The Dusit Thani Manila restaurant recently had a menu overhaul, accommodating dozens of new food items, from appetizers to desserts. Fret not, Benjarong regulars -- all-time favorites and best sellers remain on the menu. Let's check out some of the newer dishes, and have our bellies greet them a happy 'Sawasdee ka!'
Som Tum (P220). I have been a fan of Benjarong's catfish green mango salad (Yam Pla Duk Foo, P290) for years. In fact, I don't think I can recall a lunch or dinner at the restaurant without ordering this. So to have another salad at the table was new, and good thing I gave their new papaya salad a try. It's lip-smacking sweet and sour, just like how the catfish salad appealed to me. Ground nuts added texture, and the cherry tomatoes gave it a burst of freshness.
Yam Moo Yang Angun
Yam Moo Yang Angun (P300). Another salad was up for tasting; this time highlighting an unusual combination of grilled pork and red grapes. This one was just as lovely tasting as it looked, with each grape giving a sweet burst of fruity flavor, contrasting the texture of the soft meat slices. If you want your pork served guilt-free and still tasty, this unique dish is definitely a thumbs up.
Gaeng Tom Jiw
Gaeng Tom Jiw (P189). Another dish I never fail to order at Benjarong is their heavenly bowl of Tom Yam Gung (P389). So heavenly in fact, that my mom used to dream of it after I made her try the hot and sour prawn soup for the first time. So for me to fall in love with another soup in this restaurant is a great deal, the new soup being Gaeng Tom Jiw. I'm uncertain with its pronunciation but sure of its flavors being so agreeable with my palate. The clear broth is heartwarming and sour, with chunks of beef, sweet potato, basil leaves, onions, and red chili. Think of it as the Thai's counterpart of the Filipino sinigang na baka. It has a moderate bite, and will not leave your tongue begging for water. The sweet potato and basil work together in adding dimension to the overall flavor.
Pla Muan (P700). I know of people that completely avoid Thai food because of the assumption that all their dishes are spicy and hot. I say, they are missing out on a slew of amazing food and flavor; I also say that they need to know that most (if not all) Thai restaurants can tweak the spice levels of their dishes upon request. Also, spice does not equate to 'hot' at all times, and there are delicious Thai dishes that may skip on the hotness but remain tasty nonetheless. If you need a milder dish, try this steamed fish fillet with crabmeat. These four artfully plated pieces of soft, white fish meat, with a light soy based sauce are good eats for the picky, non-spicy eater.
Sah Rim (P135). Love pink? Then this new dessert will tickle your fancy. Sah Rim is a bowl of chilled jelly noodle served with iced coconut milk. The pink jelly is quite amusing to look at, but the flavors do not intimidate. Every spoonful of this iced dessert gives you a cool and mild sweetness, enough to cleanse the palate after a long, flavorful meal.
These are just five out of the thirty-plus dishes that are new on the Benjarong Royal Thai Cuisine menu. There's still so much to try there, aside from ordering the usual and staple Thai dishes. And now, I think I have a couple of new dishes that have been upgraded to my "usuals" and "favorite" list. Can't wait to add even more soon!
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