Tucked away along the road winding from Dairy Farm and past the Salvation Army headquarters is The Rail Mall. Having travelled past it for many a time as I head to NUS, it was always a wonder that a stretch of restaurants and a supermarket would seemingly exist out of nowhere. Ok, not necessarily out of nowhere as the shops do serve residents along the stretch of Bukit Timah all the way to Clementi. However, its unique locality is turned a notch up higher with the presence of the former KTM Railway running opposite it.
Although the railway has since been decommissioned, parts of the tracks still remain and the bridge that passes overhead makes a picturesque sight for anyone wishing to really discover another part of Singapore that seems so exclusive. Be prepared to put on the right footwear though, I noticed one of the ladies ahead of me in extremely pointy stilettoes – a trouble finding the proper footing amongst the pebbles.
The Rail Mall is divided into two buildings. Each painted a distinctive green and yellow. My trip to the place on Sunday saw me visiting Sweet Salty Spicy, the Thai Food Market and Canteen located next to Cafe Epicurious. Stationed at the Yellow block of the establishment, Sweet Salty Spicy is one place that I will recommend for good mid-tier Thai Cuisine. Their starters are exceptionally tasty with my thumbs up going to their dish of voluptuous and richly scented Chicken and Prawn Chilli Dip. Hungry already? I sure am. And once again I’ve to tell myself not to write food blog posts before lunch time. Oh gosh…
The section of Thai Food Market stood on the immediate left when I stepped into the restaurant. A small quaint selection of mostly sauces and pastes that seem vital to any Thai dish. The restaurant started off with small groups of guests with full house being slightly after 1pm. I guess most are up for a late brunch, so it would perhaps be wise to come a touch earlier.
Starting off with the appetizers and not sure what to order? It would be best to order the Tasting Platter ($26. Media portion depicted above). The platter arrived with an assortment of Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Chilli Jam & Lemongrass Dressing; Traditional Prawn & Vegetable Rice Roll with a Sweet Tamarind Dressing & Crispy Garlic; “Miang” of Prawns & Pomelo on Betel Leaves with a Palm Tamarind Dressing & Crispy Garlic; and a serving of my newfound favourite the SSS Crispy Rice Cakes with a Warm Chicken & Prawn Chilli Dip.
The combination made from the crispy rice cakes and chicken prawn chilli dip exemplifies the heavenly contrast between crunch and smothering goodness. Mostly neutral in taste, the rice cakes absorb the coconut rich dip extremely well, bringing to the forefront the savoury flavours of the meat and sea sweetness of the prawns. Tickling hot with a rich scent unique on its own, I would love to have repeated servings of this dish. It is a must order the next time I am back at Sweet Salty Spicy.
I enjoyed the serving of Traditional Prawn and Vegetable Rice Roll as somehow the chewy rice skin is always the highlight for me. The stuffing of prawn, tofu and crispy garlic was light tasting leaving this dish refreshing and easy to the palate.
The “Miang” of Pomelo and Prawns is a take on the traditional snack found in Thailand and Laos. The Betel Leaves in this case act as a wrapping base for the assortment of ingredients and sauces on the top. Simply fold it and enjoy the complexity of flavours bursting through. Bright with a bitter sweet aftertaste from the pomelo bits, coupled with a nutty texture, this is a dish that score high on the visual and taste appeal.
The Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Chilli Jam was not too bad. Best to enjoy it straight from the kitchen though as by the time I got to it, whatever crispy nature softened quite a bit. The salvaging point was the sweet chilli jam which carried a little hotness, reminding me of a delectable chutney I used to enjoy elsewhere.
The Deep Fried Spring Rolls were not too bad. Key notes start from the filling of a thin layer of pureed paste that contrasted the crispy skin, further enhanced in flavour with the tangy salty dip by the side.
The Salad of Green Mango, Crispy Salmon with Cashew Nuts and a Chilli Lime Dressing ($9/$14) is probably the mildest Thai mango salad I’ve had. Catering to a wider palate preference with no extremities of chilli padi fiery hotness, this mango salad instead focuses on the sweetness of the mango and dip. Whatever notes of hotness and tanginess come from the mild dressing draped all over. I am however quite curious about the note of Crispy Salmon as it really seemed more like soft Salmon flakes to me. Still, a good dish on its own.
