One of the things that make for memorable travel is the gastronomic element. The book that inspired a lot of travels says Eat, Pray, Love . I always add that the greatest of all is Eat. I have always wondered why Bangkok is so popular to tourists, so to see for myself, I visited the place for the first time around two years ago. It was much like Manila, so busy and so crazy from the hustle and bustle of big local and tourist crowds to the all day traffic. It did not excite me much as it is just similar to what I would experience every single day in Manila, but one taste of authentic curry and I understood why so many have fallen in love with this country. I am not going back anytime soon because I really prefer destinations that will allow me to slow down, but the craving for good Thai food will always haunt me.
Fast forward to my recent trip back to Davao. Whenever I am home, I like going to the grocery with my family and because I do not like the crowded malls, we usually go to Robinsons Supermarket along J.P. Laurel Avenue, Bajada. Now as it is with Filipinos, going to the grocery also means eating before or afterward and because my nephew tags along with us, a meal is usually shared at a fast food restaurant. One time though, upon the recommendation of a friend and a little background from one of the owners Raffy del Rosario, my family had dinner at Bangkok Wok (brainchild of Raffy’s wife Carmina) located at the corner of the complex. This is very exciting thing for me as it is an opportunity to eat delicious Thai food sans the noisy ambiance of Thailand streets. Now, I am safely cocooned in the modern but comfortable interiors of this dining place.
There are two things that I attribute with Thai food. One is the variety of flavors, which only means that seasoning plays a major role and the number of dishes would always number more than the usual. Another is “the more, the better, is the Thai way,” because it seems that as a general rule, Thais order the same number of dishes as people present, but that you always share what you ordered to everyone else. Both were evident in our experience as numerous best sellers were served on our table and as the other members of my family joined brother, my cousin and me.
First out of the kitchen and in to our table was the Yam Pla Duk Foo (P195) that is crispy catfish with mango salad. A nice combination together or separately because while my cousin and I picked out the catfish bits, my brother was more than happy to eat up more shares of the thin mango slices. Minutes after, the smell of the Corn and Crab Soup (Medium - P195, Large - P327) wafted into the air. I immediately made a mental note that it is to be one of my favorites. I think it was largely because of the genius addition of coconut cream.
Yam Pla Duk Foo
Corn and Crab Soup
Before the next batch of specials was laid out, we enjoyed a glass of refreshing and flavorful Thai Iced Tea (P75), which is a mix of black tea and milk. As if on perfect timing, the Pad Thai (with chicken - P173, with shrimps - P189) was served to us about the same time as father and my cousin’s husband arrived. Both of them came from a long day’s work and were more than happy to sit down, eat good food and spend time with family. What best way to start it with than with a consistent Thai favorite Pad Thai and surely this one did not disappoint.
Kao Kluk Gapi
Of course no meal is complete for me without rice and the beautifully presented Kao Kluk Gapi (P165) was irresistible especially paired with Kaeng Nua (P245). Their version of red beef curry is better than the best authentic red curry I tasted in Thailand! The Pla Rad Prik (P265) being a fish dish consisting of crispy fish with tamarind sauce, also became an instant hit to my father.
Pla Rad Prik
The kids still full from their earlier fast food meal enjoyed the Tako Durian (P95) served for dessert and to think these kids, surprising it may be, are not particularly fond of durian fruit. They left one for me and I must say it is quite a treat.
I am very happy after the dinner for so many reasons, but perhaps best of all is knowing that my hunt for the one best Thai restos is over, for now. And how lucky I am that it is close to home.