Sunday, January 17, 2016

Spices Under the Stars at The Peninsula Manila

The soothing heat of authentic Thai spices under the cool and star-filled evening's Spices Under the the Stars at The Peninsula Manila.

The Peninsula Manila's Spices takes Thai dining to a whole new experience, with Spices Under the Stars with traditional Thai cuisine by the pool side. Spicy green papaya salad and some savory sate under the stars...and I'm there.

Spices, The Peninsula Manila's iconic Thai restaurant, starts the year with Spices Under the Stars. Choose from a selection of small plates from the special ala carte satay grill menu, live som tam station, and lechon cochinillo carvery, prepared by Spices Thai Specialty Chef Phaitoon Atthasarn and his team (R)... 

...and dine under the stars at the outdoor Spices Garden by the pool. There's nothing quite like the soothing heat of Thai cuisine tempered by the cool breeze of the season. A Live Action Somtam  is conveniently set-up at the al fresco dining area outside Spices where you can select from a wide variety of fresh Thai salads. The fresh ingredients are mixed and pounded in a mortar and pestle blending all five main taste sensors of sour, spicy, salty, savory and sweet, all in one comforting salad dish. It's the seamless blend of distinct flavors that really sets Thai cuisine apart, and a fresh salad is the best way to rediscover authentic Thai dishes. Start with the sour and tart Yam Pla Duk Fu, the signature Spices catfish and green mango with shallot salad. The salad delivers a rich blend sharp notes, made even better with contrasting textures from the crunch of the crispy catfish flakes playing with a variety of fresh vegetables that snap with every bite.

Follow it up with Som Tam Karakor (P 540), a refreshing green papaya salad with its comforting heat and clean flavors. The chefs can prepare your salad according to the spice level you want, but you got to have this salad dish with even just a whisper of heat to experience real Thai flavors. Besides, the cool evening should more than compensate for the fiery chili, as you dine under the star-filled skies. Another salad option at the Live Action Somtam station is the sweet and sour Somtam Mamoung (P 540), another spicy salad dish with green mangoes (for more on The Peninsula Manila's Spices, see my previous post here).

After your salad course, have a taste of the uniquely flavored Sai Qua (P 640), grilled Northern Thai pork sausages with lemongrass, kaffir lime, chili and fish sauce. One bite releases bold flavors, from the richness of the pork balanced by the fragrant and distinct notes of the lemongrass and fish sauce, the citrusy sharpness of the kaffir lime, punctuated by a mild layer of heat from the chili. Unlike the usual sausages, Sai Qua infuses traditional Thai flavor elements of savory and sour, salty and spicy, to complement the mild flavors of the smoky pork.   

Your Thai feast under the stars continue with Tom Kha Gai, a creamy and comforting bowl of tender chicken in coconut milk. Each sip brings a burst of both creamy and citrus flavors accompanied by a mild layer of heat, pairing well with the tender chunks of chicken. The diverse notes coat your mouth with vibrant flavors, setting you up for the next dish...

...authentic Thai-style sate, grilled skewered meat draped in sweet and spicy sate sauce. Make sure to sample Chef Phaitoon Athassarn's savory Sate selection of Gai Sate (chicken), Near Sate (beef), and Moo Sate (pork) served with peanut sauce (P 600-6pcs/P 980-12 pcs). The bite-sized morsels of grilled skewered meat delivers rich flavors with a smoky hint, capped by the thick peanut sauce. Great as is, even better with some steamed white rice.

At the Carving Station, the Cochinillo (P 980 per 1/4 kilo) was the dinner's highlight, with organic suckling pigs from Holy Cow Farms. Holy Cow Farms brings you back to simpler times long before processed foods, with its clean flavors. The mild yet rich flavors of the tender and juicy pork becomes immediately apparent with the first bite, with its subtle and natural sweetness.

Spices serves three kinds of sauces for the Cochinillo, be sure to try the clear Chili Lime Dip for contrasting notes to balance the richness of the pork. It also brings the signature Thai blend of flavors into play, combining well with the Cochinillo.

A lighter option is the Pla Trod, deep-fried fish served with Lime, Chili, and Garlic Sauce. The mild flavors of the soft and almost creamy texture of the fish with its crisp outer layer comes out with the spicy, tart and sour lime, chili, and garlic dip, adding bright notes to the dish.

And if you're craving for premium beef, go for the Nur Yang Nam Tok (P 1,450) grilled tender and juicy beef striploin served with mint, onion, Thai chili, and lime sauce. The slab of perfectly grilled beef is punctuated nicely by the sour, spicy and tart notes of the sauce, giving this dish a distinct Thai touch and a whole new flavor experience with beef. Salads, soup, and savory main courses, a world of Thai flavors await your al fresco dining experience at Spices Under the Stars.

Cap your feast at Spices Under the Stars with traditional Thai desserts, like the intricate Mango Sticky Rice...

...and Crispy Fried Turon with Langka Ice Cream to end your Thai feast under the skies at Spices on a high note. Sprinkled with sesame seeds, the crisp spring rolls are the perfect ending for a memorable al fresco dining experience (more on this signature dessert of The Peninsula Manila on my previous post here). Simply dip it in the sweet and thick caramel sauce and take a bite, along with a spoonful of homemade Langka Ice Cream. Spices Under the Stars at The Peninsula Manila's Spices is available on Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm to 11pm. With Valentine's coming up next, al fresco dining with authentic Thai flavors at Spices Under the Stars is one more flavorful option at The Peninsula Manila. See you Friday. Or The Peninsula Manila's Spices Under the Stars.

The Spices Garden is located outside Spices, near the pool, at The Peninsula Manila, corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues, 1226 Makati City. For inquiries and table reservations, you can call The Peninsula Manila at 887-2888, extension 6694 (Restaurant Reservations) or visit

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