Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cheers Bar & Grill, Bangkok

When I first heard about a new place called Cheers on Sukhumvit soi 22, I couldn't help but think of Cheers, the fictional Boston bar that dominated tv screens in the UK and US back in the 80s.

I've been to a 'Cheers' bar before.  But that one was in London, back in the late 90s, when life was all about working and playing.  These days, it's more about working and eating . . . in my case at least.  

I arrived here yesterday lunch time, ready for a sit down and a bite to eat after a somewhat taxing language lesson. 

Having walked from Asoke BTS, it only took me about six or so minutes.  It was a nice day and frankly, I needed the walk.

Located underneath the Regency Hotel, Cheers Bar & Grill is on the right hand side of the Soi when walking down from Sukhumvit road.  

The interior looks brand spanking new, which is a good thing, seeing as this place only opened on 2nd December.  I must admit, I felt a little honoured to be one of their earlier customers.

Kitted out in teak wood, the bar is at the back, three flat screen televisions, plenty of tables and chairs and a couple of high tables on the balcony for those who love to people watch (although it can get noisy outside!). 

A waitress instantly greeted me, allowed me to sit where I wanted to - which was in the corner on the large table - and gave me a menu to study.

And study it, I did.  The frosted plastic covered menu is fairly extensive as menus go: sandwiches with chips from 200 baht, steaks (from 600 baht, pizzas, pastas, fish and chips, Thai and Isaan food from 150 baht.  I can't name them all, but there is lot on offer.  Apparently there was more, but it's been cut down?! 

For vegetarians, I did notice that there weren't any dedicated vegetarian dishes.  And as one customer politely pointed this out, she was duly accommodated and was able to have her dish prepared with no meat.

I, as a meat eater (trying to reduce my consumption though) ordered a simple dish, stir fried rice noodles with chicken and vegetables (sen yai phad se-uw gai) at 150 baht.  It came presented in a lovely clean white dish - which made for a refreshing change.  Usually, I get it slopped onto a plate, no wiping away any spills.  But then I am partial to eating this at cheaper, no frills spared establishments.  

This sen yai phad se-uw gai was steaming hot and after I got my compulsory four condiments to personalise it, I began to dig in.  It was tasty and hit the just right spot.     

This place is still so new, I feel it's yet to make an impact.  I imagine it's a busy place in the evenings where many 'farangs' would flock to.

Service is polite, the place is clean.  The other dishes that came out of the kitchen looked generous and my friend tells me, their steaks are pretty tasty. 

Likes: The clean plate that my noodles came in.

Dislikes: The slightly too loud 80s glam rock music (I'm not that young anymore) which I grew out of in my late teens.  But those with a glam rock disposition will love it.

Final Thoughts: I am sure this new kid on the block will be a popular place for farangs and tourists alike. 

Cheers Bar & Grill
12/3 Sukhumvit Soi 22, Klong Toei, Bangkok 10110
Tel: +66 (0)2 259 7420

Nearest BTS: Phrom Phong, exit 3.  Go down the stairs instead of into Emporium and carrying on walking straight ahead until you get to Soi 22 on your left hand side.  Turn down Soi 22 and Cheers Bar & Grill is a few hundred metres on your right.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Phuket Town, Thong Lor, Bangkok

Phuket Town sits on the corner of Sukhumvit 55 (aka Soi Thong Lor) and Thong Lor Soi 6.  It occupies a small shop house and although I won't go into how charming it looks, because yes, it does look it.  It is small however, with only seven tables in total, one would be forgiven for thinking that this place may feel tiny, but it has high ceilings so it doesn't feel too cramped.  

The food as one would guess, is Southern Thai food from the region of Phuket.  Which I might add, used to be so lovely and sleepy.  Fortunately or unfortunately - depending on which way you look at it - Phuket is now one big bustling, thriving town full of expats and tourists . . . .

The food here is home cooked fare, lots of shrimp paste, Southern style curries and plenty more.  I came here tonight in a group of four, we were all famished and ordered way too much.  Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of all the food.  A shame and for that, I do apologise.  I just tucked in and forgot all about papping the dishes as they came out.

