Showing posts with label Latin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Latin. Show all posts

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

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don Guacamole's

As I had no interest in returning to Don Guacamole, I didn't even have an intention to write about this place until I kept being reminded, "People have the right to know about this place.  They must be warned..."
So, I will do my duty as a food blogger to document not only the good, the bad, but also the mediocre as well, even though at times it is really difficult to care about every single restaurant I've ever visited.  In the end, I'll let the readers be the judge.  So, here it goes...

One sunday evening, my sister and I set off to Don Guacamole on Robson for some Mexican cena.  As we arrived, there was also a steady flow of patrons coming in which was a good sign to us and we had high hopes for some authentic Mexican food.  It didn't take long for us to order; 4 tacos, chicken flautas, chile conqueso.  And we weren't even hungry :)

Tortilla chips and 3 kinds of salsas arrived the table while we wait for our meal to arrive.  The dark roasted chili dip had a sweet and strong smoky and spicy flavour, very similar to a thai roasted chili paste nam prik ta dang.  We both dig it.  The salsa verde had a lot of lime juice and cilantro in it.  I'm a fan of salsa verde in general so they didn't go wrong here.  Another bowl was house-made salsa which was lacking fresh herbs, it was refreshing and couldn't go wrong there either.  Perhaps, the chips and salsa were the best dish that evening.
Contrary to our beliefs that chili con queso is a creamy, spicy cheese sauce served with tortilla chips, which was how it was served to us in the past, Don Guacamole's chili con queso was straight up chili stuffed with cheese.  I was somewhat disappointed I didn't read the description better but still gave it a try.  It was a wrap of two large peppers grilled and softened with soft melted cheese stuffing, the topped with sour cream.  Wait a minute, isn't this chili relleno?? It didn't taste terrible, but it sure wasn't want I wanted and I probably wouldn't order it again.
Tacos shouldn't be too hard to miss right? We ordered 4 tacos with 2 beef tongue, 1 pork carnitas, and pulled pork.  The tacos arrived looking authentic, but after tasting, they were depressingly bland.  I had high hopes for beef tongue but all the tacos ended up tasting the same and I couldn't even tell them apart. C'mon, they could've at least thrown in a wedge of lime :( For the same price of $10, I would rather head over to La Taqueria where I can expect more flavours from delicious and authentic Mexican tacos.
The last, and most forgettable dish of the evening, chicken flautas were even more dry and boring than the previous dish.  I'm not trying to slam it or make it sound worse than what it was but the chicken inside was extremely dry and, once again, flavourless.  The only visible seasoning I saw on it was the black pepper.  The flautas were topped with a pile of iceberg lettuce, cubed cheese and signature guac.  Their guac tasted refreshing with a lot of lime flavour, but I wouldn't have paid $8 just for a bowl of it.  I wish they threw in more spices (other than black pepper) in the chicken and tomatoes, red peppers, or cilantro on top and maybe they won't taste like a bunch of cardboards.  In the end, I dressed it up with the salsas that we had, but it didn't make a huge difference.  The flautas alone tasted equivalent to something from 711, I'm not kidding.  My sister said she'd rather go to Taco Bell. 

In summary, I thought the dishes lacked flavours and failed to impress.  It would take a lot to convince me to come back again.

Don Guacamole's on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer is here at Ideya Latin Bistro

Ideya Latin Bistro is a Caribbean latin restaurant which takes influences from many latin regions and giving its dishes a contemporary twist. The atmosphere was very lively and laid back, a great spot to chill out on a hot summer evening with your date or a group of friends. The restaurant was decorated with Caribbean murals, and cool colour tone such as white concrete and lime green walls.  In such a tropical setting, you almost feel like you're on a vacation.
Yay, something that's not just tortilla chips and salsa! The first batch of plantain chips and salsa is complementary.  While the second batch will cost you extra $4.50, you will probably be addicted right after the first bite and asking for more.  The plantain chips were crispy and fun to eat.  The salsa had bits of mangos in it and was freshly made.  We just couldn't stop eating them!
Mojitos and summer go together hand in hand like, as Jay-Z would put it, "Nike Air and crisp tee".  As Ideya is known for its specialty in mojitos, you cannot go there without ordering one.  The guava mojito ($12) was excellent.  It was refreshing, slightly sweet and tangy, not to mention stiff.
Our appetizer, pato de chocolate, or seared duck breast, chocolate, orange sauce and stewed leeks ($12) could've been an entree on its own.  With a little French cuisine influence, the dish was a combination of sweet and savoury.  The duck breast was tender, a hint of sweetness of the chocolate came through and toned down the gamey taste of the duck.
The second appie was bacalaitos, beer battered salt cod fritters with guava marmalade ($9).  The deep fried fish cakes had crispy, flakey, chewy texture.  The guava marmalade was sweet, tangy, and carried the fruity guava taste that I love.
A Salvadorean classic, papusa ($10) with roasted chicken stuffed corn masa cake refried bean puree topped with salsa and pickled cabbage.  While the traditional Salvadorean papusas are made with soft tortilla with soft, paste like filling, Ideya's version is more of a tower, much like a gordita.  I thought the masa cake, which was a thick cornmeal tortilla, was too thick and I wish there was more melted cheese stuffed inside since the bites were a bit too dry.
 Up next was chuleta a la diabla ($21), or grilled chipotle marinated porkchop with tomatillo (green tomato) sauce.  The flavours and smokiness of the marinated grilled pork really came through, although the pork was a bit over-grilled and tough to chew.  I loved the vegetables with tomatillo sauce, which wasn't acidic like red tomatoes and was like a lighter version with the savouriness of a gravy.
The meal was completed with a dessert, guava empanada $8 (I seem to have a theme going on here).  Ideya actually has a descent list of desserts to choose from; chipotle & chocolate cake with tomatillo sauce, ginger coconut float with ginger beer, coconut ice cream and molasses spice cookie, and a sundae with banana frita and spiced peacans.  Mmmmm they all sounded really tasty and exotic.  The empanada was really good.  It was very similar to an apple pie with a flakey pastry and caramelized fruit inside.  

