Nestled in a corner on the second level of Royal Square @ Novena is Baan Ying’s first foray out of Thailand. It was started twenty years ago by “Auntie Ying” Khun Oranuj Thareererg in the Siam Square district at Bangkok.
The innocuous entrance opens up into a bright and spacious restaurant complete with light wooden furniture and rattan awnings, with plastic plants to give it a somewhat tropical feel. The clean, casual setting is flexible enough for quiet catch-ups and families, and large groups too, as long as the group doesn’t mind sharing one electronic menu.
The food came fast and furious. For the kailan and crispy pork ($10.80), there is a good proportion of fat and tender meat on the pork, though by the time we consumed the dish, it had lost some of its crispiness. Now, before I continue, let me state upfront that I am sensitive to salt. So when I say the pork belly is salty, well, you may want to take it with a pinch of salt. That is easily rectified by having it with the crunchy kailan, owing to its slight bitterness and the heady garlic flavour. Overall, the dish works well, and would readily serve 3-4 people.
The dry Thai street hor fun ($7.80), fried with juicy slices of pork, is the ‘white’ variety. True to Thai cuisine, it has a hint of sweetness that lightens the savoury dish, making it very enjoyable to just chew on as the flavours evolve.
The larb moo pork balls ($12.80, 5 pcs), their signature, are sizeable chunks of minced meat, with good depth in flavour and a chewy consistency. Being a Singaporean, I would certainly have liked a dip or sauce to go along with the pork balls, even if it is just Sriracha chilli sauce. The slice of lime is there ostensibly to cut through the oil, but the three of us enjoyed the pork balls just as they were, with none of us thinking it was too greasy by any means.
The green Thai chicken curry ($12.80) pales in comparison to other dishes. The first impressions are not flattering. The presentation is lacking; I felt like I had to rescue the garnishing from drowning in some kind of muck. The colour also lacks the vibrancy one would expect of green curry. Of course, the proof of the pudding is in its tasting. Unfortunately, one of us thought it had too strong a coconut flavour, while another thought it had a strange flowery pungency. I have a sweet tooth, and so was wondering where the sweetness went. That said, if you love chicken, you’ll be glad to know this dish has quite a bit of chicken hiding within. Oh, and let it be known that I consider myself having an above average ability to tolerate spice, to the extent that the ‘normal’ spice setting had no kick for me, while my two dinner companions kept remarking about the heat.
What I appreciate about the deep fried chicken wings ($9.80), another signature dish, is that they have separated the radius and ulna (what, your bio teacher didn’t tell you those are the names of the two bones in the wingette?) to make it easier for customers to enjoy it. It comes with a chilli sauce, but while my two companions enjoyed the wingettes, I admittedly thought they were rather ordinary. Could it have been more ‘Thai’? Well, I’m not a chef by any means, but I almost wonder if it could have come with some deep fried basil flakes, as almost a play on the famous Thai Basil Chicken dish.
The soft shell crab with mussels and omelette rice ($17.80): the crab and mussels are tasty but nothing out of the ordinary. What is truly interesting is the ‘chilli crab’ sauce. We all agreed that it tasted like a lighter, more fluid version of ‘nasi lemak’ chilli. It isn’t as spicy as the curry (at least, my dinner companions didn’t have any remarks about the spiciness), and is well-complemented by the omelette and rice.
When it came time for dessert, one companion practically salivated for red ruby… only to find out it was sold out. Truth be told, I was leaning towards the mango jelly, but one friend asked “isn’t that just pudding?”… and so we ended up with Mango with Butterfly Pea Sticky Rice ($9.80). The person who suggested this dessert liked it for not being too sweet, while the other two of us felt they should have used mangoes that were slightly over-ripe for extra juiciness and sweetness. The rice isn’t very sticky, and crumbles at times. I yearned for a container of sweet coconut cream so that I could drown the mango slices and rice for a really a messy affair (what can I say? I like it wet). Oh well, I guess Baan Ying has signed up for the War on Diabetes (and I should remind myself that that’s a good thing. Really).
In all, our meal totalled $115 for three persons, including two lemongrass drinks ($4.80 each) and a butterfly pea drink ($4.80). (They don’t serve complimentary plain water.) Are there better options out there? Yes of course, but if you’re in the vicinity and looking for Thai, I’d say Baan Ying is a good option.
Baan Ying Original Siam Kitchen
Royal Square @ Novena #02-07, 103 Irrawaddy Road, Singapore 329565
Tel: +65 9111 7852
Weekdays 11am–3pm, 5.30pm-10pm, Weekends 11am-10pm
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–Kra Pow, Far East: Popular Thai Restaurant Moved, Expanded, and Added More Dishes
–Basil Thai Kitchen, Paragon: Iron Chef Chumpol Jangprai Presents Provincial Thai Dishes
–Yhingthai Palace, Purvis Street: Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand Awardee, Best Thai Food in Singapore?
Written by Tan Ken Jin. True to the name of this website, KJ is closely associated with rubbish, organising litter-picking activities that culminate in a makan session (because #Singaporean). That, and he once tried marinating salmon in blueberry juice and orange juice. He survived.