The shophouse-lined row that is Thomson Ridge is choc-a-bloc with eateries. Every other shophouse unit is some kind of restaurant. As with many in the very-fickle F&B industry, a number of these restaurants close up shop as quickly as they open, but there are a few mainstays that prove hardy, like Liquid Kitchen, Nam Kee Chicken Rice, Fatboys and La Petit Cuisine. E-Sarn Thai Corner, a chain of casual Thai eateries, looks to be another mainstay in this highly competitive food enclave. In an area where the turnover of restaurants is so high, E-Sarn Thai Corner has proven to be hardy since it was opened back in late 2010. Where there was no air-conditioning previously (a complaint of most of their regulars), it's now a comfortable air-conditioned restaurant.
Since E-Sarn's move from a hawker stall at Farrer Road to the little condominium enclave of Ridgewood back in 2010, it's successfully spawned 3 more outlets, all set up in similar locales - private housing residential estates. I'm surprised, because I didn't think the cuisine was authentically spicy enough for the restaurant to be this successful. I suppose the formula of watering down the spice level to cater to the expat tongue and situating itself in estates that are home to many expats works. It's not that I think the food is bad, because it isn't. The flavours are there, but the food's just not spicy enough.
In all fairness, the reasonably cheap price points and casual relaxed ambience are huge pluses. And service here is great, the all-Thai staff are genteel and polite to a fault, they're almost zen-like. And while the food isn't as spicy as I'd like, the above average food scores well with people that cannot take spice.
For example, the Tom Yum Koong ($7.50) was, despite the presence of chilli padis, really quite mild. There was depth of flavour though, even if there was no kick. The sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes were also a nice touch, as with the crunchy prawns.
We liked the Pad Pak Ruom ($9.50) crunchy baby kailan, cabbage, long beans, corn, carrots, straw mushrooms stir-fried in oyster sauce.
The Kra Pow Moo ($11.50) utilised very lean pork, so it was a little dry, but the chilli paste helped moisten it. This wasn't very spicy either, but the basil leaves lent a peppery aroma to the dish.
We couldn't quite taste the egg in the Kai Foo ($8.50), a deep-fried plain crispy omelette. It just seemed like it was mostly fried batter. That said, it was crisp and not too oily.
The Panang Gai ($13.50) chicken stir-fried with coconut curry gravy, was very creamy and rich, and not spicy at all. It also tended to the salty side, and the chicken tasted off.
We always order a glass each of Thai Iced Tea ($4) and Lemongrass Juice ($4) whenever they're available at a Thai establishment. Loved the lemongrass drink, fragrant and refreshing.
We particularly liked the addition of Grass Jelly ($0.50), which balances out the rich creaminess of the milk tea.
E-Sarn Thai Corner
9 Thomson Ridge
Tel: 6554 4174
Open Mondays, Wednesdays to Fridays from 11am to 2.30pm for lunch and 5.30pm to 10pm for dinners
Weekends from 11.30am to 10pm
Closed on Tuesdays