Formerly located near Chinatown, Chef Lai has relocated to Mansfield Park under the name of Lai's Pantry. It proved to be very popular, with a crowd of a decent size during our visits.
The broth in the Yong Tau Foo dish had a subtle savoury flavour and the chunks of tofu and eggplant still retained a bit of bite to them. A nice touch were the stuffed okra and chilli but be aware that the chilli is quite spicy. The Hokkien and vermicelli noodles were cooked al dente and complemented the other ingredients nicely.
Yong Tau Foo (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
The fried chicken in the Fried Chicken Nasi Lemak had juicy flesh which was contrasted nicely by the crisp coating. Their coconut rice also had a nice degree of coconut flavour, and short grained rice was used for a slightly different texture. Served with the chicken and rice were cucumber, peanuts, fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and a hard-boiled egg coated in chilli sambal.
Fried Chicken Chicken Nasi Lemak (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Available to be ordered as a dry or soup version, the flat pastry in the dry version of the Pan Mee still retained a bit of bite and there was enough pork mince to provide a meaty texture. There was also enough sauce to ensure the dish was not too dry but be aware that the chillies pack a potent spicy taste. Pieces of pork crackling and fried ikan bilis were included for a bit of crunch and saltiness.
Pan Mee (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
While the Wonton Noodles also included chilli, the degree of spiciness was not as potent as that of the Pan Mee. The slices of char siu pork was tender and the bok choy still retained a bit of crunch. The noodles were tossed in sufficient sauce to give them a delectable savoury taste. The wontons that were served alongside the noodles had a juicy filling and soft skin.
Wonton Noodles (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Although the pieces of chicken in the Roti with Chicken Curry had bones, it was not difficult to separate the flesh from the bones. The taste of the curry gravy was similar to that we remember of a Malaysian curry and the chunks of potatoes partnered nicely with the chicken. The roti paratha was crisp and fluffy and did a good job of soaking up the curry gravy.
Roti with Chicken Curry (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Their Singapore Fried Vermicelli had a nice charred flavour and the chilli sauce the noodles were tossed in was not too spicy. The prawns, squid and chicken tossed with the noodles were cooked to perfection and bean sprouts provided a bit of crunch. If you desire the dish to be spicier, you can request for chilli sauce to add to the dish.
Singapore Fried Vermicelli (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Aside from the dishes ideal for a single diner, Lai's Pantry also offers a few dishes suited to be shared. While we thought the Salt and Pepper Squid was a bit over-fried, the coating still did a good job of setting off the flesh. The salt and pepper seasoning were not too salty and included chillies for a bit of heat.
Salt and Pepper Squid (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
In addition to the usual soft drinks, Lai's Pantry offers various Asian drinks for those looking for something different to go with their meals. The soya milk in the Soya Milk with Grass Jelly had a taste a bit similar to tofu and the grass jelly had a nice chewy texture. The straw used to drink it was quite thick to simplify the task of sucking up the pieces of grass jelly.
Soya Milk with Grass Jelly (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Served like a drink, their Cendol had the degree of gula melaka flavour we looked for and sufficient crushed ice was used to ensure it was ice-cold. The red beans still retained a bit of firmness and complemented the softer rice flour jelly noodles, which was subtly flavoured with pandan. In addition to a wide straw, a long-handled spoon came with the dish to aid with eating the solid ingredients.
Cendol (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Seating space is a bit limited but the décor of the restaurant gave it a comfortable and casual feel. Parking is not a problem as the car park of the complex that the restaurant is located in offers convenient off-street parking.