Singapore - Authentic Thai Eats at Coffee Stars by Dao, Wisma Atria
Coffee Stars by Dao (a popular chain from Bangkok) has opened its first Singapore branch recently in Wisma Atria, Orchard Road - and my Bangkok-born friends who're long-time residents in Singapore are all raving about this place!
What we had at lunch today:
- Yam som o (Thai pomelo salad). Plump sweet pomelo, tossed with crushed groundnuts & toasted dessicated coconut, with lime-fish-chilli sauce dressing. The complicated Thai cuisine's balance of flavors (sweet, sour, salty, spicy) and textures (crisp coconut flakes, plump juicy pomelo) were achieved by Dao's Thai chefs effortlessly.
- Guava som tum. A variation on the more common green papaya salad using crisp Thai guavas. Again, the seasoning was perfect to a "T".
- Num chin nam ya (Thai laksa). This dish was what made my Thai friends here in salivate & swoon all over Dao. The noodles were fresh (as were everything we had in this restaurant, by the way), the accompaniments were 100% authentic (raw onions, pickled mustard, thinly-sliced bittergourd, hard-boiled eggs, raw beansprouts) and the laksa sauce was both coconut- and crab-rich. Definitely the best bowl of Thai num chin in Singapore!
- Khao soi. This Northern Thai curried chicken noodles was very good - two types of noodles: fresh ones in the curry gravy, crisp ones on top for additional texture, rich sweetish spicy curry with plump juicy chicken slivers. Again, perfectly executed.
The pluses - authentic Thai food inside a centrally-located Orchard Road mall & quick, friendly service - what more can one ask for?
The minuses - rather open restaurant, right in the atrium part of the mall - not much privacy. Music was too loud & noisy.
Overall, serious contender to be the best casual Thai restaurant in Singapore. Its extensive menu included the usual suspects: pad Thai, green curries, seafood dishes, etc. - the woiks!
Coffee Star by Dao
435 Orchard Road
#01-37/41 Wisma Atria
Tel: +65 6733 3881
Yet another return visit last Saturday. Other than the superb Thai laksa, we tried an array of dishes.
- Tom yum wanton dumpling soup. Odd choice by one of my friends, but it turned out to be a star!! Juicy, large, fresh prawns encased in soft wobbly wantan wrappers, floating on a milky, hot-sour tom yum soup - what morw can one ask?!
- The Blueberry cream pie, which was fabulous!
- Moist pandan rolls filled with a coconut gelatine filling laced with generous slivers of fresh young coconut flesh. It's one of the best-tasting cakes in Singapore ;-)
- Crispy deep-fried soft-shell crab on Caesar salad. It was boring, and the crab was (ugh) a bit greasy;
- Pork larb (Northern Thai-style salad) which seemed to have been dumbed down to suit non-Thai tastes (why, oh why?!) - it wasn't spicy, it wasn't sour enough, it lacked the nam pla/fish sauce flavor/scent. In short, it's faux Thai :-(
- the coconut sponge-cream cake. Another rather pedestrian & boring cake which looked like a leftover from the retro-50s.
Warning: Despite its stellar Thai food & dessert offerings, Coffee Stars (I think the name's a rip-off of Starbucks) served a pretty lousy Thai ice coffee - it was pretty weak & diluted - no strong coffee aroma & taste which you'd find in good Bangkok coffee joints. AVOID at all costs.
Their Thai iced tea was better - the requisite taste was there, but the tall glass was inundated with crushed ice. 4 sips and your drink's all gone :-(
Hmm, my second visit to Coffee Stars by Dao in 2 days: the khao tang na tang (rice crisps with minced shrimp/pork/coconut creme/galangal dip) was okay - not blow your mind like the one I had in Bangkok's Bussaracum Restaurant; and the pad Thai was the wetter version - I preferred the dry version which most Thai street hawkers prepare. Slight disappointment here but, again, all the food was freshly-cooked & hot from the wok when served - which was a great!
I heard after my 1st visit that Coffee Stars by Dao serves great cakes - we tried two of them today: the cherry-topped cheesecake was definitely above average where S'pore's concerned - a must-try; but the moist pandan Swiss roll with fresh young coconut filling was a revelation! One of the BEST cakes one would ever find on Orchard Road. Can't wait to try the other cakes on their long dessert menu!
I'm glad to see that Wisma Atria is upgrading their eating options and not letting Ion Orchard get away with all the business. Yes, Coffee Stars by Dao, I remember from Bangkok. All their outlets have this big black chandelier. Their cakes are very good, especialy that pandan roll cake with fresh coconut meat and coconut jelly inside. I must try this Singapore branch soon. Thanks for the update.