Friday, January 21, 2011

The Real Taste of Thailand at Som's Noodle House

Despite Thailand being one of our closest Southeast Asian neighbors, Thai food hasn't really made much of a mark in the Philippines. Which is a shame, because it's one of the most culturally unique cuisines in the world, where Thailand's Indian and Chinese roots melt into a pot of delicious Thai stew. (Please forgive the obscure metaphors.)

So anyway, the point is, although there have been a few Thai establishments popping up occasionally, it's still not as mainstream as Japanese and Chinese food. However, today I'm going to talk about a place that's not exactly popular, but is quite well known for their authentic yet affordable Thai dishes.

Located near Rockwell Center, Makati, Som's Noodle House used to be just a small stall selling home-cooked Thai food, but now it has expanded to an actual restaurant complete with air-conditioning.

Outside Som's
The store interior

First off, let's start with the ultimate Thai classic: Pad Thai. The noodles are nice and chewy, but the sauce could be a little less sweet. This is more like a "Filipinized" version of the Pad Thai, and is a bit disappointing if you're craving some thing authentic.

Pad Thai
What Som's Pad Thai lacks, their other dishes more than make up for. This shrimp fried rice is rightly fluffy and tasty with green onions, tomatoes and large fat prawns. You can also order it with other toppings such as beef, chicken or pork.

Shrimp fried rice
They also have mixed noodles, which is not unlike Vietnamese pho (except maybe less sour). It's rice noodles in broth with various meats and other toppings. In true Thai fashion, it's topped with more green onions and crushed peanuts. Veggies such as bean sprouts also make the dish light and refreshing. If you're used to Chinese style noodle soups, you might need to adjust a bit as this dish is less salty but still delicious.

Mixed noodles
Probably the most recognizable dish in the menu for most Filipinos, Chicken Pandan has three pieces of tender chicken wrapped and grilled in pandan leaves, infusing the meat with its pleasant herbal aroma. The best part is unwrapping each piece with eager anticipation and tasting the juicy flavorful chicken. 

Chicken pandan
For those of you looking for something spicy, I recommend this Gai Phad Prik, or Chicken Sauteed in Basil and Chili. The basil gives a strong aroma to the dish, and the chili gives it a kick that makes it all the more special.

Bea (my Lunch Buddy!) actually wanted to order something that sounds weird so she randomly picked an item from the menu without even knowing what it was! After asking the waitress to tell us what this was, we ordered it, and we don't regret it one bit!

Gai Phad Prik
Of course, when we speak of Thai food, who can forget their rich creamy curries? We ordered this Green Chicken Curry, which is milder than red curry but more spicy that the yellow curry that we're all used to. As with some other dishes, this one is also available in beef, pork, or shrimp. Actually, it doesn't matter what meat you choose because the main point of this dish is the sauce! The thick coconut milk sauce is so good, you'll need plenty of white rice to go with it. Even though there's not a lot of meat in the dish, it's still totally worth the money because the sauce is enough. There's plenty of eggplant in it which is pretty good because it has already absorbed all the lovely curry-ness.

Green chicken curry
And finally, we have their special Thai Milk Tea. So good I wanted to buy a dozen bottles to take home. Don't expect something like HK-style or Taiwanese-style milk tea. The tea itself is of a different variant, and according to my friends, it has an herbal taste that's a bit like grass jelly or gulaman (yes, the Filipino beverage). The flavor is unique but not at all bad, and the milk makes it rich and creamy. If you'd like it less strong, you can also dilute it with a bit of water (which I did) without sacrificing the taste or texture.

And so, here ends our exploration of this hidden little gem. I've read some negative reviews about Som's on the Internet, but I think this place is really good, you just need to be more adventurous and order the right dishes. I'm glad it's starting to gain more attention among food lovers, because Thai food is so good and it seriously needs more Filipino love!

SOM'S Noodle House
5921 Alger St., Poblacion, Makati City
Branches: Mandaluyong

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