Thai flavors are no stranger to my tongue and I simply love the flavors of Thai cuisine. Their food is usually a fusion of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. To me, it has all the great flavors that tingle one’s taste buds in a pleasurable manner. A new Thai restaurant has opened in town and I was excited to find out that it was opened by my colleague’s friends. Booking was no problem as we knew the owners. Rocking up at 6.30pm, the place is actually quite small so be prepared to squeeze a little!
Food on the menu is unmistakably Thai. But are the flavors authentic? I guess this might not be the right question as the owners are Thai. So perhaps, it broils down to; can they cook? Our first appetizer today is the boxing chicken.Fried chicken. Who can say no to one? Vegetarians are an exception hehe. These crispy delights are moreish and we enjoyed every bit of it. The marinade felt more Chinese as it was just simple salt, and pepper. Coming from the Thai’s maybe I was expecting a Pandan Chicken where the lovely marinade of spices makes dipping sauces totally redundant. Other than that the chicken felt a little rare as it was cooked just right. A slight bloodiness sipped from the bone as it was not cooked through.
The crispy tofu in tamarind sauce.I was not quite sure what to expect when we ordered this. It felt very plain. The sauce had the good mix of flavors from sugar, fish sauce and vinegar but the tofu was bland. It felt rather normal this one.
Then came the tom yam.The version at Pertica was whitish and not red in color. I suspect that they did not use a Thai shrimp paste that gives the soup a beautiful shrimp flavor with some sweetness. But do not be fooled. The soup was bloody spicy as my friend asked for “hot”. Definitely worth ordering. To me, the seafood in there felt pretty fresh as the squid did not stink like the ones I normally get in S&T where the mussels and squid are absolutely horrible.
For our mains we called a few dishes to share:The Beef Massaman would be one of the best ones I have tasted. It was just sublime. The sauce as far as I was concerned was aromatic and rich. Something that is complemented with plain steamed rice. It was that good. The potatoes were delicious too as it was soft but still firm enough to hold its shape. But that is where it stops. The beef chunks were ridiculously chewy. It felt like the cut of meat used was not right or it just was not cook long enough! Definitely a bummer here!
Other than this, we also ordered the duck curry which was another fabulously presented dish. I think that one fared heaps better than the beef Massaman in terms of how the protein was prepared. The duck slices were still tender and juicy. Spot on!
While we were looking through the menu, Ness could not take her eyes of the word “crispy pork belly”! You know a true pork eater when you see one and Ness definitely loves her pork. This was the “crispy pork belly” with Kailan vegetables.To me, the pork belly would definitely be crunchy if not for the vegetable stir fry. Simple put it this way yeah. For foodies’ sake, do not call something what it is not. It annoys me so much. This for me was a beautiful dish if not for its deceptive name. The pork was yummy and the kailan just went so well with it. For a vegetable dish, it was superb! But when the pork is not crispy, I felt disappointed.
We also ordered a Som Tam and a Larb Gai (chicken larb) for our salads.The Som Tam barely made it through the passing mark. Its delightfully crunchy vegetables were somewhat not complemented by the sauce. It came out lukewarm which is another sad thing. I was expecting it to come out slightly cold but not too cold. Also, the typical strong flavors from the lemon/lime/vinegar was not there. I wanted that punch of flavor so badly but I did not get any. This similar error followed onto the larb where it was mediocre. The seasoning was wrong and I needed more flavor. A lot more flavor. Give me lime lime lime, sugar sugar sugar and fish sauce please.
One of the last dishes which came out was the Pad Thai.The noodles were spot on and all the ingredients were top notch. My request this time? Minus a little sugar please. It came out a little sweeter than desired not but nothing too dreadful. It was still yummy as far as I was concerned!
Compiling my experience at Pertica together, I realize that the food here is actually above average. It taste good but in many departments it felt lacking that little bit more which distinguishes perfection from good. Or in the case of the Som Tam and Larb, a pass to a delicious. It needed that extra oomph. Flavor flavor flavor. Sweetness was a little overboard with the Pad Thai too which made me a little dubious of the market Pertica aims for. Was it a faux Thai restaurant or an authentic place for keen eaters like myself? In terms of pricing, everything was reasonable around the 15-20 mark. However, if you intend to share among a group (in my case 7), you will definitely need to order at least 2 serves of each dish as it was rather small. For the tom yam, at least 4 to share among everyone. Service here was another issue which might be due to them being new. It was slow and the service felt understaffed. However, despite these issues I am very happy to say that I have something to eat nearby my place. If Pertica lifts their game, I would definitely be a frequent customer as Northbridge parking is now such a bitch. Not to mention the unnecessary traffic jam along Newcastle St. Or William St. where I had some totally FML experiences recently.