Patara, Tanglin Mall, Singapore

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Bangkok, Thailand for all the mundane reasons I share with every other fan of the city – Thai massage, shopping, and food. Yes, food. There are times where I find myself missing the flavors of Thailand and Patara Fine Thai Cuisine provides a good fix in a luxurious setting.

Located in Tanglin Mall, Patara Fine Thai Cuisine offers the perfect balance of privacy in a world class setting and refined humble fare with first class service. Last I was here, we had a private dining suite booked for a cosy and intimate affair.

For starters, we skipped the regular orders of curried fish cakes and the likes to savor a chef’s fine skill on display – La Tieng, a traditional filling of Atlantic crab meat, minced chicken and peanuts wrapped in egg nets. Pretty as a package when served, the flavors were a perfect symphony. The sweetness from the chunks [not slivers] of crabmeat, the fragrance of the nut enhanced by the crisp, airy crunch of the egg net was perfectly balanced with the use of herbs. Simply stunning.

What’s a meal without a salad? Yum Som-O was our choice to bring that balance to our meal and it was beautiful. Starting with a base of pomelo, the balance of tartness and sweetness provided a fresh pop and served as a beautiful counterbalance to the roasted coconut and sweet chilli jam that it was tossed in. The salad was topped with succulent prawns for that hearty bite of a protein. It was heavenly and I wished we had extra servings of this simple yet refined dish.

Tom Kha Gai was the soup of the day for us, a mild coconut galangal soup with chicken, it’s perfect for those with a low threshold for spice. This was especially comforting for me as a warmth spread through me in sharp contrast to the cold blast from the air-conditioning vent.

Moving on to mains, keeping in true Southeast Asian dining style, it was a communal treat with dishes served with rice. There are options for individual meals but what’s a meal without sharing and variety? I’m not a rice kinda person but I absolutely loved the Khao Klong, which is brown rice, that they offer as an alternative option to the usual Khao Suay, the usual fragrant jasmine rice. I first discovered the delight of brown rice at another fine dining Thai restaurant in Bangkok. The nutty flavor of the brown rice provides an additional layer to the dishes you’re savoring, there’s no better way I can describe it but to urge you to try it for yourself. Of course, not every restaurant provides you with that option but no harm asking right?

From the meat and poultry menu, we had the Moo Ob Ma Praw and See Krong Kae Yang. I’ll start with the less preferred of the two, the Moo Ob Ma Praw, which is slow-braised pork belly in coconut juice, coriander and cassia bark, was a touch too sweet for my liking. I’m rigid in that I can’t eat sweet meats, my mind just cannot comprehend nor process the flavors that I’m tasting. Meat is meant to be savory for me and I guess that’s why this dish was an immediate strike off for me. I definitely can’t pick on the cooking as the pork belly was perfectly braised, soft enough to melt in your mouth but with that spring that speaks of perfection in technical execution. The Thais do love their sweets and that’s one area I can’t reconcile with.

The See Krong Kae Yong on the other hand took me to the high heavens and back. The picture does no justice to the dish and I apologize for the bad photography. Each dish comes with 3 pieces only so do bear in mind the serving portions when ordering for the table. We managed to wing an order of 5 pieces as a single serve and that’s what I mean by service excellence as they catered to our table’s needs. Good service aside, this pan seared lemongrass rack of lamb is divine. Cooked to perfection, served medium rare, I was surprised to find myself diving in to the dish with much gusto. Typically steering clear of lamb because of the gaminess of the meat, he chef has somehow masterfully masked the gamey flavor through the clever use of spices like lemongrass. The accompaniments to the dish were more than just artful displays as they enhanced and accentuated the flavors of the main protein. The papaya salad provided a refreshing zing and served as a palette cleanser between bites, while the sweet rice rolls were crisp, savory complements that harmonised the dish. This is a MUST ORDER even if you are not a red meat eater, unless, of course, it’s a dietary restriction.

Having had seafood in our appetizer [crab] and salad [prawn], we decided to explore only one dish from the seafood menu and selected the Hoy Shell Nam Prig Pao. Once again, the presentation of the dish has been distorted and it’s my bad. The scallop was fresh, plump and succulent, as you can tell from the picture above and it was perfectly sauteed in chilli jam sauce with sweet basil.

For a balanced diet, we ordered the Pak Choy Nam Mun Hoy, a simple stir-fry of baby bak choy with oyster sauce.

Beyond stuffed, we hesitated to order dessert as we didn’t feel we would do the dessert justice given the state of our bulging bellies but… we caved, and I’m glad we did. The Kluay Thod Ice Cream Kati was mind-blowing. The coconut battered banana was fried to fragrant and moist perfection. Topped with a generous drizzle of honey that caramelised and adhered to the piping hot fried bananas, the dessert was served with ice cold coconut ice cream that took us all on a sensory journey to pleasure-dom. This is also a definite must order for a perfect wrap to your meal.

GETTING THERE

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