Penn’s campus has been mourning the loss of Saigon as a non-carding BYO option since the raid during
last year’s Fling. Hungry students in search of a more authentic drunken noodle experience have been flocking in cabs and Ubers to downtown eateries. Forget all that, because the newly relocated Thai Singha House on 39th and Chestnut is a game changer.
About a year ago, Thai Singha House moved across the street from the perennially underrated Boston Market to 39th & Chestnut about a year ago. While the change in location may be a wash in terms of convenience, the owner sold his liquor license to finance it, which sets the restaurant apart from nemesis Pattaya as a BYO spot.
The new building has an authentic aesthetic too, with large windows and Thai decorations all around.
We tried three appetizers: the chicken satay ($5.95), spring rolls ($3.50) and the “Chef ’s ‘Crazy’ Coconut Soup” ($4.95). The chicken was tender and juicy and the peanut sauce that accompanied it was top–notch. The spring rolls were crunchy and would be a solid starter option for the vegetarian/vegan crowd. While these first two were more or less standard Thai appetizers, the coconut soup absolutely stole the show. tangy broth filled with an ocean’s worth of sea critters—salmon, mussels, scallops, shrimp and calamari—was a hit around the table. There's no excuse—barring a shellfish allergy—to not start your meal at Thai Singha House with a bowl of this soupy magic. We also tried a Thai iced tea ($2.00), and it was sweet and milky enough to earn a recommendation...as long as you don’t already have a cup of sunset blush staring you down.
The three entrees we tried were similarly great. The sauce for the shrimp pad thai ($10.95) has a tomato base, which gives its noodles a red characteristic glow and smooth sweetness that complements the savory shrimp and slightly bitter peanut crumbles. Thai cuisine is renowned for mixing in as many tastes as possible, as exemplified by the pad thai. The green curry with chicken ($9.95) was equal parts standard and satisfying, and while it was missing the Banana Leaf novelty, the pineapple fried rice ($8.95) tasted just fine, and is a more than adequate vegetarian option.
Thai Singha House does the traditional stuff right at a fair price (plus the craziness of the coconut soup), and gives you that all–important BYO option. I enjoyed the food so much that I came back with friends for a club BYO, changing the location from an unnamed inferior option. Everyone in attendance echoed my sentiments: it’s the move.