Avoiding the Friday night queues that this place can conjure up within seconds, I decided to catch Chat Thai for a late lunch on Monday. Whilst pondering a visit to the Night Noodle Markets, I thought to myself, why not go straight to the source?
Chat Thai is a very classy Thai joint that is tucked away on Campbell Street. With the warmly lit lighting, the dark wooden furniture and the modern/traditional fusion feel, the restaurant design lends itself to being all about comfort and relaxation. With a show-and-tell dessert kitchen (with ample lashings of mango and coconut), it is hard not to be allured into the prospect of authentic Thai dishes, especially if you were to commute in the late hours of the night.
However, this time round the food was not at its best. My friend who claimed to venture to Chat Thai at least once a week remarked that their best chef was probably at Hyde Park busily preparing for the busy night ahead. We ordered som dtum (spicy green papaya salad), emerald duck and mussamun nuea (mussamun curry of slowly braised beef shin and potato). The duck was excellent with the meat done just to the right texture and the broccoli easy to please. Furthermore, I'm a sucker for curried potato. The letdown however was the lack of spice in the dishes. I felt that the typical Thai papaya salad lent its character and raw exotic flavour to the fresh spiciness of the dish which I just couldn't find here.
Thankfully, we buried that after-thought deep into the lost annexes of our brains as we submitted ourselves to the ecstasy of the mango with sticky rice and coconut ice-cream dessert. The slight saltiness of the sticky rice so delicately balanced the sweetness of the mango and ice-cream and the three ingredients were just a match made in heaven. The raw freshness of the mango complemented the creaminess of the ice-cream so well and it was topped off by the crunchy peanuts scattered on the dish.
Always a consistent bench setter for desserts, I think the take home message would be to pick your mains carefully, and the rest is smooth sailing from there, truly a staple for late night musings. And it's easy to see why my friend (with a sweet tooth and a South-East Asian local) is in love with this place.