Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth Hour, Thailand, coral death, and the future...

Hi guys,

For this post I would like to talk about an important topic that would impact not only me and my generation, but the future generation and ecosystem as well.  I had just finished participating in 60 minutes Earth Hour in Bangkok at 2030 hour to 2130 hour.  I must admit that hour without technology  eternal and I felt a sense of relief and comfort getting back to my normal realm again.  Towards the ending of that short period, my sister and I were explaining to our mother what is Earth Hour, why should we care?  Many people are still not aware of this annual world-wide activity.  Some of you may even find that,  it's pointless, inconvenient, and irrelevant.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Since we couldn't make it to Japan, we brought Japan to us!

Since my last visit to Japan in 2010, I've been dreaming about returning ever since.  I was hoping that some miracle would happen and I would be able to stop by Japan this year for their magnificent cherry blossom festival and maybe take a trip to Hokkaido for an amazing food tour.  But it was all just a daydream.  The schedule didn't quite work out and I'll have to put it aside til next year.  

Instead of moping and groaning for days, I have a lucky hamster who told me a secret about a little hidden gem.  The thing is this little gem is located at the largest mall in Thailand, Central World.  I was skeptical when she told me about delicious soft serve ice cream she got from a Japanese food court at Isetan, a Japanese department store located inside CTW.  I wasn't too excited, umm.. it's a food court? how special could it be? -_______-Well I took a trip there and finally got a snap with the cherry blossom as you can see ^_^.  And that's about as close as I'll ever get to a cherry blossom this year Y^Y.  It won't ever die and not really authentic, but it's pretty to look at in pictures right? lol.. Now, let's just get to the point about the food and I'll just summarize that it was a hell of a playground.  Located on the 5th floor of Isetan lies an incredible array of authentic variety of Japanese fare at extremely reasonable prices.  Behold for it is called the Souzai Delicatessen.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Elegant Buffet rampage: Seafood buffet at Espresso, Intercontinental Hotel Bangkok

How am I not obese by now??

With all the buffet I've been eating this whole month.  Here's another one.  After years of pleading and begging, I finally had to "honour" to dine at Espresso.  Located at 5-star luxury hotel, the Intercontinental, Espresso offers a variety of international cuisines with focus on seafood and modern fusion fare.  There are also vast variety of European, Japanese and Chinese fare elegantly presented.  There was a pasta station and I think the chef was actually Italian!  This is just based on his appearance and my assumption, of course.  Like, how much more authentic does that get??  

 It's definitely one of the best hotel buffet in Bangkok with superior ingredients, large and appealing selections, and very tasty all around.  A word of advice, if you see something you like, only grab 1 piece only and take a few bites.  Maybe explore all your options first before you get suckered into getting a large plate of something.  You will regret getting full too soon then discovering something better!

Here's a recap of what went down.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

High end congee at King's Palace Congee & Noodle Bar @ K-Village cured my headache

I was never a huge fan of congee unless it's -40 outside or I'm dying from a flu.  On one hot sunny day in Bangkok, I was struck by a splitting headache in which I could hardly think or talk and on the verge of vomiting.  I was a miserable wretch and since I could careless where my mother and I were going, I let her choose what was for lunch (a rare occasion).  She brought me to a cantonese restaurant she always raved about, King's Palace Congee & Noodle Bar.  The restaurant has several branches in Hong Kong and Bangkok is its first and only international branch so far.  It is well known for simple Cantonese comfort food such as congee, noodle soup, barbecue pork/duck/chicken, wonton and light snacks.
Initially, when I thought of King's Palace, I was thinking of an old small noodle shop by the street.  Nope, I was wrong! It was really nice in there.  The place looks brand new and very elegant for eating noodles. It's quite spacious with high windowns for natural lighting.  The wall paper with animals are also really cute, but not tacky.  The servers are mostly Chinese nationals but they can also speak Thai. 

