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

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tan Tan Men, Watthana, Bangkok

My American friend Fluff, (who knows a thing or two about food having worked with some top chefs) told me about this place.  So of course, I needed to pay a visit to Tan Tan Men. 

I went a couple of times in order to try two different ramen dishes.  The restaurant is clean, light and bright.  Located in an old shop house - it is small but tall - meaning there are three floors of seating.

The girls welcome every guest with as much gusto as they bid farewell, which is pretty enthusiastically.  You'll know when patrons enter or leave this place.  The kitchen is located at the back of the ground floor which is slightly open for viewing.

On my first visit, I chose the 'Curry Ramen' at 150 baht.  I simply couldn't believe how big a portion they served.  Wow, I was a little overwhelmed, but seeing as I was hungry, I started to tuck in.  The curry was only mild and it certainly wouldn't blow any heads off. This ramen was fat and tasty.  It was so filling, I couldn't finish the whole lot.  Shame because I really enjoyed it.  Next time though, I will order the Tonkatsu curry ramen (breaded deep-fried pork cutlet) for a bit of added protein.

On my second visit, I ordered the 'Tan Tan Men' ramen at 140 baht.  Again, I couldn't believe the shear scale of the mammoth portion that was brought out to me.  It came topped with fresh beansprouts and spring onions (scallions).  The sesame seed based broth was delightful and left a rather pleasant peanut-y aftertaste.  Again, I simply couldn't finish the whole lot, and again, what a shame!

They also serve one plate rice dishes, stir fry vegetable dishes, fried rice and a few other things like gyoza and tempura.

Prices are reasonable, especially considering how big a portions they are.  Service is polite, friendly and efficient (as one would expect in a Japanese restaurant).  And to top it all off, there is no added service charge or government tax to the bill.  Love this place for all sorts of reasons and I will be back.

Tan Tan Men
595/20 Sukhumvit Soi 33/1, Khlong Tan Nua, Watthana, Bangkok
Tel: +66 (0)2 662 2084
Nearest BTS: Phrom Phong, exit 5.  Keep walking ahead and turn right into Soi 33/1 at the corner of Robin Hood pub.  Tan Tan men is just up on the right-hand side.

Daily 11am - Midnight

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Workshop-Come-Restaurant-Come-Bar: Iron Fairies, Thong Lor, Bangkok

It's not everyday that one gets to sit in a dungeon-like, fully functioning blacksmith's workshop eating a burger and fries amongst gargoyles and fairies.  But in this crazy city known as Bangkok, one can.  

Enter through a narrow wooden doorway, drape back the black curtain to reveal a dramatic spiral iron staircase that looks as though it might lead up into some sort of enchanted Narnia. 

As your eyes take their time to adjust to the darkness, ambient jazz plays in the background and you will begin to realise that this place is like no other bar and restaurant.  It feels almost mystical, like some kind of secret society meeting chamber. 

Iron Fairies serve burgers and fries, so if you want any other food, I suggest you go looking elsewhere. 

Space is also quite limited, making for a more intimate experience.  I have to say, it is really a rather cool concept in a tiny little space.

There are a few burgers on offer and my dinner companion tonight - an American lady who I will refer to as Fluff - and I decided to choose two to share. 

Fluff being American knows a thing or two about the burger.  It is, afterall, an American institution and (according to Wikipedia) the hamburger appeared on the first printed American menu in 1826 from Delmonico's in New York.

Unfortunately I didn't record the names of any of the burgers on the menu nor the prices.  But from what I recall, they were between 190-230 baht.  Fluff went for a classic burger, and me having been brought up in England, ordered the bacon and egg burger. 

As we sat pondering life in this workshop, the burgers were brought to us on solid wooden chopping boards, held to the board with a big steak knife through the middle of each burger and the burgers themselves held together by two big barbeque sticks.  "Now that is a burger!" exclaimed Fluff.  I had to agree, it was indeed a burger in a bun as I know it.

As Fluff bit into her burger, she exclaimed how she could taste 'beef' ... "which is how a hamburger should be" she said with a look of approval.