We ordered the stir fried morning glory with shrimp paste.  If shrimp paste isn't your thing, you might not enjoy this so much.  The morning glory was crunchy and it wasn't spicy.

The bamboo shoots with minced prawn was generous, fresh and again not the least bit spicy.

The eggplant with deep fried seabass was fairly spicy.  I bit right into a red chilli and felt the numbing heat for a good few minutes.  Oh the joy of biting into red chilli seeds. 

The stir fried green beans with prawns in shrimp paste was OK. But I think I was a bit shrimp pasted out by this point.

We also ordered the fish cakes which were quite tasty.  Mini fish cakes that were bouncy, but minus any kaffir lime leaf or green beans.

Kanom Jeen Naam Ya Bpoo (crab curry with chinese rice noodles).  Thick yellow curry sauce with pieces of crab served with a plate of rice noodles, pickles, dried anchovies and chillies, pineapple. fresh beansprouts and Thai basil.  The curry is mild, probably a little too mild for my liking, but good all the same.

Fish balls with dipping sauce which were really plump.  My Western friends didn't really take to these.  Yes, they are an acquired taste - just like Marmite - love them or hate them.  Personally, I love them!

Finally we had the stir fried belly pork with sliced lemongrass and shallots. 

Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy the meal.  I did feel a little overwhelmed with all the food and sorry to say, that we left quite a bit of it as we couldn't finish it all. 

The staff are kept busy and the place has a great bustling feel about it.  We didn't feel rushed, in fact we were the last ones out at ten o'clock.  The owner was tilling up and the waiting staff had already cleared and wiped down the rest of the tables.

My party wanted more drinks, but we decided to move on and let them clear up and close for the night.

Likes: The cute mural on the wall.

Dislikes: The strange look I got from one of the staff when I didn't understand what he was asking me in Thai. 

Final Thoughts: It's a popular place for 'farangs' who love a bit of quaint Thailand.  For me, the food was good, it wasn't out of this world.  But I would go back, if just for the cute charm of the place.

Phuket Town
160/8 Thong Lor Soi 6, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0)2 714 9402

HOURS: 10:30am - 10:30pm

Nearest BTS: Thong Lor, Exit 3.  Catch a taxi or motorsai to corner of Thong Lor & Thong Lor Soi 6.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Baan Kanitha & Gallery, Sathorn, Bangkok

Having already been to their Sukhumvit Soi 23 restaurant, this one is closer to where I live.  Therefore no having to traipse or drive around Bangkok for ages.  I decided to take my mother here for Sunday lunch.

We were the first ones in today.  Despite our mantra of 'an empty restaurant is never a good sign', we decided to just go with it.

The restaurant is large and spacious and can easily accommodate big parties and lots of diners.  It is decorated in the traditional Thai house style.  

We got the signature complimentary 'meang kum' as an appetite tickler.  It certainly did the trick and made us even more hungry than we had been when we arrived.  

Since our order of grilled fish would take about half an hour, we decided to order a starter to keep us from wilting. 

Our appetizer: 'Krathong Tong' (160 baht), which is basically minced shrimp, crabmeat and corn in a crispy pastry shell arrived in good time. 

They looked fairly pretty, but unfortunately were rather sweet.  Whilst corn has a natural sweetness to it, I think these had been bumped up with extra sweetness.  A shame, because they would have been good otherwise.

We duly waited for the rest of the dishes to come out, and the first dish to be served was the stir fried bok choy with garlic (160 baht). 

Thankfully, it wasn't greasy, but in my personal opinion, I thought it could have done with a tad more garlic to really impart their flavour onto the bok choy. 

The grilled cotton fish in Thai herbs wrapped in banana leaf (520 baht) was the next to come out.  The fish was moist and tasty.  My mother thought it could have done with a little more spice.  It had already been de-boned and beheaded, so those a little squeamish about being served a whole fish with head still on need not worry here.

The final dish to arrive was the 'Gai Phad Khing On', chicken with sliced young ginger (190 baht).  Again, not greasy, but not enough ginger.  I only got little morsels of ginger here and there, which for me, just wasn't enough to really love this dish.  Personally, I love this when it is loaded with lots of sliced ginger, in fact, an insurmountable amount, the better.

