Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wine Republic

 
Located at the heart of Thonglor, Wine Republic is one of the go-to wine bar and bistro in Bangkok.  For most people getting to WR (or anywhere in Thonglor actually), the best way to go is buy taxi.  There's very little parking space in this area and when there is, it can be quite expensive.  Valet parking is available for 100 bath, and you get a coupon for a barbecue skewer (yayyy).  

Lamb skewer yum!
Like most bars and lounges at Thonglor, the ambience is appealing to BKK socialites age 20 + and foreigners.  The vibe is mature, yet hip and casual.  I love the atmosphere at WR as it is spacious with 2 levels and a large patio, which often gets filled up fast on the weekends. Around 8 pm there would be a dj spinning live music ranging from old school hip hop, top 40, and techno.  

Since this is a wine bar and restaurant, we had to ask the server, "where's the wine list?"  She replied that they don't offer a wine list, you can go inside to the front entrance of the restaurant which is a bar, as well as a wine store.  There, stood a helpful gentleman who would help you select the wine bottle that would suit your taste.  I guess the point is for the customers to have a unique experience of walking through the selection, shopping, and be advised of the flavours rather than just looking in the menu.  I find it neat, yet tedious at the same time.  With over 170 selections of wine to choose from, I nominated Mz. J, the wine connoisseur to help us pick out a winning bottle for the night.


Happy hour  happens Sunday to Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.  Everything on the classic cocktail menu is buy 1 get 1 free.  The price range is around 220 - 280 bath.  I tried the lychee martini and lychee mojito.  Definitely fell in love with the lychee mojito which came in a generous size!

The menu consists of tapas and pub fare with selections of pizzas and pastas as well.  I find their food to be tastier than other wine bars and the prices are reasonable.


The caesar salad is a moderate portion with large chunks of bacon pieces.  The dressing is house-made and delightfully rich and creamy.  They don't hold back on the grated parmesan either.  You would think you are being healthy eating a salad, but definitely not this particular one.

 
I love their pizza! Family-size anchovy fire-oven pizza is obviously an acquired taste.  Most people will either hate or love it.  The pizza itself is delicious, crispy crust with tons of cheese, and they are generous with the ingredients, in this case, anchovy bits on the topping.  Can't choose which one to order?  You can actually order each kind of pizza as half and half in one order.


Their spicy squid-ink spaghetti for 280 bath is to die for.  It is served in a clay pot backed with pizza dough.  Of course, it's not the most appetizing colour to eat and the thought of having black sauce on your lips is not an appealing image.  But the taste is totally worth it.  It's bold and spicy with tons of flavours and seafood such as clams, squid, and shrimp.  Mz. J who is particular with her food, had it for the first time here and said she dreams of this dish and will always come back for more.

My new favourite go-to spot!

Food: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5
Price: $$$
Service: 3.5/5
Value: 4.5/5


Friday, February 17, 2012

Elegant buffet: Afternoon Tea Buffet at Sukhothai Bangkok hotel

Following my pleasant truffle making class with swiss chef, Laurent Ganguillet at the prestigious 5-star hotel, Sukhothai Bangkok, we were directed for an afternoon of leisure and afternoon tea.   Only available Fridays and weekends, this is no ordinary afternoon tea, but an extensive buffet with 2 separate halls, one for savoury one for desserts.

Luxurious, and insanely delicious mocha truffle recipe

 I don't usually crave for sweets as much as I do for deep fried food.  When I do, I usually reach for dark chocolate which has more grown-up bitter taste and not overly sweet.  In small amounts, dark chocolate can be good for your health.  Flavonoids, compounds which gives the bitter flavour can be found in dark cocoa, have anti-oxidant properties that are beneficial to the body.

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a truffle making class at Sukhothai Bangkok hotel lead by executive pastry chef Laurent Ganguillet.  I have learned some useful tips when it comes to making truffles from the expert himself and would like to share some tips with you all.  Chef used couverture which is high quality chocolate, containing more cocoa butter which gives it more sheen and creamy flavour.  

Here is a recipe I got from chef.

serving 50 pieces
Ingredients:
Ganache
250 ml heavy cream 35% fat content
150 g milk couverture
250 g dark couverture 58%
8 g coffee powder

Coating
Dark couverture

Finishing
Cocoa powder

Preparation 
  • Roughly chop 2 kinds of chocolate and put them in a mixing bowl.  
  • Put heavy cream in cooking pot and bring them to boil.
  • Remove from heat and add coffee powder, stir well until dissolved.
  • Pour half of the cream onto chocolate and, using a whisk, start to mix slowly from the centre of the bowl.  The cream will emulsify as you keep mixing. Tip: if you notice the chocolate starts to thicken too quickly, put the mixing bowl over the cream bowl on the stove with the heat off.  
  • Add the remaining cream to chocolate and stir well to obtain smooth consistency.  Voila, ganache is created!