The prices match the atmosphere, pretty expensive I would say.  However, these are not just ordinary congee, but rather high-end and fancy.  Some congee costs up to 650 bath per dish ($22). The luxuious ingredients they put in do justify the price.  The taste and quality are superior so it's worth the value. 

My mother and I didn't get too fancy.  We only ordered simple barbecue pork noodle soup and pork and preserved egg congee.  Let me tell you that they were they were both amazing.  Particularly the barbecue pork, which was meaty, juicy and tender.  It had a sweet glaze with a savoury sauce poured on top. 

Pork congee was so thick and smooth in consistency, you could tell it had been simmering for hours.  With enough flavour in there already, I didn't need to add anymore seasoning besides the pepper.  Too bad I was dying or I would've ordered chinese donut in rice rolls to go with it too!  After the delicious meal, my migrane magically disappeared.  

The third time around, my sister ordered Lai Wan congee.  When asked what was in it, the staff replied, "everything".  She was right.  The congee had everything from tripe, fish maw, crisp shrimp, squid, chicken and topped with peanuts.  Dang, it was a party.  It was also very delicious.  The wonton soup was a generous portion and filled with succulent shrimp.  At every occasion, the food and service have been consistent and we still haven't found anything at King's Palace that was subpar.  Our experience has always been as good as our first.

Food: 4.5/5
Price: $$$
Service: 3/5
Value: 4/5

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ice Cream Festival 2012 at Central Bangna

I love ice cream!!!
Summer is scorching hot in Thailand and, alas, the magnificent Ice Cream Festival is here just in time to save us all.  Come try over 100+ flavours of all different types of ice creams of your favourite vendors.  When I say different types of ice cream, I literally mean different category.  There's soft-serve, gelato, Thai-style, Taiwanese shaved ice, Turkish ice cream, mochi ice cream, you name it!  There are also creative flavours and presentation you wouldn't find anywhere else.  Melt Me presents each gelato served in a cone as rose pedals.  There's ice cream served in a form of an egg and you break it to eat it.  There's also super frozen ice cream that doesn't melt and you eat it along side a cup of cappuccino.  Some odd combination of flavours were coconut and shrimp, coconut and salted eggs and pork floss.  I tried the coconut and shrimp, it was definitely odd -_-''.  There are also a bunch of Thai signature flavours which are super refreshing.  You can pretty much try almost everything here.  What a great festival! It's truly a playground for people of all ages.  

Come check it out from March 22 - 28 @ Central Bangna ^ ^.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Elegant Buffet: Lunch buffet at the Rain Tree Cafe, Plaza Athenee Bangkok

This week is going to be a heavy one on my stomach as we are packing 2 days of lunch buffet.  The first one was at Plaza Athenee Bangkok, and the next one this Saturday will be at Intercontinental hotel.      It's a bonus that both of these places are 5-star luxury hotels renowned for their elegant, yet satisfying buffet :D
I was very impressed with the buffet at the Rain Tree Cafe.  While the selections may not be as extensive as other hotel buffet, but the details and execution are definitely superior.  In comparison to Dusit Thani, Landmark hotel, even Centara Grand, I find that the quality is much higher and the food is tastier than most.  Here's the photo recap of the buffet.  

Cheese and charcuterie
Assortment of fine cheeses
Freshly sliced prociutto 

Southern delicacies: Seafood from Surat Thani and Trang

Every time we head down south to the beautiful beaches and islands, we always have another agenda other than indulging in the scenery.   It's the unlimited supply of fresh and delicious seafood you wouldn't find at just about anywhere else.  

Surat Thani 
The province is one of the main ports to many famous islands in Thailand.  However, it is still a kept on the down low from tourists that Surat is also the main port of top-notch, ginormously succulent seafood.   My family's favourite stop, Ruen Thai restaurant never fails to offer big, meaty crustaceans and day-caught fish.  Here are a few dishes we ordered.

