Showing posts with label Bangkok. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bangkok. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bangkok Ice Cream Festival 2013; Miangkham ice cream reigns supreme

Shortly after I got off the plane from Bali, my family and I happened to stumble upon a gold mine, the 2013 Ice Cream Festival at Central Plaza.  I attended the previous year's festival, but didn't quite get to explore as much as I would like to.  So, when this opportunity came up, I gave up my health conscious choices and just went all out.  The ice cream festival brought together all types of popular vendors and different genres of ice creams you could dream of.  It was truly a sweet-tooth haven for both adults and children alike.  You would find anything from soft-serve to gelato, sorbet, Turkish ice cream, mochi ice cream, "egg ice cream", even Marble Slab-esque ice cream.  

What I was focusing on was the increase in vendors producing ice creams based on seasonal Thai fruits, and transforming traditional Thai desserts and street food snacks into delicious, one of a kind ice cream flavours.  I feel it is a form of a growing trend to support and preserve traditional Thai cuisine, while still infusing what seems to work at an international level.  The result is usually some exotic and unique creations I probably wouldn't find anywhere else.  Thai people can get really creative when it comes to food, mixing ingredients that people would deem "taboo".  Their ice creams are no different.  Salted eggs? Salted fish? Dried shrimp flavour? There are less extreme ones too like coconut pandan, mango sticky rice, or Thai milk tea which are more subtle but so good.  So far, the respond by locals have been very positive as well.  There seems to be a growing demand for Thai ice creams and sorbets, thus increasing its popularity and competition.  

This led us to our first stop at the humble Onemore ice cream shop where the sign boasted images of specialty ice cream and sorbets made with Thai fruits you would find at local markets like guava, and passionfruit (all made from natural ingredients).  They're also served the way I remember as I was growing up, with salt, sugar and chili.  The ladies were generous enough to let us try a bunch of flavours, all of which were delicious.  While it was a hard decision to make, their specialty flavours really caught our eye; miangkham flavour and som tum flavour ice creams.  

"Miangkham" is a traditional Thai snack consist of chaplu or la lop leaves, which are robust with a distinct bitter flavour, used as a wrap for fillings.  They include chili, dried shrimp, shallots, garlic, ginger, lime bits with peel, roasted ground peanuts, and dried coconut flakes. It is topped with a viscous sweet and savoury sauce made with palm sugar and fish sauce.  The result is a uniquely vibrant and  strong combination of herbal flavours.  I have to say that miangkham tastes as authentic and traditional as it looks.

I couldn't believe there was an ice cream version of miangkham out for us to try today.  It was definitely one of the items on my food list to cross off while I'm in Thailand.  To be honest, I was a little scared of how the ice cream would turn out.  Chaplu leaves do not exactly have the subtle, gentle flavour, but rather a strong and bitter taste.  If you are looking for an authentic cultural and culinary experience, this leaf is one you should try.  Our miangkham ice cream, or sorbet, was served in a flower clay bowl, which you could take home after.  The vendor then dressed our bowl with toppings such as dried shrimp, lime, ginger, ground peanuts, and the savoury syrup.  It looked like the real deal.  After one bite, I was thoroughly impressed.   It looked like miangkham, and it tasted like miangkham.  Thankfully, the chaplu sorbet was not too overwhelming.  Instead, it was very light and had a lot of lime zest.  So, it was a rather refreshing and intriguing treat.  While I wouldn't call this one a dessert, but more like a really cool snack, it is an impressive new take on a traditional Thai appetizer that deserves to be served at 5 star Thai restaurants all over the world.
Miangkham ice cream all dressed to impress
Since the first ice cream was a hit, we later circled back and got a second hit.  This time, it was the refreshing gooseberry sorbet topped with syrup and crusted with salt, sugar and chili flakes.  Gooseberry by itself is normally extremely sour and tart.  Seasoning with salt, sugar and chili flakes not only balance out the flavour but also adds an extra kick or two to make life more interesting.  Eating this sorbet would make any Thai person feel nostalgic growing up.  Not only from buying the fruits which would come in a clear bag with a separated sugar-salt for dipping, but any Thai adolescent may have experienced being disciplined by a gooseberry branch at some point when they stepped out of line.
Crusted gooseberry sorbet
Another stop worthy of mentioning is another Thai ice cream vendor "Pad Boke Ice Cream", which also specializes in traditional Thai ice cream flavours.  We opted for apple custard sorbet for 35 bath or around $1.  This sorbet had no single trace of anything artificial in there and tasted natural and custardy like the fruit's namesake.  We found big chunks of the actual fruit mixed inside the sorbet. We really wanted to try the mango sticky rice ice cream from here too!! If only we had more stomachs....