I have to agree with my mother, the food is catered more to the foreigner. The dishes just didn't reach the point of spicyness that Thai food (catered to Thais) should be and the tastes of the dishes were more subtle in flavour.

It makes sense that many foreigners love Baan Kanitha and the fact that the other tables occupied today were indeed occupied by foreigners.  

Service is polite and friendly.  There is also a bakery and cafe to the side of the restaurant.

Baan Kanitha & Gallery
69 South Sathorn Road, Thungmahamek, South Sathorn, Bangkok 10120
Tel: +66 (0)2 675 4200-1
Nearest Station: Lumpini MRT, take exit to Sathorn Road.  Get a taxi or motorsai or walk about 8 minutes.  Baan Kanitha will be on your left hand side.

Daily 11am-11pm

Friday, October 7, 2011

Secret Garden, Sathorn, Bangkok

Secret Garden in Sathorn sits in a beautiful English tea room styled house.  With a pretty front garden, this place is nestled behind a tall wall on the busy Sathorn road.

I guess it's not so 'secret' these days with so many other outlets (namely CentralWorld and Thonglor). 

In Sathorn there is parking, which can get full pretty quickly, especially on Sundays.  This place is famous for their crepe cake, which I must admit was the reason for my and my DM's visit today.

We arrived just before midday, so there were still a few car park spaces left.  

On entering the high ceiling restaurant, we were warmly welcomed by courteous and friendly staff

The Thai and English menu consists of fusion style Thai food.  We ordered a cooked salmon salad (240 baht), crispy spring rolls, shrimp paste fried rice and spicy glass noodle prawn salad.  

The staff all speak pretty good English, so no worries if you don't speak Thai.  

First out was the cooked salmon salad.  With fresh herbs and dried chillies, it was a little spicy, but not so much as to blow one's head off.  They also gave us extra dressing in a side bowl should we need it.  The salmon was lovely, but we both found the dressing a little bit on the salty side. 

The crispy spring rolls came with a slightly sweet syrupy sauce.  These were crispy, non-greasy and although not traditional in the sense of spring roll filling that I am used to, they were good.

The shrimp paste fried rice came with all the condiments on the side: dried shrimps, freshly sliced chillies, red onion, raw mango, sweet pork and slices of omelette on top of the rice.  We both really enjoyed this dish, dm especially.  

The prawn glass noodle salad came with plenty of juicy, plump prawns, fresh herbs and chopped peanuts (which so many foreigners, rightly or wrongly, associate with Thai cooking).  

The salad was fresh and maybe a little bit on the sweet side.  

Seeing as this place is famous for their crepe cake.  What better way to end than a cup of tea with cake.  All their teas are served in the one pot, one cup set.  How rather quaint and adorable I say!

The slice of crepe cake came drizzled with strawberry coulis on top.  It was delicious, soft crepe, fresh cream, not too sweet strawberry coulis.

All in all, we were pretty satisfied.  Service was excellent I thought, savoury food was pretty good and their crepe cake was just lovely.  In fact, I have heard that their cakes is the reason for why so many people come here.  And really, they serve a lot of crepe cake!

This is a lovely, tranquil hideaway from the hustle and bustle of Sathorn road.  It really did remind me of an English country garden in so many different ways . . . and I have to say, having been brought up in the Cotswolds, England (where I was surrounded by tea shops), it brought on a lot of nostalgia, in a good way of course.  

Secret Garden
117 Thanon Sathon Tai, Thung Maha Mek, Sathon, Bangkok 10500
Tel: +66 (0)2 286 2464
Nearest MRT: Lumpini Park, exit for Sathorn Road.  Take a taxi or walk about 8 or so minutes.  

Daily 11am-10pm

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dumpling Crazy At Din Tai Fung, CentralWorld, Bangkok

Din Tai Fung, Bangkok has a fairly large location on the 7th floor in CentralWorld. 

I have eaten at a Din Tai Fung restaurant before, in Sydney, Australia.  It was recommended by some friends who are a Sydney-siders who love food.  All I can say is, it was good!

