Monday, November 18, 2013

Silk Road Thai Bistro Opens in BGC

I have always been cautious about Thai food, mainly because only a handful of restaurants know how to do it right. Authentic Thai food may come off as too spicy (like wasabi-up-your-nose spicy), and those that try to play on the Pinoy palette just cover the spiciness with too much sugar, coating all the delicate flavors that makes a dish uniquely Thai.

I had almost given up my search for a Thai restaurant that I actually liked, and was about to give up when a very picky friend of mine asked if I'd like to check out Silk Road Thai Bistro - a cool spot that happens to be owned by one of the coolest female chefs in Metro Manila. True enough, when I got there I was greeted by the statuesque chef Cecille, chatting up the table about her latest scuba trips, and travels. Later on I got her hooked on bag shopping on Instagram. I have to say - this is a chef after my own heart!

Situated behind the Net Quad - more popularly known as the Deutsche Bank or JP Morgan building - the restaurant is away from the busy main road, which has a more relaxed, laid-back atmosphere that is perfect for enjoying a quiet dinner with friends, enjoying a nice glass of wine with your date, or treating the family out to something new.

I like how Silk Road creates a fine balance, taking traditional Thai cuisine and giving it a modern twist. Those not familiar with Thai cuisine won't find this restaurant's menu daunting, since it has a little something for everyone and in written in a fun way everyone can understand.

I have always been a sucker for catfish salad, and the Crispy Catfish with Mango Salad (P340) is no exception. This may look very simple, but it is an art form to flake the catfish and fry it up, making it light, crisp, and puffy, sans all the oil.

The savory Son-In-Law Eggs (P195) made for another yummy starter too, wrapping everything in the beetle leaf for that extra crunch. This is a traditional celebratory dish is cooked by Thai mothers for their soon-to-be son-in-laws as a grave warning that if they decide to get a little promiscuous with their beloved daughters, their precious gems will end up boiled, deep-fried and served with sweet sauce. At least that's what the ladies at say.

In lieu of crab cakes, Silk Road has Prawn Cakes (P295)! I like these better than crab cakes since they're firmer, and go really well with the sweet chili sauce and caramelized tamarind puree. To my delight, each bite let out a loud crunch, with the sweet, salty, and meaty appetizer filling my mouth with deliciousness.

Each order of Tom Yum Kung (P320), hot and sour prawn soup, is good for around three people. The heat in this dish was just right, as some of my friends' stomachs are a bit sensitive to chili. Scooping everything into a smaller bowl, everything was just so fresh - from the shrimp, to the diced tomatoes, and lemongrass.

The crispy Thai Spring Rolls (P260) were alright, and it comes with a sweet chili sauce. Although this was a nice vegetarian option, it paled in comparison with the other appetizers that came out of the kitchen.

The Salmon Cone (P295) looks playful, with tiny salmon cubes infused with lemongrass, lime, and with herbs stuffed into a delicate cone. Not only does it make for a great meal, the presentation is adorable as well!

I didn't know what to expect when I ordered the Thai Ravioli (P330). Out came three big, freshly made lumpia-looking things, wrapped in steamed rice paper and filled with sesame beef, Shiitake mushrooms, and glass noodles. The texture was soft and chewy, yet all the flavors were nicely balanced, nothing overpowered the other, and it was such a nice dish to enjoy before the heavy hitters were served.

A French classic Moules Marinières with a Thai twist is Silk Road's Moules Thai (P320) - cold water mussels in Thai herbs and coconut milk. You scoop up some of the coconut-y soup using the shell of the mussel, take a sip, and then pop the meaty jewel into your mouth.

Chef Cecille was feeling very generous and, in lieu of her birthday, treated us to a bottle of really good Chardonnay. She employs a sommelier at the bistro, so each of her wines have been meticulously curated to pair nicely with all of her dishes. This was so good, I wanted three bottles glasses more.

For the mains, we started with a very Thai dish - the Sala Daeng (P340). This odd-looking dish is made with lemongrass florets that have been stuffed with minced chicken and served with a siding of sweet chili sauce. Overall, this had a nice mix of crispy, savory, soft, and sweet.

The dish I will probably keep coming back for is the Crispy Tipalia with Tamarind Puree (P75/100g)! Chunks of Tilapia fillets are seasoned, floured, and subsequently fried 'til golden, tossed in a sweet and sticky tamarind puree, and then served for everyone to fight over.

Another Asian classic is the Pandanus Chicken (P340), with the leaves giving the chicken a beautiful aroma while protecting it on the grill, and served with a sweet chili sauce and sesame chili tamarind puree.

We were missing a vegetable dish, so we all shared a big bowl of Saphan Kwai (P245) - stir-fried morning glory with minced Thai yellow soy bean and chili for a little bit of heat.

A hands-down Pinoy favorite is the Khao Khluk Kapi (P315), or the Thai version of  Belacan. Bagoong (shrimp paste) rice, egg, caramel pork, finely diced chilies, diced cucumbers, and slivers of green mango are served on a plate, ready to get tossed 'til it looks like stir fry that just came out of a wok. You have a gamut of textures and flavors here, all working together in this humble dish, to bring out the best flavors in this part of Asia.

Of course, the rice-vores in the group had to have at least two orders of  the Silk Road Signature Rice (P330). This particular mix has mixed vegetables, lemongrass, egg, pork crispies, and Thai chorizo.

Another happy discovery at Silk Road was the Lamb Shank Massaman (P120/100g) - slowly cooked for 8 hours and served with crispy noodles, sweet potato chips and shallots, the lamb was tender with just a hint of gaminess. This is something I can appreciate as only a handful of restaurants can do lamb right.

The Siamese Pork Ribs (P310) makes quite the statement when placed on the table. The cinnamon-caramel pork ribs are placed atop a small charcoal grill, so you can leave it to char for as long as you want. The ribs, as expected, were sticky and sweet. They don't exactly fall off the bone, but they are definitely meaty and have a nice bite.

I almost forgot about the Black Pepper Soft Shell Crab (P395) and had a taste. This was a really nice dish - with the breading and the vegetables giving the crab some crunch, but it seemed to have paled in comparison to the other dishes I tried that day.

Winding down the Thai feast, the Silk Road Dessert Sampler (P295) has a little bit of everything from the menu - there's Durian Ice Cream, Mango Ice Cream, Takhoo Thai - tapioca peal pudding topped with coconut custard, Thai Gem - water chestnut coated with tapioca flour in shaved ice with coconut milk, and Sticky Rice with Mango.

I was surprised to have taken a liking to the Durian Ice Cream. I normally avoid the stinky-smelling fruit, no matter how it's presented, but the odd-flavor along with the sweet ice cream works for me. Heck, I'd buy a pint of the stuff if they'd sell it!

When mucking around Manila in search of the best Thai place in Town, pay Silk Road Thai Bistro a visit and enjoy Chef Cecille's modern take on your Thai favorites. If you don't have the time or the budget to pay BKK a visit, you can always go to BGC instead!

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Images taken by Jericho San Miguel of The Pixel Project Manila

Silk Road Thai Bistro
+63 2 824 1678
 +63 923 421 8294
4th Avenue Corner 31st Street,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Open Daily: 10am - 11pm