I cannot believe we gave up mango sticky rice ice cream, young coconut pandan, passion fruit, or even 'kanom krok' ice cream for this last piece......

From Kyoto, Japan, Kyo Roll En ice cream looked pretty cool half black half matcha green.  At first I thought it was sesame flavour but later learned it was "sumi" flavour made from bamboo charcoal.  Seemed unique enough... and I'm a huge fan of matcha soft serve.  I have to say that our experience was mildly hampered by the sales lady whom I could only describe as a b*atch (a justifiable term on so many levels).  At any rate, the ice cream was nice, but didn't taste any different than other regular soft-serve.  The bonus side of this ice cream is that charcoal contains detoxifying agents that help cleanse the intestinal tract and act as anti-bacterial agent as well.  
Sumi-matcha flavoured soft-serve

Apparently today was the last day and I must I admit, I'm quite distraught.  Another vendor on the list to check out is Itim Yuk, another master of Thai ice creams.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Four Seasons Chinese restaurant

On my last day in Bangkok, I was faced with a tough choice to make at Siam Paragon, 
"where to have lunch?"
After about 15 minutes of pondering, I narrowed down my choices to two; Coffee Bean by Dow and Four Seasons.   I weighed my options carefully.  Coffee Bean by Dow is a fabulous restaurant with a lot of variation.  I would be missing Thai cuisine and fusion a lot when I'm gone.  On the other hand, there was no table available at the moment.  It was after 2 pm, and I was starving.  Four Seasons is known for its world famous roast duck and this is its first international location away from London.  My mother even spoke of dining at this restaurant when she was studying.  It made me really curious.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

East Ocean Chinese restaurant at SC Park Hotel

East Ocean is an authentic Chinese restaurant that serves Cantonese style dim sum and a la carte and 10 course meal menu.  There is a different special at each day of the week at 50 % off such as fried prawn salad and Peking duck.  During the weekend, all tables are filled up with extended families who take their parents and grandparents to enjoy the delicious traditional dim sum. Since the location is near my house, my family has been coming here for years.  They have always been consistent with quality at reasonable prices.  Also, the restaurant has undergone a facelift in becoming an elegant,fine dining Chinese restaurant.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nolboo Hangari Galbi

Nolboo Hungari Galbi is an authentic Korean barbecue franchise restaurant located on the second floor of K-Village.  It is spacious and the Korean owner/manager, one of the friendliest people in the world, is usually there to greet you himself.  The great thing about this place is they have a solid ventilation system that sucks 90% of the smoke out.  Best of all, you don't have to grill the meat yourself.  The waiting staff does the entire plate for you and cuts the meat up into bite size pieces once it's ready.  I feel bad at times that they had to stand there the entire time while we take our time eating.  All the staff have a plastic guard over their mouth to ensure none of their salivas get mixed with our food!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ramen Champions


Arena 10 on Thonglor is a lively place to be especially on weekends.  Not only is it the venue for 2 popular night clubs, a football field, but also a go-to place for your ramen fix as well.  There are 6 individual ramen shops together in one place.  They're not just regular ramnen joints either, but all are ramen champions straight from Japan.  Each place is famous for specialized broth, and I've tried 3 out of 6 so far.  All the shops are about the same size; small with bar counters and outside seatings.  The staff are helpful and eager to inform us about their specialty.  

Panorama at Crowne Plaza Hotel

Panaroma restaurant, located on level 23 of the Crowne Plaza hotel, offers more than tasty international dishes, but a stunning panoramic view of Bangkok as well.  This year, it was voted as one of Thailand's best restaurants by elite magazine Thailand Tatler.  Diners have the options between intercontinental buffet or a la carte, we went for the buffet lunch today.  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Above Eleven

When I heard about the concept of Above Eleven, a new restaurant/sky bar opening at Fraser Suites, Sukhumvit, I knew I had to check it out before I leave Bangkok.  After bringing a few friends and checking it out, I was certainly glad I made the right choice.  Above Eleven brings yet another level of  sophistication to nightlife, and a new dining adventure to Bangkok's savvy food scene.    

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mrs. Balbir's, Fine Indian Cuisine in Bangkok

When in Bangkok, you have to go to the right place when you are craving certain things.  When you're craving Japanese, go to Sukhumvit.  When you're craving Chinese, go to Yaowaraj.  When you're craving Pad Thai, go to Sanam Luang.  When you are thirsty, go to Thonglor.  When you're craving Indian food, go to Silom or Nana.  
Thus, this chapter landed us at the heart of Nana via the speedy and reliable sky train as we scrambled in search for East Indian perfection. Although Indian food isn't as popular or main stream among Thai locals, there are tons of authentic Indian restaurants in Bangkok metropolitan area and the competition is fierce. Mrs. Balbir's Fine Indian Cuisine is located at the beginning of Sukhumvit 11/1, not too far from Nana train station. The restaurant is spacious and elegantly decorated.  It looks new, clean, and, rich - marbled floor, chandeliers, a beautiful traditional wooden swing hung by chains as focal point. To my surprise, we were the only table the entire time.  Mind you, we did arrive way passed lunch rush on a weekday. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bonchon Chicken, Thailand

I finally got to cross another item off my list of things to eat in Bangkok this year. For months, I hesitated to try the Bangkok franchise version of the beloved Bonchon Chicken after reading several reviews that they are incomparable to other Bonchons out there.

