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Motormouth From Ipoh

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Love Thai? (Rak Thai @ The Gardens, Midvalley)

The other day we were searching high and low for some good grubs around Midvalley shopping centre, but to no avail. In dire need of suggestion, what do people eat in Midvalley anyway? Other than the occasional Burger King/Domino Pizza cravings, we ended up in The Gardens for food on most days.

Comfortable, plush sofa ... But if you're dining, prepare for a bad back!

Initially planned to dine at Sushi Zanmai, but our pursue came to a halt somewhere halfway there, (it is located at the top floor of The Gardens, and walking all the way from Midvalley, that is quite a journey). Countless escalators to be transcended more, we surrendered to our hunger pangs, and the crowd at Rak Thai caught our eyes.

Let's hope there's no birds' droppings!

Of all the visits to The Gardens lower ground floor (where the REAL action's at, food-wise that is), I never paid much attention to Rak Thai, as the place was quite deserted on weekdays. Situated next to SBread, and Big Apple Donuts, and opposite Nyonya Colors, the patronage level seems to pale in comparison to other offerings, such as Din Tai Fung, for example.

But that evening, the restaurant was fully packed, and as soon as we sighted an empty table for 4, we rammed and bulldozed through every obstacles, and jumped into the seats. Muahaha .... The usherer was probably scratching his head, wondering "What's up with these barbarians?!!"

Pandan Lemongrass Drink (Rm2.50), Thai Iced Coffee (Rm3.90)

Beverages section is your usual suspects, from fruit juices to their "authentic" Thai tea and coffee, as well as the strange sounding Pandan Lemongrass drink. Surprisingly, the drink was pretty good, typical pandan-flavoured water with a stalk of lemongrass (as stirrer, I supposed?). Definitely NOT my choice, as I've absolutely no lurve for lemongrass. Hehe .... The Thai Iced Coffee was my choice, nothing special, but loved the milky caffeine boost. Oh, they serve Vietnamese Drip Coffee as well. Talk about influence from neighbouring countries!

Som Tam, or Papaya Salad (Rm4.90)

Thai food aficionados would attest to their famous tangy salad, in particular the mango or papaya salad. The portion may be small, but served its purpose as an appetizer, with its saliva-inducing sour and spicy flavours. Oh, careful as there ARE bits and pieces of bird's eye chilli implanted within the mash of humble-looking young papaya strips, raw long beans, and peanuts. Piquant, tangy, and appetizing, this was a positive sign of things to come.

Tom Yam Kung (RM10.90)

Yes, we are predictable. But what's Thai food without its ***star attraction***, the sweat-inducing Tom Yam soup. Two varieties are served, one with chicken, the other with seafood. When the large bowl arrived, I was stunned as the broth was clear, without any signs of murky tomyam paste, and the soup was brimming with ingredients. Albeit of the inedible species, namely lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal, chillis and what-nots. Of course, 2 medium-sized prawns, oyster mushrooms, and chicken meat (or was there any?) were thrown in for good measure. But the clear tom yam broth may be misleading, as the full flavour of the spicy and sour concoction pulled through, and definitely on par with (or even surpass) the tomyam soup we normally have in Malaysia.

Pineapple Fried Rice (RM12.90)

Belacan Fried Rice (RM11.90)

Routinely, we would have ordered white rice to pair with the tomyam soup, but no intentions to stuff ourselves with meagre rice (no love lost, ok?), we opted for two version of fried rice; the Pineapple Fried Rice, and the Belacan (pungent/fermented shrimp paste) Fried Rice. Both were delicious in their own rights, the former shone with its sweet and sour pineapple cubes and fluffy rice fried to perfection, served in a hollow pineapple half. The latter on the other hand, was slightly disappointing presentation-wise, but scored with its strong flavours, coming from the belacan and the various ingredients used, eg. shrimps, eggs, kangkung (water convolvulus ... gee, vulgar sounding vege eh?) and crab sticks.

