Nakhon Kitchen is a famous chain selling authentic Thai cuisine in Singapore. It is a big success with long queues at their branches almost everyday. They have branches all over Singapore, including Hougang, Ang Mo Kio, Holland Village, Yishun, Pasir Panjang, and until recently, Bedok. The owners of the previous, massively successful, Nakhon Kitchen Bedok decided not to renew their franchise agreement with Nakhon and went their separate ways. They rebranded the place Nahm Thai Kitchen (now known as Nangfa Thai Kitchen), with the same chef and staff.
However, we were in for a big surprise when we headed down last week to see the following amazing scene:
The Resurrection of Nakhon Kitchen Bedok
Nakhon decided to reopen their Nakhon Kitchen Bedok branch right beside the previous franchise owners operating Nangfa Thai Kitchen. Yes, business is very scary. We felt that there was more to it than a simple business conflict so we decided to have a chat with some of the staff.
So the big boss of Nakhon and the previous Bedok franchise owner that is now operating Nangfa Thai Kitchen are cousins. The franchisee wanted to set up a small restaurant by herself independent of the Nakhon brand, and the big boss supposedly consented to it.
Fast forward only a few weeks, and the big boss of Nakhon decided to reopen Nakhon Kitchen Bedok right beside the brand new Nangfa Thai Kitchen. Both places are selling virtually the same dishes and they are definitely cannibalising each other’s business. We can only speculate about some kind of family feud, with the Nakhon big boss perhaps wanting to give a warning to the other franchisees of the other branches who may be considering breaking from the Nakhon brand. That said, this is a huge plus for consumers as the queues have shortened considerably with the extra dining space.
There are still queues…
This picture was taken outside Nakhon Kitchen Bedok on a Tuesday night. Nangfa Thai Kitchen had similar long queues as well – perhaps slightly longer. Well, good food attracts queues. Right now both Thai restaurants offer top-notch Thai food, with nuanced but noticeable differences between some of their dishes. We note that there are now genius Thai chefs in both Nangfa Thai Kitchen and Nakhon Kitchen Bedok, operating just next to each other.
We order our favourite dishes from the new Nakhon Kitchen Bedok to let you know how they stack up!
Service and Ordering
The Nakhon menus are identical everywhere, you can get the same delicious fare at all their branches islandwide.
Nakhon Kitchen Bedok – Pandan Leaves Chicken
This is the classic delicious pandan leaves chicken. You just need to grab one end of the pandan wrap and lift it up, it unwraps itself! This is a must buy dish from Nahkon. They infuse the chicken with vegetables and Thai spices and you get an unforgettable Thai taste that is like no other. The chicken is delicious and springy, and with their special chilli sauce (must use) this is really super delicious! We rate it 4.3/5 – this item here is slightly nicer than Nangfa’s rendition, with springier chicken meat. It is priced at S$6 for four pieces.
Black Olive Fried Rice with Minced Chicken
This is one of my all-time favourite dishes from the chef of the previous Nakhon Kitchen Bedok (now Nangfa Thai Kitchen). At Nangfa Thai, the olive fried rice is really deliciously addictive with a generous amount of chicken, egg and other ingredients.
The chef at the new Nakhon Kitchen Bedok makes this dish somewhat differently. The rice is darker, saltier and more oily with perhaps a greater focus on the wok-frying. The rice has a very slightly improved taste over Nangfa’s rendition if you are okay with the extra salt and oil. However, the dish fares worse with respect to the ingredients. They have a noticeably smaller amount of chicken and egg in the dish – the difference can even be seen in the photo from our Nangfa review. With the lesser ingredients, the overall fragrance of the dish drops. I would have rated this higher at around 4/5, but Sheryn was quite unhappy with the saltiness and oiliness so she rates this 3.8/5. It is priced at S$6.
Chicken Tom Yam Soup (Clear version)
This is another staple Thai dish, their tom yam soup! The dish by this new chef is impressive with the amount of ingredients being thrown in. There seemed to be an endless amount of chicken and plenty of vegetables and seasoning. The tom yam fragrance was super strong as well, and we would love to have been able to drink this down.
Unfortunately, the tom yam soup here is way too spicy. For us, there is mild, spicy, super spicy and way too spicy. They really overdid it here, and we can only speculate that the chef here is a real native Thai chef that is an expert at making authentic Thai dishes back in Thailand. However, for the Singaporean taste bud, if the soup is spicy to the extent that it forces a cough when you try to drink it down, we think that is a bit overdone. As a result, this gets 3.9/5. It is priced at S$6.
Thai Iced Tea (Red)
This was almost identical to the Thai Iced Milk Tea that we had at Nangfa Thai Kitchen, and priced identically at S$3 as well. In our opinion this should be the staple drink to get at Thai restaurants, as these are really far superior than the usual teh peng found elsewhere. There was a exceptional balance between the tea and milk fragrances, and we thoroughly enjoyed this drink until it reached the bottom half of the glass, where it became a bit bland. We rate it 4.1/5, giving the slight edge to Nangfa Thai.
The chef at Nangfa Thai Kitchen has been able to take the past few years to fine tune the dishes to the Singaporean taste buds. Based on our recent impressions, Nangfa’s Thai food will appeal more to the Singaporean taste buds, while the food at the new Nakhon Kitchen Bedok should appeal to the Thai food purists that want to enjoy Thai food as you can find them in Thailand.
That said, it is quite unfortunate they we have two very able Thai food establishments fighting for business side-by-side when the rest of the country is really short of delicious neighbourhood Thai food. We hope that the new Nakhon Kitchen Bedok could perhaps relocate to another spot in Bedok, perhaps nearer to my house.
If you haven’t already, do have a look at our review of the new Nangfa Thai Kitchen, from the previous owners of Nakhon Bedok!