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
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!

Kopitiam

Kopitiam

Price: S$2.50

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.

Thai Express

Thai Express

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.

Bangkok Jam

Bangkok Jam

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.

Siam Kitchen

Siam Kitchen

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:

Bangkok Jam
68 Orchard Road
Plaza Singapura
#03-85
Singapore 238839
Tel: (65) 6341 9188
www.bangkokjam.com.sg
Kopitiam
1 Jelebu Road
Bukit Panjang Plaza
#03-08/09
Singapore 677743
www.kopitiam.biz

Kopitiam
68 Orchard Road
Plaza Singapura
#B2-50/51
Singapore 238839
www.kopitiam.biz
Kopitiam
4 Tampines Central 5
Tampines Mall
#04-27/28/29
Singapore 529510
www.kopitiam.biz
Kopitiam
2 Jurong East Central 1
JCube
#B1-19
Singapore 609731
www.kopitiam.biz
Kopitiam
2 Jurong East Street 21
IMM Building
#02-69
Singapore 609601
www.kopitiam.biz
Siam Kitchen
200 Victoria Street
Bugis Junction
#02-46
Singapore 188021
Tel: (65) 6337 3777
www.siamkitchen.com.sg
Siam Kitchen
21 Choa Chu Kang Avenue
Lot 1 Shoppers’ Mall
#02-25
Singapore 689812
Tel: (65) 6766 4766
www.siamkitchen.com.sg
Thai Express
201 Victoria Street
Bugis+
#04-08
Singapore 188067
Tel: (65) 6238 7671
www.thaiexpress.com.sg
Thai Express
2 Jurong East Central
JCube
#01-06
Singapore 609731
Tel: (65) 6684 4909
www.thaiexpress.com.sg
Thai Express
9 Bishan Place
Junction 8
#01-32
Singapore 579837
Tel: (65) 6250 0466
www.thaiexpress.com.sg
Thai Express
68 Orchard Road
Plaza Singapura
#03-24
Singapore 238839
Tel: (65) 6339 5442
www.thaiexpress.com.sg
Thai Express
252 North Bridge Road
Raffles City Singapore
#B1-13/14
Singapore 179103
Tel: (65) 6883 1490
www.thaiexpress.com.sg
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