19 Oct2011

We recently enjoyed a wonderful dinner at People’s Palace, our favorite thai restaurant in Makati, but came away slightly hungry. The food at People’s Palace is very good, but a bit pricey, and portions are a little modest in size… but I suppose that’s how they are going to turn a profit. :) There was one thing about the dinner on a busy Saturday night that did perturb me more than a bit. Less than two minutes (literally) after ordering our meal, the first three dishes appeared before our eyes. I understand it is in their interest to get clients out as quickly as possible to put more diners into the seats, but for the prices they charge, shouldn’t they try to have a semblance of preparing each dish carefully, say allowing a decent interval of 5-10 minutes before they are rushed to the table so that customers have time to savor a drink and think the chefs are slaving away? Rather than give the impression that the Top 10 dishes are pre-made and waiting around a kitchen counter for the final dressing before being whisked to the table? It’s a quibble, but just as food taking too long is irritating, food coming too fast is likewise food for thought.

With the Thai taste buds on full gear, and makrut limes in the yard, all it took to trigger some thai food fever at home was a visit to the weekend markets that yielded lots of dayap, cilantro, pomelos and chilies and had us inviting friends over for dinner on the spur of the moment. I will say that People’s Palace had a better handle on the spices and the balance of flavors, they are still our favorite, but this home-cooked meal satisfied on several other levels. Up top, a grilled beef salad made with rare flank steak, sliced on the bias and served over greens together with some sliced red grapes for sweetness (something I tasted at the dockside restaurant of the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok years back) and a spicy dressing of lime juice and fish sauce with chilies. The second photo, a humongous pomelo salad with shredded chicken, brined and poached shrimp, homemade toasted coconut, fried shallots, peanuts, and a dressing of lime, palm sugar and patis.

A rather pallid-looking but incendiary green papaya salad that had been dressed and marinated for an hour in the fridge. Authentically bruised papaya, long beans (sitaw) and tomatoes and a bit of cilantro absorbed the flavors of pungent dried shrimp, chilies and fish sauce…

A whole deep-fried lapu-lapu with a turmeric sweet and sour like sauce with finely sliced onions, capsicum, carrots, etc.

A red curry (partially from a packet) augmented with fresh makrut lime zest, fresh lemongrass and galanggal as well as fresh coconut cream. Ideally we would have wanted roasted duck in this, but a quick call to 3 different sources/restaurants yielded no duck, so at the last minute I put in cut up chicken parts which lacked the depth of flavor of duck…

For the simple dinner, we set the table with local woven placemats, simple white dinner plates and clear glassware, and used these wonderful large cotton napkins which were sent by Sister in a balikbayan box. There’s just something about tightly woven, high thread count cotton napkins (and or tablecloths) that make dinner just that bit more special. We have an extra long dining table (actually two rectangular tables put together) so most tablecloths are too short for it unless custom made…

Overall it was a very satisfying home dinner. But in retrospect a whole lot of prepwork was involved. I have never made so many individual ingredients or components for the dishes, and since we don’t cook thai food that often, it was a real production that took most of one afternoon. The next time we get a hankering for thai, it’s back to People’s Palace… :)



  1. rosedmd says:

    i love the food of People’s palace……but, it is sooooooo pricey!!!

    Oct 19, 2011 | 8:47 pm

  2. natie says:

    LOVE Thai food—so flavorfull!

    Oct 19, 2011 | 9:02 pm

  3. Junb says:

    Unless I’m doing it for a major party I’ll just go to a Thai restaurant :) …the amount of work needed to prep all the ingredients but then again that is where the fun begin.

    Oct 19, 2011 | 9:14 pm

  4. JE says:

    Food here is indeed ok and a bit pricey, but the only thing I always look forward to when going here is getting the salty lime soda. Given the liberal amount of spice in most of the dishes, the contrasting salty and sweet taste in the drink serves to wash away some of the aftertaste while eating.

    Oct 19, 2011 | 9:56 pm

  5. wil-b says:

    I love Thai food. . . it tastes so refreshing . . . .

    Oct 19, 2011 | 10:55 pm

  6. adam (Makati!) says:

    I have a serious love affair with Thai food that shows no sign of abating and is even beginning to worry my better half! Know what you mean about the prep work but time permitting it is kind of theraputic and you get lost in the whole process . Mind you I always assume that I need an extra hour more than I think to get everything done.

    On a related note MM; have you tried making a Thai style wing bean salad? For the life of me I could not work out anything particularly interesting to do with those greens but then found a superb recipe for them in a Thai cookbook sometime back that has radically changed my view of the humble Psophocarpus tetragonobolus :)

    Oct 20, 2011 | 12:46 am

  7. Mandy says:

    Happened to us too, when we ordered, the food came out in less than 5 minutes. We were really surprised. But we were also too hungry, so we were quite happy to be able to eat right away. People’s Palace, even with that practice, still has the best Thai food. :)

    Oct 20, 2011 | 2:01 am

  8. ayla says:

    “food coming too fast is likewise food for thought” — I agree with this one MM, even if the top ten dishes have been pre-made, at least let us think that it hasn’t been by not serving our food right away. I think it takes a bit away from the dining experience if I feel that the food is “rushed,” hindi naman fastfood yung pinuntahan mo.

    Oct 20, 2011 | 3:05 am

  9. Betchay says:

    I love Thai food and all other Asian foods! The fresh greens and herbs and spices give Asian food that certain taste.

