Tucked way from the bustling crowds and areas inside this mall complex is a Thai casual dining restaurant called Jatujak. I made my way there for brunch with a friend on a nice weekday.
Apparently, the franchise was borne out of the mission to bring to the Filipino palate the treasures of Thai cuisine, as inspired by the vibrant Chatuchak Market in Bangkok.
For a space that’s almost modest in size, the seating area is just right and really gives you the standard casual Thai restaurant vibe – modern fixtures with the whole place ladened with a lot of traditional Thai ornaments. It exudes just the right balance between modernity and remnants of Thai culture, which I think the goal of was to tell you that this spot is going to give you Thai food.
I wanted to switch things up a bit in the food we were going to have, selecting the ones not usually ordered when having Thai cuisine on top of standard Thai fare. Having some spicy food first thing in the morning? Exciting!
First, we had the Tom Yum Chicken (Php 215) soup. You can get it in Shrimp or Mixed Seafood varieties too. Strong aroma – totally reminiscent of Sinigang. Made my stomach flare in anticipation. It was cooked with generous amounts of ingredients. You can see when you scoop up all that it gives it flavor. This Tom Yum is rather close to the one I had when I was in Bangkok. Although almost too sour for my liking, but it was a decent start nevertheless
We had the Tofu Salad (Php 160) served next. I requested for the tofu to be steamed as opposed to being deep-fried. And it was a good thing I asked since the tofu comes deep fried by default. I did that since tofu absorbs a lot of oil, and you wouldn’t really want to chew lots of it. Anyway, this turned out to be more of a Thai coleslaw, complete with it being weirdly warm with a lot of sweet, white dressing. But plus points on it for the crunchy and fresh vegetables.
Time for some meat! We had the Red Beef Curry (Php 295) for some protein. They do also have a selection for Yellow and Green Curry. It was actually quite delicious! The curry tasted like how I expected it to be – just the right amount of seasoning and strength in taste. The meat however was a little too tough, pulled apart fine but into tough strings.
Boy did they mean Basil when they served our Mixed Seafood with Basil (Php 270). Fragrant and almost pungent from the herb, I wasn’t a fan of this as much. This had shrimp, fried fish, mussels and overcooked slices of squid (because it was a little resistant to chewing). You know squid is cooked well when it surrenders to your bite and shrimp is cooked well when it is not a chore to take the skin off. Pro tips.
And of course you have to try the Pad Thai when in a Thai place. We got a plate (or bowl, rather) of it w/ Shrimp (Php 230) also in Chicken and Vegetarian options. Quite disappointing for its noodles were very dry, sticking to each other. This classic piece needed rescue with few more douses of peanut sauce, some tang and sharpness.
This is not exactly a glowing recount of my experience in Jatujak precisely because of the unfortunate events in the restaurant that morning. We had already ordered our dessert, which was the Water Chestnut in Iced Coconut Milk, definitely a mark of Thai sweets. We were informed later that they could not produce it because they don’t have ice. They did not have ice!! Their delivery did not arrive and they could not simply buy from the grocery since their ice arrives already shaved, tubed or cubed. It would have been nice to wash all that savory dish down with some refreshing cold dessert.
Come through Jatujak if you’re in for an alright time with some usual Thai offerings away from the busy part of the mall. Hopefully you’ll have a more fortunate time there than we did.