Thai Tantric, Orchard Towers

Thai Tantric may sound like a venue for naughty business, especially since it's located in the recesses of the seedy Orchard Towers, but it's really simply another eatery for cheap and good Thai food. Amongst diners of the ilk scattered along the dingy halls of Orchard Towers, Thai Tantric seems the most popular. There's usually a queue for tables, and the wait for food takes inordinately long as well. I'm not entirely convinced that the long waiting times are justified by the standard of the Thai cuisine served at Thai Tantric; Sapunsa is of equal standing and Jane Thai Food isn't too shabby either.

For those unfamiliar with Orchard Towers, head to the 3rd floor and follow the pungent scent of fish sauce. Your nose should lead you to Thai Tantric, tucked away in a decrepit corner.

The garlic and pepper seasoning on the Moo Tod Kra Theam ($10) chunks of deep fried pork, was wonderfully aromatic, but the pork was fried to oblivion; it was dried out, stringy and tough to chew.

The Paad Kra Pow Moo ($10) of stir-fried minced pork with basil and chilli passed muster, luscious and punchy.

One of two highlights, the Gang Khiao Waan Gai ($10), or green curry chicken, was sumptuous, fiery and elevated by the succulent chicken morsels.

The deceptively clear Tom Yum Goong ($10), Thai spicy and sour soup with prawns, was blazingly spicy, but let down by prawns that were alkali-ed to death. The prawns were bouncy enough, but reeked of the alkali treatment.

The Khao Pad Tom Yum ($6), tom yum flavoured fried rice with chicken, was the other highlight, and a must try here. It was robust, flavourful, and bright with the liberal use of kaffir lime leaves.

Thai Tantric Thai Cuisine
400 Orchard Road #03-23
Orchard Towers
Tel: 9056 3958 / 8309 3810
Open daily from 11am to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 3am for dinner & supper


Kuvo, Orchard

Kuvo seems to have a knack of picking the worst rentals: it was first at Marina Square, a shopping centre lost in a black hole deep in the Suntec area; and then now at Orchard Shopping Centre, a mall with near-zero shopper traffic. I don't know how it's endured this long, or how much longer the intrepid restaurant withstands the test of time; Kuvo was pretty bare when we visited on a public holiday for dinner.

Part of the TCC group, Kuvo's food is surprisingly commendable, the ambience is tranquil and chic, and the service is warm and friendly. With such attributes, it's a wonder why they're not doing a roaring business.

The excellent Portobello Mushroom Potage ($9), lush with white truffle oil, possessed an Asian flair with the use of shitake mushrooms. Wonderfully comforting and an absolute must-try.

The Kuvo Coffee Hot Wings ($14) was paired with baby carrot crudites and a blue cheese dip to douse the fiery heat of the fried chicken, which was stellar, well-marinated and burnished with a well-balanced bittersweet glaze.

The English Scotch Egg with Tuna ($14) blanketed with a melted edam and bathed in a red wine onion jus, was one of the best renditions of scotch eggs ever.

The yolk was perfectly oozy, and the individual components were brilliantly harmonized. 

The Slipper Lobster Laksa Lemak ($14 for small bites portion) like a cross between the tangy Penang-style assam laksa and the local coconut milk-heavy renditions. This was bright and light but also rich and creamy, overall a lovely balancing act.

The King Prawn Noodle Soup ($14 for small bites portion), chunked up with pork slices, fish cake, baby spinach and fresh sprouts swimming in a opulent prawn broth, held its own against the better of many hawker renditions. Dump the entire saucer of belachan-centric sambal for a lively kick.

321 Orchard Road
Orchard Shopping Centre Level 3
Tel: 6733 8272
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 12noon to 1am;
Fridays and Saturdays from 12noon to 2am
Website: kuvo.com.sg


Zest, The Breakfast Edition, One & Only The Palm, Dubai

Breakfast at Zest was included in our room rates at One & Only The Palm.

Apart from a mixed bag buffet of predominantly green vegetables that was punctuated by the standard breakfast grills, there was a small selection of ala carte eggs. These may have been segregated by the type of cuisine, namely, western, asian or Middle Eastern, but notwithstanding the segregation, were still heavily influenced by a Middle Eastern flair.

