I’ve always been a Tom Yum fan. My very first taste of it was at Flavors and Spices a quarter of a century ago. The restaurant was one of the most popular restaurants in Greenbelt, and the very same that introduced so many Gen X-ers to the diverse delights of Thailand’s cuisine.
That Tom Yum still is my benchmark, and my flavor memory of that “love at first sip”—coconut-y and spicy and creamy all at once—still is very strong. I then discovered what Thai home cooking was all about in, of all places, P. Noval street, at that tiny restaurant that became quite iconic: S.R. Thai, directly across the UST campus.
There have been many, many versions and iterations of Thai since then; like Chinese and Japanese before it, and Mediterranean and Korean after, the cuisine of Thailand has become one of the most popular among Filipinos.
When the Philippines’ premier food hall, The Grid at the Powerplant Mall, announced that it was adding to its already amazing roster of stalls, “Samyan”, from award-winning chef ThiTid “Ton” Tassanakajohn of the Michelin-starred Le Du, I lost no time in joining the queue.
Le Du, after all, held the esteemed No. 20 position among Asia’s 50 Best of 2019. It’s Thai street food at its finest. “I grew up eating in Samyan Market and it is where my love for street food began. It’s where I used to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. They have all kinds of street food and everything is just delicious,” chef Ton related how his passion for cooking started.
Street Food. That really is, in all food cultures, the genesis and nexus of all that is good and genuine. And when the best of the best, an ambassador for all intents and purposes, of the most authentic flavors and spices of Thailand opens shop in Makati. It’s a can’t miss. A must. I recommend that you visit Samyan with four or five of your closest foodies in your family.
And order everything on the menu. Everything. Ask for service plates, and create your own smorgasbord. Write this down, my favorites, of which I’m sure, will become yours too: Moo Dad Deaw. Phad Krapow Gai. I will not provide translations because I want you to go to The Grid and find out for yourself. Just trust me. You will be rewarded.
But most of all? Tom Yum Kung Namkun. It made me fall for Tom Yum all over again. Head over heels. You will too. Of that, I’m certain. See you at Samyan!