The first time I tried Thai food was at a dinner given by a friend, Chito Recto. The invitation was to Flavors and Spices in Makati.
At that time there was a buzz about this place, which had just moved from Mile- Long on Amorsolo Street to Greenbelt.
I had no idea about the cuisine. The first spoonful I had was an appetizer: Green Mango Salad. I flipped. You couldn’t imagine the flavors that burst in my mouth—sweet, spicy, sour and salty.
The salad had fresh sliced purple onions, thin strips of crunchy sour green mango, desiccated coconut, coconut milk, patis and some more herbs.
Then the other dishes—fried rice, pandan chicken, various curries, a flaming aluminum dragon with a sweet reddish spicy chicken inside, stir-fried veggies.
Olive Romulo, the owner, eventually opened Thai Room with her female Thai chefs. That, too, was a success. Since then, I’ve become a fan of this cuisine.
My mom and her partner Sylvia Lim opened Mai Thai, also with some former chefs of Flavors and Spices. There, I got to see how real Thai food is prepared and the skill that goes into the preparation.
It is no wonder Thai food is such a hit all over the world. It has its own distinct, exotic flavors.
After many trips to Bangkok, I think I can now tell the difference between authentic and “Filipinized” Thai cooking. There are many Thai restaurants in Manila today. I would say only a few are authentic. I hear Dusit has one.
Also, it is hard to find what I consider a complete restaurant these days, with good food, nice ambiance, great service, beautiful décor, clean washrooms and a reasonably priced menu.
Recently I got an invitation to one—People’s Palace. It was Charlie Carmona’s invite for a meet-up with a visiting former model, Anna Francisco. Chaling had been to this place many times but asked me to do the ordering, instead of doing it himself.
One of my cheap thrills is browsing through a menu. What I ordered for the group: Pomelo salad, Pork/Chicken Satay, Morning Glory (stir-fried kangkong, Thai-style), Duck Curry, Phad Thai (their version of pancit), Kao Soi or fish with coriander with sauce, Goong Sarong (fresh prawns wrapped with egg noodles then deep-fried with a sweet spicy sauce on the side), fried rice, Pandan Chicken and a crispy and soft Laksa noodle dish (my favorite, if I were forced to choose one).
Close your eyes and point to any of these dishes, and it would be a winner. Almost all of them were a first to my friends who are regulars in this place.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated, too, with elegant tables and chairs. I wonder who did the interiors.
Want to sample authentic Thai cuisine at its finest? Check this place out, it comes highly recommended—People’s Palace, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati; tel. 7292888.