The tempo is revved up with the appearance of the Spicy Chicken and Coconut Broth infused with Thai Blue Ginger, Kaffir Lime and Lemongrass ($10). An excellent concoction with the coconut infused chicken broth carrying a slight touch of saltiness together with a tangy offering. Each sip made me want to take another, and it just carried on from there. Noticeably though the galangal (blue ginger) was heavily scented like cardamom, maybe it’s an infusion from the lemongrass scent but it was definitely unique.
For noodles, I was presented with a serving of Chiangmai Curried Noodles with Chicken & Mustard Greens ($12). Two preparation styles of hongkong noodles are used in this dish. One is cooked through within the gravy while the other portion is used as a garnish/crispy presentation on the top. The chicken curry is slightly thin with a side dish of chilli flakes & oil together with lime, onions and mustard greens available to enhance the flavours further. Rich and heavy, I highly suggested that this dish be shared. The crispy noodles add texture to the smooth soft noodles floating at the bottom, providing contrast in the midst of hotness.
On a separate note, I am possibly enjoying a little too much coconut enriched broths but as a key ingredient in this selection of Thai Cuisine, I guess its worth it.
At any Thai food outlet, one of the keynotes to go for is really the spread of curries available. Thai Curries are generally sweeter and richer with a stronger use of coconut as their base. The most unique one for me is the Green Curry, both due to its colour and distinctive flavour of lemongrass. For those who want to try a variety, there is a Curry Triplets platter (From $18).
I really savoured the dish of Jungle Curry with Scallops and Prawns with Long Green Beans & Sweet Thai Basil. My favourite takeaway from this dish is the slightly salty and sweet flavours infused within the rich redness. It made the entire dish light and easy to enjoy, excellent with rice.
The Panang Curry of Angus Beef with Baby Corn and Fresh Chilli was definitely stronger in both textures and flavours. The fiery redness is not a sign of hotness, instead the taste reminded me more of a thinner beef rendang with the scents of coconut sweetness permeating throughout. The beef was chunky and meaty, and a little stringy at times – but that was just as delectable for me.
The last dish of Wok-fried Squid with Thai Curry Powder, Salted Eggs and Spring Onions ($10/14) is perhaps the first Thai dish that seemed quite acquired to me. While I do appreciate the fresh squid and tasty flavours from the whole salted egg used throughout, the composition of the dish was a little mushy personally with a tad too much liquid flowing about. I am perhaps more acustomed to the drier version found in the Chinese Cze Char restaurants where the focus really falls onto the salted eggs.
Thai Desserts are probably some of the most sinful for me. The liberal use of coconut (once again) really make the dish so much more satisfying.
Start off with the Mango Sticky Rice. The huge portion of sweet scented mango placed atop the warm gelatinous rice drenched slightly in fresh coconut milk really puts a perfect note to the end of the meal. Chew slowly and let the sweetness develop. Oh, delightful!
The Black Stick Rice was a closer version to what I know as the Pulut Hitam. Sweet Salty Spicy presents their creation with viscous base of black rice, topped with coconut milk and then garnished with palm sugared coconut bits. Satisfying.
Me and Head Chef Adam of Sweet Salty Spicy
Simple, clean setting of SSS. It adjoins to Cafe Epicurious via a open section in the wall.
Engaging lunch at Sweet Salty Spicy was a through delightful experience. I was amazed by the starter, and really taken away with the desserts. Just do take note that coconut is a key ingredient in the dishes I’ve tried, which is so sinful but good. The restaurant has a quaint view leading towards the railway tracks, and might prove to be a lovely afternoon stroll after lunch. Its locality, although slightly out of the way makes is all the more appealing for those looking for a great place to wander the late mornings away. Good Thai cuisine at family friendly prices, now that’s my cup of Earl Grey Tea.
Thank you Sweet Salty Spicy for the invitation
|Sweet Salty Spicy
392/394 Upper Bukit Timah Road
The Rail Mall
Telephone : 6877 2544
Opens From :