Monday, October 30, 2006

Bangkok, October 2006, Day Three

This is the last post for my Bangkok, October 2006 Series and boy do I intend to go off in a blast with more than 25 pictures this round. Ok, ready? Here we go.

A quick stroll through the shopping centre to see what they had to offer. Came across this localized fast food joint. I would have tried something for amusement but I didn't want to waste stomach space, a precious commodity in this land of food (yes, apparently D does get full at some point).

Pseudo street food in their food court. Grilled with heater coils and not charcoal? Bleah... I went on.

Enough of the posers. Let's bring on the real deal. After all, it'll be sinful to do a write-up on Bangkok without their kickass streetside food. Charcoal grill kicks the ass out of electronic heater coils anytime.

Freshly fried streetside chicken. I thought the lady chopping the chook was rather cute but there was something about the way she handled that cleaver that refrained me from being too friendly.

Seasoned with spices (I could taste tumeric) and piping hot, this really demotes the Colonel to a Private haha.

A little palate cleanser to get me ready for my next meal. Palate cleanser, see this is very much like your seven course French fine dining haha.

Fried bananas, very much like the ones you get in Malaysia.

A noodleshop doing brisk business, I had to try some.

Damn... this tasted so good. The noodles had a nice firm bite and the meatballs and fish cake slices were firm and bouncy. I just felt it needed something to spice it up though... something hot.

They have interesting condiments here; crushed nuts, sugar, pepper, pickled chillies, chilli flakes, lime juice... wait a minute, did someone say chilli flakes?

Alright... before she was beautiful but now she's perfect.

The epitome of streetside eating. A mixed rice stall. These humble unassuming pushcarts around Bangkok are usually the ones responsible for the tastiest grub. I was not disappointed.

Plate one: Fried chicken bits, fried pork neck, braised beancurd with vegetarian intestines and shredded bamboo shoots with gluten.

When food is so good, you can't stop at one. Plate two: Much more fried stuff and more vegetarian intestine. You can spy an egg right at the back. Apparently, it's ok to eat one egg a day now haha. Each plate went for only 20BT(0.80SGD).

Coffee or tea? Iced coffee please, thank you very much. These little drink kiosks are scattered across the city as well and they make a really wickedly rich and creamy iced coffee. I'm not usually a coffee person but I couldn't resist. They use condensed milk to make the coffee and just before serving it, there's a generous drizzle of evaporated milk on top of it so it's really milky and creamy.

Cold creamy coffee on a hot day. Exactly what the Doctor ordered haha.

The CIP (Commercially Important Person) lounge at the new Bangkok International Airport. Funny how I have access here considering the fact that I'm not commercially important. I guess, I can relate to the F&B industry in some way but only as a consumer haha. Anyway, I liked this lounge because it was virtually empty.

Quite a neat range of finger foods and cakes here.

Although there wasn't a hot selection of food here, the sheer variety sure put Raintree at Changi to shame.

Hard liquor is gratis here as well.

I went for a little selection of sandwiches, meatballs on a stick, fruit and a coke. I'm a fan of mini triangle sandwiches and these were well buttered hence scoring more points.

They even have a whole fridge of ice-creams here.

I started off with the cookies cream. Not too bad at all, although this was manufactured in Thailand, it was still as creamy as its USA counterpart.

Since I had some time to kill before my flight and I was getting bored, I decided to wage "Ice-Cream Battles". Sorry to the "Rum and Raisin" faction but "Cookies and Cream" won. The "Rum and Raisin" only contained two raisins in the whole cup, but I guess they did say "Raisin" and not "Raisins" and hence totally prevented any litigation under "Section 52" for misleading advertising, these ice-cream people are geniuses I tell you.

After a few more sandwiches and a hot chocolate, I decided to hit the restaurants outside for some proper food.

The pictures on the menu of this ramen joint looked pretty ok so the food must have been quite good right? WRONG... big mistake, it's sad to say that my last meal in Bangkok was probably my worst.

This stuff was salty as and the noodle texture was worse than instant Mee Goreng (not that mee goreng is bad stuff, I love it. Anyone who studies overseas would have a soft spot for it too heh). The egg did not have the semi-cooked red centre that the picture showed and the pork slices were just tough, cold and super salty. I was really missing Tampopo or Noodle House Ken at this point.

The cold ramen wasn't the best either, they gave me crabstick when the picture clearly showed Japanese fishcake. I think somebody's up for a good lesson in "Section 52". Clearly, the Thai ramen people aren't geniuses like the ice-cream people haha.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bangkok, October 2006, Day Two

The hotel packages I go for normally provide free breakfasts for guests but since the food outside is usually alot better, I only go in to get some for fun.

Since I didn't want to stuff up that much, I decided to just take abit of each. The little pancake was done very well, fluffy and warm, it went well with the maple syrup.

