A Taste of Siam

the last time i went to siam was sometime in 2002 and the gastronomic memories still have me smacking my lips and an almost impulsive desire to drink cold water, lots of it.

thai cuisine is sophisticated enough to compete with world cuisine as proven by the range of sauces, spices and herbs utilized in cooking. basil, coriander, cilantro, chili and curries, ginger, garlic and kafir lime leaves, lemon grass, fish sauce and a very generous use of coconut milk are usual components of traditional thai dishes.

interestingly, chili and curries form most of the flavor base and comes in three variants that depends on the desired strength: green, yellow and red curry. more often than not, coconut milk is also used to temper the otherwise biting flavor of the curry. on the other hand, for people that are not used to consuming copious amount of spice, you often find yourself asking for water and more water to try and cool your overheated tastebuds.

what is ironic is that drinking cold water is not exactly recommended when you consume spice. technically, the cold water solidifies the oil produced by the chili and makes it last longer in your mouth. want to wash it down? try sipping hot tea instead.

okay, enough with the rambling. i got invited by friends to dinner in Siam (Ayala Terraces, Cebu) and visions of one hot steamy night had my tummy rumbling.

unfortunately, having tasted the original, my expectations have been set to a certain level that it was a bit of a disappointment when the flavors don't quite meet the expectation.

we ordered tom yam that lacked the ooomph and curried chicken with green beans that looked hot but got drowned in the rich coconut flavor. the other dishes are not exactly thai as the steamed lapulapu topped with shiitake or chinese mushroom is more a chinese dish, the kangkong in oyster sauce is fil-chinoy, crispy pata is definitely filipino and the attempt to garnish it with fried leeks (sibuyas dahon) does not make it thai.

the bagoong and pineapple rice are okay, not necessarily great, but okay.

at the end of the meal, siam had "filipino" stamped all over it. if you think about it, the attempt to "filipinize" the taste made it delicious to the filipino palate (this is my way of saying i liked the flavors) but a disappointment when one has a pre-conceived notion of how siam cuisine should taste like.

don't worry, you don't need to consume a lot of water just to get through a meal in siam.


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