COCONUTS HOT SPOT — Took Lae Dee is one of the more famous 24-hour chain restaurants in Bangkok, and also the oldest of its kind in the city. Even those who don’t identify with the nocturnal types fueling up on Bangkok’s post-party food scene may already know of the eatery: It’s popped up in several Thai flicks, as well as CNN Travel‘s recently republished story on “50 Reasons why Bangkok is No.1”.
This month, the diner debuts its first overseas outpost in Singapore, set up by Hersing Culinary, the same people who brought Michelin-starred dim sum joint Tim Ho Wan and ramen shop Tsuta (also Michelin-starred) on our island.
Unfortunately, Took Lae Dee is not open all night here. Its industrial location in Tai Seng may be a reason for this, but it does make for a proper budget-conscious lunch spot for those working in the area.
With a menu of Thai classics like pad Thai, tom yum, and green curry, Took Lae Dee says it’s all about living up to its name, which means “cheap and good” in Thai. And indeed, a quick glance at the menu shows you that the most expensive plate here is the khao kluk kapi (fried rice with shrimp paste), which will set you back $8.80 (with no additional service charge or GST).
On the other end of the spectrum, the most affordable dish is the pad krapow (minced basil chicken or pork with rice), coming in at just $3.80. Flavorful and fragrant, with a tickle of heat, this is quite the value-for-money item — you can even toss in an egg (at $1.20 — that’s where they get you!) and pay a total of $5.
But beware the spice levels in some of the recipes. The som tum (green papaya salad, $6), for example, was so overwhelmingly intense that our mouths were on fire and we couldn’t bear to reach back for seconds. However, the Thai green curry (with a choice of chicken/pork, $7, or beef $8) and tom yum soup ($6.80 with chicken, $8 with seafood) didn’t have as much of a kick as we expected.
For the spice-intolerant, perhaps stick with the mild rice noodle that is pad Thai ($5 with chicken, $6.20 with prawns) — the rendition here is decent, not too sickly sweet like how some Thai places in town tend to overdo it. The spicy vermicelli salad ($6) and Thai morning glory ($5) are also recommended sides for your table to share.
And if all else fails, just order a round of Thai iced milk tea ($2.80) to douse the heat. Took Lae Dee’s version is served with frozen tea ice cubes, so the drink doesn’t get watered down. The menu also includes iced butterfly pea tea ($2.80), a bubbly beverage with swirls of purple and a splash of lemon.
Took Lae Dee is at #01-34/35/K9, 18 Tai Seng St. Daily 11am-9pm.