The fruit in Thailand is so sweet that you can just eat it with natural yoghurt and muesli mix.

Indulging in a slice of buttered toast. Yes, that's right, this is the correct way to butter your toast haha.

Brunch at my favorite Egyptian restaurant, Nasser Elmassry, I was worried that they might have been closed because it was Hari Raya Puasa that day but my fears were unfounded. This is a glass of their refreshing lassi.

Freshly baked Egyptian bread, this tastes abit like naan actually but is just a tad bit lighter and crisper.

The fresh bread goes great with the hummus.

Grilled lamb chops, these were well charred enough to have a crisp edge but weren't overcooked and hence retained their juicy tenderness.

Lamb shishkebab, these were a bit salty today but they still had that bouncy, juicy bite.

What's better than Egyptian bread or minced lamb? Both! This is Egyptian bread stuffed with minced lamb. The exterior of the bread is still crisp whilst the interior has absorbed the juices from the lamb, carbohydrates, protein and fat, this is a balanced meal by itself haha.

I chanced upon one of these Rotiboy stalls and had to get one. I know that coffee buns are probably considered passé and have gone out of vogue in Singapore but I only had one once when Rotiboy was around. The subsequent time I returned to Singapore, all their stalls had closed down! So here I was bun in hand, with a vengence.

Ahh.. the familiar sweet and buttery taste. This wasn't as hot as I liked it to be but I guess beggars can't be choosers.

Bangkok has the largest population of Japanese outside Japan, no trip to Bangkok is complete without some Japanese food. The Japanese food in Bangkok is of very good quality, comparable to some of which you get in Japan itself. This is a little appetizer from Uomasa in the Nihomura compound at 87 Thonglor Soi 13. The appetizer had a shellfish in it, a piece of fish, brocolli and braised beef tongue.

Since they had angler fish liver in ponzu like Kazu, we had to order a serve to compare the two. The one here uses minced liver but the flavor was still quite good. I guess Kazu wins on quality though since they use whole livers instead.

Finally, some decent aburi sushi. The tuna was heavenly, the slighly torched surface made it extremely fragrant and it practically melts in your mouth. I stayed clear from the ones with sea urchin roe. Somehow, sea urchin roe never agrees with me.

Grilled oysters with miso paste. Not too bad except I thought the miso was abit overpowering for the delicate sweetness of the oyster so i just scrapped off a bit before eating the oyster flesh.

This place does beef tongue in many ways, even sashimi style. I went for the safe grilled version. Tasty...

I'm quite exploratory with food normally but I'm a sucker for safe eating (read as not raw) when it comes to Japanese food and shied away from the more exotic stuff like horse sashimi. So I went for the ebi tempura, not too bad, the batter was almost as light as the ones you get at Tenshin.

Unagi and wagyu yakitori. The unagi tasted fresh and wasn't slimy. The wagyu was ok, not the best and I knew I was going to get slugged for it being "Market Price", I paid almost 500BT (20SGD) for this one stick!!

More grilled tongue, yakitori-style this time. Yum...

Washed it all down with some premium shoju. All in all, Uomasa was not bad for a first try despite being my most costly meal on this trip at 6000BT (240SGD) but there are so many Japanese restaurants in Bangkok that I can try a new one everytime I visit.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bangkok, October 2006, Day One

Although I do miss Australia (and to a lesser extent the States) after returning back to Singapore, Singapore does have some perks. It's great as a travel hub and being centrally located near most Asian countries, quick and cost-effective getaways are always tempting when a long weekend is creeping up. Bangkok has to be my favorite SEA city at the moment, funny how I've never been to Thailand in my whole life till July 2006 and since I've been to Bangkok three times!

Raintree Lounge at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal One. Nothing really fantastic, the spread was rather poor. They didn't even have the prepacked sandwiches in the fridge, just an assortment of rather stale-looking cakes.

They still had that wall of cup noodles but I didn't feel like such a MSG hit so early in the morning.

In the end I settled for this tall buttercup cake which sort of reminded me of those childhood overflowing tall buttercup cakes which were so tasty you would literally nibble the bits off the paper. This one was ok, not as buttery as I hoped it to be.

A nice little welcome fruit platter was waiting in the room for us. This would come in handy if I felt like eating healthy. Haha as if!

I dined at Siam House when I first came to Bangkok and it's almost a ritual for me to return at least once when I'm here. The food is slightly more pricey than street food but it's consistently good and there's air-conditioning.

Most of those who have stayed at Asia Hotel would be quite familiar with this place and even though I was not staying at Asia Hotel, I still made the effort to come back here for lunch.

Grilled pork. This tasted quite similar to the ones you get a Vietnamese restaurant. Nicely grilled, with a fatty edge and that hint of lemongrass.

Chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, these are like little bundles of tasty happiness.

I think these were actually fried and not grilled but that didn't matter because the fragrant pandan scent was still evident and the chicken pieces retained their juiciness.

