Food Picks: Tasty Thai food, handmade Korean sweet rice cakes

Deep-fried chicken wings, glass noodle salad, Pad Thai with prawns and Tom yum seafood soup at Porn Thaifood. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Tantalising Thai food

While most people go for the Thai eateries on the first floor of Golden Mile Complex, I prefer the pocket-friendly dishes at Porn Thaifood on the second floor. The stall is at the foodcourt next to Thai Supermarket.

I’m amazed that owner-chef Supaporn Tuntiwattanakul, 53, can whip up delectable favourites such as pad thai with prawns ($6) complete with a smoky wok aroma, when her stall is simply equipped with two portable gas stoves and two induction cookers.

The stir-fried noodles, which come with four prawns, are so well-seasoned with soya sauce and oyster sauce, you do not need to add the chilli powder and crushed peanuts that are on the side.

Madam Supaporn named her stall after her moniker, Porn.

Originally from Hat Yai in southern Thailand, she came to Singapore in 1990 and opened her stall in 2016. She learnt cooking from her mother who also runs a food stall in Hat Yai. She also took lessons from a Thai chef.

She has two versions of tom yum soup – one thickened with evaporated milk ($12) and the other without milk ($12). Both are tasty from her housemade stock made from chicken bones and come with a mixture of prawn, squid and dory fish.

The thick one – made with premium pastes from Thailand – is not as spicy as the one without milk.

Tom yum seafood soup thickened with milk at Porn Thaifood. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

The one without milk has no spice paste, but packs a powerful punch from chilli padi and is aromatic with the use of krapow (Thai holy basil) leaves. The lemongrass and galangal are finely sliced, adding flavour without overwhelming the soup.

Tom yum seafood soup without milk at Porn Thaifood. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

The deep-fried chicken wings ($10) are so tasty, I am surprised when Madam Supaporn tells me she marinates them for only 15 minutes. She cannot do it overnight due to insufficient storage space at her stall. She scores the wings to let them soak up the marinade better. Each plate comes with four large-sized wings which are ultra-crispy with juicy interiors. The secret to the crispy texture is the use of Thai tempura flour in the batter.

Deep-fried chicken wings at Porn Thaifood. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Another dish to try is the grilled pork salad ($10). The slices of grilled pork collar with slightly charred edges resemble pork jowl. Each slice is tender and flavourful. Served on a bed of horapha (Thai basil), the meat is tossed with sliced red onion and sawtooth coriander in a tangy spicy dressing of tamarind juice, palm sugar, sugar, chilli powder and toasted ground rice.

Grilled pork salad at Porn Thaifood. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

The glass noodle salad ($12) comes with Thai ham, chicken sausage, crabstick, prawn and squid. The generous use of fresh coriander and lime juice lends a fresh zestiness to the dish.

Glass noodle salad at Porn Thaifood. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

With Golden Mile Complex being sold recently, Madam Supaporn is looking to relocate her stall, but hopes to continue operating at the current location until next May.

In the meantime, I will be heading there again for more of her chicken wings and pad thai.

Where: Porn Thaifood, 02-04 Golden Mile Complex, 5001 Beach Road
MRT: Nicoll Highway
Open: 10am to 10pm daily

Sweet taste of Korea

Located on the second floor of Beauty World Plaza, Bosung Ricecake churns out handmade Korean sweet rice cakes three days a week.

Most K-drama fans are familiar with the red and spicy tteok-bokki (Korean rice cake) and this shop offers a freshly made version of the plain cylindrical-shaped rice cakes for $15 a box, which you can buy home to cook.

But the real draw is the range of sweet Korean rice cakes – all handmade by owner Jo Ja-young. The 52-year-old eschews the use of store-bought flour, choosing to soak and grind glutinous rice and short-grained rice to make her rice cakes the traditional way.

Korean rice cakes from Bosung Ricecake. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Originally from South Korea’s Yeoju city, which is 65km from Seoul, she came to Singapore in 1999 and started selling rice cakes in 2007, opening her current shop in 2018. Eight in 10 of her customers are Koreans.

A signature favourite is Injeolmi ($5). Hand-cut cubes of steamed glutinous rice cake are coated in roasted soya bean powder sourced from South Korea. Injeolmi resembles mua chee, but with a far chewier texture, and the roasted soya bean powder has an aromatic nuttiness that is distinctly different from peanut powder used in local mua chee. It is less sugary too.

Injeolmi (glutinous rice cake with roasted soya bean powder) from Bosung Ricecake. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Most of the other rice cakes are made using short-grained rice. They are vegetarian and less sweet than local kueh such as ang ku kueh.

It is best to eat the rice cakes on the day of purchase as they contain no preservatives and their texture gets harder the longer you leave them out.

Mrs Jo’s favourite is Yeongyang Seolgi (nutritional rice cake, $5). The combination of ingredients varies, depending on what she can get her hands on. The one I try is made with purple sweet potato, fresh corn kernels which she slices from whole cobs, raisins and dried apricot. The rice cake is chewy with natural sweetness from the dried fruit, sweet potato and corn.

Yeongyang Seolgi from Bosung Ricecake. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Songpyeon ($5) is popular with Korean customers, especially for celebrating Chuseok – South Korea’s mid-autumn harvest festival. Mrs Jo uses natural ingredients to colour the skin of the hand-pressed half-moon shaped rice cakes which resemble dumplings. The green one is made using mugwort, the purple one with purple sweet potato, the yellow one with pumpkin, and the white one reflects the natural colour of the rice batter. The texture is smooth and chewy, and the honey-sesame filling is slightly sweet and fragrant.

Songpyeon from Bosung Ricecake. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Ggot Tteok (flower rice cakes, $5) are the prettiest of the bunch. They have a texture similar to that of the songpyeon, but come with a slightly sweet filling of kidney bean paste.

Ggot Tteok (flower rice cake) from Bosung Ricecake. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Mujigaetteok (rainbow rice cake, $5) and Ggulseolgi (rice cake with brown sugar filling, $5) both have a cake-like texture, like very chewy huat kueh (a soft orange or brown cake that is commonly offered to deities or spirits).

Mujigaetteok (rainbow rice cake) from Bosung Ricecake. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

The rainbow rice cake has a few layers – green from mugwort, brown from cinnamon (which imparts the most obvious taste), purple from sweet potato and white, which is plain rice cake.

Ggulseolgi from Bosung Ricecake. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Where: Bosung Ricecake, 02-04 Beauty World Plaza, 140 Upper Bukit Timah Road
MRT: Beauty World
Open: Thursdays to Saturdays, 11.30 to 7pm or until sold out
Tel: 9169-3587 (Korean) or 9106-1849 (English)
Info: Instagram @bosong_ricecake

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