Thai Singha (https://thaisingha.net/) is the first Thai restaurant I ever visited in Orlando, shortly after meeting my wife and starting to date her, back in 2006. It is out in the sprawling Waterford Lakes shopping center in East Orlando, south of the University of Central Florida. The area is full of restaurants, but not many stand out and draw attention. Thai Singha definitely does, or at least it should.
We realized it had been years since we had gone together, especially after discovering newer favorites like Mee Thai and Naradeva Thai, both wonderful places. But you never forget your first, especially since Thai Singha is where I discovered my favorite Thai dish that is now my benchmark order at any new Thai restaurant, to compare and contrast them all.
My wife started with hot ginger tea ($2.95), which smelled really good and came in a neat-looking receptacle:
Then she ordered one of her favorite dishes, that she also introduced me to at Thai Singha over 15 years ago: mee grob ($6.95). Some restaurants call it mee krob or meekrob, but many around Orlando don’t serve it at all. It is a veritable mountain of crispy rice noodles, shrimp, pork, and tofu, tossed in a tangy sweet sauce and garnished with scallions and bean sprouts. It is awesome, folks. It is very sticky, crunchy, sweet, salty, and sour — a feast for all the senses. The shrimp is fried so nicely that you can even crunch and swallow the crispy tails. It is one of the only places where I like tofu, but I fully admit I haven’t had enough tofu to discount it completely. Maybe everyone is already wise to the joys of mee grob, but if ya don’t know, now you know.
My wife ordered her favorite entree as well: late night noodles with a combination of shrimp, scallops, and squid ($16.95). You can choose any of the options from the “Favorite Dishes” section of the menu to come with mixed vegetables, tofu, chicken, beef, or pork for $11.50, shrimp for $14.50, or a meat combo or this seafood combo for $16.95.The late night noodles are soft, chewy rice noodles stir-fried to perfection, then tossed in a light soy sauce with eggs, the shrimp, the buttery little bay scallops, and the tender squid, and served over a bit of lettuce. She loves it.
And this is my favorite Thai dish, made with the same flat, wide, perfectly chewy rice noodles: drunken noodles, also known as pad kee mao or pad kee mow. I got mine with tender pork for $11.50, and I always wish the portion was bigger here, because it is so incredibly delicious. Drunken noodles are stir-fried with onions, green bell peppers, fresh Thai basil leaves, and a sweet chili paste sauce. It is always sweet and spicy at once, which I just love in any cuisine, and the Thai basil brings such a unique herby flavor — very different than the typical basil in Italian recipes. Despite the name, there is no alcohol in this dish, but it is a common, beloved Thai street food for drunken revelers. I’m sure the late night noodles have a similar origin story from nocturnal hawkers and their grateful post-partying clientele.
So that’s our first Thai restaurant we were able to share with each other, Thai Singha. I am pleased to report we enjoyed it as much as ever after being away for far too long. I was just sad to see it dimly lit and not busy, despite it always bustling during our past visits, too long ago. We got there in the late afternoon on a recent Friday, too early for the dinner hour, but we were the only diners in the place, while others popped in and out to pick up sporadic takeout orders. It is difficult to get to Waterford Lakes, and we rarely end up on that east side of Orlando anyway, but it remains a treasure well worth braving UCF-area traffic to return to from time to time. Over the years we’ve been together, we have ordered other dishes on the menu that are always solid, but we are always a little disappointed when we don’t go with our favorites here. Now you’ve seen our go-to dishes, so pay it a visit, decide on your own favorites, and let me know what they are!