 
  • Let the ganache cool and crystallize at room temperature.  This takes about 12 hours.
  • To shape the truffles, put the ganache in the piping bag and pipe dots of ganache, the size of a cherry tomato on baking paper and let set.  Tip: It's important to touche the baking paper, and pipe vertically up without moving to create a round shape.  As you can see, I struggled as it was my first time.  It was harder than it looked! You can also pipe into cylindrical shape, or use 2 spoons to shape as well. 
  • Prepare cocoa powder by spreading 2 cm layer of cocoa powder on a large tray with a rim.
  • Melt some dark chocolate to 32 c and, with the help of forks, quickly roll the truffles one by one in the melted chocolate and then in the cocoa powder  to coat them nicely.
What a gong show there
  • Let set.
  • To remove the cocoa powder, put a small amount of truffles in a large strainer, and use a baker's brush to remove excess powder.  As you can see, I didn't have either available.  
 
And that's it! Your mocha truffles are ready to be enjoyed.  Mine didn't turn out pretty, but they tasted amazing... The ganache was velvety smooth, rich, dark, with a slight sweetness.  Here's a nicer picture of the truffles made by the professionals instead.



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

All you can eat dim sum at Summer Palace, Intercontinental Bangkok


  

One may ask, "how many hagow can one eat?".  If you like dim sum, and an option of AYCE is put right in front of you, why not try it out if you're in the mood?  That's what I did.  Summer Palace is not just your regular dim sum restaurant.  Located at the 5-star Intercontinental hotel, it is probably one of the most lavish and elegant chinese restaurants one could dine at.  


No, there are no dim sum carts being push around here folks.  You don't have to order all you can eat either.  But should you choose to, there is a separate menu of the Cantonese dim sum favourites such as siu mai, hagow, etc., along with soups, main course dishes, and desserts.

The majority of the dishes are comparable in taste to any other dim sum restaurants.  The dishes that really stood out were deep fried mashed taro stuffed with prawn, duck spring rolls, duck fried rice, bamboo fibre and crab soup, and crispy rice noodles topped with savoury meat sauce.  Their marinated chicken feet were flavourful despite being served in a dish broken in half by the steam.  The desserts offered were traditional, and some are not easily found else where.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Senor Pico: a fiesta in Bangkok

Who knew that authentic and delicious latin fare could be found on the second floor of Rembrandt hotel on Sukhumvit road? Being one of my family's favourite go-to places, Senor Pico is not just a wanna-be Latin restaurant in Bangkok, it prides itself as being the real thing.  And you know what? it really is! The ambience is traditional, vibrant, and welcoming.  Attentions are paid to the smallest details, even in the staff uniforms.

 



 
The menu offers popular latin dishes such as tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, etc.  There are also restaurant specialities such as Pico's latin grill, a selection of grilled chicken, pork loin, prime rib or tenderloin.


After you order, a basket of warm tostadas are served with a side of house-made spicy salsa and salsa verte which is more mild.  The chips are refillable.

 
It's not a fiesta unless there's upbeat latin music and some alcohol.  I was craving lime margarita, but also ordered a yummy cocktail, El Diablo.   My dad ordered his favourite, a shot of tequila, which comes with condiments; salt, lime, and tomato juice.


We started the meal off with beef taquitos, or cute mini tacos. The beef had a lot of flavours from the spices and seasoning.  To make more out of it, I took the lettuce and made it into a small taco salad.
This particular item is what I had been waiting for, chili con queso.  I don't know why I couldn't find any decent place in Canada that makes a good chili con queso.  I'm still upset for being tricked by Don Guacamole's version >:[


Senor Pico's chili con queso was delicious.  The cheese was a gooey, fondue-like texture which was great for dipping.  It certainly was a great satisfaction.  The only downer is, the candle doesn't keep the pot warm enough, so the cheese tends to harden too soon.


We ordered Senor Pico's specialty, espetada or grilled meat on a skewer.  We ordered the 20oz. Australian prime rib eye steak medium rare, which was tender and well-marinated through and through.  The steak was accompanied by a separate plate of garlic potatoes, zucchini, peppers and corn.
  


Every night, there is also a live band playing classic latin songs (the band members are from South America).  The dance floor, although often empty, is also available for anyone who feels like they want to salsa.  I was quite blown away when I saw a random patron and a waitress dancing salsa together and meshing so well together.  I asked her after if the restaurant also trained her to salsa.  She informed me that Senor Pico also holds a free salsa lesson every Friday night from 9 pm - 12 am.  Good to know!


They offer delicious and customizable tacos which you have total freedom to choose what kind of tortilla, toppings and tasty fillings like chicken, sea bass, steak, and scallop and chorizo.  My personal favourite was the sea bass.  


Senor Pico is yet another vibrant option in Bangkok's dining scene.  The atmosphere is lively and the food is awesome.  If you are craving for authentic latin fare, be sure to check Senor out.  

food: 4/5
price: $$$
ambience: 3/5
service: 4/5
value: 4/5