I was able to visit Thailand, particularly Bangkok, for a 5 day training program sponsored by the United Nations several years ago. The training was for 5 days at a hotel and the only opportunity to get out and see the sights was only during the night after the whole-day training. This is why I decided to stay for a couple more days to get the chance to see the sights during the day.
For the entire 5 days I was there I made it a point to only eat the Thai cuisines to experience authentic Thai cooking right in the heart of Thailand itself. It was a fabulous week of gastronomic exploration as I even tried the street foods recommended by our Thai friends.
I've been to a few Thai restaurants in the Philippines already after that Bangkok trip and each opportunity brings back memories of Thailand. I take delight visiting anything and everything Thai so you can imagine what I felt when I found out I will be dining again at a Thai restaurant soon. More great news is I would be able to bring along my family with me. Now that made me want to jump for joy really high I could feel like almost touching the clouds.
True enough, our dining experience at the Benjarong Royal Thai Cuisine Restaurant made me reminisce my Bangkok days once more. Ahhhh ...happy days are here again, and I got to spend it with my family. I may not have been able to bring them along with me to Thailand, but that night I brought a piece of Thailand to them.
I've read from the menu that Benjarong literally means "five colors" which is somewhat appropriate because Thai cooking features five flavors - bitter, salty, sweet, sour and hot. Benjarongs are unique types of porcelains renowned for its intricate and exquisitely executed patterns. It was originally reserved for royal and ceremonial use thus very fitting for a restaurant that preserves the tradition of Royal Thai cuisine by offering classic, centuries-old recipes.
You can see the decorative porcelains hanging on the walls upon entering the restaurant, plus other decorative ornaments placed at certain location within the restaurant.
This area is probably where performers play the musical instrument to provide entertainment during special occasions. Too bad there was no program that day for us to hear some Thai music.
We were surprised to see cone-shaped banana leaves (or were they really banana leaves...I wasn't sure) with orchids on top containing our order of Jasmine Rice.
My daughter ordered Fresh Mango shake. Deliciously pureed and garnished, she found the taste really fruity.
Lemongrass juice for me.(The waitress was right, the taste reminded me of ginger.)
Fresh Orange Juice for my wife, Wilma. Seeing from the picture, you can tell that it's freshly squeezed. (Ahh, orange juice at it's finest.)
Thai Iced Tea for Hezron Kyle, my eldest son. The taste of tea and the sweet syrup (The authentic Thai taste in a cup) really completes the meal.
Thai Pandan Juice for Hansel Kyro, my youngest son or bunso. (At first he wondered why there was a leaf sticking out of his drink, but when he took a sip... His view about leaves changed.)
The Lemongrass Juice, Thai Iced Ttea and Thai Pandan Juice has an accompanying syrup contained in a small jar to sweeten your drink as per your preference. (Pour as much as you like, just don't let it overflow.)
You've never been to Thailand until you've had a taste of an authentic Tom Yam Gung or hot and sour prawn soup. It's originally very spicy but you can request the chef to make it less spicier so your kids will appreciate the taste. They serve a generous amount of prawns with the soup because we ate two large pieces from our bowls.
This may not be the actual size of the dish because I think they already distributed one order among the five of us. This was one of the dishes that is very popular in Thailand, and may even be considered as a signature dish of the country.
Contrary to most beliefs, Thai cuisine appeals to a wide variety of flavors and is not always chili hot. It is a harmony of taste, color and texture achieved by blending herbs and spices to enhance natural taste which appeals to all the senses as well as to the palate.
The Yam Som O or Pomelo Salad has always been my favorite salad every time I visit a Thai restaurant. But it was only at Benjarong where it was served inside a real pomelo skin. The pomelo was not as sweet as compared to what I've tasted at other restaurant but the taste of spices that made up the entire salad was unique as compared to the others.
The Yam Phad Bung Kaew or crispy kangkong salad (A way to make kids eat their veggies).
The Pad Thai Gung Sod is stir-fried noodles with prawns, bean curd and bean sprouts. One of our favorites among the dishes we ordered, and was also highly recommended by the waiter himself.
The Tord Man Gung or deep-fried shrimp cake with light curry flavor (Good thing none of us were allergic to shrimp but would gladly swell and become red all over in exchange for another taste of this fine dish.)
I actually forgot to get the name of this dish because it quickly disappeared from the table. This could only mean it was a bestseller for my family. I'll just update this post once I remember the name.
The Sago Nam Kati Tang Thai or sago and melon in sweetened coconut milk (The blend tastes great, a healthy dessert for health-conscious people.)
The Tub Tim Krob or jellied turnip in coconut milk with crushed ice and syrup (I never expected turnips to taste this good.)
The Khanom Tako or sweet water chestnut with coconut cream in a pandan cup (a signature dessert that shows the sweetness of Thailand).
The Khao Niao Mamuang or sticky rice and ripe mangoes (The taste of the sticky rice complements the juicy mangoes, making up a great dessert).
The Ruam Mid Shaw Wang or mixed jackfruit, water chestnut, coconut meat and corn kernel (The ingredients' taste blend in together so well).
It actually took me quite a time trying to figure out what to order from the menu, but I would say I was successful in ordering the best since we all appreciated the exquisite taste of the dishes served to us.
All the dishes were mouth-watering and irresistible but our vote for the most sumptuous was for the chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, also called Kai Op Bai Toei, or Gai Haw Bai Toei, next was the Tord Man Gung because we could never be bored of shrimps and prawns, and third was the Pad Thai Gud Song, which was the very first dish I looked for when I was in Thailand, next to the Tom Yam Gung.
Overall, we appreciated our dining experience at Benjarong Royal Thai Cuisine Restaurant. It brought back memories of Thailand, including the long names of the friends I gained from the trip. Though I'm still having a hard time memorizing their names and just settled for their nicknames, they were among the nicest people I've met that made a significant impact in my travels.
Thank you to the Benjarong Royal Thai Cuisine Restaurant and its manager, and to our waiter who patiently took our orders, for the warm and friendly treatment. You can tell that we really loved your food because not a single edible piece can be seen from our left-overs. Until next time!