Patara Fine Thai Cuisine has been described as one of Singapore’s long standing Thai fine dining restaurant. It is owned by the Creative Eateries Group who also own 19 restaurants in Singapore and overseas. I have been to this restaurant several times over the years. In fact, I do remember dining with husband on my 30th wedding anniversary at this restaurant.
Nestled in the cozy enclave of Tanglin, Patara Fine Thai Cuisine Restaurant is well noted for its classic Thai dishes made with premium ingredients. The restaurant stays relevant in changing times by constantly innovating to fit diners’ evolving tastes without straying too far from the heart and soul of the original dishes.
The restaurant is spacious and gives you that cosy feeling as soon as you enter. I guess it is the use of dark wood furniture and partitions that give that warm feeling and not forgetting the hospitality of the Operations Manager Mr. Ramesh. The restaurant tables are well spread out so that you can enjoy private conversation.
The menu was large and varied with plenty to choose from including curries, soups, stir fry dishes, seafood, meat, salads, rice and noodle dishes and desserts. The problem when dining at Thai restaurants is that you always want to eat just about everything in the menu. The Benjarong Specials set meals prepared by Head Chef Lisa Khamphuang comes to your rescue when you are in such a dilemma. Chef Lisa came from Yasothon Province, in the north-eastern part of Thailand and has spearheaded the kitchen of Patara Fine Thai Cuisine for 16 years.
Benjarong literally means “five colours” in Thai language and Benjarong porcelain is made from bone china. The delicate patterns on the surface of the porcelain are usually painted using the primary colours of green, yellow, white, red and black. These primary colours are mixed to produce secondary colours of different shades. The painted porcelain is glazed in electric kilns at very high temperature like 800°C for about 8-10 hours to give that special shine that will last forever. There used to be a time when Benjarong porcelain was made only for the royal court and the aristocracy but these days you can find it gracing hotels, restaurants and homes. The Patara Fine Thai Cuisine Restaurant uses the Benjarong crockery to serve their special menu. Hence you can dine like a royalty!
I requested for hot lemongrass tea and was pleasantly surprised to get my tea with a lemongrass swizzle stick. This little touch makes a great difference in tea drinking experiences as when the lemongrass is left in the hot tea, it imparts a fresh and invigorating aroma.
Khao Tang was served as amuse bouche on a Benjarong design plate. It was a crispy bite-sized Thai rice cracker with simmered minced chicken and prawns dip dotted with a wee piece of cut red chilli. The cracker was bland, light and crisp and the taste was amplified with the creamy, mildly spiced, flavorful dip and the sudden rising heat from the red chilli.
Next came the appetizer platter with Chor Muang and Jang Lorn Goong. Chor Muang is an exquisite handcrafted dumpling filled with caramelized chicken, sweet turnip and peanut filling topped with coconut cream reduction. Chor Muang is a traditional royal food known for its beautiful blue color —— derived from petals of butterfly pea flowers. The beauty of these dumpling attracts the eye and I can imagine the effort that has been put to craft each of this dumpling.
The Jang Lorn Goong is grilled prawn cakes on lemongrass sticks, served with a sweet chilli dip. These prawn cakes won my heart at the first bite! Springy, well cooked and packed with flavour on their own, the prawn cakes were perfectly paired with the sauce that had an intricate balance of sour, sweet, salty and spicy. There were the pickled slices of cucumber and carrot that were served as part of the garnish, that worked out the beautiful flavour in the mouth.
The Tom Yum Goong (Prawn Tom Yum soup) was comfortably spicy but did not give that devilish kick nor a weepy blowing nose I was looking for neither was I overwhelmed by the intoxicating flavours of lemongrass, galangal and lime leaves! The soup bowl had lots of ingredients including straw mushrooms, slices of young coconut, squids and prawns though. I found the prawns overcooked and rubbery. I would have preferred a stronger presence of the herbs, lime juice and heat. But then, someone else would love this soup.
The main course was served plated. The beautiful oval shaped Bengajaron plate was aesthetically lined with Grilled Prawns in sizzling chuchee sauce, Grilled Chicken marinated in Southern Thai curry Sauce, Stir Fried US asparagus with fresh baby carrots and mushroom sauce and steamed jasmine rice. The Grilled Iberio Pork Collar with Bitter Gourd in Thick Red Curry was served separately.
The grilled king prawn was grilled to perfection and succulent. I have always felt that the Thai Chu Chee sauce is best served with seafood and you will never go wrong. Though chicken was flavourful with the marination, it was a bit dry on my plate. But the flavour was perfect. The asparagus was delectably crisp and sweet, and the mushroom complemented it very well. I was looking forward to the Grilled Iberico Pork Collar with bitter gourd in thick red curry and it was disappointing in a good way.
Pork collar is great cut for a long marinade and a quick cook time—it gets nice and crispy on the outside and stays juicy inside, thanks to its marbled fat. However, if it is grilled and plunged into a bowl of curry sauce, it loses its novelty. The bitter gourd did not add any taste value to the dish nor did it enhance the taste of the pork. I would have preferred to serve this grilled pork over a thin layer of the red curry sauce and maybe add crispy fried bitter gourd chips. The red curry sauce could have been poured over or cooked with prawns, chicken or fish or pork if it is not grilled.
Before my appetite faded after I ate too much of savoury food I asked for the dessert to be served. The Benjarong set has only one dessert – the Mango with Sticky Rice. I eyed for other desserts in the menu and Ramesh, the Operation Manager said he will give me a tasting platter of desserts. I could not thank him enough for this gesture as I am a dessert person!
Mango Sticky Rice was served with slices of fragrant sweet but firm Thai mango slices and the glutinous rice had a chewy texture along with a slightly sweet natural taste. Unlike some other Thai restaurants, Patara’s coconut cream topping was not sweetened. This is great as the mangoes were already naturally sweet. The Tab Tim Krob, crunchy coloured, diced water chestnuts and jackfruit bits in lightly sweetened coconut milk and crushed ice was outstanding too. The Thai chendol, Lodchong Nam Gra Ti was a killer dessert too with its home-made pandan fragrant chendol and aromatic coconut milk with crushed ice.
Good news for vegetarians – there are lots of dishes in the menu that are suitable for vegetarians. Those who are diabetic can also request sugar free drinks and “less sugar” desserts.
I had a really wonderful afternoon at Patara restaurant and it was great to finally find a quality Thai restaurant in the city that offers a little finesse and fine dining atmosphere for any occasion. Just remember to request for “spicy” or non-spicy dishes as they will cook according to the heat level you want.
Note: My meal was complimentary and the views expressed are my own.
PATARA FINE THAI CUISINE
163 Tanglin Road,
Tanglin Mall, #03-14
Tel: 6737 0818
12:00pm to 3:00pm
6:00pm to 10:00pm Last orders for kitchen at 2:30pm for lunch and 9:30pm for dinner daily.
By MRT : get down at Orchard Station and go to Exit B
Take Bus 136 from Orchard Boulevard and get down at 3rd bus stop.