, the cooling respite from some lemongrass drink and iced Thai tea simply made my day.
I start off this article with an exhilarating “wow”. After two years from my last review on serving up modern Thai cuisine along 38 Martin Road, KHA refreshes its menu line up with a new Chef on board and a focus that brings back the regional Thai onto the plates of diners in Singapore. It was the flavours that got me excited, yearning to write this very article. My immediate takeaway were bold words that entertained the strong, impactful, lasting, and memorable. They were plates of pleasure that took your palate to delicate extremes lovingly and fierily. A tingling sensation on the tongue, with a clamour for the next visit. This is KHA, revitalised!