As I bit into mine, there was no taste of beef.  I didn't read the description very well as it was simply a 'bacon, egg, lettuce and tomato' burger, (BELT) which was nice enough and is simply a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) and a BET (bacon, egg and tomato) together. 

The bacon was crispy, the lettuce was crunchy, the tomato was a slice of 'beef' tomato and the bread bun was 'bready' ... just like bread from back in the UK.

We also ordered a side of fries which came out piping hot.  Again, as Fluff bit into the first of her fries, she looked over at me and said "You can taste the starch in these fries ... this is what fresh fries should taste like."  I grabbed one and bit into it, it reminded me of my homemade potato wedges (which are always very popular with guests by the way!).

The fries being irregular in shape suggests that they are handcut.  They were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and non-greasy.

I really didn't have any complaints.  Fluff confessed to preferring her beef burger to my bacon burger.  For me, I liked them both for different reasons.  I can take a burger without the beef, although does that still make it a burger? Or would that just make it a bap sandwich?  I won't get all pendantic about it ....

If you want something different, take a visit to Iron Fairies, have a burger, have a drink and maybe take home a fairy as a souvenir or as a gift.

The Iron Fairies
394 Thonglor Road (Sukhumvit Soi 55), opposite Ton Krueng Thai Restaurant, Bangkok
Tel +66 (0)84 425 8080

Nearest BTS: Phrom Phong, exit 2.  At the bottom of the steps, take a taxi (about 50 baht depending on traffic) or motorsai to turn left into Sukhumvit Soi 55.  Stop just after Thong Lo Soi 12 on the right hand side.  Iron Fairies is just a little past Thong Lo Soi 12.

Daily 6pm-2am

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Spot Of Something French: Café Tartine, Pathumwan, Bangkok

Café Tartine is very close to the BTS station, so you won't be sweating buckets when on arrival (which is always makes for a more pleasant dining experience).

This place reminds me of some of the chain-like brunch places in NYC and London, namely 'Le Pain Quotidien', although Café Tartine is more homely and unique.

The interior is light and airy with fan ceilings.  Huge glass door cabinets are neatly lined with designer glass water bottles in the seating area, whilst a homely country style kitchen complete with counter top occupies the other half.  The white shirt aproned service staff all look completely at home, bustling away as they take, prepare and serve orders.

The menu has a good selection of breakfast items, crepes, sandwiches (with your choice of bread), a couple of soups including the obligatory french onion soup, salads, or if you so prefer, there is a 'make-your-own' salad option where you just tick off what you want from the list.  Beverages include coffees, including an XXL bowl option, shakes, and other drinks.

Mr. P joined me for lunch today as I had already told him that I would take him to a wonderful place for something a little French.   As we stepped inside, I could tell Mr. P approved of this café. 

Feeling right at home with the menu, Mr. P chose the ham and melted brie baguette (around 190 baht).  The baguette was crunchy on the outside, and lovingly soft on the inside.  He was pretty pleased with his baguette sandwich and it brought back memories of his many childhood summers spent in France.

I ordered the salade nicoise (220 baht) which was a hefty plate of salad topped with boiled egg, tomato, boiled potato, olives, red peppers, green beans and let's not forget, the tuna itself! 

The olives were fat and juicy, the tuna was soft and well, tuna.  The ingredients all tasted wonderfully fresh, but if I had one complaint - and it is a small one - I would have liked the lettuce to have been better tossed in the dressing as the salad leaves at the top were not as well dressed as those at the bottom.  

All in all though, a really tasty and well-thought out generous salade nicoise.

We both finished off the meal with a coffee which was steaming hot and again, very generous.  And a dessert of course; me having the tart tatin and Mr. P having the lime pie.

I had suggested sharing to Mr. P before ordering, but he would not listen.  So when the very generous portions arrived, we couldn't believe our eyes and Mr. P confessed that we should have indeed shared ... men!  Our neighbours even eyed up our desserts and exclaimed how good they looked. 

The apples on the tart tartin oozed with just the right amount of sweetness, the caramel infused pastry was delicious, although not puff pastry.  Again, it tasted good and the caramel sauce with fresh cream on the side is a lovely addition for those with an extra sweet tooth.

The lime pie looked just like a British lemon meringue pie, but of course the French have their own 'Tarte Meringuée au Citron', so nothing British about this one ....

