Cheap & Good

Cheap & Good: A mix of favourite Thai dishes on one plate at Basil & Mint Thai Street Eats

(From left) Panang curry with shrimp and pineapple, Thai beef salad and Thai fish cakes.
(From left) Panang curry with shrimp and pineapple, Thai beef salad and Thai fish cakes.ST PHOTO: KENNETH GOH

It is difficult to savour a variety of Thai dishes unless one is dining in a group.

Most Thai eateries here offer a la carte menus and individually portioned meals are restricted to typical dishes such as pad thai and pineapple rice.

There were times when I wished I could add a slice of Thai fish cake or a bit of green papaya salad to my basil pork rice.

I have found a place that allows me to mix and match my favourite Thai dishes on one plate.

Basil & Mint Thai Street Eats is a seven-month-old stall in Amoy Street Food Centre that serves Thai-style economy rice. Its appetite-whetting counter resembles a potluck party table crammed with orange cooking pots holding plates of food.

For lunch, the stall offers an Express Lunch set ($4), comprising a choice of white or red rice, a main and a side dish.

  • BASIL & MINT THAI STREET EATS

  • 01-47 Amoy Street Food Centre, 7 Maxwell Road; open: 11.30am to 2pm, 5 to 8pm (weekdays), closed on weekends; www.facebook.com/pg/thaistreeteats.sg

    Rating: 3.5/5

You can top it up with extra side dishes: $1 for a serving of an egg or vegetable dish, or $2 for a meat dish.

At such wallet-friendly prices, it is not surprising that when I visited the stall during lunchtime on a Wednesday, there was a constant queue of about 12 people.

The stall's affable owner, Ms Von-nie Lum, 52, used to work as an account manager in a corporate travel company before becoming a hawker. The self-taught cook, who also picked up recipes from her Thai friends, offers a lunchtime menu of about 12 dishes that changes daily.

Mains include meat and seafood dishes such as minced basil pork with century egg, Thai beef salad (larb), panang curry with shrimp and pineapple, chicken skewers and Thai fish cakes, while the sides include stir-fried kangkong, okra and fried egg.

One of my favourite mains is the panang curry with shrimp and pineapple. The pink-hued curry is sweet and creamy, but could be spicier. I enjoy munching on the pineapple wedges, which perk up the curry with bursts of sweetness and provide the dish with some crunch.

The Thai beef salad, which is generously studded with onions, chillies and parsley, is fiery. The subtle tanginess of the minced beef is overwhelmed by the eruption of spices in my mouth.

However, the galangal-seasoned chicken skewers lack flavour and have to be saved by drizzling Thai sweet and sour sauce over them.

To round up the meal, I opt for Thai green curry ($3), which comes in a large bowl filled with chicken, eggplant and basil leaves. On some days, the curry has wintermelon, carrots and long beans. The sweet, watery curry is great for spooning over the rice.

There is also an Isaan-style tom yum soup ($3) filled with basil and mushrooms.

The Express Lunch set has an affordable starting price, but it is easy to get too enthusiastic with the add-ons - which can jack up the price of the meal. Self-restraint is recommended.

During dinnertime, the stall offers cooked-to-order a la carte dishes such as basil pork rice and rice with turmeric chicken.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 01, 2017, with the headline 'A mix of favourite Thai dishes on one plate'. Print Edition | Subscribe