Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cupcakes Are A Girl's Best Friend: Sparkles Cupcakery, Bangkok

'Add Sparkles, eat more cupcakes'.  Now this is one mantra that you can imagine Carrie Bradshaw from Sex And The City might have chanted back in the day.

Sparkles is not your normal cupcake bakery.  It is a gourmet cupcake bakery for grown ups who love a bit of the sweet life.  You won't find any artificial sprinkles or oreo cookies here.  All the ingredients are carefully sourced, and every cupcake is freshly baked and lovingly frosted by the one and only Thai-American Sophie. 

The bakery is small, but everything is beautifully laid out.  You'll notice how each cake stand houses just one cupcake.  Do not fret, Sophie has a whole lot more in her upstairs pantry should you request several others (which isn't hard to do by the way!). 

There is a little corner should you want to eat your cake there and then.  And you can also request a hot or cold beverage to go with it. 

Now, before I go any further, I have to tell you that I came to Sparkles twice, two days in a row in fact. 

On my first day, I had the 'Marbled red velvet cake'.  The sponge was moist, the frosting was light, it wasn't too sweet and it wasn't too dense.  I have to confess, this was the best cupcake I have had in Bangkok.

The next day, I decided to come back to make sure that this wasn't just a one-off lucky find.  On Sophie's recommendation, I tried the 'Champagne Diamond' (named after a gemstone); peanut butter cream cheese banana cake with maple syrup. 

Again, the sponge was moist, the frosting was light, the touch of maple syrup gave it a bonus oomph ... I was in heaven. 

These cupcakes are the real deal and Sophie is genius with her sweet combinations.

There are 55 flavours to choose from.  That means I need to come back 52 more times just to try each one and even then, I imagine Sparkles will have added more flavours to the list.  All I can say is, one can never have enough cupcakes!

Since everything is made from scratch, using only the finest ingredients including organic eggs, Madagascar vanilla, Canadian maple syrup and no trans fats, you can rest assured that Sparkles cupcakes are the ultimate guilt-free cupcakes that taste like real cupcakes should. 

And just to add, you can also get your fill of delicious American-style cookies here as well.

Sparkles Cupcakery
2/6 Sukhumvit Soi 53, (Soi Padi-Mani), Bangkok
Tel: +66 (0)81 136 3367

Nearest BTS: Thonglor, exit 1.  Walk straight ahead at the bottom of the BTS stairs, take the first turn on your right into Sukhumvit Soi 53 and Sparkles is just ahead on the right hand side.

Mon-Sat: 9am-7pm
Sun: 11am-6pm

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's Happened To Be A Closet @ Emporium, Bangkok

Don't you just love Thai-lish?  What?  Exactly!

Let me rephrase that question; don't you just love Thai-English?  That is, English spoken and written the Thai way.

'It's happened to be a closet' doesn't make grammatical sense to a native English speaker, but we all know that grammatical mistakes can and does (often) happen in this part of the world.  And so as a native English speaker, I often find myself speaking English the local way in order to make myself understood to the locals.  Note to self: permission granted to friends to slap me if I ever speak Thai-lish in their presence.

Anyway, back to It's Happened To Be A Closet,  The menu is made up of Italian inspired fare with a few French things thrown in for good measure: soups (including onion soup), pasta, osso buco stew, desserts, coffee (Lavazza).

The décor is eclectic shabby-chic; tables and chairs line the outside, clothes and other interesting paraphernalia make up the interesting closet inside.

I ordered a pasta 'bacon olio' (over 200 baht) and an iced coffee.  Both of which I have completely forgotten exactly how much.  Sorry folks, wasn't paying too much attention today.

I was brought a lovely little oven tray full of different breads: garlic, cheesy, walnut and focaccia.  They were deliciously warm and fresh.

My iced coffee came with a big dollop of cream from a can, which I duly asked the waiter to remove.  A girl like me simply cannot consumme full fat cream in such blatant form.  It has to be hidden for me to enjoy - wierd I know - I have some strange quirks.

My spaghetti bacon olio was a very generous portion as you can see.  The ingredients were fresh and plenty of them.  The pasta is obviously the dried stuff and if I'm honest, it was a little on the oily side for me.  Service is polite and unassuming. 