The buffet at Zest wasn't the best I've had, but it was one of the more memorable, in no small part due to the proliferation of Middle Eastern-styled breakfast options. Not everything was a slamdunk, but there were enough hits to make me look forward to the rising sun every dawn.

Although touted as Western fare, the Eggs Sunny Side-Up were studded with purple olives, diced tomatoes and fresh herbs.

The Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon was draped in a cumin-spiked hollandaise sauce and accented with paprika for a subtle heat.

Amongst the Asian fare, we really liked the Poached Eggs in Tom Yum Soup. It wasn't spicy one iota, but the sour tang of the broth was delightful. We found ourselves ordering this repeatedly.

The Sushi Omelette Rolls with wakame, shoyu and wasabi, was more like a mini egg crepe stuffed with rice and cucumbers. Not the most memorable dish, but crisp and clear.

The distinctively Middle Eastern fare were the best of the lot, like the Omelette laced with zaatar, tomato confit and lebanese honey. This was unexpectedly sweet, but not jarringly unwelcome; the bright herby overtones of the zaatar spice mix helped soften the honeyed undertones.

The Shashouka Scrambled Eggs flavoured with the traditional spice blend of ras el hanout may have appeared a royal mess, but this, specked with ham, peppers, corn, and mushrooms, was finessed perfectly.

standard hot breakfast fare - sauteed potatoes and hashbrowns

beef sausage and tomato provencal; arghhhh why do they love to tar everything with parsley?!?!?!?!!?!!!

veal sausage and turkey bacon: for cured meats that were pork-free, these were fantastic! I didn't feel like I was missing out at all

stewed beans done the English or Egyptian way, with tomato-sauced baked beans and ful medames, fava beans simmered with cumin, garlic, onions, chilli peppers and parsley

a lite, fibre-rich option, with cooked buckwheat and steamed mixed vegetables

there was a small-ish array of Asian foods, like the Thai soup, a very watered down but grimacingly sour version of a clear tom yum broth, choc-a-bloc with vegetables.

skip the shrimp and chicken wantons, unless you like your dumplings big and clunky.

fried rice and black pepper asparagus - surprisingly good, loved the bold flavours in both. we got seconds

ditto for the chicken mee, and prawn noodles; nice rounded flavours.

stir-fried vegetables and edamame - lovely crunch for the former and addictive as a snack for the latter

Moving on to the cold stuff: we had the mezze of hummus, labneh, zaatar labneh, sundried tomato, olives, cottage cheese, mozzerella, all pretty fair.

salads of the waldorf, tabbouleh, red cabbage and cucumber-tomato variants

par-boiled vegetables served chilled: eggplant, zucchini, marrow, bell pepper, snow peas, asparagus, french beans, avocado, and kale - I loved mixing and matching them

charcuterie such as chicken mortatella, beef bresola, smoked turkey; cheeses of the feta, emmental, brie, comte, and tomme noire types; egg mimosa; smoked salmon; and organic fare like hard boiled eggs, corn, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and beetroot

the gorgeous bread table - decent, especially the pastries

whole baguettes and sliced bread

ciabatta, mini baguettes and herbed foccacia

sugared mini croissants

savoury breads: tomato turnovers, spinach-mushroom quiche, and pretzels and almond crossiants

pineapple and chocolate chip danishes

muffins, madelines, top: chocolate crossiant, banana cake, lemon cake

chocolate donut, raspberry donut, chocolate crossiant, banana cake, lemon cake,

plain croissant, chocolate croissant

cereals: weetabix, corn flakes, rice krispies, chocopops, Crunchy-X with raisins, Crunchy-X with berries, Crunchy-X with chocolate

cooked apple sweetened with vanilla

apricot pudding

jams of the fig, orange and berry types, mango-passionfruit and prune-tea compotes, and up to 3 types of honey

fresh cut fruits - I loved the pomegranate, which I used to sweeten by personalised salad mixes

fruit juices and milks

There were a couple of specialised stations to cater to special diets, like the Kids Corner, cereal, yoghurt and milk, mini croissants, sugar brioche, and icing sugar-ed cookies

and the Gluten-Free Corner, with cereal bread, cheese balls, madelines, brioche, palin bread, and assortment of nuts and dried fruits

and dates, candied fruits, arabic sweets

The expansive breakfast spread

Our favourite table

One & Only The Palm
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