Sunday, June 23, 2013

SM Aura and Tamarind Thai Restaurant

A very rainy last week left me longing for something new to see on Saturday and so I quickly decided that I would like to go to SM Aura.  As you all know, SM Aura is the newest Shoemart Mall that was envisioned to be more upscale and originally was not to carry the "SM" branding but to be simply called "Aura".  The full name is "SM Aura Premiere" which for me is a tad long and unnecessary as there is no SM Aura "Basic" :D

Long story short it was still raining that Saturday and we made our way to Aura and in the confusion did not make the turn from 26th street (when you see Market Market on the left - turn right on that intersection) and ended up on C5.  I then merrily had to swerve to the rightmost lane to re enter the Fort at Mc Kinley Hill.  Since it was a Saturday there wasn't any of the usual awful traffic of that area and I got us to Aura in another ten minutes.

Aura looks massive on the outside but somehow not as long as Megamall.  Walking Aura from end to end feels significantly shorter than Megamall.  The short walk made me quite hungry and I was searching for something to eat, the usual suspects in retail are all there but shockingly there is no Mc Donald's, Jollibee, Greenwich, Mang Inasal and the like.  The only fastfood I saw was KFC and that was packed to the brim.  Going upstairs I only saw Brasas (yum), Cabalen, Slice and the always full yet doesn't expand Sbarro at their very nice looking food court.  We went to the deck and saw Yabu (I had eaten there twice recently), Coffee Bean and Tree Leaf and Tamarind.  As I had recent excesses I wanted to eat something organic so we went to Tamarind.

Tamarind is a Thai restaurant by Jatujak, I know this because the napkins are folded in reverse to hide the printed Jatujak logo.  I do know from a restauranteur friend that Aura did invite food establishments but wanted a unique brand just for them and it looks like Jatujak bit in (doesn't look like anyone else did).  Now Jatujak is actually pretty good, I've eaten in both SM North Edsa and MOA branches - now what is it with some brands who have to be in all SMs?  So to play the SM game they created "Tamarind" which is an upscale version of Jatujak.

To summarize the menu, think of Jatujak's menu and increase the price by 30%, the food seems exactly the same.  The model did change as this is a sit down service restaurant as opposed to just being brought your order.  Its cheaper to order a San Mig Light than a Coke here.

As I have been living in excess recently (think all fastfood - burgers and hotdogs) I wanted to cleanse myself and so we ordered two fruit salads the Catfish and Mango and Shrimp and Pomelo and a mixed Sate for protein.

The Crispy Catfish Salad

Shrimp and Pomelo Salad (in case you're wondering those two shrimp on top are all you'll ever see)

Mixed Sate

Everything was sooooooo SWEEEEET.  Its as if the cooks had a quota and get bonuses if they use a kilo of sugar with each dish.  It could be just my taste but dang!

The Catfish Salad is good and is something I always order at any Thai Restaurant, I enjoyed it and no complaints.  It cost far more than it would at Jatujak for the same portion size but then again this is a full service restaurant and so you pay a premium.

My main complaint with Tamarind is that they are stingy with the good stuff.  That Shrimp Pomelo Salad had exactly two pieces of Shrimp, my girl was first to notice and I went digging through the Pomelo in a quest to find more shrimp but alas my search was in vain.  For 300 pesos I expected more, they should name it Pomelo salad with shrimp.

The bill came to P780, which is not bad although though not the best value.  I found some of the Tamarind staff lacking in social graces, we were near the door and they were talking over our heads across to each other like monkeys in the jungle.  Some would not acknowledge us when spoken too - not a nod as they scurry away to fulfill the order, just a blank stare which conveys "I don't want to be here, f u", I don't care how packed the place is, if you choose to be in the service industry show some respect.  I couldn't see any manager so we just left.    

I can forgive all of this, this place is new and subject to birth pains.  Try it in a month or two.


  1. hi. this is chef sandy, i'm the asst. exec. chef in tamarind. i sincerely apologize for my front liners or shall i say dining staff... they are all amatuers and we will do our best to train them. and about the food, i am deeply sorry... but, i do promise the next time you come by and dine again, we will surely satisfy your taste buds...:)

    thanx for the blog.
    its surely help me and my team.

    chef sandy

    1. Hi Sandy,

      Not a problem, as with any new restaurant there will always be bugs. I will be back in the future and will write about you again.


  2. The amount of sweet (sugar) taste in food stop us from visiting Jatujak Thai restaurant, I was going to take the family to try Tamarind, but this post shared some insider tip on what Tamarind really is just a full service version of Jatujak.. Hope they cut down some sugar in their recipe ...:(