All set for Thai

Dessert - Ruam Mid

If you’re not familiar with the names of Thai dishes, PEGGY LOH recommends going for set meals as these take the guesswork out of ordering

“YOU pick the place,” I told Din, my lunch buddy.  I knew he had to get back to office quick, so we should go somewhere nearby where the food was good and the service, prompt. Better still if they had set meals.

We met at Tera-Thai, a Thai restaurant housed in a traditional wooden house on stilts. In Malay, teratak is a humble hut but Tera-Thai’s modest exterior belied the plush interior decorated with Thai bric-a-brac and teakwood furniture.

We stepped into the cool shadows and the floorboards creaked under our heavy footsteps. Looking around, it felt like we had been transported to a charming corner of Thailand in Johor Baru.

As the waiter and waitress served us, their Thai silk outfits rustled lightly and we wondered if they were Thai people as they were so soft-spoken and gentle!

Truly Thai

Beyond tom yam soup, we were quite clueless about ordering from an a la carte menu, so the set lunch choices offered us easy combinations to pick from. We picked Set C, wisely choosing one set each of the two alternative dishes. From the brief descriptions in English, we knew what we were about to eat.

Appetizer - Miang Kam

Miang Kam was a traditional Thai appetiser with lime, peanuts, dried shrimp and red onions cupped in a “cakpu” leaf resting on what looked like a shot glass.

Though using our fingers seemed rather inelegant in the stylish restaurant, it was still the best way to enjoy this appetiser. Munching away, Din suggested that the cakpu leaf was like daun kaduk, a type of pepper vine.

Som Tom, a spicy salad made of slivers of fresh green papaya, mango and tomato with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts and dried shrimps, certainly whetted our appetite.

As the waiter uncovered bowls of Tom Yam Gai Nam Khon, we instantly recognised the hot and spicy chicken broth and relished every delicious drop. And when Din mopped his brow with a handkerchief, it was a sign that this place was an excellent choice for our lunch.

Kuey Teow Phad Ki Mao

Between us, we polished off the Kuey Teow Phad Ki Mao, devil spicy flat rice noodles fried with chili padi and minced chicken.

The signature fried rice, Khao Phad Tera-Thai scored highly with us because like how good fried rice should be, every grain was separate. We weren’t sure if it was the fragrant bits of fried chicken and lotus seeds or the method of stir-frying that gave it such a satisfying smoky taste but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

The sweet ending to our spicy meal was Ruam Mid, a combination of shredded jackfruit, yam and Thai jelly in coconut milk and crushed ice. It was served in cute bowls designed with spoons that fit over the rim. We agreed that the Thai jelly was typically chewy.

“It’s the most authentic Thai food I’ve tasted in JB,” declared Din who was ready to return for more.

Fast Facts

Facade of Tera-Thai Fine Dine Restaurant

With six Thai chefs in the kitchen, you can savour a wide menu of dishes for lunch, dinner and tea. It’s open daily for lunch from noon to 3pm and dinner from 6pm to 11pm.  The restaurant is closed on Wednesday.

Set lunches are priced between RM9.90+ to RM19.90+. Thai barbecued chicken and a range of delightful Thai desserts are must-try items for High Tea from 3pm to 7pm.

Tera-Thai Fine Dine is in 31, Jalan Abdul Samad, 80100 Johor Baru. Tel: 07-222 6300 and Fax: 07-221 6300 for reservations, private events and catering.

This article was first published in The New Straits Times, Travel Times on 23 March 2009

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