Restaurants & Bars

Sabai, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Orchard Road, Singapore

Limster | Jan 28, 200502:53 AM

Sabai makes all the Thai food I've had in the last few years look bad. The former owner of Thanying moved and opened this place a few months ago. (Probably explains Thanying's downhill slide the last time I was there.)

Extremely cohesive and refined spicing in the cooking. Not just chilli heat, but a lively and complex blend of flavours.

Stuffed chicken wings are a commonplace dish that is superb here. Great frying (wing tips are crispy and completely edible down to the bone). Smooth stuffing, mostly ground meat, rather than the excessive filler of vermicelli in lesser versions. Delicious with the dipping sauces (garlic and shallots, chilli padi aka bird chilli in soy sauce, sweet ground red chilli sauce).

Bitter gourd aka bitter melon salad is the best Thai salad I've had in years. Thinly sliced bitter gourd, light cooked and full of vegetal crunchiness. Subtle and distinctive points of bitterness mingle with the aromatic condiments and sharp dressing. Perfect prawns, whole and chopped add textural variation.

Tiny dumplings (sorry forgot name) are made with chewy yet delicate skin, and stuffed with savoury fillings: one with taro, another with fragrant dried shrimp, a third I can't remember. Some caramelized garlic on the side for a crispy counterpoint to the soft fillings.

Green duck curry is the most refined version of this dish that I've ever had. Tasting duck, lychee, kaffir lime, pineapple and the curry at the same time is a revelation, even if you've had green curry a zillion times in the US. Thin and lightly salted crispy skate accompanies the curry -- can be broken into small chips to add crunch to the curry or for dipping.

Nam prik is an earthy paste, spicy, sour and sweet, with all sorts of spices and fermented shrimp or fish. Served in a beautifully carved bowl made from fruit (papaya I think...) along with fried brinjal (eggplant) and string beans to dip with. "Simple" yet fulfilling.

Pumpkin vines stir-fried with an aromatic and savoury shrimp sambal speaks for itself.

A dessert buffet consists of some 20 choices. Plenty of fruit imported from Thailand, served with a blend of salt and sugar. I have a soft spot for the pomelo. Can't go through all the little desserts I had, but my favourite was the little packets glutinous rice with dates wrapped in banana or bamboo leaves.

Service is exceptional, the waiter eager to recommend all the chowish dishes for us and taking pains to ensure that we did not over order. Our every need was attended to efficiently by the solicitious waitstaff.

An outstanding restaurant by any account.

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