Overall, the food isn't cheap here.  In fact I'd say it is a little on the pricey side.  Is it worth it?  Well, it's a pretty unique concept and it's a great spot for a relaxing lunch or afternoon tea. 

Would I go back?  Yes I would; I want to try their baked onion soup; I love the cuteness of the place; the colourful shabby chic décor and the fact that it happens to be a closet as well. 

It's Happened To Be A Closet
Emporium Mall, Fl. 2, 622 Sukhumivt Rd., Kongton, Klongtoey, Bangkok, 10110, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0)2 664 7211 2
Nearest BTS: Phrom Phong, exit 2

Daily 10:45am-10pm

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cabbages & Condoms, Klongtoey, Bangkok

Unlike any other, this restaurant supports the promotion of family planning, safe sex and HIV prevention in Thailand.  Set up by former politician and activist Mechai Viravaidya, Cabbages and Condoms serves Thai food in a two storey building with a beautiful garden courtyard. 

As you enter the Cabbages & Condoms hexagonal brick path, you'll pass their handicraft store which sells all sorts of condom related gifts.  This place is light-hearted, fun and most important of all, is geared towards a good cause. 

When you get to the restaurant's front desk, you'll be met by friendly service who'll take you to your table. 

There is plenty of dishes to choose from and for a lunch time, I was pleasantly surprised to find a mixture of clientele from tourists to ladies who lunch to men in suits.

Being on my own, I don't like to order too much, so I opted for stir fried rice noodles with chicken in soy sauce (phad si-ew gai) 100 baht:

Along with stir fried morning glory with chilli and garlic (pak boong fai daeng) 100 baht:

The food was tasty, filling and plenty of it.  I simply couldn't finish it all as it really was enough for two people.  

If you want a meal in a unique setting where part of the profits go towards a good cause, then make sure Cabbages & Condoms is on your list.

Come along in the evening and sit in the beautiful courtyard which lights up like a pretty fairyland and take in the beautiful surroundings. 

Cabbages & Condoms
10 Sukhumvit Soi 12, Bangkok 10260
Tel: +66 (0)2 229 4611
Nearest BTS: Asoke, exit 2.  Walk straight ahead at the bottom of the stairs, past Times Square building.  Take a left onto Sukhumvit Soi 12 and walk up a couple of hundred metres.

Daily 11am-10pm

Monday, August 22, 2011

Baan Kanitha, Wattana, Bangkok

A long established restaurant, Baan Kanitha (House of Kanitha) occupies a traditional Thai style house with plenty of parking on Sukhumvit Soi 23.  It's a fair few minutes walk from Sukhumvit road and you'll need to pass all the masseuse girls along this soi before you reach the restaurant on your right hand side. 

There is seating both indoor and out in the pretty lamplit lush garden.  Just be weary of mosquitos lurking around; get your spray on or be prepared to be bitten.

Traditional teak wood furnishing lends to the old style feel of this place and in doing so, creates a warm and pleasant atmosphere.

A waiter took us to a table by the window and handed us some menus.  There is a wide variety to choose from: starters, curries, vegetables, stir fries, seafood and so forth. 

After Mr. P and I avidly discussed the game plan for our feast, we placed our order and we were pleasantly surprised when the waiter asked if we had any allergies.  As this is the first time that I have ever been asked this question in Thailand, BIG kudos to Baan Kanitha for implementing this into their standard order taking procedure.

Our waiter duly went off with our table order and swiftly came back with a complimentary plate of 'meang kum'; a tasty Thai appetizer traditionally served to welcome guests. 

For those unfamiliar with this dish, it's betel leaves served with roasted unsalted peanuts, dried shrimp, diced young ginger, lime, chilli, shallots, toasted shredded coconut and a shrimp paste based sauce which includes shredded coconut, garlic, ginger, shallot, fish sauce and palm sugar. 

To eat, simply pick up a leaf, spoon a bit of everything into the centre, fold leaf together to make an easy all-in-one parcel, pop into the mouth and enjoy.  It is a simple, yet delightful explosion of many different flavours all at once and is a great way to whet the appetite.  Mr. P gave this a big thumbs up!