Meaty merry crab


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

ความ(ไม่)อร่อยของส้มตำนัว (สยาม สแควร์) Somtum Nua

คนกรุงเทพฯคงจะไม่มีใครไม่เคยได้ยินเรื่องความฮอตฮิตของร้านส้มตำนัว นับร่วมสิบปีที่ร้านจะแน่นเสมอ ใครอยู่แถวสยามสแคว์เป็นต้องแวะไปลิ้มลอง ร้านนี้เมื่อ8ปีก่อน Cute Pigได้มาชิมปีกไก่ทอดที่กรอบมากเลยติดใจ แต่เมื่อกลับไปต่างประเทษเลยไม่มีโอกาศกลับไปอีกจนวันนี้

บรรยากาศร้านยังคงเหมือนเดิม ยังคึกคักแม้คนจะไม่แน่นเท่าเมื่อก่อน พวกเราสั่งกับข้าวมาแชร์กัน6อย่าง แน่นอนว่ามีไก่ทอดชุดใหญ่จัดไว้ด้วย

แต่เมื่อไก่ทอดมาถึง พอเห็นไซส์ที่เล็กเท่านิ้วก้อยก็ประหลาดใจว่าสั่งชุดใหญ่แล้ว แต่เนื้อหนังไปไหนหมด?? -*- โอเค...เล็กก็เล็ก แต่พอกัดไปแล้วเย็นชืดเหมือนตากลมมาเป็นปีนี่หนูรับไม่ได้จริงๆค่ะ ทำไมมันคุณภาพไม่เหมือนเมื่อก่อนเลย

สั่งลาบเนื้อแต่ได้ลาบหมูที่เหนียวหนึบๆ พอเช็คกับคนเสริฟว่าจดออเดอร์ผิดรึเปล่า ก็เปล่าค่ะ จดเนื้อ..แต่ยกหมูมาให้แทน น้องคงจะชอบมากกว่า อืม..ผิดไปแล้วช่างมัน แต่พี่เปลี่ยนออเดอร์ในใบเสร็จให้เป็นหมูด้วยละกัน อย่าคิดตังค์เพิ่ม เท่านั้นแหละ พนักงาน3-4คนประชุมกันแบบงงๆบวกเคืองๆ เหมือนเราส่งภาษาอินเดียใส่แล้วมาเรื่องมากแถวนี้?!

อาหารที่เหลือก็มีลาบเห็ดฟาง คอหมูย่าง ยำหนมจีน(อย่างเดียวที่ยังทานได้)คุณแม่เคยท้องเสียไปกับส้มตำเลยแอบนอยด์และเลี่ยงไม่สั่ง แต่บังเอิ๊ญมีคนอยากสัมผัสรสชาติอีสานแท้ เลยจัดซุปหน่อไม้มา ยังไม่ทันจะตกเย็นงานเข้าไปซะ วิ่งหาห้องน้ำแทบไม่ทัน!

บอกได้อย่างเดียวค่ะว่า เข็ดแล้ว...เช็คด้วย! T-T

Cute Pigคงไม่มีอะไรพูดถึงการบริการลูกค้า ซึ่งไม่มีความคาดหวังสูงส่งอะไรอยู่ก่อนแล้ว แต่ผิดหวังที่การควบคุมมาตรฐานของอาหารลดลงไปจากเมื่อก่อนมากเมื่อเทียบกับราคาที่ตั้งไว้

ในขณะที่พวกเราคงไม่กลับไปใช้บริการอีก แต่อยากทราบประสบการณ์และความคิดเห็นผู้ใช้บริการท่านอื่นว่าคล้ายกับเราหรือเปล่า? หรือว่าเป็นเพราะเราไปผิดวัน??

Food: 1/5
Service: 1/5
Ambience: 2/5
Price: $$
Value: 1/5

Monday, March 5, 2012

The BEST giant creamy crab croquette at hidden gem, Niigata

If you have walked down Sukhumvit road in Bangkok, you would notice many small shops in Japanese characters with no windows at all.  Sukhumvit area is known to be a mini 'Japantown', although most of us would just walk by these shops, without ever noticing it or consider going in.  But little do people know that some of these small restaurants that have been overlooked offer the best tasting Japanese
food in Thailand.

