Friday, October 16, 2009

Greyhound Café, Bangkok

'Life is a journey full of pictures, places,
stories and good tasting recipes.'
(From the cover of the Greyhound Café menu)

Settled in a busy hub of Bangkok, in an area known as Siam. This particular branch of the Greyhound café chain is nestled in a corner on the ground floor of the Siam (shopping) Centre.

The Greyhound café chain offers a modern twist on Asian as well as European cuisine. The décor is a mix of comfortable soft low seating and wooden dining chairs. There is a white chalked menu written on a large blackboard which follows the edge of the open bar below it.

There are brushed steel cylinder ceiling lights and exposed ventilation tubes.  It all makes for a contemporary and slightly industrial warehouse feel.  The background music sets off a relaxing atmosphere. Having eaten at two other Greyhound Café's, I know the quality of food is quite decent.

Being a weekday lunchtime, it wasn't too busy at all.  They sat my dining companion and me down on a table by the window with soft seats.  Menus were duly brought to us and I noticed how they matched the café's signature interior of black and white.  Inside there was a good choice of food which was divided into European Bistro - Soup + Salads, Appetizers, Main Dishes - European (of which I spot Battered Fish & Chips for 220 baht), Main Dishes - Thai + Asian, Noodles and Vegetarian fare.

There is also a one page laminated 'Specials' menu which includes an Italian Fest listing mains such as Beef Ossobuco Stew in Red Wine, Rigatoni with Italian Sausage, and Mussels in White Wine, all under 250 Baht each. There is also a black photo album menu which basically consists of photographic illustration of the dishes.

Wanting a light starter, I chose the Vietnamese Spring rolls (130 baht) from the Appetizers, followed by Pounded Shrimp Fried Rice (150 baht) and my companion opted for the Grilled Salmon with Japanese Soba Sauce & Miso Soup (280 baht).

A waiter took our order to the kitchen and came back to lay our place settings with black leather place mats; white linen napkins; a fork, a spoon and a black pair of chopsticks - all of which are standard Thai cutlery.

Our Vietnamese Spring rolls arrived with a side of freshly washed lettuce leaves and fresh basil, and a bowl of sweet chilli dressing. Vietnamese Spring rolls are rice paper rolls typically filled with lettuce, herbs and prawns and/or shredded chicken. They are a healthy alternative to the deep fried spring rolls and are utterly delicious. These Greyhound Vietnamese spring rolls were prawn and chicken and with the hot and sweet chilli dressing, they were scrumptious and fresh.

Our mains arrived soon after and my Pounded Shrimp Fried Rice came with a bowl of minced pork ball and cabbage in clear broth and a bowl of fish sauce with sliced green chilli. Fish sauce with chilli is a common condiment to any Thai meal.  It is widely used in many Thai dishes and is a staple in the kitchens of every Thai family.

Fish sauce is derived from fish that has been left to ferment.  It may not sound particularly appetizing to the Western palate, but if you've ever eaten Thai food, I can guarantee that you've had dishes with it as one of the ingredients.

My favourite brand is one with a label that has a picture of a giant squid on it.  It is suitably called 'Squid Brand' fish sauce.  It can be found in most good Asian stores and in many Western supermarkets too.

OK, so back to my Pounded Shrimp Fried Rice; it is quite simply fried rice with pounded shrimp and chilli paste.  Here, it came with a small slice of fresh lime, sliced green chilli, shredded raw mango, a fried egg (typical for a fried rice dish), dried shrimp and small nut size chunks of fried pork skin on the side.

The great thing about many Asian fried rice dishes is that you can take away what you don't want and mix the rest together.  On this occasion, I took away the chilli slices, squeezed over the lime juice and proceeded to mix the rest together.

spooned over some of the chilli infused fish sauce to finish it off.  It tasted superb!  I loved the mix of different textures - crunchy, soft and chewy all at once.  The rice wasn't too spicy and the different flavours exploded in my mouth.

The soup was a delicious accompaniment to the rice.  Asian soups are usually thin and clear broth based.  Fried rice dishes are always served with a bowl of soup in Asia.  Not only is it tasty, but it also acts as a palate cleanser to the fried rice.

The Grilled Salmon with Soba Sauce also came with a clear broth soup and sweet soy sauce.  It was well presented and the salmon was soft and tasty.

Although the food was good, the waiters didn't smile once. They were however, courteous and somewhat attentive.  But at least the front of house manager made up for their aloofness and he made sure to smile at us when we arrived and as we were leaving.

I can't speak for their Western dishes, but their Asian food really isn't bad at all.  Bear in mind though that you will pay more for food here that you can get elsewhere for less.  You're paying for the upscale contemporary surroundings, which I have to say are very pleasant and pleasing.

Greyhound Café can also be found on the 2nd floor of the Emporium Shopping complex and on the 3rd floor of Central Chidlom department store in Ploenchit, Bangkok.  The food is fresh and tasty, the ambience is more European than Thai and it's a reliable choice to enjoy lunch or dinner.

Greyhound Café
Siam Centre (GF), 989 Rama 1 Road, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330
BTS: Siam

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