Din Tai Fung in Bangkok has an open dumpling kitchen so patrons can watch the chefs making the dumplings whilst salivating.

For those who may not know, Din Tai Fung is in fact a Taiwanese dumpling restaurant.   Many people come for their 'xiao long bao' dumplings, which do in fact come from Shanghai and those passionate about these dumplings will tell you that only in Shanghai can you get the best xiao long bao.

Although I have been to Shanghai, unfortunately I have never eaten these wonderful dumplings there.  I was, but a mere backpacker at the time.

Nevertheless, we ordered half a dozen of these soup and meat dumplings (145 baht), half a dozen prawn and pork shao mai (close to 200 baht I think?), noodles with spicy minced beef, steamed pork soup (185 baht) and stir fry veggies (sorry folks, can't remember their chinese name ... terrible I know!).

The xiao long bao dumplings were hot, beautifully wrapped morsels.  The wrappers were just the right consistency, not too thin and not too thick. 

The prawn and pork shao mai looked liked beautiful little parcels.  The fanciest shao mai I have ever seen.  

Again they were hot, but a little difficult to eat.  I found myself biting the top part (the prawn) before then digging into the bottom.  The dumpling wrappers were a little thick and glutinous.  The mince pork had been well seasoned.

The noodles are dan dan noodles (spicy Sichuan noodles).  Being complete noodle freaks, we both really enjoyed these.  In fact, you may have noticed how much Thais in general, love noodles ....

The steamed pork soup was very tasty.  It wasn't overly salty at all which I loved.  The pork just fell off the bone.  Steamed pork soup is (for me at least) a comfort food and many who grew up with Chinese parents will readily know what I mean.

The stir fry veggies were also good. Lightly stir fried, they weren't greasy at all which was really very pleasant.

Staff are friendly, polite and well-trained.  Tea is constantly topped up, so no having to wait around trying to flag someone down.  If you're craving some good dumplings, then get yourself down to Din Tai Fung in CentralWorld.

By the time we finished, the place was full.  Just like in Sydney, people were queuing up to get in.  I'm glad we arrived here just before the mad lunch rush (midday) and I'd advise anyone who wants to avoid queuing to do the same. 

Din Tai Fung
7th Floor, CentralWorld Shopping Mall, Bangkok
Tel: 02-646-1282
Nearest BTS: Siam or Chidlom.  Follow the signed skywalk.

Daily 10am-10pm

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fat Fish Seafood Bistro, Watthana, Bangkok

Fat Fish Seafood Bistro sits not too far down Sukhumvit Soi 31 on the right hand side if walking from Sukhumvit road.

It looks all shiny and new from the outside and as you step inside, the interior is modern industrial with exposed brick walls, soft lighting and a bar that looks rather inviting.

I came here with Fluff (my American fellow foodie) as we couldn't find our original destination, the Home Run Bar.  Seriously, where are you?

Anyhow, back to Fat Fish, Fluff said that she heard some good things about this place and since it was raining cats and dogs, we decided to get out of the rain and into some shelter for some much needed food.

At 8pm on a school night, there were only a couple of other tables occupied.  An empty place isn't necessarily always a bad thing I kept telling myself.

The menu, as you can imagine, consisted of a lot of fish and seafood.  Over the page was a small, but adequate tapas menu and we decided to share a few of them rather than get a main each. 

We ordered small plates of calamari fritters (90 baht), paprika potato wedges (90 baht), garlic prawns (120 baht), and (from the specials) cheese and spinach spring rolls (120 baht). 

We got complimentary warm bread with butter, pesto olive oil and tuna dip.  The bread was soft and Fluff wasn't too impressed with it.  Myself, I thought the bread was a little too soft all over for my liking.  The dips were pretty good though.

Now, this is where the meal started to go from bad to worse.  The waitress brought us what I thought looked like the crab triangles that I had seen on the menu.  We never ordered these by the way.

When we told the waitress that we didn't order these, the poor thing looked like a lost puppy and went to ask the kitchen.  She returned to tell us that these were the spring rolls.  I had to laugh.  Do they look like spring rolls to you?  Exactly!

