Get Your Pad Thai Fix at Sen Lek Thai for Less than PHP 140October 22, 2014
When I first visited Bangkok in 2005, it was the food that got me hooked. Discovering the freshness of herbs, the intensity of the chili, the balance between sweet and sour, and the harmony of ingredients in dishes like curry felt like my taste’s “coming of age.” Since then, I have been looking for a substitute or at least something close to the quality and affordability of Thai street food. When our food reporter told us about Sen Lek Thai Noodle, I looked forward to seeing how this stall would attempt Thai cuisine.
Sen Lek Thai’s stall is located in the basement floor of Makati Cinema Square. Although it appears to be a take out stall, there are a few tables beside the counter for you to sit down and enjoy a quick bite. Their menu items are mainly rice and noodle dishes. The Thai Noodle options are Wanton (PHP 70), Meatball (PHP 70), Beef Thai Noodle (PHP 80), and the Mix Special (PHP 90) which combines all three. There’s also Pad Thai at PHP 100, Khaw-Pad-Kai or Thai Fried Rice with Chicken at PHP 120, Khaw-Kruk-Kapi or Thai Bagoong Rice (PHP 120), and Khaw-Pad-Kung or Thai Fried Rice w/Shrimp (PHP 140). For our visit, we opted for two noodle dishes: the soup-based Mix Special Thai Noodle and the Pad Thai.
Both servings were prepared on the spot and thus guaranteed that both dishes would be served hot. Given the dishes’ cheap prices, I wasn’t surprised that the stall used frozen meatballs and wanton for the Mix Special Thai Noodle. The Pad Thai required a longer preparation process, as the noodles, tofu, herbs, bean sprouts, and herbs were fried and mixed with the peanut sauce and a little bagoong to complete the dish.
The Mix Special Noodle was a straightforward dish: the ingredients’ servings were generous despite the price, and the extra cilantro and green onions made up for the broth’s blandness. The meatballs were your standard frozen and processed protein, but the wanton tasted old and threw me off the rest of the dish. The beef however made up for the lack of flavor. I imagine that this noodle dish would have been better appreciated if I had a cold or was down with the flu.
The Pad Thai was the complete opposite: the dish had abundant servings of green onions, eggs, bean sprouts, cilantro, peanut sauce, and tofu. There was also a hint of bagoong that did not compete at all with the multitude of flavors. The result was a slightly sweeter Pad Thai that catered to the Filipino palate. The large amount of egg, tofu, and vegetables also assured a satisfying meal that went way beyond its actual price. The popular noodle dish wasn’t very spicy, but chili oil, chili flakes, and chili paste were on the table for customers to add according to their tolerance level.
When it comes to cheap eats, stalls either hold back the ingredients or choose quantity over the overall quality. Sen Lek Thai isn’t authentic Thai cuisine, but it delivers beyond what one usually expects from a PHP 70 to PHP 140 price range. The dishes also cater to its Filipino market and the servings are a godsend if you’re grabbing a quick meal after a long day.
Have you tried Sen Lek Thai Noodle? What do you think of their different dishes? Let us know in the comments section below.
Sen Lek Thai
Address: Basement 1, Makati Cinema Square, Don Chino Roces Ave, Legazpi Village, Makati City