    Oct 20, 2011 | 7:28 am

  10. Gigi says:

    Hi MM, I hope you can share the salad dressing recipes, and the turmeric sweet and sour sauce. Would love to try it at home. By the way, could you compare Benjarong with People’s Palace? Benjarong is my to-go-to place for Thai food (especially if we’re a big group) but I’ve never been to People’s Palace. Thanks.

    Oct 20, 2011 | 8:25 am

  11. greens_blossoms says:

    Lovely napkins! Would sister be able to tell us where she bought them? :-)

    Oct 20, 2011 | 8:46 am

  12. millet says:

    love the napkins and the old-fashioned glass bowls.

    Oct 20, 2011 | 9:47 am

  13. Clarissa says:

    I was looking forward for a pad thai recipe since that, plus green curry (which I can now make from scratch!), and Thai halo-halo are three of my favorite Thai foods :) I have attempted pad Thai but failed.

    Considering making the papaya salad even if I have never tasted it before :) I’ll go through your archives!

    Oct 20, 2011 | 10:13 am

  14. Mom-Friday says:

    I want that shrimp pomelo salad up there! :)))

    Oct 20, 2011 | 10:38 am

  15. thea says:

    hi marketman!
    may i have the recipe of your sweet and sour lapulapu? it looks and sounds so yummy. :)

    Oct 20, 2011 | 12:37 pm

  16. Dragon says:

    Having lived in Bangkok for 4 years, eating authentic Thai (I would always ask my driver to take me to where he would eat..) Benjarong at the Dusit is nice. It’s supposed to be Royal Thai food. I personally find the food at Benjarong mild/mellow even when I compare with another restaurant that serves Royal Thai food (Blue Elephant in BKK/London comes to mind). If I’m really wanting authentic Thai taste, then I just make it. As previously mentioned, preparation is so cumbersome and mabusisi, consisting of a large number of ingredients..

    Oct 20, 2011 | 2:45 pm

  17. Sarie says:

    Hi Market Man!

    I saw your post on Bacolod lechon (http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/a-bacolod-lechon) and was wondering if you could help me out with this. I just got back from Bacolod and had some lechon in Silay and was hoping you could identify the leaf they used here as stuffing.

    Photos are in this link: http://sariecruz.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/nothing-quite-like-negros-lechon-bacolod/

    Can you confirm if these are dayap leaves? Thank you!

    Oct 20, 2011 | 8:47 pm

  18. maddie says:

    those napkins are beautiful, MM! and salivating again at 12.22am.

    Oct 21, 2011 | 12:25 am

  19. betty q. says:

    MM…if you knew the world will end tom. what will be your last meal/dish? I am also curious what people who follow your blog globally would have and possibly make for their last meal.

    Hey, La Emp…how about in one of the future happenings, let us make this come to a reality…not the end of the world….but the dish that people coming over would like to eat if the world will end the next day! …and let us make a potluck out of it. However, I think having Zubuchon might be out of reach! I know that Mr. C would like his spicy Dungeness crabs!

    Oct 21, 2011 | 5:14 am

  20. Marketman says:

    bettyq, my answer to the “last supper” question is imbedded in this post, which has a wonderful set of comments from folks on what THEY would have for their last supper. Sarie, I am not certain, but my first reaction would have been batuan fruit inside their lechon, therefore, possibly batuan leaves. But intellectually, I would have to guess these are what Cebuanos call “bago” leaves, see this post here, that come from the tree that bear fruit to a nut made into famous Indonesian crackers, here. The bago leaves impart a slightly sour flavor and would make an interesting stuffing. The bago leaves are not that common in Manila markets. If I may comment, however, on that particular lechon your photographed, it does appear to have a fairly copious layer of fat under the skin and it is likely brushed with soy sauce or other sugared liquid to get it so burnished dark caramel, which can sometimes border on a bit of bitterness on the taste buds, possibly counterbalanced by the notes of sourness in the stuffing… I hope that helped. They are definitely NOT dayap leaves — I grow dayap and unless you have some giant dayap leaf variety, those are not dayap leaves. :) thea, have to look up a recipe, the cook does this by feel now… greens blossoms, the napkins are by Frette. Gigi several of the dishes in this post were featured on the site before, please check the archives… adam, no I haven’t tried a thai winged bean salad, and I agree with you, I have always wondered what to do with that vegetable other than enjoy them in a pinoy torta (sliced thinly and sauteed, then incorporated into a giant omelette)…

    Oct 21, 2011 | 6:29 am

  21. Dragon says:

    MM, did the serviettes come with a bed ensemble? ;-)

    Oct 21, 2011 | 11:53 am

  22. apple says:

    Your Yam Nua Yang (Spicy Beef Salad) looks gorgeous! I also put grapes on my Duck Red Curry..the thai chef who taught me to do it said that it makes the meat tender and takes out the “umay”.

    Nov 20, 2011 | 9:22 pm

  23. Lester says:

    MM, where’s the best source for quality green papayas? Or kohlrabi? Thanks.

    Feb 29, 2012 | 1:10 pm

  24. Marketman says:

    Lester, most wet markets will have green papayas. As for kohlrabi, it’s harder to find, but weekend markets/organic growers sometimes have it.

    Feb 29, 2012 | 4:38 pm


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