The meringue was very light with the edges browned just enough on top, and the lime curd was on the right side of sour.  The pastry was slightly biscuit-like which Mr. P (as an Englishman) loves.

Service is polite and friendly here.  There is seating outside with tall floor fans, which I imagine is really lovely for chilling out in once the heat subsides a little in the evenings. 

They also offer free wifi which is fantastic.  Having been here twice already, I noticed how lunch time between 12:30-13:30pm is absolutely buzzing, so if you want to avoid the manic rush, come either before or after this hour. 

I have yet to try their croissants, of which I am so looking forward to doing very soon.

Café Tartine
Soi Ruam Rudee at Athenee Residence, 65 Wireless Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Tel: +66 (0)2 168 5464

Nearest BTS: Ploenchit, exit 4.  U-turn at the bottom of the stairs, take the first left into Soi Ruam Rudee and Cafe Tartine is a mere 100 metres on the right hand side.

Daily 8am-8pm

Friday, September 2, 2011

Boran Noodle Shop, Klong Toey, Bangkok

Boran, simply put, is a traditional Thai-style noodle shop set in a modern air-conditioned retro Thai-style cafe.  Located on the second floor of the Exchange Tower makes it within walking distance to Asoke BTS via the sky walkway.

Retro posters adorn the walls, along with a retro looking portable tv that takes pride of place on a high shelf next to the semi-open kitchen.  The dark wooden stools and tables that populate this noodle cafe is a salute to the old school markets and stalls.  

The menu comes in Thai, so if you don't read Thai (like me) just request for one in English instead.  Saves having to work out how to decipher the menu with limited or no Thai reading skills. 

Unsurprisingly, reading from the title of this post, it's all about the noodle here. The main showstopper - in my opinion - being the traditional boat style noodle soup.

Simply pick your protein from pork or beef in your preferred style: meatballs, sliced, braised, combination and so on.  Then select the broth; aromatic boat style, clear soup.  Move on to choosing your noodle from thick rice noodles to egg noodles to glass noodles.  And finally don't forget to specify whether you require a large or a small portion.  Prices range from 55-105 baht.

They also have a small selection of dim sum: pork or prawn shui mai, prawn har gau (all 45 baht each), bbq pork buns and a couple of others for 25 baht each.

My steamed prawn shui mai came out alarmingly quick.  This is good if you are super hungry, bad if you are a little wary (like me) of why food comes out so soon.  But, I have to say they were plump, juicy, and really quite tasty considering.  Just remember that this is Thai style dim sum, not Cantonese style dim sum.  Yes, there is a difference!

Now for the braised beef boat style noodles.  I chose glass noodles (woon sen) as they are made from mung beans and therefore, I regard them as a healthier alternative to rice noodles. 

Below is a small, but very generous portion.  It had lots of yummy fresh veggies; cabbage, greens, coriander and beansprouts.  The braised beef was super tender, although a little fatty.  But nothing that a bit of carefully orchestrated biting with good chopstick skills can't solve.  Besides, cooking with the fat still on the meat only helps to tenderise it during the cooking process and adds a bucket load of meaty goodness to the flavour of the soup.

On a separate occasion, I came back to try their braised pork boat noodles, again with glass noodles.  The pork was less fatty, but still super tender.

You can make it as salty, sour, sweet or spicy as you like with the traditional four condiments that is mandatory for Thai noodle soups.  Thai noodle soup served without these four condiments is like serving a scone without jam and cream.

Drinks here include old fashioned rock sodas, iced teas and coffees, Singha beer and a handful of other soft drinks. 

Service is quick, friendly and easy going.  It may not be as cheap as a street stall, but in my book, it is certainly more comfortable and you do get very generous portions.

2/F, Exchange Tower, 388 Sukhumvit Rd, Klong Toey, Bangkok
Tel: +66 (0)88 022 4022
Nearest BTS: Asoke, exit 6.  Walk along the skywalk and take the walkway into the Exchange Tower on the right hand side.  Boran is the second shop on the left as you enter the building.

Mon-Fri: 7:30am-8:30pm
Sat-Sun: 10:30am-8:30pm