Living in the Philippines means that we’re near other Southeast Asian countries which include Thailand among others. With Thailand being close by, we share the same topography that can translate to growing crops and produce that may be similar or within the family. That’s why when you explore Thai cuisine, you will discover that there are dishes that almost resemble some well-known Filipino fares.

Speaking of Thailand, we’re slated to go to Bangkok a few months from now and planning our itinerary had us craving for authentic Thai food. There are quite a number of good restaurants in the Philippines serving Thai food but if you’re after the genuine Thai cuisine experience, just look for Thai SELECT.

Thai SELECT is a seal of approval granted to Thai restaurants as well as Thai food products around the world that meet very strict standards and criteria of quality and authenticity. Launched by the Royal Thai Government and implemented by the Department of International Trade Promotion Ministry of Commerce, Thai SELECT’s aim is to encourage Thai restaurateurs and food producers to raise their value of excellence while maintaining the authenticity of the Thai food they offer. A special Thai SELECT logo is issued to restaurants that got the quality check mark ensuring diners the experience of authentic Thai flavors, atmosphere, and hospitality.

Since we’re made aware of Thai SELECT, we’re all smiles when we learned that Thai BBQ Original Restaurant in Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong City has been awarded a seal of approval! Soon enough, we found ourselves sitting comfortably in their dining area, excitedly going through their menu.

While we were busy checking out the list of delicious items they offer, we asked their restaurant manager for recommendations. We were surprised that even their head chef suggested dishes that we should try. Here are the 9 dishes that made our authentic Thai lunch enjoyable—

1. Crispy Oyster Cake

This is our favorite from the spread! We never expected a simple crunchy, breaded oyster on a sizzling plate to be so delicious. The minute we tasted it, we couldn’t stop eating it. We had to remind ourselves that we ordered other food and that we had to try them too.

2. Yum Pla Dook Foo

It’s crispy catfish with green mango salad. We like the fact that the catfish, although fried, wasn’t greasy at all. The taste was clean yet flavorful. It complemented with the green salad too which was quite pleasant.

3. Basil Chicken

Having visited Thailand a few years back, this dish was the very first we’ve tasted as soon as we landed. The basil made the dish tastier and instantly reminded us of our first lunch in Phuket.

4. Sate Combination

It won’t be an authentic and delicious Thai lunch if there won’t be any sate in our spread. Both chicken and beef were marinated in Thai BBQ classic spices, put onto skewers, grilled, and served with peanut sauce. You can’t go wrong with Thai BBQ Original Restaurant’s sate.

5. Masaman Beef Curry

This thick and stew-like curry has mild heat and slight sweetness that is friendlier than the other Thai curries around.

6. Bagoong Fried Rice

The few times we eat bagoong rice is when we go to Thai restaurants. There’s something wonderful and aromatic in an umami way about rice fried in Thai shrimp paste.

7. Pad Thai

Another mainstay. The first time we tried Pad Thai in Phuket, Thailand, we knew that it’s that one dish that we can eat several times a week. The way the Thai rice noodles flirt with that slightly sweet-spicy sauce along with the shrimps, bean sprouts, eggs, and crushed peanuts, drizzled with fresh lime, create that very exciting flavor combinations.

8. Pla Jien

Our second favorite after the Crispy Oyster Cake. It’s deep-fried grouper topped with spicy oyster mushroom sauce with chillies, ginger, and green onion. The fish meat was silky and firm which was a delight to eat.

9. Tom Yum Goong

Saving the best for last. People often compare this to the famous Filipino dish called Sinigang. We’re pretty sure the reason for the comparison is because both dishes have sour components in their broths. However, we prefer to see it as a counterpart rather than a direct comparison. Both dishes use different ingredients and prepared differently too. The incorporation of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and chillies made the Tom Yum Goong more aromatic and more flavorful.

After our sumptuous meal, we definitely agree that the Thai dishes we had were spot on in terms of the preparation, presentation, and most of all flavor. Our afternoon trip to Thailand via our taste buds was made more authentic when we met their Thai Head Chef, Thanasan Phuwiang. Aside from producing excellent food, having a chef who’s a Thai national is one of Thai SELECT’s criteria to achieve authenticity and maintain quality.

While we’re waiting for our Bangkok trip to happen in a few months, we have Thai BBQ Original Restaurant to go to when that Thai food craving hits.

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