MANILA -- There's more to Thai cuisine than tom yum soup, green curry, and pad Thai noodles. The Southeast Asian cuisine actually features a myriad dishes, from smoky satay to zesty meat salads to creamy curries.
Here in the Philippines, Filipinos only know of the popular ones and there's not a lot of Thai food options, especially in buffet restaurants. The buffet lines are usually dominated by Japnese, Chinese, Filipino, and Italian flavors.
The Cafe, Hyatt Regency Manila's buffet restaurant, is currently putting a spotlight on Thai food with a dedicated section for the cuisine in “A Taste of Thai,” which runs until September 22.
The hotel, which is located at the integrated casino resort complex City of Dreams in Paranaque City, even flew in Thai chef Siriluck “Chef Mum” Lekkwan to create authentic dishes that highlight the bold flavors of Thai cuisine.
Chef Mum is Grand Hyatt Macau's Thai chef de cuisine and has more than two decades of culinary experience. Born in Bangkok, Thailand, she started working for the hotel chain in 1993 for Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok.
She was mentored by her grandmother who was a local chef who cooked in the royal kitchens of King Rama V. Chef Mum received her moniker because of her motherly warmth toward co-workers and guests.
She is also extending her expertise to people who would love to learn the basics of Thai cuisine. She will conduct a cooking class at The Cafe on September 13 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
For the menu at The Cafe, she picked dishes that represent Thai cuisine but at the same time can cater to various palates.
“We tried to keep the balance, from not spicy to spicy to sweet. We try to serve a variety for different tastes. Because when you come to a buffet, you take one bite of something and taste everything and then you will know which one you like and you take more of that later,” she said.
Some of the appetizers include the Som Tam Thai or green papaya salad, Yam Nua Yang or grilled beef salad with tomatoes, onions, and celery, Phla Pla Muek or squid salad with lemongrass and chili lime sauce, and many more.
The soup dish is the classic Tom Yum Goong, a sweet, sour, and spicy prawn soup with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal.
The mains, on the other hand, include the Panaeng Nua or beef panaeng curry; Curry Crab, which is a stir-fried crab with curry powder, egg, roasted chili paste, onion, and Chinese celery; and Pad Thai, Thai stir-fried noodles with shrimp, among others.
For dessert, the buffet features the famous Khao Niew Mamung or mango sticky rice, Ice Cream Kati or coconut ice cream, and Sangka Fug Thong, or pumpkin custard.
According to Chef Mum, she specifically made the dishes less spicy so more Filipinos can sample the food.
“I adjusted and tried to do the medium spicy for the tom yum I put the chili separately because some people cannot eat spicy food,” she said.
"A Taste of Thai" is available during weekday and weekend dinners and Sunday brunch and starts at P2,088. Anyone who avails of the buffet during the promo period will also get a chance to a win three-day, two night trip for two to Bangkok, in partnership with Thai Airways and Grand Hyatt Erawan.