Silk Road brings modern Thai food trend to Manila

Posted at 02/26/2014 9:28 PM | Updated as of 02/27/2014 11:15 AM
The elegant interiors of Silk Road. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA – Curious about Nahm, which has just been named best restaurant in Asia? Then head to Silk Road, a modern Thai restaurant at the Bonifacio Global City, which was inspired by Australian-born chef David Thompson’s acclaimed Bangkok restaurant.

In coming up with the concept for Silk Road, Chef Cecille Chang admitted that she was influenced by Nahm, which is located at the Metropolitan Hotel. Thompson opened the original Nahm in London – the first restaurant specializing in Thai cuisine to be given a Michelin star – before taking the concept to the Thai capital.

Chang also mentioned Long Table, which has been hailed as the world's first "destination Thai restaurant," and Sra Bua at Bangkok’s Kempinski Hotel, which is also among the top 50 restaurants in Asia.

“I want to put Thai dining at a higher level,” she told ABS-CBNnews.com. “In Bangkok, the trend is very modern. What I’m serving here is like the food of David Thompson of the Metropolitan Hotel, Sra Bua in Kempinski Hotel and the Long Table. What I’m offering here is what they’re introducing also in Bangkok -- modern Thai dining.”

“It’s amazing,” she said of Thompson’s cooking. “Bilib ako sa mga chefs like that and that has inspired me to do the same.”

In modern Thai cooking, chefs “push the boundaries of form, texture and temperature” while maintaining the “familiar flavors of traditional dishes,” the Kempinski Hotel said of its restaurant Sra Bua. Another hallmark of this trend is “beautifully composed food presentation.”

Chang’s food at Silk Road certainly has these qualities, particularly the presentation part, starting with the restaurant’s stylish interiors, with violet-upholstered seats, a striking staircase that leads to the second-floor private rooms and Oriental hanging lamps.

Silk Road’s Pad Thai. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com

The dishes are gorgeously plated, highlighting the vibrant colors of the ingredients. Take the popular Pad Thai noodles, which arrived in the table with the rice noodles, pork, shrimps, egg and bean sprouts carefully wrapped in a delicate egg basket.

Mieng Kham. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com

Or the traditional Thai appetizer Mieng Kham, which looks like an amuse bouche of minced peanuts, shallots, chili, shrimp, garlic lime and ginger wrapped in betel leaves and daintily placed inside a white ceramic cup. Not only does this dish look very photogenic, it is literally an explosion of flavors on the mouth as you start chewing it.

“This is traditional Thai but the way I present it, it’s very modern,” Chang explained. “And I always like to play with my food.”

Chang took a year-long culinary training in Thailand in before opening Silk Road.

“When I came back, that’s when I decided to make my own innovation because most of the Thai restaurants here in the Philippines are offering traditional pa,” she said, stressing that Silk Road is not a franchise. “This is originally mine.”

Although Silk Road serves popular Thai dishes like the Pad Thai, as well as Tom Yum soups, prawn cakes and crispy tilapia, Chang said she also offers items that can’t be found in other Thai restaurants in the metro.

Thai Ravioli. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com

One such dish is the Thai ravioli, an appetizer of sesame beef and shiitake mushrooms in freshly made steamed rice wrapper, one of the must-try dishes here. Chang explained that this dish takes its inspiration from the Vietnamese spring roll.

“I just used the concept of the wrapper but the inside is very Thai,” she said. “When I’m creating something, a particular dish, I always make sure that the 4 s’s of Thai cooking -- the sweet, saltiness, the sour and the spice -- is always present. That’s Thai.”

Chang also introduces Western ingredients to Thai dining, such as pan-fried foie gras. “I serve it with a kaffir tamarind puree that’s very Thai,” he said of the Foie Gras Makham. “The marriage of taste is still there even if I’m using Western ingredients.”

Lamb Shank Massaman. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com

We tried Chang’s slow-cooked Lamb Shank Massaman, which is served with crispy noodles and sweet potato chips. The unique touch here comes in the curry flavors and herbs, giving the dish a very earthy, almost Middle Eastern flavor. Chang pointed out that Thailand also boasts of a Muslim cultural influence, which explains why the curry isn’t of the Thai green or red curry variety that Filipino diners are more familiar with. Despite the “exotic” quality of the dish, lamb lovers will certainly love this dish.

Siamese Pork Belly. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com

Another star in Silk Road’s menu is the Siamese Pork Belly. Seeing this literally smoking dish arrive at the table is enough to make you salivate. On the mouth, the pork was oh-so-tender and oozing with sweet-ish flavors thanks to some caramel, cinnamon and the Thai Mekhong whiskey made from sugar cane.

The desserts included the traditional Takhoo Thai, tapioca pearl pudding topped with coconut custard served in small cups (instead of the usual banana leaf cups); and the elaborately presented Silk Nest, which is a scoop of refreshing coconut ice cream presented in a nest of taro and sweet potato strips.

Silk Nest. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com

Just like the Bangkok restaurants that inspired it, Silk Road is already making its mark on local foodies who are always on the lookout for something different. Chang’s take on modern Thai cuisine certainly looks trendy but solidly grounded on Thailand’s complex and well-loved culinary traditions.

Silk Road Thai Bistro
Net Quad Corporate Center
4th Ave. cor. 31st St.,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig