Thursday, August 18, 2022

#ThaiSELECT: An Authentic 8-Course Tasting Menu with The Benjarong Experience at Dusit Thai Manila

They say a particular cuisine gets you one step closer with each tasty bite to understanding a culture. Authenticity with the use of the freshest and the right ingredients along with traditional culinary techniques become key in appreciating a culinary heritage. For Thai cuisine, the coveted #ThaiSELECT seal is your guarantee of authenticity. And you'll find it at Benjarong... 

Dusit Thani Manila brings the rich and diverse flavors of Thailand with The Benjarong Experience at its signature restaurant with a lavish and sumptuous 8-Course Tasting Menu created by Chef Watcharaphon "Ja" Yongbanthom. Consistently recognized by the Ministry of Commerce of the Royal Thai Government with the prestigious #ThaiSELECT certification since 2018, Benjarong presents vibrant Thai flavors in a creative variety of modern expressions for a memorable dining experience.

Widely regarded as one of the best Thai restaurants in Manila, Benjarong at Dusit Thani Manila has consistently appeared in Tatler's Dining by Philippine Tatler's Top Twenty Restaurants over the years. And that's no small feat. Few establishments can boast of repeat appearances in the prestigious list.  

The tasteful and refined interiors of Benjarong includes a well-stocked bar as well as private dining rooms for more intimate gatherings. For lunch or dinner, Benjarong at Dusit Thani Manila should be high on your list for authentic Thai cuisine enjoyed in an elegant setting. 

At the open kitchen, Chef Watcharaphon "JaYongbanthom orchestrates the preparation of the eight courses for The Benjarong Experience. With years of experience gained from various hotels and resorts, Chef "Ja" also made an appearance in The Iron Chef Thailand showcasing her culinary prowess. Chef Ja then took over Benjarong back in 2015 as Thai Chef de Cuisine constantly updating the menu infusing contemporary spins to traditional Thai dishes. In 2019, Benjarong was recognized by CNN Travel as one of the hottest new global restaurants with Chef Ja at the helm. And it just keeps getting better. 

The meticulous attention to detail with each dish reflects Chef Ja's uncompromising commitment to authentic flavors. The Benjarong Experience created by Chef Ja presents a complex weave of traditional flavors presented and executed with a modern contemporary style for a unique Thai dining experience.

Diners were presented detailed sketches as the menu for the 8-Course feast drawn by Chef Ja herself, giving a unique insight to the creative process behind each dish. Chef Ja is definitely on top of her game, and the consistent recognition by the Ministry of Commerce of the Royal Thai Government with the #ThaiSELECT seal of authenticity since 2018 comes as no surprise at all.

In an impressive and unprecedented global campaign to promote and preserve local Thai culture around the world, the Royal Thai Government embarked on a comprehensive program emphasizing consistent standards while showcasing authentic Thai cuisine with its #ThaiSELECT initiative. A country's national cuisine is often the very first exposure and contact to any culture, and experiencing it right leaves a lasting impression. The #ThaiSELECT initiative is a guarantee of authenticity from the Royal Thai Government through its Ministry of Commerce awarded to restaurants serving authentic Thai cuisine.

The recognition by the Royal Thai Government separates an authentic Thai establishment from the rest, and Benjarong at Dusit Thani Manila has been awarded the prized seal of authenticity since 2018 reflecting the property's commitment to the highest standards of quality and authenticity.  

At BenjarongChef Watcharaphon "JaYongbanthom continues the tradition of authenticity with a sumptuous 8-Course Tasting Menu dubbed The Benjarong Experience. Each dish in the elegant tasting menu provides an intricate snapshot of the richness and diversity of Thai flavors, masterfully executed by Chef Ja. 

Sweet, refreshingly smooth and light on the palate, a special gin-based cocktail with butterfly pea extract kicked off The Benjarong Experience with clean citrus notes. It's the perfect start to Chef Ja's lavish array of dishes for The Benjarong Experience. A few more soothing sips and Chef Ja began to serve her meticulously prepared dishes...  

Pla Samun Prai

Like many Thai dishes, each savory course delivered a wide range of fresh and bold flavors from sweet to sour, salty and spicy teasing the palate with its contrasting yet seamless weave of distinct notes. The first course, Pla Samun Prai, features a crisp deep-fried spring roll made with rice paper filled with fresh salmon and smooth tom yum spice mayo topped with fried tom yum spices and edible flowers on betel leaf. The elegant presentation is the first in a series of experiences created by Chef Ja...  

The first bite is announced by an audible crunch followed by the rich and creamy buttery notes of fresh salmon tempered by the mildly soothing heat from the tom yum spice mayo and fried tom yum spices. The vibrant blend of flavors come through with each note from the different components complementing the other. Despite the rich and complex play on flavors and textures, the freshness of the various ingredients make each distinct note stand out with every bite. The elegant and ornate plating first feeds the eyes before the palate in a style that elevates your dining experience. 

Sai Oua

For the second course, Chef Ja highlighted the traditional Sai Oua or Northern Pork Sausage infused with herbs for a sweet and savory finish with subtle smoky hints paired with Khao Jee or sticky rice that's shaped, molded and skewered made richer with coconut milk and salt. To complete the dish, Chef Ja added a generous dab of Nam Prik Noon made with green finger chili, garlic, mint and red onion for contrasting flavors tempering the savory richness of the pork sausage and Kab Moo or crispy pork skin for a playful infusion of texture to another elegantly plated dish.

The grilled pork sausage delivers a mildly sweet and even nuanced floral notes from the various herbs followed by the delicate flavors of pork and mild smoky hints from the grill for a savory punch. The savory notes are tempered by the deep flavors and soothing heat of the green finger chili paste with garlic and onion demanding a bite of the sticky rice to mellow the spice. The complex layers of flavors all come together in a delicate balance, with each note complementing the other.

