Medicinal cabinets serve as walls, authentic 1950 ‘Gone With The Wind’ movie posters line the walkways and revived train seats serve as functional seats among the whole antique extravaganza that is Folks Collective.

Neither its name nor décor will suggest Thailand to most people, but you’ll be glad to say Sawasdee to this new restaurant offering fast, no-frills Thai bites that sits somewhere between casual Thai Express outlets and the swanky, world-class Thai restaurants such as Sabai Fine Thai and Jim Thomson.

Refreshingly absent from the entrance is the run-of-the-mill, painted Thai statue. Instead, amuse yourself with the vintage German slot machine at the casino-themed bar. Walk in and prepare to be distracted by a meticulously curated collection of yesteryear gems with collectibles ranging from tiffin food carriers (that are sold upon request) to an opulent vintage gramophone player.

“I think one thing that everyone wants is a form of escape. That is why I want my customers to feel like they are in Thailand. If they don’t look outside, they can feel like they’re in a Bangkok cafe right now,” managing director Akira Monthienvichienchai tells UrbanWire.

The brainchild of the 25-year-old post graduate, the 5-week-old homely establishment is, in fact, a family-run business of the native Thai family and isn’t the first food enterprise they have ventured into. A casual dining abode to fuss free Thai food, Mart Boulevard is run by his mother in the heart of Shenton Way.

The unusual name for a Thai food establishment came from the idea of small group gatherings among friends sharing a simple meal. “This isn’t fine dining. I’m not aiming for the food to be fancy. I just want the food to be yummy,” said Monthienvichienchai.

The food is, indeed, scrumptious. Pan-fried and tossed with prawns, eggs, squid and tofu, the Phad Thai Goong ($8.90), has its Thai-imported noodles cooked to a fine al dente texture. Munching into Phad Thai of the right firmness is harder than you’d expect on this island. After umpteen instances of disappointing experiences with this dish, the flavourful nutty serving was, fortunately, a far cry from a let down with it prepared by Thai chefs.

Moulded by the chewy squid bits, the Prawn Pancakes ($8.90) were surprisingly springy and crisp. Robust with shrimp flavour, these flour-based prawn shards taste best with a generous dunk into the sweet plum sauce that comes on the side.

Slightly less seen as a Thai appetiser, the Signature FOLKS Wings ($6.90) have been soaked in and then marinated with ground coffee beans, honey and slivers of deep fried garlic chips, before being brought to a slow roast. Bearing a similar consistency and texture to honey glazed wings, the sweet glaze is balanced nicely with the subtly acidic tang of the coffee beans.

For avid saccharine lovers, the Ice Cream Kati ($4.90) is one dessert you shouldn’t skip. Delightfully fresh, the ice cream is made from scratch daily. The rich milkiness of the coconut cream, with chendol(coconut flavoured green jelly noodles made from rice flour) and attap chee (gelatinous, transluscent seeds of the nipa palm), is placed on a bed of glutinous rice. Now all you have to do is sink into each frosty bite and enjoy the candied marriage.

Apart from the remarkable ambience constructed by the brilliant nostalgic décor of the 150-seater eatery, another huge draw are the 12 original house cocktails. Incorporating an innovative mix of Thai herbs and spices is the Yaowarat Burning ($12), a revitalising concoction of Belvedere Vodka, lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime and rose syrup. Take a moment from some serious chewing on your Phad Thai and enjoy the effulgent sparks from the sparkler– cleverly used as a decorative prop on this showstopper of a cocktail.

Besides the affordable (especially for the Central Business District location) comfort food and the intriguing furnishing, Folks Collective has its attentive Thai staff take charge of the wheel of your sensory dining experience from start to finish. Disappointment is a word long forgotten when you’re savouring some mango sticky rice while transporting yourself to the Land of Smiles.


Folks Collective

Price Rating: $

Rating: ★★★★✩
20 Cross Street
China Square Central #01-25
Opening Hours: 11:00 to 23:00 (Mon – Sat)
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