BBQ Chicken Khao San Style (RM12.90)

Khao San is a backpacker's paradise, a road buzzing with activities in Bangkok, Thailand. But I did not realize their BBQ Chicken is to-die-for though. The barbecued whole boneless chicken thigh was served on a bed of lettuce, and a simple Thai chilli sauce for dipping. A tad dry for my dining companions, but I found the meat to be juicy enough, and retained much of the taste of the meat, with a smoky finish. Not highly recommended, but satiate the carnivorous appetite.

Mango Sticky Rice (RM5.90)

Tub Tim Krob (RM4.90)

Desserts came in the form of Mango Sticky Rice and Tub Tim Krob. Throughout my trip to Bangkok aeons ago (gee, wont' someone PLEASE invite me along to Bangkok again? I'm on the brink of desperation!), one of my favourite street food was the mango sticky rice. Yup, nothing else came close, though the beef noodles fared pretty well in my books too. The version served at Rak Thai was abyssmal, a tiny, sloppy chunk of glutinous rice drenched with coconut milk, and half a mango, that's screaming "I'm a Local Malaysian Product!". Not as sweet as the ones I've had in Bangkok.

Tub Tim Krob is famous Thai dessert, which is essentially water chestnut with tapioca coating, dyed in dark red. Chewy, crunchy beads, served with jackfruit strips, and shaved ice. Refreshing, but slightly pricey for a small bowl.

They have NO signboards, just a simple banner
The meal cost RM77.77 for the three of us, including 10& service charge. Reasonable, as this is in The Gardens, after all. They sell various Thailand products as well, such as instant noodles (Mama brand comes to mind, but in Betong, we bought it at RM16 for a box of 30 packets).
Location : RAK THAI @ LG232A, The Gardens, Mid Valley City. Easy to locate, as coming from Midvalley's lower ground floor (the level with all the restaurants and fast food outlets), you'll notice this Thai restaurant on your left, exactly by The Gardens' border.
For other's take on Rak Thai, click on these :


Ciki said...

wow! we normally eat at Amarin Heavenly Thai in midval.. but this looks good too!

Lingzie said...

just read durianberry's review of this place yesterday :)
i adore thai food (even though the only part of thailand that i've visited is phuket). and i'm always on the quest in search of good thai food!
this place looks good.. will definitely try it on my next trip to KL! i tried the other thai food outlet at the gardens - flying chillies... not bad. but looks pricier than rak thai.

Anonymous said...

They have Tub Tim Krob! One of my favourite Thai dessert apart from coconut ice cream.

Anonymous said...

Sweet! Have been trying find a new yet decently-priced Thai place. This looks tempting... :)

minchow said...

Oh yes! Read Durianberry's review too and this looks like it's a right winner! Food's so yawn inducing at Mid Valley I've taken to bringing lunch to work but it looks like we have a saviour in Rak Thai!

Little Inbox said...

Look at the Tom Yam Kung, hmm...after removing the lemon grass, chilis and the herbs,I guess really not much left yaa...

J2Kfm said...

cumi & ciki : Amarin? sounds familiar, but never visited.

lingzie : Rak Thai's affordable, I think. and the menu's simple, not too many items to confuse the customers.

jason : I like anything sweet, even the Thai's sickeningly, teeth-numbing banana desserts and the toasts. :)

life for beginners : yup, I didnt have much expectation either, but the meal came out pretty satisfactory.

550mL Jar of Faith : Midvalley has a lot of eateries, but mostly "been there, done that" type aka fast food.

little inbox : haha, true also. mushrooms not that generous either.

HairyBerry said...

like that saying about calm water and crocodiles, i also kena tipu by the clear tom yam king kong before...damn hot! haha!

too many choices at the gardens! argghhh!!!!

J2Kfm said...

nic : haha ... hot but pungent, flavourful. just how a good bowl of tom yam should be.
The Gardens is shaping up to be a foodie paradise, rather than a shopper's. Prices exorbitant for some retail outlets.

choi yen said...

I like their water chestnut dessert, very refreshing~~with my favorite jackfruit inside :)

J2Kfm said...

mimid3vils : yes, it did fare better than the mango sticky rice.

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