Thai pop music plays loudly in the no-frills, no air-conditioning restaurant and if you do not get there early enough, be prepared to queue.
Lots of discerning customers know to head to Nakhon Kitchen for gutsy Thai food at fair prices. The restaurant opened in 2008 in Hougang and has since spawned five other branches; in Bedok, Pasir Panjang, Marine Parade, Holland Village and Ang Mo Kio.
After my meal at the Ang Mo Kio branch, all I want to do is go back.
The first indication that this restaurant should remain firmly on my radar comes when I take a sip of the Thai Iced Tea ($3) and it is not overly sweet. So many versions of cha yen threaten to send customers into diabetic shock, but Nakhon holds back and that is a very good thing.
Thai Prawn Cake ($12 for four) are so very light and greaseless, a good way to start the meal. Clear Tom Yam Soup with seafood is a steal at $6 and the broth is aromatic and very moreish from the Thai lime juice in it. There is a good amount of prawns, fish and squid in the soup, and succulent pieces of straw mushrooms too.
Deep Fried Red Fish With Thai Chilli Sauce ($12) is another well-priced dish, with a kicky topping and expertly fried fish.
A dish of Stir Fried Kang Kong Thai Style ($6) has great wok hei but, alas, the vegetables are overcooked. I am also puzzled by the mussels in Stir Fried Mussels With Sweet Basil Leaves ($12). The fresh molluscs are inexpensive, but I suspect the restaurant uses the cooked, frozen kind, which come on the half shell. They don't taste great cooked twice.
Still, that is but two dud dishes in a meal full of good things. If there is room for dessert, order Sweet Tapioca ($3), a generous portion of the candied tubers topped with cool coconut cream. It has a down home taste that hits the spot.
Where: Nakhon Kitchen, 01-2371, Block 529 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 MRT: Ang Mo Kio Tel: 6451-1332 Open: Noon - 3pm, 5.30 - 10pm, closed on Wed
This article was first published on March 8, 2015.
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