Southeast Asian flavors in one address-A A +A
Friday, September 13, 2013
LITTLE Saigon Big Bangkok (LSBB) started with one tent, two woks and about three tables or so at the front yard of the chef’s old home in Guadalupe. In less than a year since it opened, the restaurant has attracted a bevy of followers because of its selection of fresh, organic Vietnamese and Thai fare, which is complemented by its al fresco dining that replicates the street food culture of the two nations.
Last June, LSBB marked its first anniversary by moving to its current location in Paseo Saturnino along Ma. Luisa Rd. in Banilad. It now boasts of a bigger space with indoor and outdoor dining, yet the oriental charm and playful flavors of which it has
been known for, remains.
Still hands on as ever, chef Carmel Almadrones likewise remains at the helm of preparations. From focusing on Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, she has expanded the menu by adding in pieces inspired by the flavors of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Laos. The menu now presents a fusion of flavors that Carmel and her husband, Mark, have tasted from their travels abroad.
Its bestselling appetizers are the Loatian Crispy Rice Salad and the Vietnamese Banh Xeo, which are eaten by sandwiching it in lettuce. Dipped in red curry paste, the salad is a mix of smoked pork with ginger, mint and cilantro while the Banh Xeo is a crispy crepe filled with shrimp and bean sprouts. (To eat it, you simply scoop portions of it into a lettuce leaf and munch it in one go—tricky, but a tasty delight once you get the hang of it.)
As for main courses, bestsellers are the Thai Fried Fish and Chicken with Mango Salsa and the Thai Beef Salad. There’s also the Penang Spicy Noodles, which can stand as a wonderful alternative to the usual order of Pad Thai. Then to cap off the meal, there’s homemade ice cream, which is a unique, unsweetened blend of mango, peppermint and Kaffir lime.
Although LSBB now has a bigger clientele, Carmel has stuck to her principle of only using fresh ingredients in her cooking. Just like before, the menu varies from day to day, as it would depend on what is available. Carmel gets some ingredients from her own farm, and she shies away from using readymade and store-bought items. The sauces she serves are proudly handmade. It may seem tedious, but for the young, passionate chef, she had only one thing to say: “I love it!”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 14, 2013.