Chalerm Thai could use a little drama
Arcade @ The Capitol Kempinski is slowing filling up with restaurants and one of the latest is Chalerm Thai.
As the venue sits where the former Capitol Theatre was, the restaurant is named after another legendary theatre - the Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre in Bangkok.
The Thai food is traditional and not theatrical as I had hoped. Still, if the food is good, the dramatics do not matter.
But the offerings here were a mixed bag. Some were delicious, but some were so indistinct that a bit of drama may have improved the experience.
The starters were good.
I was especially fond of the Peek Gai Tord Ta Kra ($6), or deep-fried lemongrass chicken wings. The hint of lemongrass was enough to perfume the chicken. The frying was done well too. The flesh was moist, with a slight crisp to the skin. A simple but satisfying dish.
You should try the maddeningly addictive Yum Pak Boong Krob ($8). The deep-fried morning glory was crispy and not oily.
The Phu Nim Phad Pong Karee ($20) or stir-fried soft shell crab with yellow curry was also good, and you will want rice with this. It is not too far from what you will find in Thailand, which means you will love this.
The curry was mild, almost sweet, and went beautifully with the crab.
I was surprised that I liked the Kor Moo Yang ($18). Grilled marinated pork neck is common in Bangkok, but I have never been impressed by it. The version here had a delectable smokiness. When paired with the spicy lime sauce, it worked.
The acidity of the sauce cut the grease and also highlighteded the smokiness.
The classic Tom Yum Goong ($15) was spicy enough but has no personality. Nothing distinguished it from the countless versions you can find in Singapore.
It is a good thing that the price is friendly because if you have the urge for tom yum, you can order this and will not be overly disappointed.
The Phat Thai Kung ($14) was unforgettable - but not in a good way. It was a pretty dish and pretty sweet too. When I looked at the menu, it stated tamarind sauce was in it, but I tasted none of it.
In Thailand, even when the flavour profile leans towards sweetness, there are nuances to give it balance. This dish was just cloying.
If you have a sweet tooth, check out the desserts instead. There is a decent selection, with the Tub Tim Krob ($8, or red rubies) being my favourite.
The reality is that there are many Thai restaurants superior to Chalerm Thai. If you are willing to walk, just head to Golden Mile Complex. But while it is not the best, for the price you pay, the location and the ambience, Chalerm Thai still works.