We followed this with a pork red curry (gaeng phed moo).  A coconut milk red chilli based curry with sliced pork, Thai pea eggplant and quartered Thai green striped eggplant, kaffir lime and basil leaves.  It wasn't overpoweringly spicy (as requested) and was really quite delicious:

Next up, the stir fried mince chicken with Thai basil and chilli (phad krapow gai sarp).  A favourite of Mr. P's and a well known Thai dish which when served as a one plate dish comes with a fried egg on top.  Again, just lovely:

And to make sure we got our 'five-a-day', stir fried morning glory with garlic and chilli in yellow bean sauce (pak boong fai daeng).  We both love this vegetable and Mr. P confesses to liking the Thai style of stir frying it over any other.

Ingredients were fresh and tasty.  None of the dishes were bland, they don't use MSG here and they also have brown rice instead of Jasmine should you have a preference.

Mr. P and I thought service and food were good.  We were treated well and after a satisfying meal, asked if we needed a taxi. 

A really tasty meal with fresh ingredients set in a beautiful old house with good service.  They also have a few other branches around central Bangkok which I can't (yet) comment on.  Perhaps if you can, you would?

Baan Kanitha
36/1 Sukhumvit Soi 23, Wattana, Bangkok 10110
Tel:  +66 (0)2 258 4181  / 4128
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 five or so minutes.   Baan Kanitha will be on your right hand side.

Daily 11am-11pm

Friday, August 19, 2011

NY-style bagels at last! BKK Bagel Bakery, Pathumwan, Bangkok

Don't you just love learning something new, however big or small that new thing may be? 

I do, and today I learnt a few interesting facts from the manager of this less than six months old bagel bakery which I will share with you later on in this post. 

But first, I would like to introduce the first ever (dedicated) bagel bakery in Bangkok, BKK Bagel Bakery.  It's a short hop, skip and a jump from Chidlom BTS, exit 2. 

It's a small place, but with maximum impact: light and airy, stuffed full of delicious looking bagels, chewy brownies, American style cookies, NY blueberry cheesecake, moist carrot cake and so forth.  Everything is clearly displayed on their chalkboard (with friendly manager included in my picture) below: 

Choose from their signature bagel sandwich stuffings or choose to make your own.  Get a side of coleslaw or salad and you have the perfect bagel lunch.  With six different bagels to choose from, its hard to go wrong.  

Since I have recently decided to become a more adventurous eater, I thought I ought to broaden my horizons today. 

Although I will confess some things are and will forever remain off limits for reasons I won't bore you with.

So to follow through on my promise, I ordered the 'open-faced tongue sandwich' on a wholewheat bagel (200 Baht) along with an iced coffee (50 Baht) to wash it all down with.  Oh how I wish I could see some of your facial reactions to my choice.

Nevertheless, whilst my bagel was being prepared, I discovered the following:
1. Bagels are boiled before baking.  This helps to create the chewy texture inside.
2. Bagels are a Jewish cuisine.
3. Bagels are historically linked to pretzels.
4. Bagels should not be kept in a paper bag overnight as it makes them rock hard the next day.
5. Bagels are best kept in a plastic bag overnight to avoid becoming rock hard.

And now for a close-up of my open-faced beef tongue sandwich:

Yes, it's a mighty big tongue, what do you expect for a cow?! 

For anyone who may be a bit squeamish about eating beef tongue, please don't be.  If you didn't know that this was tongue, you'd think it was delicious homemade corned beef.

Now to get this beef tongue super tender, I was told how it goes through a lengthy process which involves all sorts of brining and marinating.  It's a true labour of love and one that is clearly evident in the finished product.

The horseradish sauce wasn't overpowering (unlike some) and it gave the beef tongue extra oomph.  The scallions were indeed fresh with a crunchy bite.  There was so much tongue, I was stuffed to the brim. 

The iced coffee was also really good and because I enjoyed my bagel sandwich so much, here is another photo to end on:

I bought a couple of bagels at 35 Baht each to take home, kept them in a plastic bag overnight and toasted them the next day.  They were perfect, thank you BKK Bagel Bakery manager for the storage tip!

The signature bagel sandwiches range from 150 to 225 Baht.  If choosing to make your own, you could end up paying a lot less, or a bit more depending on what and how much you choose.

