White Sands Mall: ThaiExpress Review

Second meal for the night at White Sands.. but I’m not really complaining. I might be a Japanese food lover but I will give it up any day for Thai food. I cannot live without Thai food. I might even choose to give up desserts for Thai if I had to. But please don’t make me.

I grew up eating Thai cos I spent many years of my childhood in Phuket (no, I have forgotten how to speak the language except curse words, my favourite foods and shopping phrases). I regularly hunt for new joints in Singapore serving Thai and ThaiExpress is one of those I’ve been patronizing the longest. In fact, the bloggers were laughing at me when I mentioned that I’ve been their customer since 13 years ago… they all claimed they were still in primary school. Well, I have this to say to you all: I’ve been young already, but have you been old yet?

Outside of Golden Mile, I think ThaiExpress has one of the better menus at this price point purely because they have many street food options. Don’t be mistaken though – they’re not a fast food chain. It is a restaurant chain -think homestyle cooking in an air-conditioned and casual environment.

And even though I was full to bursting from my previous meal, I’m not one to say no to my favourite cuisine ever. Plus, I actually had ThaiExpress the day before for Father’s Day celebration but more Thai is a good thing. I will move to Bangkok one of these days. I already know which house I’m buying.

Yam Mamuang – Thai Mango Salad

With so many appetizing starters on ThaiExpress’s menu, you will be hard-pressed to decide on what to order. We have this problem too, but there are items that we return to and can never get bored of. For one, you cannot go wrong with their Thai Mango Salad . A very quintessential Thai appetizer, this spicy one will whet your appetite.

Julienned slices of tart mango in a refreshing tangy vinaigrette topped with crushed peanuts is an excellent starter (or snack) especially now that our weather is crazy hot.

Kanom Pang Na Kung – Prawn toast

Minced prawn paste on crispy toast served with sweet Thai chili sauce. The prawn mince was flavourful and possessed a chunky and somewhat chewy texture, which balanced out the crisp of the base toast.

In Thailand, prawn toasts are not as pretty as the ones we have in Singapore. They generally are a haphazardly balled together bunch of uneven, dripping with oil lump. I must say I much prefer this version with similar taste but so much more civilized to eat.

Poo Phat Pong Kari – Rice with soft shell crab, egg and onion curry

One of my favourite dishes at ThaiExpress! Although… I’ve never really seen this in Thailand before.

You know how addictive chilli crab gravy is right? Poo Phat Pong Kari is at least a thousand times better. At slightly over $10 (at least I think its around this price – the BF pays the bills), you’ll get a softshell crab in all its entirety from all its legs to the brainy goodness inside. The curry is thick, eggy and goes unbelievably well with rice. I sometimes wish I could eat two of these but I can’t finish two portions of rice =(

Khao Gai Phat Krapow – Rice with stir-fried spicy minced chicken with Thai basil

This is an extremely easy dish to get wrong. I’ve had terrible versions even in Chiang Mai where the cook was too heavy handed with the basil. Most places tend to add too much of the herb in and it makes the dish bitter.

ThaiExpress doesn’t have this problem but I will say that their basil rice has been toned down to suit local palates. While its still wholesome and fragrant, more than half a spoonful of rice tends to dampen the taste. Still good to have though.

 

Massaman Curry with Thai-style pancake

CNN ran a world wide poll on the world’s most delicious foods and Massaman Curry came out tops.

Without a doubt, this is the king of curries, and perhaps the king of all foods. Spicy, coconutty, sweet and savory, its combination of flavors has more personality than a Thai election. ThaiExpress chefs painstakingly make this from scratch with more than 20 ingredients and spices, and it takes them 12 hours to prepare it, and me about 12 minutes to eat it.

Thai-style pancakes is just another name for what we all know and love – roti. Its called roti in Thailand too. They’re the perfect accompaniment to mop up the mildly spicy curry.

An interesting anecdote to share: Remember how I was perpetually whining in my last post that quite a bit of the food didn’t come to our end of the table? The roti was all eaten up by the time it was our turn to dig in and Michelle from Micchysaurus exclaimed “why no more roti!”. She wasn’t very loud about it, more sad and disappointed, but a fresh piping hot plate of roti was served to us not long after. At first we assumed that the White Sands host ordered extra for us but it turned out that one of the ThaiExpress staff (Calvin? Kelvin? Alvin? I can’t remember but he’s cute cute with a pony tail) overheard us and took the initiative to get us more. Awww… he’s such a sweetie!

Man Cheam – Steamed sweet tapioca with coconut milk

I believe there might be a demi-glaze over the vegetable that adds to the sweetness of this dessert but its accompanying slightly salty milk sauce marvelously balances all the flavours out.

The tapioca doesn’t have any starchy or stringy bits that always gets stuck in your teeth. Instead, there’s a solid mushiness (oxymoron anyone?) which is quite pleasant to chew on.

Lod Chong – Green emerald Thai lod chong

Just about anywhere in Thailand you’ll find a street vendor specializing in sweets, and Lod Chong is probably the most popular of Thai sweets so all of these vendors will have it. A strange sight for the newcomer to Lod Chong, it looks like little green worms in icy sugary water. For us Singaporeans, this looks a little like what we’ll find in chendol.

Lod chong is made from mung beans and dyed green with pandan water. ThaiExpress’s version also has attap seeds in it.

Khao Niao Mamuang – Sweet glutinous rice with fresh mango and coconut milk

Always a good old standby and possibly the most popular Thai dessert alongside Red Ruby, which ThaiExpress also serves. Many places use any Tom Dick and Harry mango they find to make this dish and words cannot describe how unpleasant it is to have a mouthful of sour mango with glutinous rice.

Though not as sugary as their counterparts in Thailand, this restaurant at least uses moderately sweet mangos which mesh well with the sticky rice.

*

New blogger friends at the meet-up! (And Michelle with her precious roti.)

Michelle and I did unabashedly order drinks outside of our tasting menu and I was all ready to pay for it but Jamie, the marketing girl from ThaiExpress was awesome enough to offer drinks to the whole table on the house! I don’t think I can sit though a Thai meal without my Chai Yen – Thai Iced Tea as its really called.

I have integrity so the only way I can pay you back for your favour is on my blog. As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, I’ve been eating ThaiExpress for over a decade now and there are some things not served during tasting and not marked with Chef’s Recommendation that I think are really good, and close to what you’ll find in Thailand. Try these dishes next time you head over to ThaiExpress:

  1. Khoa Tang Naa Tang: Thai rice cracker served with special creamy chicken and shrimp sauce
  2. Kway Teow Lui Suan: Thai-style DIY minced chicken and dry kway teow salad
  3. Sen Lek Neua: Stick noodle with sliced beef in beef broth
  4. Khao Kluk Kapi Talay: Fried shrimp paste rice with seafood

#2 and #4 are very rarely found locally and I was so happy to see them on the menu. Now, only if they would start serving Mama Pad Thai…

Extra, extra! Read all about it!

Here is something to brighten your day: Meals at only $1! Come down for White Sands’ $1 Weekday Special from 29 June to 28 July 2015 at 2 – 5pm. Click here for the list of all participating vendors.

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