The new Benjarong has been open at the lobby level of the hotel for just over a year now, but apparently a lot of the people who loved the old place at the 2nd floor have yet to come back. They should. And, they should bring their friends. Previously known for royal Thai cuisine on classic porcelain, and for being the cafeteria of the rich and famous, the old Benjarong had lost its luster and its patrons. The new version puts itself back into competition for the best in town. Everything about it is updated and upscale. There’s even a cool bar where you can have a drink while waiting for those friends caught in traffic or unable to find parking.
But it’s the food that makes going there worth the hassle. The Tom Yam Gung soup was nicely balanced between spicy and sour with healthy prawns and generous amounts of mushrooms and other stuff I normally don’t eat. Whenever I eat at a Thai restaurant I order green curry chicken in order to be able to compare apples to apples, and Benjarong was a clear winner. The revelation of the evening, however, was the soft shell crab in yellow curry sauce. At other restaurants all you seem to get is breaded shell. At Benjarong I could still very much taste the crab, complemented by the curry. With just these three items, plus jasmine rice of course, we were so full we had no space for dessert.
On another occasion, I had the 72-hours cooked beef ribs which was surprisingly tender. At yet another dinner, I ordered Massaman Curry Beef Chuck with cashew, onion, potato and crushed peanut. These are the dishes that made me want to return, but when I did go back there were so many other things I wanted to try. No choice but to eat there again . . .
Here’s the secret I will share only with you: If you apply for a Dusit Gold card—application is free—you can get up to a 50% discount!
Benjarong, Ground Floor, Dusit Thani Manila, Tel. No. 238-8888, Open for lunch from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and for dinner from 6:00 to 10:00 pm. The bar is open up to midnight.