We decided not to make a fuss though and on first bite, I looked over at Fluff, who was eating them with disdain and I exclaimed how they were indeed the crab triangles.  She just nodded in agreement. 

Next up, the paprika potato wedgesNow these were hot and crispy, but they could have done with a side of sour cream.  They were good, but given that our only choice of sauces were thousand island dressing or tomato ketchup, we both declined.

Onto to the calamari fritters - a light batter - I thought they were just a tad over on the chewy side.  Again, they lacked substance and needed a good drizzle of fresh lemon and some freshly ground black pepper.

The garlic prawns were juicy and plump, there was also plenty of chopped garlic.  So this one came out as described on the menu ... garlic prawns. 

Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of the spring rolls, but they were like rolled up thin cigars.  And again, a dipping sauce of some sort would have been nice.

Maybe we just chose badly, but we both felt like we had just eaten a load of deep-fried batter (of which we had) that just left a taste of oil in our mouths. 

Neither of us enjoyed the tapas, especially when they brought out a dish that we hadn't ordered and then proceeded to tell us that they were the spring rolls.  And then, only to bring out the spring rolls at the end.  But it was also our fault for not kicking up a fuss in the first place. 

As we paid the bill, we looked out of the window to the opposite restaurant, only to notice how chock full of people it was ... always a good sign in my eyes.

And finally, to give you another review to read just so you don't just take our word for it, Hungry In Bangkok visited Fat Fish last year.

Fat Fish Seafood Bistro
20/4 Sukhumvit 31, Sukhumvit Road, Klongton Nua, Watthana
Nearest BTS: Phrom Phong, exit 5.  Take a right onto Sukhumvit Soi 31 and Fat Fish will be on your right hand side.

Lunch 11:30am-2:30pm
Dinner 6:00pm-10:30pm

Monday, September 26, 2011

Le Dalat Indochine, Sukhumvit, Bangkok

From Hanoi with love.  Le Dalat Indochine is a Vietnamese restaurant nestled towards the northern end of Sukhumvit Soi 23.  Housed in a converted 200 year old traditional Thai house, the restaurant feels more like an upmarket antiques store as you enter the front lobby area where there are two open rooms on either side. 

Tonight, Mr. P joined me for dinner.  The place was fairly busy and we hadn't made a reservation, but it wasn't necessary.  A friendly waitress dressed from head to toe in traditional Vietnamese dress showed us to our table by the window.  The dining room is one big room with two person tables, and larger ones for bigger parties.

The menu has photo illustrations of some of the dishes (which always helps when deciphering dishes one is not familiar with), and the head waitress was very enthusiastic in pointing stuff out to us.

We ordered the Vietnamese rice paper prawn rolls, along with beef pho and a grilled beef with dry rice noodles. 

A mini herb garden was brought out to us along with some pickled shredded carrot and turnip:

Our rice paper spring rolls were plump, the rice paper was thin and the sweet dipping sauce wasn't too sweet. 

The beef pho came as a three piece set: a plate of herbs and finely sliced pieces of raw beef; a bowl of noodles and veggies, and another small bowl of broth.  The latter of which sat atop a candle which was lit to heat up the broth for a minute or so. 

Once the broth was done, the waiter duly poured it into the bowl of noodles and veggies whilst we proceeded to add the beef and the herbs.

The stock didn't have the body that we were expecting.  It was too bland and to be honest, a little disappointing.  Mr. P and I agreed that this was not the best beef pho we've ever had. 

The grilled beef and dry noodles (sorry, can't remember the official name!?) was, on the otherhand pretty good.  Loaded with lots of different vegetables: cucumber, carrot, daikon, onions and so on, it was fresh and light.

For dessert, we chose the creme brulee, Vietnamese style.  I won't say what it reminded me of when it was brought to the table ... I am sure you can guess what I was thinking.

Mr. P took a bite and as we both looked at each other, he asked me if I thought the toffee tasted burnt.  It did.  And we didn't really enjoy it.

Service is very attentive here.  The bathrooms are huge with lots of wall paraphernalia and the like for you to amuse yourself with for a while. 
As I looked across at the dishes the other tables had ordered, I thought perhaps we had ordered badly.  There were delicious looking plates of seafood, shrimp on sugar cane sticks and other good looking morsels. 

