Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spanish on 4, Silom, Bangkok

In the middle of the red light district known as PatPong, Spanish on 4 sits just inside Silom Soi 4 with bright canary yellow outdoor chairs and an equally bright yellow and red awning.  These being the patriotic Spanish colours. 

Step inside and you are greeted to a modern cafe style eatery, with arty pictures adorning the exposed concrete walls.  A huge chalkboard hung on the wall next to the bar lists weekly specials alongside the dessert menu. 

Having arrived at lunch time, this place was rather quiet.  And having been taught to be wary of quiet eating establishments during prime meal times, my initial reaction was one of trepidation.  Nevertheless, I had read that this place boasts a chef from Spain so it was now or never.  

My dear mother,  and I were immediately greeted by friendly staff who led us to a window table.  They handed us a couple of menus and at first glance, there was a large enough array of different tapas dishes on offer. 

I love tapas, but am in no way an expert.  My mother on the other hand had never even eaten a morsel of Spanish food.  This was going to be interesting.  She made me do the ordering, so the pressure was on!

I ordered the 'Goat Cheese Salad' (150B), some Patatas Bravas (100B), which is fried potato in spicy tomato sauce, Chipirones Plancha (150B) - grilled baby squid, Pinchito Moruno (195B) - grilled lamb, Berenjenas Fritas (130B) - fried eggplant.

When the 'goat cheese salad' salad arrived, I was a little disappointed.  All I could see was a pile of salad and a couple of little footprints of goat cheese.  Not quite what I had hoped for which was a salad with a decent amount of goat cheese.  Still, the salad was delicious with the balsamic and olive oil dressing, and the grilled goats cheese on toasted slices of french bread were indeed, yum!   

The patatas bravas came next.  With tomato salsa and a dollop of sour cream on, it didn't look the most appetising.  The sour cream wasn't listed on the menu as an accompaniment, but I won't complain, too much! 

The cubes of potato were gorgeously crunchy and hot.  The salsa had a somewhat smoky flavour which I wasn't expecting.  Certainly different from any patatas bravas I have ever had.  My mother loved it, so happy points for the patatas bravas.

When the grilled lamb came out, it was still slightly pink and juicy which is just how I like it.  However, some pieces of meat were rather fatty, but the taste of the lamb was divine.

The plate of grilled baby squid was cooked to perfection, tender, tasty and oh so yummy-licious.  My favourite so far, and another one that pleased my mother.

The fried eggplant came out looking a little like an afterthought.  The description had no mention of bread of prosciutto, yet this dish came with both.  Not good for the vegetarians then?!  The eggplant didn't have much seasoning, the prosciutto was lovely, but overall, I think I could have given this one a miss, and my mother agreed.

All in all, my mother and I really enjoyed the food.  The ambience and the attentive service were both good.

A really nice touch was the complimentary slices of french baguette.  Our waitress even came back to with another complimentary plate when she saw us polishing off the last of the first batch.  Now, you don't get to see much of that in Asia.

Staff are welcoming and ensure that you are looked after well.  Overall, the food was tasty and filling.  I want to come back for their chorizo and paella.  Word of warning though, the paella takes 45 minutes to cook, so be prepared to wait and drink lots of Sangria! 

'Spanish on 4' is a pleasant, relaxing and peaceful getaway from the busy Patpong street.  This place really should have been busier for a lunch time though, but then I guess Silom Soi 4 doesn't get going until sundown when all the revellers come out to be merry.

Spanish on 4
78-80 Silom Soi 4, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0)2 632 9955

BTS: Sala Daeng

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Stacked, Robertson Quay, Singapore

Being a Sunday, I decided that dim sum would be the lunch choice of the day.  I love my dim sum, especially as it is in my heritage.

I was excited to be going to this place and when I got to Stacked Dim Sum Bar just after one o'clock in the afternoon, I was a bit stunned to find that we were the first in. 

This place is only open from one o'clock on Sundays which in my opinion is not a good start.  Traditional dim sum places start service early and it is not uncommon to find a good dim sum restaurant packed before midday.

The menu here isn't vast.  The traditional dim sums are $5.90 each, the special fusion dim sums are $8.90 each and if you get a stack of 3 traditional dim sums, you pay $15 rather than $17.70.

OK, so we went for the traditional dim sums rather than any fusion ones.  Why?  Because all the fusion ones that I have ever tried in the past have been pretty disastrous.  This place may be different, but I didn't want to risk it.

So I decided to play it safe and opted for the traditional steamed har gau (prawn dumplings); steamed siew mai (pork and prawn dumplings); pan fried chive dumplings and pan fried carrot cake.

Har gau are steamed prawn in translucent starchy rice wrap dumplings.  The rice wrappers on these were rather sticky and starchy though, in fact a little bit too much.  The dumplings themselves didn't impart much flavour either.

Siew mai dumplings are steamed minced pork and prawn, put together into yellow wonton wrappers.  These ones came out looking nice and plump, but unfortunately the wrappers were a little bit too dry and the bottoms stuck a little too much to the paper.

Onto the pan fried carrot cake, it wasn't greasy, but they weren't particularly amazing.  They were pretty average.

The pan fried chive dumplings turned out to be minced prawn with chopped chives.  They didn't look very attractive and I'm sure that these had just been quickly tossed in a wok to get a bit of colouring on the edges.  Pan fried, I'm not convinced. 

The dishes were a little bland and a real let down to what dim sum can be.  The fact that this place didn't fill more than three tables in the two and half hours I was there must be a sign that this place isn't quite what it is 'stacked' up to be.  Is it a bar, is it a dim sum place?!   I'm not sure even the owners know. 

Neverless, service made up for the lacklustre food.  But unfortunately, it wasn't enough to make me want to go back.  It's a great concept, just badly executed. 

60 Robertson Quay, #01-13 The Quayside, Singapore
Tel: +65 9677 8281

Mon-Thu: 3.30pm-11.30pm
Fri: 3.30pm-1am
Sat: 1pm–1am
Sun: 1pm-11.30pm