If you're hankering after a NY-style bagel, a delicious sandwich or American style cookies, brownies and more, get to BKK Bagel Bakery. 

BKK Bagel Bakery
518/3 Maneeya Center, Ploenchit Road, Bangkok 10330
Tel:  +66 (0)2 254 8157 

Nearest BTS: Chidlom, exit 2.  At the bottom of the stairs, turn around to the left and take a right at Haagen Dazs.  BKK Bagel Bakery will be a few steps up on your right hand side.

Mon-Fri: 8:30am-6:30pm
Sat: 8:30am-3pm
Closed Sundays

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hai Som Tam Convent, Silom, Bangkok

Love Thai food?  Then I'm guessing you may very well know which region of Thailand 'som tam' (papaya salad) comes from.  For those of you who don't know, it comes from the northeast region of the country, known as Isaan.

Isaan has its own language, a dialect derived from the Lao language, but written in Thai alphabet.  Their food is hotter, they don't use coconut as liberally as the rest of Thailand and it gets so freakin' hot during the early part of the year.

A friend of my dm's who is Isaan has to eat som tam everyday, otherwise she just doesn't function very well at all.  It's akin to those who have to drink a shot of caffeine when they wake up or those who have to eat potatoes everyday.  The last one may sound a little absurd, but I knew a guy back in my uni days who had eat potatoes everyday.  No, he wasn't Irish, although he may have had Irish blood running somewhere down the line.  Each to their own I say, each to their own. 

Now, pretty much every Thai girl, woman, man who-is-watching their figure that I know simply loves som tam.  Why?  It's tasty, it's cheap, it's healthy and did I say it's tasty?  OH yes, it sure is.  I love it too.  And yes, I am a woman who-is-watching her figure. 

On Soi Convent off the busy Silom road, you'll find the aptly named Hai Som Tam Convent on the right hand side as you walk up from Silom.  Not hard to spot, just look for a big space with strip light ceiling and bright plastic green stools:

It's farang friendly, meaning the menu has been translated into english and some of the serving staff can converse in the language too.  Otherwise, just use the universal sign language of pointing to what you want on the menu. 

Works like a dream, unless the font is so small that it makes your finger look like a podgy sausage and no matter how much accuracy you aim for, sometimes the wrong dish inevitably gets ordered.  Yeah, happened to me once, can't remember where, wasn't in Thailand, but let's just say it definitely wasn't what I intended to order.

As I read through the menu, I couldn't help but watch the chef chopping the grilled chicken (gai yang) just in front of me.  Of course I had to get me some of that juicy looking meat.

And here is half of my lunch: sticky rice (khao niew) 15Baht, small portion of grilled chicken 70Baht (or 100Baht for large portion).  Comes with a plate of raw cabbage and green beans, and sprigs of fresh Thai basil.  The two chilli sauces are a hot and a sweet. 

The other half, som tam at 40Baht is a decent size.  Freshly grated papaya, dried shrimps, peanuts, tomato, chilli, green beans all in a yummy, ever so slightly sweet dressing.  Just be careful if you don't or can't take hot chilli, just ask for it without.  I ordered mine with just a little chilli and I found it fairly spicy.  Many locals think I am a bit of a chilli wuss.  Compared to them, I am! 

I got here before the lunch time rush so service was quick and attentive.  There are loads of waiting staff so even during busy times, service will still be quick. 

This place is clean and I even got lots of friendly smiles and laughs as I took my pictures.  They didn't seem to mind at all.  If you're in the area and looking for a som tam place, take a visit to Hai Som Tam Convent. 

Otherwise if you live fairly close by but can't be bothered to venture out, they do deliver at a charge of 80Baht.  Although I am not sure how easy it would be to order if you can't speak Thai, would love to find out ....

Hai Som Tam Convent
2/4-5 Soi Convent, Silom, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel:  +66 (0)2 631 0216  / 2514
Nearest BTS: Sala Daeng

Mon-Fri: 10am-3pm
Sat: 10am-2pm
Closed Sundays

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gourmet Burgers in Bangkok: Bangkok Burger Company, Thong Lo, Bangkok

A burger isn't the first thing one would associate with Bangkok, let alone Thailand.  But Thais, especially the younger generation love this Western import and the burger market over here is dominated by one big chain of golden arches.  Yep, you guessed who ... I don't need to spell it out.

