The Thai Way

Published October 26, 2019, 10:00 PM

by MB Lifestyle

Text and Images by JULLIE Y. DAZA

With additional images by NOEL PABALATE

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Don’t leave the table without admiring, sampling a true Thai touch: red water chestnuts floating in coconut syrup served on a pretty tray decorated with stones, seaweed, orchid, and a personalsized glass of ice cubes. The ice is to be added to the ‘nuea yang krapow’ (water chestnuts).

The Thai way is hospitality with a royal touch, graciousness served with graceful gestures amid soft, shy voices. When it’s time to dine, the meal is elegance drenched in the colors of the exotic East—orchids on the table, lime and basil and chili in the dishes, iced tea and milk tea in a variety of tints to quench everyone’s thirst due to the noonday heat—while all around serving ladies move quietly in their costumes woven in hues borrowed from the rainbows of Jim Thompson.

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Welcome to a Thai experience. Ambassador Vasin Ruangprateepsaeng and DOT Director Rebecca Labit exchange food notes as guests of Conrad Manila’s Amazing Thailand event at the hotel’s Brasserie on 3.

Amazing Thailand it was, as fitting a name as could be chosen to describe a feast for the senses, at Conrad Manila’s celebration to meet Thai Ambassador Vasin Ruangprateepsaeng. Amazing for me as it was my first time to eat a betel leaf, which looked like a lotus petal as pink as a Thai sunset, the leaf serving to wrap crispy prawn ginger, lime, peanuts and chili within its innocent folds. Amazing for me to watch the server tenderly pour the sour, spicy seafood soup from a white teapot into a delicate bowl of white porcelain. Amazingly, ice cubes were not scooped from a bucket but gingerly coaxed out of a small glass vessel—big enough for a shot of whiskey, I would say; the tiny pieces of ice, personal size, were then added to the dessert of water chestnuts floating in coconut syrup.

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The Three Chefs, brought in from Bangkok to cook up a zesty feast working hand in hand with Conrad Executive Chef Daniel Peterson.

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Thai touches include peasant huts, bamboo vases with flowers, lemongrass, sack of spices.

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The main course combines seared salmon and grilled black Angus beef. The salmon is flavored with basil and kaffir leaf scented with red curry sauce; the beef is served peppery hot with basil sauce.

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Praying figure is joined by fallen orchids and drinking glasses. Shrines depicting deities are a common sight outdoors and indoors in Thailand, a mainly Buddhist country.

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Lemongrass and birds of paradise echo memories of Thailand table settings.

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‘Poa tak’ seafood soup is a spicy sour broth poured from a teapot (not shown). How chic!

Indeed, every Thai meal is a ritual. I have not dined with royalty but this Sawadee luncheon is as close as I will ever get to a facsimile thereof.