Last weekend, Flo and I decided to make a date of both our Saturday and Sunday evenings. I got to pick my restaurant of choice on Saturday, while he, Sunday.

Since we were planning on watching The Hitman’s Bodyguard – which was pretty good by the way, especially with Samuel L. Jackson although I’m not quite as keen on Ryan Reynolds but the movie worked anyway and I’m going on aren’t I? And digressing so back to the point. Since we were planning on watching The Hitman’s Bodyguard around Somerset, I chose for us to have dinner at Real Food, Orchard Central.

My last visit to Real Food was about 2 years ago back at their Clarke Quay outlet, and prior to that was 4 years back when this current outlet was still located along Killiney Road. They serve vegetarian grub and while delicious, I remember that it was rather on the pricey side. This time around, it was still as good as I recall, but also still not so gentle on the wallet for their portions. It was enough for me but let’s just say that there was still room in Flo’s belly to empty his entire box of popcorn into after.

One of the dishes I ordered both times I was there and once again, ordered this time around was their Stuffed Portobello.

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Melty cheese and mushrooms. What can I say? This marriage can never go wrong and the chopped vegetables beneath the blanket of cheese brought texture along to the dish. I wasn’t so hot on the cold potato salad on the side but Flo enjoyed it.

We also had a portion of Steamed Dumplings which were better than I remembered them to be. These little pouches were probably my favourite dish of the evening.

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There were generously filled with a myriad of different, finely chopped vegetables, and had just a little sesame oil drizzled over after steaming to make them that extra bit more fragrant.

The last dish took a little longer to arrive. We had Stuffed Peppers on a bed of salad. I expected the peppers to at least be pepper halves but we were served two quarters.

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This dish didn’t quite do it for me. The stuffing and the capsicums didn’t really mesh well together flavour wise but separately, they were good. Personally, I would have appreciated the stuffing without it being stuffed into the pepper although yes, I know that would totally defeat the purpose of having ‘stuffed peppers’.

All that being said, I’d definitely, definitely return for them dumplings!!

Sunday dinner was Flo’s pick. We went to Smokey’s which is situated about a 15min walk away from our place. He’d been before. I hadn’t. Being called Smokey’s I assume smoked meats are their specialty but heavy meats aren’t my thing so Salmon it was.

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Grilled salmon with double Salad. I flipped the salmon over and JOY! The skin was perfectly crisp and oh-so-yummy! Salmon skin is probably the only favourite food I eat first. Usually I save the best for last but in our humidity, I tend to fear the skin turning flaccid by the time I get to it so when I get crispy skin, that’s the first thing that goes into my mouth. I find it weird that Flo finds it weird eating salmon skin. He insists that no one in Europe eats fish skin. I refuse to believe it because it’s ALL over Masterchef! I understand not eating flaccid, soggy skin, but when done right… UMAMI!

I’m usually a little hesitant about ordering salmon when I’m out, unless it’s salmon sashimi, because most kitchens tend to overcook them. I actually like mine slightly pink and raw in the middle and while this was cooked through, it was only just, which meant that I had a piece of salmon that was still juicy and flavourful. Two thumbs up for Smokey’s salmon.

Flo went for the Smoked Beef Brisket with Coleslaw and Hand-cut Fries.

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I tried a bit of the beef and while really not my kind of thing, it was tender and tore apart easily with a slight  prod of the fork. Needless to say, my dear boyfriend polished it off before exclaiming about how full he was.

I enjoy trying new places to eat with Flo, just as much as I also enjoy experimenting with cooking in the kitchen. I know that Flo holds Thai food in high regard so even though I usually prefer to cook European/Western food because y’know, I can chuck most things into the oven and forget about them until the timer goes off, I decided that he deserved a little something special the other evening.

Of course, I’ve never really made Pad Krapow Gai – Stir-fried Chicken with Basil before but I’m familiar with the taste having used to live in Bangkok and have an awesome helper who cooked this dish with flair and punch. She would make it with minced pork but I decided to take the healthier route and use chicken breast instead.

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Unfortunately, I also had to improvise a little since I wasn’t able to find Thai basil at any of the supermarkets around our place so I made do with Sweet basil WHICH I know doesn’t have the same kick to it but beggars can’t be choosers!

This was a cinch to make although given the more authentic ingredients, I’m sure I would have been able to make it taste even better. It might be possible that Flo was just hungry that evening but he lapped it all up even with the three bird’s eye chilli I generously put in. It was two too many but it ain’t Thai if it ain’t spicy!

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If you’d like to try Nat’s version of Pad Krapow Gai, simply heat a drizzle of oil into a skillet until hot, then throw in one or two sliced bird’s eye chilli, as much minced garlic as you want and half a shallot (sliced). The fumes might get to you but hang in there!

Once the onions are cooked through, add in your cut chicken breast chunks. You want them cooked through before you add in the sauce – 1 tsp honey, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (this is for one portion). Your pan should be on high heat so once the sauce evaporates, you may deglaze it with just a tiny splash of water before you add in your heaping bunch of basil. Once wilted, turn off the heat and serve it with rice!

Pad Krapow Gai (Serves 1)

1 Bird’s Eye Chilli, sliced (deseeded if you like)
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 Shallot, Sliced

120g Chicken Breast, cut into chunks

Sauce:
1 tsp Honey or sugar
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 Tbsp Fish Sauce

1 Tbsp Water
Bunch of Fresh Basil, preferably Thai

  1. Mix ingredients for sauce together
  2. Heat oil in pan on high heat and add in chilli, garlic and shallots until shallots have softened. 
  3. Add chicken and cook through.
  4. Add in sauce and stir through.
  5. Add water to deglaze before adding basil into the pan to wilt. 
  6. Turn off heat and serve hot with plain rice and a runny egg on top if you like!

They say Thailand is the Land of Smiles. Try this and you’ll definitely be smiling. Maybe not so much the next morning when you visit the toilet but eat now, regret later because this is so damn good!

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