When my grandmother had her salon on Sukhumvit soi 26, I had only visited a small Japanese restaurant nearby once.  It was well over 10 years ago, and the memory of their home-style japanese meal still resonates with me.  It wasn't until last week, where my sister and I decided to make it a mission to go back to Niigata located just a block away from Promphong BTS station.  When we walked in, nothing had changed much in the past 10, or maybe 20 years that they have been opened.  There may have been slight renovation, but overall everything else is pretty much the same.  The ventilation is quite poor so it was really stuffy inside.  It's the type of place you only come to enjoy the food rather than ambience.

The lunch menu is also small, but very reasonable pricing. The prices are about 170-180 bath with decent portions.   It includes Japanese comfort food such as hamburg steak, tonkatsu, katsu curry, udon, grilled fish, and stir fry pork.  Everything on the 2-page menu comes as a set with soup, rice, and salad.  Since everything is written in Japanese with a little bit of English name, lucky there were pictures that we could point to.

Don't judge a book by its cover!
My sister and I stuck to the same list we ordered last time we were here, their unforgettable giant crab croquette, and katsu curry.  It took close to 20 minutes before the food arrive.  Lucky I didn't have my rage hat on that day.

Initially, when you only see 2 pieces of croquette you might think, 'that's so small...'.  But in fact, it's actually more filling than you think.  The croquette was golden crispy from the shell coated with panko breadcrumbs.  Inside was a smooth and creamy filling that's jam-packed with chunks of real crab meat.  Dip the croquette in the sweet and tangy tonkatsu sauce and eat with along side of the finely chopped cabbage.  Mmmm, I was it total food paradise.

The katsu curry was also as good as we remembered.  This was no ordinary fried pork cutlet.  The pork has been grounded and seasoned so it tasted almost like a hamburger patty with crispy batter.  The curry sauce was homestyle.  It had a very rich, savoury flavour like gravy, but harmonized with curry spices.  You bet the 2 dishes were cleared in no time. As two satisfied ladies left the restaurant, we couldn't help but share our experience and plan for our next visit to Niigata.

Until next time!

Food: 5/5
Ambience: 2.5/5
Service: 2.5/5
Price: $$
Value: 4/5

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Easy young coconut jelly recipe (วุ้นมะพร้าวอ่อน)

Taking a long vacation in Thailand gives me an opportunity to indulge in unlimited supply of fresh coconut water.  I recently fell in love with coconut jelly serves right in the shell.  It is simple, delicious, and has the natural refreshing flavour of the young coconut.  Agar powder is popular in Asian desserts and made from vegetable.  As a result, it thickens much faster and gives more crisp texture than gelatine.

1 young coconut
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp. agar powder
1 tsp. gelatin

Cut open the top part of the coconut and separate the juice into a separate pot and set at low heat.  Scrape the meat off the shell.  Add sugar, agar powder and gelatine to the liquid and gently stir.  The ingredients should be well dissolved together and has a slightly thicker consistency.  Turn off the heat and add coconut meat.  Quickly pour the mixture back into the coconut shell and let cool.  For better refreshment, chill in the refrigerator for about an hour and serve.

Ingredients available on Amazon
 Organic Gelatin Powder 1.06oz

Special Sets : Brand Telephone Agar-Agar Powder Size 50 g. Made in Thailand UFC 10% OFF Refresh Coconut Water 500 ML (order 12 for trade outer)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Shibuya toast fever at After You

After witnessing long line ups in front of a dessert cafe with up to 3 hour wait time, I had to ask, "What is this place, After You?"  An answer I got was that it was a popular place that serves toasts.
Wait, toasts?
First, toasts are inexpensive and they can be found just about anywhere.  So what it is about this place that is so special? Why is it that the people waiting were unfazed by the ridiculous amount of wait time just for toasts.  I saw it in their eyes, desperation and hope.  They were like addicts.  Obviously I concluded that this 'toast' place must be slipping drugs into their toasts, because there's no way they can make it THAT different from everyone else.