Ideya offers not only variety, but also a contemporary flare in Latin cuisine.  I really enjoyed the mojito, exploring the menu, and trying out their dishes. Given the opportunity, I would return again for more plantain chips.

Ideya on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo

Rinconcito Salvadorean

After school, Johana and her sister brought me out to Rinconcito on Commercial Drive for their much raved about pupusas.  As we sat down, it must've been the tropical decor that made me immediately started craving for a bulldog.  Yet, the more I tried to explain to the owner what it was, the more confused he looked.  In the end, I just ordered a lime margarita and a corona, and made my own concoction along side with an order of chips and salsa. That's right, I had a long day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Everday is Taco Day at La Taqueria

My next lunch escapade landed my fellow classmates and I at La Taqueria Pinche taco shop on West Hastings, just a block away from Meat & Bread! The modest taco shop presented themselves as being the 'real deal' with an eye catching portrait of the Virgin Mary gloriously painted at the front wall.  You can't miss it.  The shop was fairly small and narrow, and during lunch time, you might feel a bit claustrophobic being inside.  We were greeted with a long line up at the door, but I usually take it as a welcoming sign that this is where it's at.  As I checked out the menu on the board written in chalk, I found it hard to choose out of the vast variety of tacos.  I saw the sizes of the tacos flying out, they weren't too large.  I decided to go with what the majority was getting, 4 tacos for $9.50.  But if you don't feel so hungry and just want a light snack, you can also get one or 2 for $2.50 each.

While Johana wasn't quite sure what kind of tacos she wanted, the guys at La Taqueria set them up for her, including the daily special which was the free range braised lamb for that day.  As for me, I went straight for de lengua (braised beef tongue).  I'm not sure why that was the first item that attracted me when I seldom eat beef tongue. The other ones I picked were pescadeo (I had to have fish taco!), carnitas (pork confit), and the daily special.  I considered that an exciting platter! lol  The service was assembly line, fairly quick and efficient.  I like the concept of La Taqueria; simple, and to the point.  Our wait time in total was about 15  minutes, while our time to finish the tacos only took us no more than 5 minutes....  We were hungry students!

After we picked up the goods, we headed straight for the sauce stand.  I LOVE sauces, and there was so much variety with jalapenos and pickles.. I tried hard not to go overboard with the salsa verde and ruin the flavours of the tacos.  Since it was way too crowded inside the shop, I couldn't stand being inside any longer. So, we stepped out and enjoyed our meal right at the front of the store to enjoy one of the few sunny days in Vancouver. Though each taco is quite small, they were double wrapped with 2 tortillas.  Initially, I wonder why they needed 2.  Johanna mentioned that's how they make them in Latin America, and as I was eating a taco and it started disintegrating, I got that the second tortilla was supposed to hold everything together once the first layer gets too soggy.  Apart from its function, the second layer definitely helped fill us up.  Anyways, aside from the function and composition of the tortillas, the tacos tasted great!
De Lengua (not the best picture after the sauces) Y_Y
My absolute favourite was de lengua.  It may not be the most popular choice, but after comparing against the other 3 that I had, the beef tongue was the most tasty. It was tender, savoury, and very flavourful.  Actually, one of the tastiest tacos I've tried in a while I should say.

My second favourite was the pescado which the fish was slightly charred.  The texture was quite nice and flaky, not hard or mushy.   The carnitas and braised lamb were good also.  The garnishing made them more refreshing, but I still prefer the other 2, nonetheless.  Would I pay $10 again for those tacos? Absolutely, especially if half of them are lengua. 

Braised lamb
As people walked passed the shop, they would see 2 girls outside stuffing their faces with tacos and hearing "Mmmmmm......So good" or "Oh my god.....unreal....".   The rest of my classmates nodded head in affirmation as we headed back.  It seems this will also be one of our regular lunch spots in the area.

La Taqueria Taco Shop on Urbanspoon