So when I read about a gourmet burger joint that had opened very recently - in the last week in fact - I had to go check it out for myself, along with my dear mother (dm).

The 'Bangkok Burger Company' sits just inside Thong Lo Soi 10 on the left hand side as you enter the soi.  There are benches outside for those who want to puff away whilst eating (which I think is gross by the way) or those who just love the heat (in this case I think they are just mad, nothing worse than dripping sweat whilst eating).  Otherwise, step inside the air-conditioned red leather seated diner. 

Six person booths line the left wall, four person tables line the right, huge glass windows let in lots of natural light and serving girls are eager to take orders.

The yellow t-shirt girls are a friendly bunch, one came over to hand us the drink menus.  A quick peruse and there are milkshakes, soft drinks, hot drinks, fruit juices.

Then there is the food menu, which doubles up as a place mat.  It lists everything under separate headings: sides, toppings & sauces, salad, desserts, sandwiches (three choices), chicken (two choices), vegetarian (two choices) and a fish option, namely a fish finger burger.

There is a lunch time deal which runs from 11am until 2pm: a regular burger with a choice of soft drink for 199Baht plus 7% government tax.

With many burger choices to choose from, my dm asked me to pick one out for her, so with her consent of course, I picked out the Le Parisien: french brie topped with garlic mushrooms and a dijonaise sauce. 

I went for The Mexicana: Chilli con carne (beef), sour cream, salsa, grilled cheddar cheese and jalapenos.  OK, not exactly a traditional burger, more like a sloppy joe.  Who cares though, it's still beef in a bun right?

The open kitchen with a high counter is at the back, so you can see the chefs bustling away as they prepare your food which is great.

Music plays in the background and although it was a little quiet at first, customers started to trickle in whilst we were there.  You can tell that this place is brand spanking new, with shiny leather seating and freshly painted walls.  I am sure it will only be a matter of time before word to gets out about this place. 

Back to the burgers though.  I can't remember how long it took for our food to come out (wasn't too long and ugly), but they looked good.  Here is the Le Parisien with stack of thick cut chips, skins still on, yummy!

The Mexicana, which if I do say so myself, looks mighty meaty here.  This one came with a salad, which I didn't feel needed to be in the picture as the burger was the star of the show.  Like a true sloppy joe, the beef slopped out of the joe (as I cut into it) and went straight into my mouth.

Here are some pictures of a few other tempting things on offer:

So what did I think of the burgers?  Execution and presentation were pretty good as the burgers were lovingly juicy and very meaty.  The thick cut chips were crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  The salad was nicely dressed.  All the ingredients were fresh and tasty.  They certainly make an effort to give you a 'gourmet' burger experience.

However, I felt a little let down by the buns.  I like my buns (bread buns that is) to have a crispy crunch and these didn't quite have that crunchy edge.  I also found the bread a teeny bit sweet for my liking, which I find is typical of bread found in Thailand.  Many Thais tell me this is how they like their bread.  My dm didn't seem to notice, she is Thai by the way.

All in all, I think it's great that there is a dedicated gourmet burger diner in Bangkok.  I wish them well and I will look forward to going back for another little jaunt in the future.  

In the meantime, Bangkok Burger Blog was fortunate enough to have had a sneak peak tasting and I for one will be interested in reading their review in the near future.

Bangkok Burger Company
Thong Lo Soi 10, Bangkok, Thailand
Nearest BTS: Phrom Phong and the take a motorbike or car taxi to Thong Lo Soi 10.

Daily 11am-11pm

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Taling Pling, CentralWorld, Bangkok

Bangkok is known as a shopping as well as an eating destination. Bangkokians love nothing more than to go shopping and to take part in eating, all the time, day and night.  

But why are Thai women so skinny you ask?  Let me just say, it's part gene, part eating habit. There's no need for me to go into detail.  But I will say this, unfortunately I didn't inherit the first part ... yes, yes, boo hoo to me.  I did however inherit the Thai 'love of eating'; which without the skinny genes, is not a good predicament to be in.