I'd love to give this place another go, as a group rather than dining for two.  That way, I'd get to try more from the menu to really get a taste of what this place has to offer.

Le Dalat Indochine
57/1 Sukhumvit Soi 23, Klongtoey Nua, Wattana, Bangkok 10110
Tel: +66 (0)2 6640 670
Nearest BTS: Asoke, exit 6. Take the steps on your left hand side down to Sukhumvit road. Turn left at the bottom of the stairs to walk along Sukhumvit road. Take a left onto Sukhumvit Soi 23 and keep walking for about eight or so minutes. Le Dalat Indochine will be on your left hand side.

Open Daily:
Lunch 11:00-14:30pm
Dinner 18:00-22:30pm

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Middle Eastern Delight: Nadimos, Silom, Bangkok

Hummus, hommus, hommos, homos, humus, hamos - whichever way one spells it -  is an Arabic dip made from cooked chickpeas, mashed and blended together with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. 

I've eaten this delightful mushy treat in some of the traditional places where it is found, namely Israel, Jordon, Egypt, Morrocco and the Emirates. 

Nadimos is a Lebanese restaurant in Bangkok which has two outlets.  The first (and the original) sits inside the Baan Silom complex.  There is outside seating which makes for lovely alfresco dining with friends or inside seating where the air is cool and patrons have a view of the open kitchen.  There is also an upstairs, so there is plenty of seating.  

Mr. P and MD joined me today for lunch.  We ordered a variety of dishes: 'hommos Beiruti' at 150 baht (as seen in the picture above) 'tabbouleh' at 110 baht, 'spicy potato' at 150 baht, 'musakaa' at 160 baht, the 'shawarme mixed plate' at 240 baht, and some pitta bread for 60 baht.

First, we were served a plate of pickled vegetables with a garlic and a chilli dip.  The pink vegetables are in fact turnip coloured pink with beetroot.  The chilli dip was spicy, REALLY spicy, but thankfully the garlic dip was only mildly garlic.

The tabbouleh salad was a huge bowl of finely chopped fresh parsley, onion and tomatoes, subtly dressed.  Being a Lebanese tabbouleh salad, notice how it is mostly parsley and not bulger wheat ... this was the top contender for Mr P. and MD.

This musakaa differs greatly from the Greek moussaka.  The aubergine (eggplant) was velvety, with no trace of bitterness.  The chickpeas were cooked through and the tomato based sauce wasn't overpowering.  This reminded Mr. P. a little like a French ratatouille.

This shawarma mixed plate is thin slices of cooked lamb and chicken with chopped parsley, tomato and fine slithers of onion.  It comes served with a quartered pitta bread.  We all felt the meat was a tad too dry and would have preferred bigger slices of juicier meat. 

The spicy potatoes were diced golden brown nuggets of delicious starchiness covered in lots of chopped garlic and coriander.  These were my absolute favourite.  I'm a sucker for garlic fries, so these were more than perfect in my eyes.

The hommos was also delightful, not too garlicky, not too lemony, not too chickpea-y.  I've had various different versions of hommos and to be honest, I have never tasted a really bad one out. I say 'out', because having tried making my own a few times, I failed miserably to get it right.  I'm not the only person I know to have failed miserably at their own attempt at making hommos.  My good friend back in the UK also confessed to me that he just couldn't get it right.  Please somebody tell us what we are doing wrong?!

There is no service charge or government tax added to your bill here.  This makes for an even more pleasant experience. 

Nadimos also has another restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 24, opposite the Davis Hotel.  I haven't been, but if the food is anything like this one, then it's going to be good.

Baan Silom, 651 Silom Soi 19, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500
Tel: +66 (0)2 266 9081
Nearest BTS: Chong Nongsi, exit 3.  Get a taxi to take you to Baan Silom (opposite Silom Village) on your left hand-side.
Sala Daeng, exit 2.  Get a taxi to drive straight down Silom Road and get off at Baan Silom on your left hand-side.

Daily 11am-Midnight