The thought had totally left me until I stumbled across a brand new stand at Siam Paragon. Even though it's just a kiosk, you would expect there would be some quality control here right? Apparently not.
Despite the fact that I have picked up my dinner from trusty Thai KFC already, I was determined to give it a try.  I asked the vendor what sauce and she'd recommend soy garlic was most popular so I got 5 boneless pieces to go.

Words like "mouth watering", "delish", "extra crispy", "juicy" were some of the few that came to mind as I anticipated for the chicken.  However.....
I took my first bite into a dry, rubbery meat. That was hardly what I was expecting. The chicken tasted like it had been chilling out all day, cold and stale. The batter wasn't crispy and quite thick.  The famous sauce was overly salty and it smelled and tasted like something artificial. I could hardly finish one piece let alone eat the rest. As a devoted fried chicken connoisseur, this was utterly unsatisfactory
My experience may be different had I gone to the main location at Thonglor. Nonetheless, for an expanding establishment with 3-4 branches now, I certainly would have expected quality at this location.  I'm glad I had KFC as a plan B, which, by the way, is about 100 times greater than in North America. Stay tuned for my new post as I detail the awesomeness of Thailand's KFC!
Precisely my reaction after tasting Thailand's Bonchon Chicken..

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cute Pig's Guide to Thailand: Mont มนต์นมสด bread and milk bar

For a famous, tourist-friendly mall such as the MBK, I was really surprised how very few foreigners have heard about this popular Thai cafe, Mont, short for Mont Nom Sod. Among Thai local, it is a well-known spot for fresh bread and dairy beverages.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Made in Candy, candy making like a boss!

 I've always been fascinated with these candies with cartoon pictures on them ever since I was little.  If you've come across these candies, I'm sure you've also wondered, "how'd they do it??".  For the first time today, I've finally seen that the art of making these cute candies has become the new "it" thing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

D'Vine Wine bar and Tapas at Crystal Park

There's a trending food scene going around in Bangkok and it's growing faster than germinating dandelions; wine bars.  Just around my area, I can count at least 5 wine bars within 2 km radius. Competition is fierce and each establishment must do their best to captivate patrons in more than one way for them to keep returning.  D'Vine Wine Bar & Tapas is one of the new places opened earlier this year.  I believe some Thai celebrities have also joined in this venture and thus, much of marketing and hype have been put in to this place.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Yummy Japanese soft serve ice cream in Bangkok

Scorching weather is hot enough in Bangkok to drive anyone crazy.  What better way to cool down that with an icy treat like a soft serve ice cream?

Cool it down the traditional way at Ootoya Kitchen
Omnitsu at Ootoya restaurant, 100 bath; scoop ice cream more for less.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Italian food in Bangkok: Italian Proudfa

Ken Teeradej
Serving Italian fare with a Thai twist, Italian Proudfa is not only a sister restaurant of the famous Chef Tanom, but it is also run by the brother of Chef Tanom himself.   Located in the commercial area of Town in Town, this modest establishment brings a vibrant variety to the neighbourhood at a reasonable price.  A little story behind the name, I was told by the manager that the restaurant was named after the chef's daughter, Proudfa.  

We arrived the restaurant a little before lunch and there was only one other table beside ours.  The manager greeted us warmly and made recommendation on their signature dish.  Mid-way through our meal, as I noticed the customers at the other table leaving.  I was starstruck to find famous Thai actor Ken Teeradej had been sitting nearby the entire time *o*  So he is a fan of this place too.  What a great sign *__* <3  My stalking skill wasn't up to par as I couldn't figure out what he just had earlier.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Italian food in Bangkok: Grossi Trattoria & Wine Bar

Located inside Intercontinental Hotel, Grossi Trattoria is rather formal and higher priced to be called "trattoria" by definition.   Regardless of what category it should be called, I love the space and setting of this place with natural lighting coming through the tall glass walls, dark colour scheme furniture, hardwood floor accented with black and white tiles.  The restaurant is quite popular amongst businessmen and travellers as it is often filled up during the lunch rush.  I discovered one of the main reasons why this place is always so busy during lunch.  There's an incredible lunch deal very few would pass on.

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