So before I get completely depressed about how I can't eat a whole tub of ice-cream without putting on weight, CentralWorld shopping mall is a huge complex which can be accessed from the skywalk which connects to both Siam and Chidlom BTS stations. 

It used to be the World Trade Centre years ago and I remember it as a pretty empty, quiet sort of a place.  It also came under fire during political unrest in the second quarter of last year.  Nowadays, it's buzzing with life.

Having been to the Taling Pling chain of restaurants before; in Paragon shopping mall and a visit to another outlet, I liked their food.  So tonight after a bit of shopping, I decided to try out their outlet in CentralWorld.

It's located in the Atrium zone of the 3rd floor and the casual, smart contemporary décor with mood lighting and floor to ceiling windows at the back, all makes for a pleasant cafe-style restaurant.

Their helpful picture menu is a godsend for those who aren't familiar with the dishes and is just a really nice guide for those who are.  The focus is on homestyle Thai cooking and there's loads to choose from: appetizers, curries, noodles, one plate rice dishes, vegetarian, fish, desserts.

I wanted something a bit different and something that I hadn't eaten for some time.  So I went ahead and ordered the 'spicy stir fry "sator" beans (otherwise known as fava beans) with minced pork and prawn '(155 Baht). 

For those who have never eaten sator/fava beans, they have a sort of mild nutty taste and are slightly crunchy in texture.  Some say these beans are slightly bitter in taste.  Cooked well, i.e. with a really good, strong stir fry sauce, the bitterness is hardly noticeable.  At least that's my opinion anyway.

Now, I must forewarn, this is a truely 'nose-runner' of a spicy dish, so if spicy, and by this I mean really spicy chilli is not your thing, then do remember to ask for it mild or mi phet (not hot).

And to ensure I got my five-a-day, I also ordered a plate of 'Stir fry morning glory with garlic, chilli and oyster sauce' (95 Baht).  This is one of my favourite vegetable dishes of all time, although I am told that I shouldn't eat too much morning glory as it's not good for energy levels.  Not sure where I heard this, but I rarely heed this advice.  Needless to say, maybe this is the reason for my low energy dips in the afternoons, or maybe that's more to do with eating too much for lunch?!

Staff are friendly and polite here.  Food didn't take too long to come out and I can't remember whether there was music in the background or not.  Shh, I would make a rubbish restaurant critic, good job I am not one then.  Although secretly, I would love to be, and now my secret desire to be one is not so secret anymore.  Anyone need a restaurant critic?  I am really good at eating ....

Taling Pling
3rd Flr Atrium Zone, CentralWorld Mall, Bangkok
Tel: +66 (0)2 613 1360-2
Nearest BTS: Siam and Chidlom

Daily 10am-10pm

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Crêpes & Co, Klongtoey, Bangkok

Love crêpes?  Me too.  For those of you who don't, what's there not to like?  Seriously people, they are goooood.

I actually prefer crêpes over any other style of pancake.  These thin crispy edged pancakes are a wonderful French export and yes, we have them here in Bangkok.

I had been meaning to check out Crêpes & Co for some time now and today, I finally managed to get there.  

It's about a five (sweaty) minute walk down Soi 12 from Sukhumvit road.  Add a couple more minutes or so if walking from Asoke BTS (exit 2).

You'll see a painted white wall with their sign sticking out and at first, you may start to doubt whether this place was really worth checking out or not.  At least this is what I did.  And after a sweaty walk down, I was damned if I was going to turn back around.

As I approached the entrance though, I was presented with the most lush and beautiful jungle garden.  I have to admit, I was VERY pleasantly surprised.  Maybe this place was worth seeking out.

Walking into the restaurant, I was instantly greeted by a friendly waiter in the typical Frenchman outfit: a blue and white striped top with a red neck scarf and a black beret.  All he needed was a moustache and a french accent.  Thankfully he hadn't acquired the abrupt Parisien manner that I had been accustomed to. 

I chose to sit in the front room on a table by the low window and I was immediately poured a lovely glass of iced cold water and handed the menu.  Ahh, this place just kept getting better by the minute.

There is seating outside on a beautifully decked verandah and a large dining room up a few steps from the front room which also houses the bar. 

