Sweet Salty Spicy
The Rail Mall, 392 Upper Bukit Timah Road
As its name suggests, this restaurant has a melange of tastebud-tingling flavours on the menu. Each dish we were presented with was utterly fresh, beautifully presented and had a delicate balance of sweet, salty and spicy ingredients that drew from the wisdom of both traditional and contemporary Thai cooking.
First up came the miang of prawns and pomelo on betel leaves with shredded coconut and a palm sugar dressing ($3.50). The betel leaf, rest assured, bears no relation to the betel nut, or “happy nut” as it is fondly referred to in India for its mild narcotic properties. We were advised to wrap the ingredients inside the drug-free leaf and pop it in our mouths whole, but to maintain my ladylike demeanour I opted to do it in two bites.
The deep-fried silken tofu stuffed with fresh crab, coriander and minced pork ($18) was surprisingly tasty, and the salad of green mango, crispy salmon with cashew nuts and a chili lime dressing ($9) was out-of-this-world delicious.
The chefs also rustled up a delightful play on the traditional green curry, which was a thick and juicy ensemble of baby snapper, apple eggplant and holy basil ($10).
This is informal dining, though it’s distinctly finer than the homogeneous Thai chain outlets that have popped up all over the island. A smart-casual deli-cum-canteen, it is excellent value for money to boot.
For residents of Bukit Batok, it is a local treat; and for those who live farther afield, I guarantee that a trip there will be worth its weight in petrol.
Sweet Salty Spicy was opened in 2007 by owner and head chef Chris Millar, previously well-known for his fine-dining restaurant Poppi at Fort Canning. The menu is a collaboration with the famous Sailors Thai restaurant in Sydney’s Rocks district. “The concept of a modern Thai canteen and deli was something I developed with my vegetable supplier Victor Chia,” Chris says. “The flavours are authentic and distinct, prepared with the best market ingredients and presented in a modern style.”