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.
Joo Chiat, mention it and many will be able to say that it is one of Singapore’s most famous areas for a Straits gastronomic adventure. Historically, the road itself is named after Chew Joo Chiat, a prominent businessman and landowner in the 1910s, who gave his road to the local authorities then to further the area’s infrastructure. In recognition and appreciation, the road was named after him. Much of the area around Joo Chiat belonged to the man, who sold it to developers later on giving rise to today’s collection of Peranakan shophouses.
Visiting Joo Chiat in the early evenings yesterday was like a walk down memory lane of Singapore. Its a side that is very different from the many HDBs and Shopping Malls almost everywhere else in the suburbs. Low rise shophouses, narrow roads, and shop after shop of eateries decorate the area, with residents almost everywhere enjoying the setting sun or settling in for a nice meal.
With great setting, I was ready for Steamboat, Buffet, Cze Char and Lok Lok, tucked right at the corner of No 37 Joo Chiat Place – Shi Wei Tian.
I was innately surprised when I discovered that Joo Chiat has stalls that actually produces those flaky Curry puffs which I have always enjoyed at my neighbourhood provision shop. Usually, when I want to buy them, always only a few pieces are left and I have to keep watch of delivery dates like a hawk.
When it comes to food, I personally feel that the most simple name of dishes is usually the best. This is also what I found out when I entered Tai Shek Hei for a midday lunch at Joo Chiat Road. The eatery has been opened for slightly over a year now and is perhaps known for its handmade noodles with its dough pounded by a chef bouncing on a long bamboo pole.