There are regular Thai restuarants, and then there’s Scents of Siam. This local gem is a labour of love for its owners. Dan, who manages front of house, is Singaporean Chinese, and his wife Yui – who is the Thai-Chinese brainchild behind the dishes, manages the kitchen.
They strive to present a fusion of old and new dishes crossing the boundaries of Thai and Chinese and covering the whole geography of Thailand from north to south.
Generally, I don’t like pan-asian restaurants that try to serve more than one cuisine in order to please everybody, and thankfully Scents of Siam doesn’t do this – it brings us a very special insight into the food that the Thai-Chinese communities eat, and if the recipe isn’t perfect then chef doesn’t put it on the menu.
Dan explains the menu to his customers in detail and he talks about the origin of the dishes, and the stories behind their names, often testing out new dishes with his regular clients.
One of the specialities if a drink called butterfly pea flower iced tea. When presented, it is blue and tastes quite floral:
Then you add a shot of lime juice, and some theatre happens ! It turns purple and tastes much more fruity:
For our starters we chose mixed mushroom rice paper rolls. Containing button, enoki, shiitake and oyster mushrooms they were very juicy and tasty. A wonderful start to the meal:
Update – since this visit the mushroom rolls are now presented as crispy spring rolls.
A favourite starter is Son In Law Eggs:
Wonderfully oozy with a crispy coating and a delicious chilli tamarind sauce, Dan told us the two stories of how they were named. Story 1 tells that a father wanted to know if his daughter loved him more than her husband, so he challenged his son-in-law to a competition where they would cook eggs for her to see which eggs she preferred. He was convinced that his daughter would choose his version, but sadly for him, she chose her husband’s eggs and they became known as son-in-law eggs. Story 2 tells how a lady was cooking at the bottom of her house, which was a house on stilts (built for the monsoon).
She accidentally dropped an egg into hot oil but when she scooped it out, she realised that it was very tasty, cooked quickly with a firm white and a soft yolk. She was thinking about what to call this egg recipe when she looked up, and through the gaps in the floorboards she saw her son-in-law walking above, wearing nothing but a sarong, and she rather cheekily got the inspiration to call them son-in-law eggs !
We ordered 3 dishes for the main and first up was a delicious chicken penang curry. This dish had such a wonderful depth of flavour, that I could eat it again in a heartbeat. Complete with thai holy basil leaves, the brightness of kaffir lime, plenty of good quality chicken, and a rich smooth coconut sauce, it was an absolute pleasure to eat.
We also ordered roti, wonderfully light and crispy and perfect for dipping in the curry.
Pad Thai was served with extra chilli in case of need, and was a wonderful mix of noodles, beansprouts, chicken, tofu and prawns, perfectly balanced and absolutely delicious.
We said yes to dessert, and were presented with a lovely thai creme caramel with mango sorbet.
The creme caramel was sprinkled with nuts and there was a hint of chilli in the caramel. Very yummy and a perfect end to the meal.
This restaurant is definitely our local favourite and we visit several times every month. Here are some more pictures of the food:
Apple and shrimp salad:
Spice sausage balls:
Pork and eggs with rice:
Beef mussaman with roti:
Grilled pork skewers:
Barramundi with green mango salad:
Cabbage and pepper puffs (our favourite):
Raspberry sorbet with hibiscus compote and chocolate:
Crispy rice (a special dish – not on the regular menu):
Khao soi noodle curry:
Sticky rice with mango:
Mung bean curry with tempura veg:
Radish cake with dipping sauce: