The stretch of Chino Roces Avenue in Makati from Shopwise to the old Sta. Ana racetrack (now redeveloped as Circuit Makati) is dotted with fast-food joints and small businesses that look so alike. The homogeneous selection of burgers and fried chicken, pizza and spaghetti gets old really quick, so when officemates began talking about a Thai place opening next to the Inquirer building, we couldn’t wait to try it out.
The food at The Thai Plate is authentic Thai street fare prepared by Thai cooks. Filipina Warlyn Abordo owns the business but said that her fiancé, Nattapong “Beep” Sookrojnirun, was the one who really came up with the concept of a Thai canteen.
In 2018, the couple opened a shortlived khao rad gaeng (literally “rice covered with curry” or a canteen serving cooked or quickly cooked food). “Dishes there were as low as P99 each but we had to close down after two months because of lack of manpower,” Sookrojnirun told Lifestyle in an email.
Last year, they reopened in a corner space on Chino Roces with a small dining area. The bulk of the business, however, continued to come from takeaway orders of their popular dishes. Their top sellers include fried basil with your choice of meat (pork, chicken, crispy pork, beef or seafood), pad Thai noodles, and mango sticky rice in two sizes. “The first is a common dish you can find anywhere in Thailand even in street food stalls,” Sookrojnirun said. Pad Thai is the popular stir-fried flat rice noodles best eaten hot. You can end your meal with more rice, this time in a sticky sweet dessert with ripe mangoes and coconut milk.Sookrojnirun has been in the Philippines for eight years and has just resigned from his job.
“We planned to get married and focus on Thai Plate but the wedding was postponed due to the pandemic,” Abordo said.
Instead, they poured their attention on the canteen and brought in Sookrojnirun’s cousin, Atibet “Darf” Tachasuwanchai, who is now the canteen’s main cook.
We tried and liked the spicy green chicken curry with chopped eggplants but our favorite—and the one we’ve had a couple of times since—is the dried Tom Yam served with rice topped with a fried egg. The traditional hot and sour soup cooked with shrimp is served dry so the flavors are intensified. Savor it with fragrant steamed rice.
Although some of their dishes are a bit on the sweet side like the mangoes with sticky rice and the pad Thai, the flavors are essentially Thai. Sookrojnirun said they import some of the ingredients “but we also adapt by using items available locally to make our dishes affordable to Filipinos.”
Most of the dishes are around P200; the most expensive is the large order of Tom Yam with shrimps priced at P500 although they have a regular size at P300.
When the lockdown started in mid-March, they had to close The Thai Plate for a few weeks. They reopened only for takeout and delivery.
To keep their customers interested while in quarantine, Sookrojnirun and Tachasuwanchai came out with two nontraditional cakes, one savory, the other sweet. The first weighs two pounds and is made of rice surrounded by and topped with marinated, deep-fried pork slices. The second is a family-sized version of mango sticky rice with mango slices shaped like a giant rose on top of and encircling a base made of coconut rice.
“It’s really a unique way to surprise family and friends,” Sookrojnirun said.