On the Trail of the Red Ruby
Inside puts the popular Thai dessert through a taste test and gives you our verdicts!
Issue: Mar 2014
One of Thailand’s most popular desserts, the red ruby like this one from Thai Express, is a delicious mix of tapioca-flour-covered water chestnut, fashioned to look like rubies, chunks in a sweet, coconut milk
There is no clear historical record of when or how it came to be. But, it would not be an overstatement to say that the red ruby dessert (tub tim grob) is one of the most well-known of Thai culinary creations. So beloved is this dish of tapioca-flour-covered water chestnut beads made to look like sparkling pomegranate seeds (tub tim can be translated as “pomegranate” or “red ruby”) served in sweetened coconut milk that no Thai eatery would ever miss it out from their menus.
Inside travels the island on the trail of red ruby to give you our take on this jewel of a dessert!
Look: The tiny pearls of sago are dyed a brilliant green and equally bright yellow. Those who like a riot of colours will welcome Kopitiam’s spin on the sweet treat.
Portion: The portion is very reasonable for the price. The chunks of water chestnut stained ruby red are also quite large.
X Factor: The coconut milk drizzled over the dish is thick and creamy.
Taste: The dessert is supposed to be very sweet. But this version seems to have missed the memo slightly. Because it is served with a fair bit of shaved ice, the effect was further diluted. As the ice melted, the rich coconut cream also got watered down a little, which is a pity.
Verdict: Best Price
At $2.50, this version is a worth a try if you miss the Thai dessert but don’t want to step into a restaurant to get your fix.
Price: S$6.80 (S$8.00 after tax and GST)
Look: Served in a glass with a sculptured wedge of Pandan leave, this version is a dainty take on the dessert.
Portion: At first glance, it looks to be a modest portion. But it is actually just right given how rich this version of the dessert is.
X Factor: Thai Express serves their red rubies with two scoops of coconut ice-cream. Yum!
Taste: The ice-cream is a brilliant idea. It keeps the dessert perennially cold without the problem of melting ice watering the dish down. On its own the ice-cream could have benefitted from a stronger coconut flavour, but when eaten with the slightly sweet red rubies, it somehow works. Some of the red rubies suffered from an overdose of tapioca flour though.
Verdict: Best Look
A satisfying and innovative take on the dessert. The presentation gets a special thumbs up.
Price: S$7.50 (S$8.85 after tax and GST)
Look: The red rubies look like mega-carat jewels and the strips of jackfruit adds a touch of edible colour. Nice.
Portion: You get three scoops of coconut ice-cream. The more the merrier! The only problem is that the proportion of ice-cream to generous-sized globes of red rubies is not balanced. So, even when rationed properly, you still end up with ice-cream but no rubies. We don’t mean to nit-pick, but thicker slices of jackfruit would be appreciated, too.
X Factor: The ice-cream is nice. The jackfruit is even better. Edible decoration always works.
Taste: Bangkok Jam’s coconut ice-cream hits the spot. It is rich, and coconutty. On its own, it is already divine. Paired with the rubies that have just the right amount of tapioca flour to give them a chewy texture, it is perfect. The strips of jackfruit are wonderfully fragrant. Eaten with the ice-cream, it is almost a different dessert altogether. Try a smidgen of ice-cream with a ruby topped with a strip of jackfruit. The crunchy ruby, sweet jackfruit and smooth ice-cream create an explosion of tastes and texture that is heavenly.
A definite bonus is the fact that ice-cream remains firm down to the last spoon.
Verdict: Best Taste
The generous serving of ice-cream is enough to win this one more than a few fans. Add to it the perfectly done red rubies and it is a shoo-in.
Price: S$6.90 (S$8.10 after tax and GST)
Look: Served in a wide glass bowl, the ice-cream forms a snowy base that is capped with glossy beads of red rubies and thick slices of jackfruit. This is a great presentation of the all-time favourite.
Portion: Siam Kitchen also offers three scoops of ice-cream. There are plenty of rubies to go around this time and they are good-sized chunks, too.
X Factor: The jackfruit strips are meaty and fragrant. There are three scoops of coconut ice-cream. Nothing more need be said.
Taste: The ice-cream is similar to the one from Bangkok Jam, which is deliciously rich and coconutty. The larger slices of a jackfruit are a definite plus. The tapioca flour around the rubies is, however, a little on the watery side. As a result, if you don’t eat it fast enough, the flour has a tendency to disintegrate into the ice-cream.
Verdict: Best Portion
The price is nice and so is the ice-cream and the more than generous portion of jackfruit.
Dine with us:
68 Orchard Road
Tel: (65) 6341 9188 www.bangkokjam.com.sg
1 Jelebu Road
Bukit Panjang Plaza
Singapore 677743 www.kopitiam.biz
68 Orchard Road
Singapore 238839 www.kopitiam.biz
4 Tampines Central 5
Singapore 529510 www.kopitiam.biz
2 Jurong East Street 21
Singapore 609601 www.kopitiam.biz
200 Victoria Street
Tel: (65) 6337 3777 www.siamkitchen.com.sg
21 Choa Chu Kang Avenue
Lot 1 Shoppers’ Mall
Tel: (65) 6766 4766 www.siamkitchen.com.sg
68 Orchard Road
Tel: (65) 6339 5442 www.thaiexpress.com.sg
252 North Bridge Road
Raffles City Singapore
Tel: (65) 6883 1490 www.thaiexpress.com.sg