While there’s no shortage of Thai cuisine in Singapore, Soi 60’s delectable modern Thai cuisine – plus its well-crafted cocktails and hip, riverside atmosphere – sets it apart. Since opening in August 2014, it has become a go-to spot for fresh and stylish Thai dishes: coconut chicken salad, caramelised pork belly, irresistible corn cakes, fishcake sliders and to-die-for basil chicken. In the kitchen is 28-year-old chef Nam Pongpanich, a Bangkok native who perfected her skills at the Culinary Institute of America and worked under the tutelage of Michelin-starred Daniel Boulud in New York.
Did you always know you wanted to be a chef? How did you get started?
I love cooking and eating, but at first I didn’t think about becoming a chef; I went to university in Bangkok and majored in information and library studies. (I also love books!) I just did whatever I was interested in, not necessarily something I would have a career in.
Then, after thinking long and hard about it, I decided to go to culinary school. From there, I headed to New York, where I worked for a year full-time at DB Bistro under chef Daniel Boulud, and then for four months or so at Extern del Posto.
When and why did you decide to move to Singapore?
After New York, I decided to head to Singapore, primarily because it’s close to Thailand. I worked at DB Bistro Moderne in Marina Bay Sands before becoming a chef at Soi 60.
What do you think sets Soi 60 apart?
We’re contemporary Thai, not traditional. We offer Thai flavours with a twist.When it comes to ingredients, we can use just about anything and make it Thai – so long as it’s fun and tasty. That goes for cooking techniques as well. We’ve got everything from confit and poached dishes to banana cheesecake and chicken larb.
What’s Soi 60’s most popular dish?
I’d say the crispy duck pancake with lychee, Thai herbs and black vinegar reduction.
What do you think of Singapore’s dining scene?
There’s so much diversity; you can get anything here. There are a lot of nice restaurants, from celebrity restaurants to cool cafés – my favourites include Burnt Ends for the open atmosphere, and, for Italian food, Mozza. I also enjoy discovering the best hawker places.
To learn Chef Nam’s hottest recipe on Soi 60’s menu, head here.
This story first appeared in Expat Living’s April 2015 issue.