A taste of Thai culture in street food festival

Mathuros Wongpradoo, operations manager of Asian Cuisine Hospitality PHOTO BY ABBY PALMONES

Mathuros Wongpradoo, operations manager of Asian Cuisine Hospitality

Besides interacting with the country’s friendly elephants, different nationalities also visit Thailand to taste its world-famous street food.

The reason behind it, according to Thai national Mathuros Wongpradoo, is that “eating Thai street food is like touching Thai culture.”

Wongpradoo is very knowledgeable about her country’s cuisine and dining practices as operations manager of Asian Cuisine Hospitality, franchiser of popular Thai restaurant Mango Tree in 15 countries around the world including the Philippines.

“Eating street food is like touching our culture,” she reiterated, “Through our food and our ongoing Thai Street Food Festival, this is a great opportunity to bring our culture here through dishes that people from around the globe have loved so much.”

In celebration of Thailand’s Songkran or New Year, the food fest runs until May 15 at the flagship Mango Tree branch in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, as well as the Bistro concepts in TriNoma, Quezon City and in Greenbelt 3, Makati City.

Further describing Thai street food as “charming,” the operations director highlighted that tourists prefer experiencing Thai cuisine on the street rather than inside restaurants.

And although Mango Tree is a restaurant, she assured that the festival will offer authenticity in taste—if not in presentation—most especially since it is prepared by new executive chef Prapun Sampungpong.

His dishes include the favorite salad Yum Ma Muang, or a green mango salad seasoned with a combination of shrimp paste and fish sauce and topped with peanuts and onions. For the chef, the green mango salad is a variation to the papaya salad, which is more commonly seen in streets of Thailand.

The chef also prepared a line-up of deep-friend dishes, which according to him, is a favorite by Thai locals themselves. Choose from Pork Dynamite, green chili peppers filled with minced pork, wrapped in batter and flour and then fried; Salmon Skin Crips, a seafood take on chicharon; the Pla Meuk Thod or fried squid rings; and the Tom Yum Fries and Tom Yum Chicken Poppers, which both explodes with flavors of lemongrass, the main herb used in the tangy tom yum soup.

There are also healthier options like the Larb Pla Meuk, a squid salad in spicy lime sauce with lots of onions and Kaffir leaves.

For a taste of noodles, forget the famous Phad Thai and try instead the Goong Phad Wonsen that uses stir-fried glass noodles. It is sautéed with shrimps, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and seasoned with oyster and soy sauces.

Definitely not to be missed are desserts that make the Thai streets so much cooler. The country has its own version of halo-halo.

“This simple menu is what we eat every day,” noted Wongpradoo.

Talking about Mango Tree as a brand, Wongpradoo shared that their heritage dates back to the 1957 when Srichai Phanphensophon founded Coca Restaurant, which became the pioneer of the hot-pot eating culture in Thailand.

His son, Pitaya Phanphensophon, took over the family business and came Mango Tree out of his own “passion for food.”

It was five years ago when the Mango Tree entered the Philippines through Asian Cuisine and Hospitality.

Asked the company decided to bring Thai food here, Wongpradoo replied, “Your culture here and our culture is similar. Our people and your people are very kind and welcoming. The food also has similarities. It is the right time to introduce Thai cuisine to the Manila market. And it is quite successful.”


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