There's a couple of tall bookcases with magazines, cushioned rattan seating with a coffee table covered in newspapers, a basket full of teddies and toys for the kiddies.  Music plays out softly in the background and the owner comes around to say hello to all his patrons ... a really lovely touch.  There is also free wifi for those who want it.

As you can imagine, there are crêpes galore here: French, brunch style, most popular and international flavours.  There's also appetizers, pasta, Mediterranean plates such as moussaka, Tajine of lamb and so forth, and 14 different salads.  And if you would prefer, you can also make up your very own savoury crêpe by ticking off your own ingredients:

Being in Thailand, I decided to go for the Massaman chicken curry crêpe.  I was very tempted to go for a French one, but decided that curry was the order of the day.

I didn't have too long to wait, but it didn't come out right away, which in my book is a good sign that the crêpes are cooked fresh.  As you can see below, it was a very generous portion.

The curry was delicious, the potato was cooked through, the chicken pieces were tender and crêpe was scrumdidlyumptious.  My only gripe and this is just an aesthetic one: the chef could have cleaned the plate of crumbs before it came out ... it looks like a bad case of crêpe crumb dandruff.

That said, I will definitely be back.  I love the ambience, the setting and the lush green jungle front garden.  The serving staff are all so friendly and polite, along with the owner himself. 

They also have a branch in Thonglor and you can find the details on their website.  

So if you're in the mood for crêpes in Bangkok, you really need to check this place out.

Crêpes & Co
18/1, Sukhumvit Soi 12, Klongtoey 10110, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0)2 653-3990 / 3991

Nearest BTS: Asoke, exit 2

Daily: 9am-Midnight

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Charley Brown's Mexicana Cantina, Wattana, Bangkok

Why would anyone want Tex-Mex in Bangkok when Thailand has (what I think) one of the most exciting and enticing cuisines in the world. 

Because sometimes, we all like to mix it up a bit and personally, I like a bit Tex-Mex, but only very occasionally. 

Now Tex-Mex in the middle of Bangkok doesn't get any more central than Sukhumvit Soi 11.  Walk down this Soi and you'll see 'Cheap Charlie's' bar on a little street off to the left.  Take a left turn past Cheap Charlie's and carry on around to the right and you'll see Charley Brown's Mexicana Cantina a little further up on the left hand side.

This side street reminds me a little of Heddon Street in London's Picadilly, just a bit more scruffy and a lot less sophisticated.  I guess this is what adds to the 'Bangkok charm' that so many tourists and expats love.

There's seating outside if you can stand the heat, or step inside to a cool air-conditioned, fairly brightly coloured restaurant.

My friends (W & Ms. E) arrived for an early 6:30pm dinner, so we were pretty much the first ones there.  In fact, they are the ones giving an excited thumbs up in the above picture.

The menu is a one page drinks and food menu, with items clearly laid out in their respective categories.

Whilst surveying the menu, we were given a bowl of hot crispy nachos with homemade salsa to whet our appetites.  Don't you just love it when restaurants add that nice 'free' touch!

We all went for the 'Chipotle Chicken' quesadilla since they were doing a 'buy 2, get 1 free' deal that night.  This place offers a promotion from Sunday to Thursday nights from what I remember.  But you'll have to go to their website to see their deals.  And they offer lunch deals from 150 Baht.

It didn't take too long for our quesadillas to come out.  Looking a bit like a toasted upside down pizza base, it wasn't the most appealing of quesadillas.  It came with a serving of sliced jalapeños, sour cream (which had the consistency of goat cheese) and tomato salsa.


It wasn't a bad quesadilla, but it certainly wasn't the best.  In fact 'W' questioned whether the chicken tasted like tuna.  I had to question this myself as I picked at the meat before rubbing it between my fingers, sniffing at it like a sniffer dog and discerningly examining it with my bad eye sight.  Yeah, I can be a really pleasant person to eat out with sometimes!

Nope, definitely not tuna, it wasn't fishy enough and the meat was chicken white.  It really was chicken, but rather chicken that resembled the texture of tinned tuna.  For 190 Baht, could one expect more?  Maybe, but then again, it's not exactly expensive by Western standards and I hear that their sangria is good and strong.

The outside area became busy with expats coming by for drinks and a bit of food.  The staff are friendly and polite.  Overall, I'd like to come back and try their specials and a bit of dessert.  Charley Brown, is this really your name?  If so, how cool!

