At Chef J Gamboa’s prodding, Azuthai’s resident chef Malichat Intaramolee whipped up noodle soups to warm the restaurant’s clientele on rainy days and in the cooler months ahead.
Upon seeing its picture menu, I called my eating buddies, Christine Tan and Joseph Tiu and drove to Azuthai in Makati City.
There I caught up with my dear friend J, the force behind Milkyway, Cirkulo, Tsukiji and, of course, Azuthai.
While we were exchanging stories, chef Malichat approached our table for our orders. We just wanted noodle soup, ordering all seven varieties. The chef looked puzzled, probably wondering how we could possibly finish them all.
While waiting, J had us try a new dish, Grilled Boneless Ribs with Tamarind Sauce.
It was US Angus Beef Ribs marinated (in garlic, coriander root, black pepper) and slow-cooked. It was put on the grill only for a smoky finish before being served.
Malichat said that it literally took 24 hours to prepare. The tedious work was evident upon first bite.
The choice of ingredients and the quantity that went into the marinade were so precise that its effect on the meat was subtle yet unmistakable: “there but not there.”
The marinade enhanced the meat to a level of utter deliciousness. The tamarind sauce was good, but the meat alone was a standout.
Looks can be deceiving
The first noodle soup was the Guoi Tiao—Thai-style pho with sliced US beef, beef meatballs and rice noodles. The clear soup alone was delectable, aromatic with anise and cinnamon.
The chopped spring onions, coriander and fried garlic heightened the soup’s flavor. The bean sprouts gave it crunch while the kaffir lime provided a refreshing twist.
The bowl of Ba Mee Ped Yang consisted of egg noodles with roast duck. The cilantro, lime and basil complemented the gaminess of the duck—tender and flavorful, roasted by chef Malichat herself.
It was baked for three hours and stuffed with aromatics. The fried garlic made it all come together.
I then moved to Guoi Tiao Mara—Thai-style pho with chicken, rice noodles, ampalaya and bean sprouts. I didn’t expect to like it—imagine a chicken leg in clear broth with ampalaya floating around it. It looked like hospital food!
But looks can be deceiving. The clear soup was so deeply flavorful; the chicken was cooked in the broth over low heat, without boiling. Once the chicken was soft, bitter gourd was added; the soup was neither touched nor mixed until the gourd was cooked.
So the ampalaya became meaty soft though still slightly bitter. The Thai lime and basil lent refreshing hints to the ampalaya.
The Tom Yum Nam Say was like a Tantan-Men of sorts—clear, spicy rice noodle soup with minced pork, shrimp balls, cilantro, bean sprouts and basil. The highlights of this soup were the heightened tartness from the lime and the nuttiness and creaminess from the ground peanuts.
Tom Yum Nam Kohn was Tom Yum with milk, seafood, egg noodle mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Spicy, creamy, aromatic and easy on the finish—I kept chasing its flavor, spoonful after spoonful.
Thai Suki was Thai-style sukiyaki but not as we know it. This one had glass noodles, prawns, squid, morning glory, napa cabbage, egg, spring onions and a special chili sauce. The tasty seafood broth, aromatic with celery and sesame seeds, with a hint of sweet, sour and spice all at once, made this soup the most elaborate on the palate.
I kept savoring it, wanting to capture the experience into more words, but its uniqueness made it difficult.
Then came Khao Soi—Chiang Mai-style egg noodles, chicken, yellow curry and Thai limes. The combination of boiled and fried noodles added body to this laksa-like dish.
While I found it very good, it was also very rich—imagine chicharon in yellow curry broth. Then suddenly, a bite of the pickle brought a pleasant surprise that washed away the fatty taste.
All seven soups boiled down to an epicurean delight, each bowl distinct with its own character.
After the meal, the ever-smiling lady chef who hails from Bangkok proudly said that the soups were authentic Thai preparations, “with my own special touch.”
Having worked in the Philippines for the past two years, Malichat has discovered that “special touch” meant the magic of working on our taste buds without necessarily having to deviate from the authenticity of the dish.
She shared her recipe for Ba Mee Ped Yang—egg noodles with roast duck, toasted garlic and cilantro, bean sprouts, basil and Thai limes.
Ba Mee Ped Yang
(Makes 1 serving)
Garnish: cilantro, bean sprouts, Thai basil, half a lime
In a saucepan, combine chicken stock, white pepper, light soy sauce, Thai fish sauce and white sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Finish with lemon juice. Set aside.
Cook yellow egg noodles in boiling salted water as per package instructions. Set aside.
In a warmed bowl, place cooked egg noodles and pour over hot soup. Top with sliced roast duck and toasted garlic. Serve garnished with cilantro, bean sprouts, Thai basil and half lime on the side. Enjoy!
Tip: Buy your roast duck at a Chinese restaurant. Cut into quarters, wrap in plastic film or foil and freeze for future use.
Azuthai Restaurant is at G/F Milkyway Building, 900 Arnaiz Ave. cor. Paseo de Roxas, Makati City; tel. 8176252, 8130671.
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