Previously located at Rochor Centre, Rochor Thai has since moved to Joo Chiat, sitting right in the midst of bustling crowds, cafes, and restaurants. No, you got it right, they aren’t changing to their name to Joo Chiat Thai anytime soon.
Being strictly MSG-free is as symbolic to Rochor Thai as elephants are to Thailand. They pride themselves as the only restaurant that delivers such prepared dishes. They are also a bistro that makes their own pastes and sauces, setting each of their dishes apart from the rest.
Something that was frowned upon almost throughout the entire dinner was the heavy use of salt. I think it is very much like a zi-char stall, where salty dishes are prepared to complement the plain rice. I am no fan of that, and thus no fan of zi-char in general. I thought to prep you, and ask for less salt, depending on your tolerance.
Thai Iced Tea ($3) :: Well-balanced sweetness and flavors of tea. It also does not have the astringent (siap siap) taste. Meets the mark.
Green Papaya Salad ($7) :: While I don’t mind the rawness of vegetables, the overly crunchiness of it all did not quite suit my palate, especially that of the yardlong beans. I thought it would have been better with everything shredded to accompany the shredded unripe papaya.
Hot & Spicy Seafood Soup / Clear Spicy Sour Soup ($8.80 / $14.80) :: I was quite impressed with the spiciness of the soup. I mean, I take spicy food, but this had me perspiring a little. However, the prawn wasn’t the freshest – it was also overcooked without any bounciness.
Green Curry with Chicken Thigh & Thai Eggplant ($11.80) :: While the meat was succulent and in sizable chunks, the green curry was slightly too sweet for me.
Salt-baked Whole Tilapia ($22.80) :: Force-fed with lemongrass (as evident in the photos, well, it’s for the flavors when cooking, no animal abuse involved) and salt-crusted, you might think that it would be too salty. Surprisingly, it doesn’t. Instead, it moderately counterpoise the blandness of fish meat. The dish is served with spicy coriander sauce, but really, it is perfect the way it is. Fresh, soft and smooth meat.
Dry Red Curry with Red Snapper Fillets ($16.80 / $24.80) :: With words like ‘red’ and ‘curry’ filling the name of the dish, I didn’t expect it to turn out more sweet than spicy. The meat was fine, but the crust covered any hint of fishiness I would like to have with a bite as a whole.
Seared Pork Collar ($12.80) :: I’m biased. I love the part of meat on pigs’ neck. There is no arguing that it is the saltiest piece of meat you’ll have, but it is still quite enjoyable when paired with plain rice and dried chili sauce. I love the bite of pork collar bite, and with it priced at only this, it’s worth the moolah.
Stir-fried Thai ‘Drunken’ Style Prawns ($16.80 / $24.80) :: Similar to its Snapper Fillets, I’m not quite a fan of its style of cooking. It was rather ordinary, and the prawns were not done springy enough. And no, it is not alcoholic, don’t bother if you intend to ‘drown your sorrows’ with this.
Clams Flambe in Chili Jam & Chef’s Stock ($14.80 / $22.80) :: After witnessing the (momentary) fire that broke out in the kitchen, we were all hyped and stoked. It looks simple, but I thought it was well-executed. I could taste both the jam and clams very distinctively. Worth an order.
The Thai Red Ruby ($4.80) tasted really like strawberry milk. I swear.
The Mango Sticky Rice ($7.80) was a half hit, half miss. I like the mango, sweet and soft. The sticky rice was okay, but spoiled with an overdose of sesame seed. I prefer my sticky rice to remain sticky firm yet nua nua instead of the frequent crunches in between. Flavors wise, they still aren’t strong enough when compared to the ones you get in Thailand. I verily believe it’s the coconut that has been doing the trick for the Thais all these while.
Though more misses than hits, I think Rochor Thai bears some potential. Having only just settled down in their new playground about two months ago, I’m sure the humble and passionate people behind Rochor Thai will strive for the better. Give them some time.
Special gratitude to Joel and the Rochor Thai team for the hospitality and hosting the invited tasting session.
Address: 340 Joo Chiat Road
Telephone: 6440 3270
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 9.45pm (Tue – Sun)