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Thai food has always been comfort food for me. The subtle flavours of lemon grass and other condiments, the sweetness of coconut milk and the light yet flavourful array of dishes have always made sure I am tummy and mind happy. However, this also makes me extremely picky and selective about Thai restaurants and quite critical when it comes to reviews as well.
Thanying is a restaurant that I have always heard a lot about. So, when the opportunity came by to meet with the team at Thanying, I jumped at it. The restaurant is known for its royal experience – be it the ambience, the attentive staff or the unique yet natively Thai spread. The unique selling point also happens to be a full-fledged vegetarian menu with over 30 dishes that can be tweaked to suit the vegetarian/vegan (please check with the staff onsite for specific variations) tastebud. The executive chef was mentored by a chef from the royal kitchen in the Bangkok palace and hence the regal charm isn’t a surprise.
The location is perfect; right in the heart of the CBD and in the very popular Amara hotel complex, accessibility to the restaurant is easy and doesn’t require too much planning. During our visit on a weekday afternoon, the restaurant was packed with corporate groups for team lunches.Thanying also has private rooms that you can book for special occasions and larger groups or corporate lunches. Thanying wants to make your dining experience royal, hence the regal ambience including the choice of furniture, lighting and the arrangement and the cutlery. The attentive traditionally dressed staff are also extremely knowledgeable about the dishes and engage in polite conversation as they serve you.
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We began our meal with a refreshing Lime and Mint Cooler and got talking to Pei Ling from the corporate communications team. It was refreshing to see the restaurant’s drive to increase the focus and attention to vegetarian and vegan customer base.
The appetizers arrived and I was quite surprised to see more than the usual spring rolls as part of the vegetarian menu. We decided to get experimental and tried the Taw Mun Kaoppod (S$18) i.e. corn fritters. These sweet and slightly spicy corn cakes are a vegetarian substitute for the traditional Thai fish cakes. Crisp on the exterior and soft and chewy on the inside and flavoured with lime leaves these fritters are quite a treat.
The Khao Tang Na Tang (S$18) are crispy rice crackers served with a creamy coconut sauce flavoured with a hint of ginger, garlic and tamarind. The delicately flavoured sauce made for a very exotic dip for these simple yet tasty rice crackers, they dissappeared in no time.
Next came the Tom Yam Soup which was the perfect blend of vegetables with the lemongrass and the spices in a sweet, tangy and spicy balance of flavours, and all this on a rainy afternoon made it a treat for the palate. The cute little soup pots that it was served in added to the charm.
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And now, the Mains…
For the main course, we had the Keow Wahn Ma-Kua-Yao (S$18) – thick green Thai curry. What set this curry apart was the roasted eggplant over which the thick curry was served, so far, I’d been used to my curry flavoured with vegetables and tofu. However, this dish did take me by surprise and I was soon reaching out for a second helping. As good as the curry was, the surprise element on the menu was even better – Phad Ghaproa Tao Hoo – fried bean curd balls which left me pondering as to how they executed what seemed like an impossible task. The bean curd balls were crisp and yet, hollow and light on the inside and absorbed the flavours of the stir fried basil, chilli and green pepper corn. This is a combination of very simple ingredients, still the amalgamation of these flavours in just the right proportion made this a sumptuous treat.
The vegetarian Pad Thai that accompanied our mains was cooked to perfection; just right, not too chewy nor too soft, with all the right flavours sweet, tangy and the crunch of the peanuts and cashews, this was clearly the winner from amongst my main course.
Indulging the Sweet Tooth
Wherever you’re seated inside the restaurant, you can’t miss the beautifully done up and inviting dessert counter, which had been beckoning me since the beginning of the meal. Finally, we headed over and helped ourselves to some fresh fruit and some Thai sweet treats from the Buffet Dessert (S$9/pax). My favourite dessert there was the Glutinous Water Chestnut. We also enjoyed fresh fruit the Thai way, i.e. dipped into brown sugar.
We ended our meal with the ‘mandatory’ Khao Neow Mamuang aka Glutinous Rice with Mango – delicious and a safe vegan bet. Yum yum yum all the way!
Overall, the experience at Thanying was excellent. It had all the elements for a perfect meal, be it a corporate or a family outing. Great food, warm hospitality and the uniquely Thai food did transport me to the laid-back vibe of Thailand while I was there. As I stepped out onto the buzzing streets of Singapore, I looked back and smiled at what was a delightful lunch and an interesting exploration of the cuisine that I love so much. Khao bun kha Thanying, and I will be back soon.
Thanying Restaurant: 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, #02-00 Amara Hotel, 088539. P: +65 6222 4688
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Preethi is currently juggling two hats – mastering the art of zen raising a resilient, naughty and adorable young adult (aka her 3-year-old daughter) and working as a HR Marketer for a leading Technology MNC. Foodie, music lover, ardent toastmaster, travel buff and a motor mouth by choice is how we describe Preethi Bashyam Sriganesh.