Charley Brown's Mexicana Cantina
1/23 Sukhumvit Soi 11, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0)2 651 2215
Nearest BTS: Nana, exit 3

Mon 5:00pm - Midnight
Tue-Sun: 11:30am - Midnight

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bar Bar Black Sheep, Boat Quay, Singapore

If you grew up in England, then the name of the bar sounds familiar.  For those who didn't, who don't know what I'm talking about ... it shares the same sounding name as a fairly old English nursery rhyme. 

Anyhow, back to the bar, this place serves up Western, Thai and Indian food.  It's located pretty much in the middle of Boat Quay, which is packed with restaurants and bars.  A popular area with the afterwork crowd and tourists alike.

I met with an old friend who recently moved to Singapore for a quick afterwork bite and a catchup.  Seeing as I was in the mood for a burger (and my friend Mr. A was too), we decided to try our luck at this place.

With the few tables outside all occupied, as well as the bar stools, there were only a handful or so tables inside and we managed to grab the last available table at the back.

The waitress eagerly came along with menus and took our drink orders.  There's a good choice of food, but like I said, I was really hankering after a burger.  So of course being in South-East Asia, I went for the Rendang beefburger.  The waitress asked how I wanted it done, to which I replied, "medium".

Without trying to sound funny here, I was a little surprised not to see any lamb burgers on the menu.  I actually prefer lamb burgers to the beef variety.  Perhaps lamb costs a lot more than beef over here as they have to import it from further away, or maybe they are just not popular in Singapore to warrant putting on the menu ... who knows ....

My verdict on the burger; the bun had been toasted, but the bread was really chewy.  I also found the burger meat a little chewy, and it was medium to well done.  The sauce had a bit of a kick which added a subtle spicyness to the burger. 

Chips were good though and the coleslaw (like any regular commercial coleslaw found in supermarkets all over the UK) was a little bit too creamy for my taste, but that's only because I have grown to love good old homemade coleslaw.

For around $14.50, I guess it's not the cheapest burger in town, nor the most expensive either. 

Bar Bar Black Sheep, not a bad place to come with friends after work or even at lunch time.  Location is right on the river, the place is buzzing in the evenings, the bar is really quite pleasant and there are lots of other bars if you wanted to do a bit of a crawl.

Bar Bar Black Sheep
55 Boat Quay, Singapore 049844

Mon-Thu: 12pm-12am
Fri: 12pm-2am
Sat: 9am-2pm
Sun: 9pm-12am

Friday, August 5, 2011

Boon Tong Kee, Zion Road Riverside Food Centre, Singapore

Hawker food, with alfresco dining by the river and less than a ten minute stroll from where I live, lunch can't get more exciting ....

Zion Road Riverside Food Centre sits across the road from the Great Wall City shopping mall.  It doesn't look like much from the roadside, but it's right by the river and is really quite pleasant looking.

There are a variety of different stalls, selling all sorts of different things.  But it was Boon Tong Kee that caught my eye.  If only because of the neon lit visual 'article clippings' hall of fame that hangs below their signage.  Not being able to read chinese, let alone speak it, unfortunately I couldn't read any of it.

However, the menu is translated into English and the Auntie was very helpful in making sure that I got what I wanted.

I ordered the kway chap, which is a Teochew dish made up of flat rice noodle sheets in a dark soy sauce soup.  It comes with a plate of braised hard-boiled egg, duck meat, beancurd, crispy belly pork, char siew pork and pig intestines covered with a slightly sweet gravy-like sauce.  I decided to forgo the pig intestines as I'm not a big fan of the chewy stuff.  Instead, I asked for extra char siew.

This all cost me the grand total of $3.50.  That would probably only just buy me a cheap, unsatisfying sandwich in the UK.

The rice noodles were silky smooth and the soup had a subtle Chinese herbal flavour.  The various meats were tender and tasty.

Not sure those without a Chinese palate would like or appreciate this dish, but I rather enjoyed it.  Seeing as there are so many other stalls, it's a great place for a casual cheap eat.

Boon Teng Kee
#01-24, Zion Road Riverside Food Centre,  70 Zion Road, Singapore 247792