Yum Som O

The Yum Som O is is another richly layered dish of contrasting flavors and textures elegantly presented by Chef Ja. An intrictae and crisp rice paper cup is filled to the brim with fresh pomelo, chili, coriander, roasted coconut and succulent shrimps and delicately placed on a tiny basket. Inside the basket, you'll find another surprise with its hidden load of roasted cashews. The freshness of the ingredients deliver clean flavors finished with a delectable crunch from the rice paper cup.

In contrast, a soothingly fresh Pomelo Sorbet on lime skin laid on coconut and cashews gives this dish the perfect finish cleansing the palate with its sweet tartness. It's dishes like this conceptualized by Chef Ja for Benjarong that makes this #ThaiSELECT restaurant a class in itself with traditional Thai flavors as its base plated in unique and playfully inventive presentations.  

Khao Griep Pu Ma Prao On 

The familiar and comforting flavors of sour tom yum broth warms the palate, but Chef Ja makes it a stunning visual experience as well with her ornate presentation. Served in fresh young coconut filled with rich tom yum broth, the undisputed star of the dish is the large Shrimp and Crab Dumpling with bright hints of blue from the butterfly pea flower extract topped with fresh coriander, lemongrass and chili. 

The briny sweetness and delicate notes of the plump and succulent shrimp and crab drapes the palate with its fresh flavors followed by the lingering richness of the broth. From the coriander to the lemongrass and chili, each adding its own distinct flavor, the Khao Griep Pu Ma Prao On by Chef Ja is probably the most elegant and ornate execution of the traditional tom yum yet. 

The pace and flow of The Benjarong Experience 8-Course Tasting Menu keeps you eagerly waiting in anticipation for the next course in a continuous chain of memorable experiences, with each dish seemingly topping the previous course. Chef Ja impressively maintains the momentum with her elaborate presentation of authentic Thai flavors triggering all the senses for an experience unique to Dusit Thani Manila

And there's more from Chef Ja's kitchen...

Panaeng See Krong Kae

Chef Ja takes you deeper into traditional Thai flavors with the fork-tender lamb served on soft rice noodles with red curry sauce, coconut milk and basil oil on a bed of crushed cashew nuts. The rich savory flavors of the tender lamb pair well with the deep and sharp notes of the red curry sauce as a counterpoint, smoothened by the coconut oil and basil oil. The soft rice noodles absorb all the flavors from the various components of the dish, delivering even more intense notes with each bite. 

Chef Ja vividly paints a colorful palette of vibrant yet distinct flavors in a sumptuous canvas of traditional Thai flavors. I've enjoyed each dish from the first course, and the Panaeng See Krong Kae presents one more tasty page from the countless volumes of diverse flavors of Thailand.

Khao Phad Tom Yum

The Khao Phad Tom Yum features a large succulent prawn laid on chili paste and served with Tom Yum Fried Rice made with soft and fluffy Jasmine rice, lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal, chili, lime and red onion. A meal in itself, the sweet and briny notes of the prawn are retained with just a whisper of smoky hints from the grill for fresh, clean and natural flavors. The chili paste adds that flavorful punch to the prawns, but it's the Tom Yum Fried Rice that completes the flavors for this dish.

The Tom Yum Fried Rice, with its own medley of flavors from the lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal, chili, lime and red onion pairs so well with the prawn and chili paste with one bite leading to another. From the rich flavors and elegant plating, each dish is a reflection of Chef Ja's personal style honed though years of experience and a genuine passionate love for traditional Thai cuisine. Her elegant approach to Thai cuisine elevates the dining experience. And that's what earned Benjarong an impressive list of awards and recognition from CNN Travel, Tatler Dining by Philippine Tatler and the prestigious #ThaiSELECT seal of authenticity from the Royal Thai Government. 

In between bites, the specialty Thai Iced Tea by Benjarong cleanses the palate just in time for dessert.

And Chef Ja prepared an indulgent duo to cap a sumptuous 8-Course Tasting Menu for The Benjarong Experience with traditional Thai desserts, reimagined and updated with a contemporary twist.

Ka Nom Tom

A traditional Thai dessert, the Ka Nom Tom is a coconut dumpling made with glutinous rice, coconut shreds and palm sugar topped with edible gold on pandan leaf. The soft dumpling releases a nutty sweetness from the coconut and palm sugar for an indulgent taste of Thai flavors...

I-Tim Durian Thed

...while the I-Tim Durian Thed is a decadent ice cream creation made from fresh soursop and coconut jelly wrapped in coconut sheet and topped with roasted coconut for the perfect sweet ending in a memorable 8-Course Tasting Menu. Caramel popcorn, edible flowers, mint leaf, butterfly pea flowers and sweet mangoes completes another lavish creation by Chef Ja.

For lovers of Thai food, the 8-Course Tasting Menu by Chef Ja at Dusit Thani Manila is probably the ultimate dining experience for authentic Thai flavors. The Benjarong Experience 8-Course Tasting Menu is priced at P 4,850.60++ without wine pairing, and it's a virtual culinary journey to the Land of Smiles with each plate and bite.

Benjarong at Dusit Thani Manila solidifies its hold as one of the best restaurants in Manila, with the #ThaiSELECT seal of authenticity awarded by the Royal Thai Government. And behind Benjarong's enduring success is Chef Watcharaphon "JaYongbanthom, sharing her creative take on traditional Thai cuisine with an elegant and deeply personal style for one of the best Thai dining experiences in the metro... 

Benjarong is located at the Lobby Level of Dusit Thani Manila, Makati City, 1223 Edsa or call (02) 7238 8888 for inquiries and reservations. You can also visit their FB Pages at and as well as their website at for more updates.

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