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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Explore the Menu at Singha Thai

Longtime favorite offers authentic, quality cuisine

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What to order? With more than 200 items to choose from, many of which come in meat or vegetarian options, the menu at Singha is a bit like a Thai version of War and Peace. That diversity has helped Singha Thai, which opened in 1989, become one of the area's longest-running Thai restaurants.

The suitable setting features tropical plants at the windows, sequined wall hangings of elephants and carved wooden figurines in Thai dress. The chairs have a rosewood finish and tables are topped with regal purple linens.

Appetizers include items such as chicken satay ($7.95), egg rolls ($3.95) and the tid bit combination ($7.95), which is a heaping plate of assorted appetizers and vegetable tempura. All of these items are deep-fried. Perhaps the best is the shrimp rolls ($5.25), whole shrimp wrapped in a triangular wonton skin wrap.

Many of the items are marked with a red chile pepper to indicate spiciness. All of the items can be ordered in mild versions. Those who choose “Native Thai” will usually find flakes of dry hot pepper added to the dish. This is unwise to do with the Thai curries, as it adds an unnecessary flavor element, but it works with the Thai meat salads. Especially in the nam tok ($8.95), the hot chile is welcome. Nam tok has thin slices of beef and a dusting of roasted rice powder that adds a crunchy element. Raw cabbage creates a cool contrast to the many spices. The serving is large (a trait shared by most dishes here).

Yum pla muk ($13.95) is a squid salad found in another corner of the menu. The pieces of squid are cross-scored, making them more tender. This dish is also called “jumping squid,” and the flavors do jump around, with the tartness of citrus and lemongrass offset by the boldness of hot chile pepper. It is a refreshing dish for hot tropical days.

Fish is prepared in some very different ways. Green curry crispy fish ($12.95) offers slices of fish with a light batter. The green curry, one of the milder Thai curries, is great with the addition of fresh basil leaves. The Singha spicy catfish ($13.95) features spicy red tomato sauce that is unlike the standard Thai curries. Both of those dishes are topped with green beans.

A favorite is hou mok pla ($9.95), fish and cabbage with coconut milk and fresh basil that is wrapped before being steamed. The flavors are simple and bold. Singha Thai is the only restaurant in the area serving this dish.

The simple Singha seafood soup ($8.95-$12.95) has small shrimp, tiny scallops, imitation crab and rice noodles in a white broth. The many pieces of fresh ginger add flavor as well.

The menu offers many, many other options, with literally dozens of rice and noodle dishes. Barbecue pork with fried noodle ($9.95) is a stir-fry with thin noodles, red cabbage, carrots and pea pods. It is much like a Chinese lo mein. Racha chicken ($17.95) is similar to volcano chicken, minus the sizzling platter. Boneless pieces of chicken are breaded and served with cabbage and carrot in a sweet chile sauce. Sweet is actually an understatement—this is like eating chicken candy!

Singha Thai also offers a popular lunch buffet, though the full menu is available at all times and many entrees are in the same price range. In addition to Thai iced tea and coffee, beer is sold by the bottle and a few wines are offered by the glass.

It requires many visits to get to know the menu. Fortunately, the quality of the cooking has remained very consistent over the years. Singha Thai remains one of the better places to explore the many flavors of Thai food.

Singha Thai Restaurant

2237 S. 108th St.

(414) 541-1234

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Handicap Accessible

singhathaimilwaukee.com