I always have a hard time when craving pad thai, because finding an eatery here that can whip up a version of the fried rice noodle dish that is close to what is served in Bangkok is not easy.
There were times when I went to Bangkok just to satisfy a craving that refused to go away.
Other times, I tried my hand at cooking the dish, but failed to do it justice.
This time around, I decided to engage in good old legwork and hit some of the Thai food places that seem to be mushrooming in malls, foodcourts, coffee shops and hawker centres. I am glad to report I have found one that fits the bill - Kra Pow Thai Street Food at Far East Plaza in Scotts Road.
Its pad thai ($9.90) tastes like it comes from a Bangkok street food stall, with noodles that have just the right amount of chewiness. My attempts at frying the dish invariably ended with the noodles being too chewy or soggy, so I know getting it just right can be a challenge.
KRA POW THAI STREET FOOD
03-89 Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Road; open: 11.30am to 9.30pm daily, last order at 9pm (may be closed on some public holidays)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Kra Pow's version has all the right ingredients - prawns, eggs, generous portions of diced beancurd and beansprouts as well as chilli powder, crushed peanuts and lime - and is wrapped in the fragrance of wok hei.
I like that the chef, who is from Thailand, goes easy on the sugar. At other stalls where I have tried the dish, the sweetness can be overpowering. I am able to better taste and enjoy the mix of sweet, sour and spicy flavours, which enhances my enjoyment of the meal.
The eatery, whose name Kra Pow means holy basil in Thai, also serves an appetising version of basil pork with rice called, well, krapow pork ($7.90). And a friend who has eaten there says some of its other offerings, such as squid tentacle fritters ($8.90) and mango sticky rice ($6.90), are also close in taste to the street food found in Thailand.
It is no surprise that Kra Pow has been doing well since its opening in January last year, expanding earlier this year to a nicely renovated 49-seat space just across its order counter and kitchen.
It is a worthy addition to the Thai food scene in Singapore.
Service is a little slow at times, but never worse than that because one of the two Thai co-owners, who runs another business in the mall, is usually there to manage the operations.