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  • Rachel Chia

Pratunam PLUS, Bugis+

Craving decent but cheap Thai food? While there are tons of places in town to satisfy your cravings, one place we've come to love is Pratunam PLUS by Soi Thai Soi Nice. Unlike typical Thai food joints, which serve restaurant fare, this eatery dishes out Thai street food, with simple but delish dishes at wallet-friendly prices.

While sister brand Soi Thai Soi Nice serves up more premium offerings, the Pratunam chain caters to the wallet-conscious. There are three outlets across Singapore. Two are at Westgate and ARC respectively, while the 60-seater flagship outlet, Pratunam PLUS, is the most accessible, sitting on the fourth floor of Bugis+. It's also the newest outlet, having just opened in December last year.

Both Pratunam and Soi Thai Soi Nice are brands under local F&B conglomerate Simyee Holdings. Simyee CEO Chiam Wee Leong launched the Pratunam brand in 2019 after returning from a trip to Thailand and falling in love with the cuisine.

The flagship outlet is the only one selling skewers, a popular Thai street food. They're grilled over an electric grill for a fantastic smoky char, then slathered with a sweet, sour and spicy Thai glaze.

The Tau Kee ($1.60) was oily and moreish, while the Lotus Root ($1.60) retained crunch and tasted almost healthy. Our pick is the Chicken Skewer ($1.80): soft, succulent, unctuous and smoky chook with a fiery kick. Wonderful paired with a beer. Currently, there's an ongoing $5 Sapporo Beer promotion diners can take advantage of.

Our top pick of the night is the Premium Tom Yum Mama ($12.90), which is zhng-ed up Mama instant noodles. The noodles are cooked in a sour and spicy tom yum broth, then topped with egg, cheese, bacon, sausage, prawns, squid, and handmade Thai minced pork balls. A familiar, comforting combo that reminded us of Korean army stew.

The best part of the dish is definitely the tom yum broth: creamy from the egg and cheese, sour from the lime, and burning hot from the chillies. The balance of all three flavours gave the broth depth, and we just couldn’t stop slurping mouth after mouth of springy, soupy noodles, even as our throats burned and we started sweating a little.

We’re not the only ones to like this dish: Pratunam PLUS’s Tom Yum Mama creations (including versions featuring chicken, and sausage and bacon) were once outlet-exclusive, but proved so popular with customers, they’ve now been rolled out to the other two Pratunam outlets as well.

Those who fancy noodles as a side dish can opt for the Yum Mama ($7.90), a numbingly spicy salad of Mama noodles and onions in a Thai-style sauce. Without the creaminess of egg or cheese, this rendition packs a lot more punch in the heat and sourness departments, which can be a tough swallow for those who don’t enjoy these core flavours of Thai cuisine.

A safe, yummy choice for a main dish is the Runny Omelette Prawn Fried Rice ($8.90). The simple dish features Hong Kong-style fried rice, topped with a watery omelette and six slim prawn slices. A crowd-pleasing choice that will go down well with kids and elderly in particular. It’s Thai food, so we didn’t expect any wok hei, but do note that the fried rice below the omelette only comes with egg, and no other ingredients.

While the Premium Tom Yum Mama was ultimately our top pick for the night, the Prawn Doughnut ($6.90) gave it some serious competition. Handmade every morning in the store, these crisp morsels take the cake for the freshest, tastiest fried prawn fritters we’ve ever had. (Yes, they’re that good.) Originally a menu item from Soi Thai Soi Nice, these sold so well that they’re now been rolled out to the Pratunam outlets as well.

Each of the prawn doughnuts is about the size of a woman’s palm. They’re much thicker and bigger than regular prawn calamari, making eating them like eating the largest, fattest, most satisfying onion rings ever – except they’re made of prawn. The prawn filing was terrific: fresh, bouncy, and juicy. The breading is also very thin: it’s 95 percent prawn, 5 per cent doughnut – making this side dish worth the price.

A bowl of Tom Yum Mama, a side of prawn doughnuts, and a thai milk tea to wash it all down – we’d come back for this combo any day.

Pratunam PLUS

#04-09 Bugis+

Open from 11:30am to 9:30pm from Sunday to Thursday, and 11:30 am to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays

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