Pad Thai, how can someone come to Thailand and not have a serve of this? Slightly salty, sweet and with a hint of sourish flavor from the freshly squeezed wedge of lime, this was also topped off with crushed peanuts which gave it that all-round flavor that you seem to only get in Thailand.

The ubiquitous dish in Thailand, tom yum goong. "Goong" means prawn and besides some mushroom and coriander that's all this soup had. The prawns which were freshly sweet and crunchy went extremely well with the spicy sourish soup.

Grilled beef salad. The dressing had a nice refreshing tang but the slices of beef were just a little too thick. At least they were still tender and well-marinated.

Seafood cooked in a coconut. I'm not sure what this is called but it was cooked in a coconut-based curry making it extremely fragrant and tasty.

Fried chicken wings, piping hot. Dry and crisp on the outside, tender and juicy within. Sometimes, nothing beats the simple dishes.

Pineapple rice, the generous scatter of pork floss above sort of hides the soft, fluffy rice within.

Battered fried sausages, interestingly enough these tasted a little like bratwurst.

Thai beef red curry, this actually looks spicier than it is. I found it quite mild but it still was tasty.

Pork ribs with fried garlic. It's true the garlic will give you rather foul breath but it's supposedly good for your heart and heck, it tasted too good anyway haha.

Since the pad Thai was pretty good, we decided to try their fried flat rice noodle with seafood as well. This didn't have that sweetish tang as the pad Thai but its smokey aroma and savory finish was still most welcomed.

Braised beef in Chinese sauce. This wasn't that good as it looked on the menu, the beef was a bit too tough and the sauce was slightly too sweet. The cauliflower tasted nice and fresh though despite having those weird greenish stalks.

I tried to rationalize that garnish counted as vegetable but in the end we ordered this serve of asparagus and scallops. It actually was pretty good and the scallops despite being small were fresh.

What better way is there to end off lunch than with a dessert of mango and sticky rice? The tree-ripened mango was sliced on the spot and the warm and soft sticky rice went extremely well with the rich coconut cream and sweet mango slices.

The best thing about having an early lunch is that it gives you time to psyche up for dinner. I was really looking forward to Chan0rphen Restaurant because a friend who is based in Bangkok raved heaps about it to me and was going take me there for dinner.

This place is essentially a Chinese-Thai restaurant and although some of the food looks quite Chinese, the Thai twist to it made it very interesting on the palate. This is scrambled eggs with fish maw, a very novel method of cooking fish maw as I'm more used to it being cooked in soups or stews.

These crabcakes made the "giant" ones at Morton's look puny. The amount of crabmeat in this was astounding, they must have shelled at least a few flower-crabs to make these.

Stuffed squids stir-fried in garlic, I don't know if the squids were stuffed and grilled prior to the garlic stirfry because they were slightly tough, but I don't mind a good chew and I'm one of those who prefer my squid with a little bite anyway.

Crabmeat fried rice. Funny how crab can be so different before and after its shelled. I normally won't put in much effort to eat crab but once it's shelled and conveniently laid out in front of me, it's my favorite haha.

As my friend's girl was going vegetarian tonight she ordered this tangy and spicy vermicelli which was really not too bad as well.

The other vegetarian dish was a mushroom soup. Fresh and sweet mushrooms in a sea of tangy tom-yum tasting soup, tasty but I was getting bored from the lack of meat.

This is their signature dish and is the reason why they've got that royal crest "Seal of Approval" thingy on their card. Barbecued chicken gai-yang style, the prominent taste of tumeric was evident here. Good stuff, indeed. This gets D's "Seal of Approval" too haha.

Curry crab, this is different to the Singapore style chili crab because it uses a much eggier coconut cream based sauce. Most Singaporeans would be familiar with the version served by Somboon and having tried both, may I be so bold as to say that this one is better.

I'm usually not a fish person but apparently fish is good for your brain, well even if it lowered my IQ a few notches I would tuck into this. Grilled to perfection, the crisp charred skin peeled back to reveal steaming hot, succulent and juicy flesh.

No proper meal is really complete without some form of dessert and I'm a firm believer of balanced eating haha. Therefore, all these savories warranted four desserts. This is coconut ice-cream with young coconut flesh, jackfruit and peanuts. So simple, yet so divine.

Coconut ice-cream with jelly. The jelly was pretty normal, the ice-cream was similar to the previous dessert.

Steamed coconut with gingko nuts. This was the only hot dessert of the night and it tasted just right. Not too sweet, with the occasional sliver of warm coconut flesh and crunchy gingko nut.

Very similar to the first dessert except this was served in a coconut and had some sweet vermicelli shreds on top. It was also drizzled in coconut cream, something I most appreciated.

A big big thank you to RP and his girl for making this night so particularly enjoyable, all the salt and spices in the world can't make food tasty unless it's eaten with good company.