Its nice to have friends who follow your blog and upon reading a certain entry, could proudly tell you "I know somewhere better!". That kind of affirmation just makes me more curious to check out their recommendations. After hearing about my Thai cuisine encounters, the girlfriend's group classmates confidently told me: "Nakhon is better!"
Located among the heartland estates of Kovan, Nakhon Kitchen serves up fuss-free Thai food in a relaxed, come-in-flip-flops setting. Not sure if they can take reservations, but the queue will be maddeningly long no matter what time you come for dinner. Thankfully, our table of eight didn't have to wait too much, while food was served in a jiffy as our orders were already taken in the queue.
By the way, I was particularly impressed by their service and hygiene standards. Whipping tables with detergent after the previous customers have left, serving free drinking water without being asked to, replenishing little rattan baskets of tissue paper for your comfort. Remarkable!
Pandan Leaves Chicken ($6.00)
"You got to try the pandan chicken! Its darn shiok!" One of the friends exclaimed.
And man, he was right! I hardly get excited over the large bird (except maybe in HK) but this was exceptional. The chunky bites of boneless meat and fatty skin were very well-marinated, all the juices were sealed in by the leaves and had a smokey taste to it. A must-order!
Homemade Thai Prawn Cakes ($12.00)
If you looked at the price and serving alone, you might probably feel a slight pinch for your wallet, but one bite of it would immediately make you see the light. There was virtually nothing else under that crumb coating apart from an abundance of crunchy minced prawn, full of freshness that went so well with a dip of Thai chilli sauce. You get what you paid for!
Deep Fried Grouper with Sweet and Sour Sauce ($22.00), Kang Kong Belachan ($6.00)
For whole fishes, I have always been an advocate of steaming over any other methods, so I couldn't say much about this. And we really love our Kangkong, eh? Thankfully it didn't overwhelm me with spiciness.
Tom Yam Seafood Clear Soup ($6.00), Tom Ka Seafood Soup with Coconut Milk ($6.00)
Their famed soups, however, didn't leave too much impression on me. Not sure if they had toned it down for local tastebuds, the clear one could have been more tangy and could pack a stronger punch, while I thought the milk-iness of the other one overshadowed every other flavours.
Pineapple Curry with Mussels ($8.00), Green Curry Chicken ($8.00)
Red, green and yellow curry, been there done that. But pineapple curry was definitely a first for me! The fruity, sourness of pineapple worked surprisingly well with curry spices, while the mussels were thankfully saved from being rubbery and tasteless. Interesting!
Again, I thought the chef might have a scoop too many of coconut milk here, as it was creamier than I would have preferred. Still nice to go with rice though!
Pineapple Fried Rice ($6.00), Black Olive Fried Rice with Minced Chicken ($6.00)
No fanciful pineapple husk to be held in, but the sweet-tasting rice sure did its job with a generous dollop of pork floss. The other one had the same well-fried, grainy consistency with the fragrance and taste of black olives. Why choose one when you can have both!
Guess what, this actually did invoke some memories of Bangkok! Slightly sweetened with good "wok-hei" flavours, the narrow strips of springy hor fun was fried with diced yellow beancurd and served with crushed peanuts at the side. No doubt the real deal!
The variant of thin glass noodles was nothing short of excellent as well, with the chewy, translucent noodles dyed to brownness and absorbing the juices nicely. I could make this my daily staple!
Mango Sticky Rice with Coconut Milk ($5.00), Red Ruby ($3.00)
Dessert choices were relatively limited here. The mango had thoroughly ripened and maintained a good harden texture, but the glutinous rice was a nono in its lumpy form. Then again, I have yet to find good, grainy glutinous rice in Singapore. The other was a hot favourite among the friends, icy cold and nicely sweetened to wash down all that greasiness!
With no additional GST and service charges to menu pricing, the 8 of us paid less than $25 each for a meal that left us satisfied and filled to the brim. Nakhon Kitchen offered an affordable and authentic Thai experience that was closed to its roots, though there were a few minor misses that could be overlooked. Nakhon is better? You bet!
Nakhon Kitchen 212 Hougang Street 21 #01-341 Tel: 6286 8785 Note: They have another branch at 136, Bedok North Ave 3 #01-166!