The Rail Mall is a curious place with it’s elongated structure. Just opposite the railway tracks along Upper Bukit Timah road, partially hidden, is the shorter ‘broken off’ section of the mall with most of the restaurants, where Sweet Salty Spicy and Cafe Epicurious is.
Both outlets share the same management and a joint space so if you are undecided between Thai and Western, served by Sweet Salty Spicy and Cafe Epicurious respectively, they offer a best of both worlds arrangement where you can order from both menus!
Sweet Salty Spicy’s space is pretty contemporary cosy, and sets the mood for an intimate gathering or dinner nicely. Alternatively, if you are here for drinks and something more casual, the Epicurious side with the bar and cheery rustic decor would be comfortable.
Bernard, the restaurant manager, kindly hosted us for the dinner and made
recommendations. I was more interested in their Thai menu so the line up for tonight will be mostly focused on Thai food! The chef responsible for their Thai menu is from Chiangmai so you definitely can expect authentic dishes here.
We had items from the a la carte menu but set dinner option is available too.
Started with the Tasting Platter, $26, that’s made up of 4 items from their street hawker starters. From left to right, ‘Miang’ of Prawns & Pomelo on betal leaf with tamarind dressing , Crispy Rice Cakes with Warm Chicken & Prawn Chili Dip, Traditional Prawn & Vegetable Rice Rolls and Soft Shell Crab with chili jam and lemongrass dressing.
I’ll suggest to eat the ‘Miang’ of Prawns & Pomelo first as the tart pomelo and tangy tamarind dressing really opens up your appetite. The way to eat the ‘miang’ is to eat it whole, together with the betal leaf, like a complete bite-sized salad. Pretty interesting option compared to the usual mango/papaya salad!
Hooray to soft shell crabs that are not oily!
My favorite item on the platter has got to be the Crispy Rice Cakes with Warm Chicken & Prawn Chili Dip. The star would be the dip, which was bursting with wholesome chicken and coconut milk flavors. Scoop some dip, along with some chicken and prawn chunks, load it generously on the rice cake and have a savoury crispy bite. It was so good, I would come back just for this.
Chang Mai Curried Noodles with Chicken and Mustard Greens, $14. At first glance this looked like a combination of chicken curry noodles and ‘Sheng Mian’, which is the crispy noodles in Cze Char stalls. But to our surprise it can be considered as both because under the towering mass of crispy noodles is another knot of egg noodles! Other than being a very substantial dish with 2 servings of noodles, it also makes for a contrasting bite when you fish both types of noodles from the bowl. The curry was not as spicy as I feared but was mellow and fragrant, accompanied with pieces of succulent chicken thigh.
Ahh Thai Green Curry, one of the beauties of Thai food is always bringing different flavors together harmoniously. Sweet Salty Spicy’s Green Curry of Baby Snapper, $10/$14 with eggplants and basil had very fresh snapper. The curry itself is pretty mild and they go easy on the coconut milk. They added lime wedges, which lends the curry a citrus edge that was pretty refreshing among the other heavier dishes.
They have a Curry Triplets combination that I saw quite a few tables ordering that night! You choose 3 curries and it comes in 3 smaller bowls with steamed jasmine rice ($18 for 2-3pax portion) so you can have more variety!
I was eager to try their Grill items as I heard they use Chargrill. The Angus Flank Steak marinated with garlic, chili and shallots, served with a chili flake and fried garlic sauce, $18, came beautifully pink and lightly charred on the outside. The beef was tender and juicy, which I believe would have been even better if it was warmer but I think that was my fault, letting good hot beef cool while taking photos. I thought the marinate would made the beef spicy but what you should be careful with is the sauce as it packs a spicy kick with chili padi included!
Wok Fried Squid with Thai Curry Powder, Salted Eggs and Spring Onions, $10. If you think this is like Salted Egg Squid that cze char stalls sell you will be surprised! Instead of grainy salted egg sauce, they stir fry springy squid and other vegetables with a light curry paste and salted egg chunks. For a salted egg dish I thought this was curiously a little sweet, maybe that is how sweet-toothed Thais like it?
Lamb Shank with couscous , $24 from Cafe Epicurious menu. My only western option of the night came looking all dark delicious and brawny, this lamb shank is pretty huge! Probably meant to be shared between 2 people since I don’t think I can finish this alone?The meat was well marinated and tears easily away from the bone, which must have been simmered for quite some time. The bit of stew that came with it makes good gravy, and I particularly enjoyed the naturally sweet carrot cubes.
Mango Sticky Rice with Cashews, $9. The rice was packed neatly under the sweet mango and I love that they included cashews for that extra bite since I usually eat my sticky rice and mango separate and now I have a crunchy accompaniment with my sticky rice!
All in all, it was a satisfying dinner with lovely service from the staff. Do note that for lunch the restaurant focuses on set menus so it might be better to head down during dinner time when a larger menu is available. This is a good place for a late dinner too as their last order is 10pm and I still see people arriving on my way out. It gets pretty crowded during weekends for Cafe Epicurious’ ever popular brunch, so do make reservations (or alternatively their Robertson Quay outlet) to play safe!
Thank you Chef Chris for the invitation and Bernard for hosting us.
Sweet Salty Spicy
392/394 Upper Bukit Timah Road,
The Rail Mall, Singapore 678046.
Monday-Friday: Lunch 11-2pm, Dinner 6-10pm
Weekends and Public Holidays: Lunch 11-4pm, Dinner 6-10pm