It was still 9:30 in the morning when I showed up at Mae Krua, a Thai restaurant in Cebu City. I was actually hoping that they would be open, considering that it was a national holiday in the Philippines that day. From the looks of it, they are since the front door was not locked. This was later confirmed by a crew who seemed to sprang out of nowhere and informed me of their business hours.
He probably thought that I was eyeing something inside the establishment or that he was just very helpful to someone who looked lost at this hour of the day. I could not entirely blame him if the latter is or both are true, since that Monday morning, most of the metropolis was deserted save for a few taxi cabs that passed by.
I told the guy that I’ll be back in time for lunch because I have an errand to attend to. This is usually the kind of response that you make up so that the other party would not feel so bad especially if you don’t show up. There is another time for that, and this was not one of those. I must be true to my word as this could be my only chance to dine in this little restaurant that my Cebu friends have been raving about. I remember that I just pass by it when I was still based in these parts back in the day.
So I returned to the restaurant an hour or so later. When I entered the restaurant, I immediately noticed the Thai place mats, the face of a golden Buddha and some figurines that would remind you that you are in fact in a Thai restaurant. I did not mind though the Backstreet boys soundtrack and the slew of 90s hits being played in the background. I was just here for the food and nothing else.
A few minutes later, the Tom Yam Goong (Spicy Prawn Soup) was served on my table. After a few spoonfuls and as beads of sweat started to trickle down my face, I wanted to cry in sheer delight. I realized that I just had the Tom Yam experience that’s closest to what I had in Bangkok. The rich broth had that complicated interplay of sour, salty and spicy – the triumvirate of flavors that have eluded me until this bowl. Everything was there too – the kaffir lime leaves, the galanggal, the coconut milk, the lemongrass and the crushed chili peppers. This ladies and gentlemen, was definitely a Kelly Clarkson moment.
The Pad Thai which was served shortly, provided the contrast to the sensory assault from the Tom Yam. The flat noodle’s sweet and spicy undertones reminded me of a street cart version peddled at Khao San Road. This one though was infinitely better and more sanitized as well. I thought that I won’t be able to finish this noodle and then probably bring back the leftovers back to Manila.
Well, I was so wrong. My Adam Richmond self took over my pseudo-health-conscious self that time. I was like a tired nomad wandering in the desert and then stumbled upon a bottle of Evian. When you are faced with that kind of predicament, you have every understandable reason to forget your table manners, or in my case, my imaginary dietary restrictions. All my three months worth of gym may have just been undone that very morning.
I then made a list of terrible excuses to present to my trainer as I saw the empty plate and bowl before me. “The Pad Thai had vegetables” or “It was just a seafood soup” or “At least there was no pork on it.” I resolved not to explain myself the following day. She will never read this blog entry anyway. I then forced myself to leave Mae Krua because I could have ordered more items in their menu, considering that I spent a little over Php300 for this lunch that could have also easily fed one more person. I promised myself to try their other dishes should I find myself in Cebu again.
Mae Krua Thai Cuisine
80 F. Ramos St. Cebu City
+63 32 236 8946