ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY ZEST MAGAZINE
Only 26, part-Filipino/part-Thai Feb is already a study of how to run a food business – as the owner of DekA Authentic Thai Food, she is chatty without being invasive (“How do you like the food?” she asked our party AFTER we have already tasted some of her offerings), pleasant without being obtrusive (“Not everyone likes our Chai Kiaw, with some saying it tastes like flower; but for others, it’s a refreshing and new flavor”), and is friendly without being condescending (“Let me take your photos, too, so I can put it on our Facebook page”).
Not that this place is perfect, truth be told.
- The waiters (there were only two there at the time of our visit) were somewhat… supercilious – one preferred watching TV instead of looking after guests, while the other carelessly swept the floor while we were still eating (and he didn’t stop, too, even when he was told to stop).
- There isn’t any parking space available – on-street parking’s the only choice for visitors…
- The place isn’t all that big, with only three tables that could seat four, plus three smaller tables that could seat three, and one similarly-sized smaller table that could seat one (as it’s in the corner).
- Some waiting may have to be done before the orders arrive…
But that Feb gives one of the lasting impressions from this small-ish venue boasting authentic Thai food in Makati City is a great thing. Else, what this place has to offer may be missed.
And what this place has to offer is goodness after goodness – the menu has a LOT (even including a page-full of vegetarian offerings), worth checking out at repeat visits.
Our visit started with the Pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles with chicken, prawns, bean sprouts, spring onion, egg and ground peanuts – and no Thai resto visit is without a try of this)(P180), and what we had was, in a word, good. Not at all greasy (as many localized versions of Pad Thai tend to be), this one tasted… fresh (particularly the shrimps tossed into it). It personally reminded me of the noodles whipped in front of me by vendors along Silom in Bangkok – tasty and flavorful, and yes, fresh.
And oh, please note that the Pad Thai is said to be “good for one person”, two or even three (particularly if there are other orders) can share the big serving.
The Pad Thai worked well with the Som Tam (shredded papaya and carrots, seasoned with ground peanut, dry shrimp, lime juice, plum sugar, fish sauce and chili; P150). The other restaurant to offer what for me is just as good a papaya salad is Fely J’s (at Greenbelt 5 in Makati City), though their version had scraped green papaya, while Dek A’s had (as stated) shredded semi-ripe papaya; as such, the former was crunchier, and the latter – aside from being softer – was sweeter.
Papaya salad is always nice for cleaning the palate; and Dek A’s doesn’t fail on this, too.
Next came Tom Yum (P250 for two; P500 for four), that popular spicy lemon grass soup with shrimp (or chicken), mushroom, chili paste and lime juice. Photographer Red Apple summed up our experience with the soup, saying: “It’s just right”. “Just right”, in this case, comes from: perfectly prepared chicken strips/slices sans bone fragments, cooked so that the sourness of the broth is imbibed, thereby making every bite an invite to have more.
If you want it spicy, stress this – we wanted “mildly spiced”, but we were served one that seemed not to have been touched by chili at all (though that there abounded chilis everywhere helped).
But yes, this definitely works well with Jasmine rice.
And speaking of rice, their version of the bagoong rice (with sweet pork) is a must-try (P150). It doesn’t taste too salty (as bagoong tends to make food taste); instead, it was even somewhat sweetish, as if with fleshy dried fish, not with fish/shrimp paste. When the accompanying fried eggs, chopped sitaw (string beans), thinly sliced onions, and slivers of green mango were added, this – alone – made the visit worth it…
As pantulak (to help keep the food down), drop the softdrinks and choose instead Cha Yen (traditional Thai iced milk tea, P60), or Cha Kiaw (Thai iced milk green tea, P60), or Oleang (Thai iced black coffee, P50). Cha Kiaw was – as Feb noted – not for everyone because of its “floral taste” (for me not too different from drinking “leafy” teas). But it’s the Cha Yen that brought me back to the streets of Bangkok – not too sweet, with just enough milk, and truly refreshing. So again, drop the softdrinks; stick to the Thai beverages being offered.
We ordered Chicken Pandan (P200), too, but Feb apologized for its non-inclusion in the list provided to the chef.
She was easily forgiven.
As the chase for this (and the other offerings in the menu) now made as an excuse to return to rediscover DekA over and over and over again…
DekA Authentic Thai Food is at G/F 245-C Pablo Ocampo Ave. corner Flor Deliz, Makati City. It is open from Monday to Saturday, from 11.00AM to 2.00PM, and then 5.00PM to 10.00PM (except Saturday when the resto doesn’t close after lunch); and is closed on Sunday. For more information call (+63 2) 2390531, 5005933 or 6235272.