There are probably just a handful of fine dining restaurants in Singapore that specialise in Thai cuisine. And if you’re looking for one to visit, SARAI may just be the spot to check out.
Opened last September, SARAI is helmed by Chef Lisa who hail from Northeast Thailand, and who was head chef of the now-defunct Patara Fine Thai Cuisine in Singapore for the last 20-over years.
SARAI food review: trying its lunch set menu
Chef Lisa’s menu is all about rediscovering the authentic flavours of classic Thai cuisine that’s well-loved by Thai royalty.
And since it’s intended to be fit for royalty, you can look forward to beautifully plated dishes made with fresh and high quality ingredients.
When AVENUE ONE visited SARAI, we tried its revamped Exploration Lunch Menu, a five-course set menu that’s priced at S$58++ per pax; a very reasonable price considering the ingredients used, quality of cooking, and location (in Orchard). An amuse bouche – Spicy and Sour Minced Chicken Salad on Cucumber Cup – is also served on top of the five courses.
The two-part starters: Tomato Chilli Dip with Endives, Thai Cucumber, Jicama and Assorted Banana Blossom Cake with Spicy Dip were a good way to kick off the meal. The banana blossom cake, in particular, was very moreish, so I was glad two pieces were served to satiate the palate.
For mains, the Steamed Seabass Fillet with Chilli Lime Garlic Sauce stood out for me. (Note that this replaced the Steamed Squid that was originally in the set menu because of the restaurant was unable to secure key ingredients for the dish; ingredients are brought in fresh every day.)
The seabass was moist, tender, and flaked off easily with a fork. Paired with the Chilli Lime Garlic Sauce, its naturally sweet and buttery taste was enhanced and not overwhelmed. It was definitely the most delightful dish for me in the set menu.
The set menu lets you choose between two dishes for mains. If you’re not opting for the Steamed Squid, you can go for the Grilled Australian Wagyu Sirloin in Aromatic Panang Curry Sauce.
The Smoked Barramundi Soup and Sweet Leaf Bush was also a memorable dish served with the mains. A refreshing change from the Tom Yum Soup that I’d usually ordered at a Thai restaurant, this was full of spices, which offered an explosion of flavours.
The lunch menu was completed with Pandan Panna Cotta with Coconut Foam, a sweet, satisfying conclusion to the meal that also cleansed my palate with its distinctive pandan fragrance.
Besides the food menu, SARAI also stands out with its ensemble of cocktails (S$22++ each) made with Thai ingredients.
Highlights include the SARAI Signature, featuring bloody shiraz gin, elderflower and lime juice served with curls of smoke and rum-based Pandan Grasshopper that contains nutty pandan and coconut milk, with peppermint liqueur.
I love how the restaurant has a cosy setting, thanks to the use of a soft palette, warm lighting, and comfortable seating. There’s also private rooms available that seat up to 12 pax each or 40 pax when combined.
With an intimate ambience, along with food that tastes good and look presentable, a solid cocktail menu, all at reasonable prices, SARAI is perfect for business meetings and family gatherings. The food’s spice levels have also been adjusted to be milder so they suit a wider range of palates, making it an ideal spot to bring new friends whose preferences you’re still unfamiliar with.
SARAI is located at 163 Tanglin Road, #03-122 Tanglin Mall, Singapore 247933. You can make reservations online.
The featured image shows the Kanum Peag Poon, a pandan coconut pudding dessert that’s in SARAI’s menu but the reviewer didn’t try.