Lunch at the newest Thai restaurant in George Town - we were at 𝗧𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗮 on 5 Prangin Lane which just opened for business on 10 July. It was Day 3 of business for them when we came.
Thara’s menu highlighted items which reminded me of the offerings of Thai restaurants in Singapore like Thanying, Yingthai and A-roy Thai. Very cool!
We sipped chilled glasses of cha yen (iced Thai milk tea) as we perused its menu. Excellent balance of flavors and sweetness.
Our lunch spread today:
𝙏𝙤𝙢 𝙠𝙝𝙖 𝙠𝙖𝙞 - chicken in a lemongrass-galangal-coconut milk soup. This is my go-to Thai soup since time immemorial. In every Thai restaurant I’d been, I’d select this over the more common tom yum goong each & every time.
Tom yum goong - my dining companions wanted to stick with tom yum and were offered a choice of either “white tom yum” or “red tom yum”. Curious about the white version, which we’d all never tried previously, they opted for that.
It was as tasty as the red one - the only difference, we surmised, was that no red chili paste was used, and the soup got its heat from pulverised green bird’s eye chilis, which were explosive in their heat.
𝙋𝙡𝙖 𝙨𝙖𝙢 𝙧𝙤𝙙 - snapper in three-flavoured sauce: sweet, sour & spicy, this was my favorite Thai fish dish back in Singapore, where it is de rigeur in Thai restaurants there. It’s lesser common in Thai restaurants in Penang, Kuala Lumpur & elsewhere, for some reason. Quite likely, Malaysians prefer their crisp-fried whole fish to be smothered with something robustly-spiced and less sweet like a sambal belacan paste.
Moo tod gratiem - crispy garlic pork. A classic rendition: thin slivers of pork deep-fried till very crisp on the outside, whilst retaining a bit of juiciness inside. These slivers were then tossed in a sauce made from a combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce and fish sauce, and with copious amounts of golden-fried garlic thrown in.
𝙃𝙤𝙧 𝙢𝙤𝙠 𝙩𝙖𝙡𝙖𝙮 𝙢𝙖𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙬 - Thai-style otak-otak in young coconut. This was absolutely scrumptious: very piquant with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal and other herbs and spices, but with lesser chilis - that suit me perfectly as I’m no chili-head.
My two fave Thai vegetable dishes from back in Singapore (and also in Bangkok) are 𝘺𝘰𝘥 𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘥 (bitter-gourd ferns) and pak liang (melindjo leaves) - both on Thara’s menu, but unfortunately sold out over its opening weekend. So, we ordered 𝙂𝙤𝙤𝙣𝙜 𝙥𝙖𝙙 𝙨𝙖-𝙩𝙤𝙧 - stir-fried petai beans with shrimps in spicy Thai gravy
Stir-fried water spinach - the Malaysians/Singaporeans call this green leafy vegetable kangkung, a Malay term which was borrowed from the Ceylonese centuries ago. It’s such a common dish even in Singapore & Malaysia, where we stir-fried it with shrimps in a sambal belacan sauce, that most folks here would automatically order that wherever they see it.
Coming from Singapore, I did not even know the Chinese/Mandarin term for the vegetable was kong xin cai (空心菜) until I came across it in a Chowhound discussion back about 2 decades back. No Chinese in Singapore or Malaysia would use that over “kangkung” when they order, even in Chinese restaurants here!
The rendition here is a classic Thai one: gently stir-fried with garlic, whole red chilis and a bit of fish sauce.
Dessert: 𝙏𝙪𝙗 𝙩𝙞𝙢 𝙜𝙧𝙤𝙗 - pink waterchestnuts-tapioca flour jewels, and strips of jackfruit in chilled coconut milk
Overall, very authentic cuisine, though not as spicy as in Thailand itself. The two chefs in the kitchen came from .
32-year-old Penangite, Ooi Joe Cherd, is the owner-chef, responsible for coming up with the food offerings, together with his brace of Thai chefs (from Chiangmai and Bangkok respectively). His staff averaged 18 years-old!
Lovely place. We liked the unfussy décor: sans the ethnic décoratives, one could hardly tell it was a Thai restaurant.
5, Lorong Prangin (Prangin Lane), 10300 George Town, Penang
Tel: +6016-411 1400
Operating hours: 12 noon to 10pm daily