Friday, January 30, 2009

Keyaki Japanese Restaurant (Bangkok)

A friend of mine wanted to take me out to lunch. So, we decided to have Japanese food near his office on Silom Road. We decided to go to the Japanese restaurant of the Pan-Pacific Hotel which is around the corner to my friend's office. I always forget that the Pan-Pacific Hotel even exist. So, it was nice to hear that they have a very good Japanese restaurant.

The Keyaki Japanese Restaurant in on the 22nd floor of the the hotel. It is a very large and elegant room with about 165 seats. Due to the huge windows, the restaurant is very bright with sunlight shinning through. The decor is very simple with a few hints of something Japanese. You would never know it was a Japanese restaurant if you just took a glimpse at it.

Keyaki has many business lunch menu sets at very reasonable prices. That is the reason the place is packed during lunch time on week days.

My friend ordered the set with salmon & tofu suki. As any Japanese restaurant, the presentation was beautiful. The broth of the suki was very tasty. The dish had lots of textures due to lots of vegetables like cabbage, mushrooms and leeks.

I ordered the largest set lunch (my friend promised to help me eat it; which he did not, I had to eat it all). It had to come in two trays because there was so much food. The first tray had complements like the rice, the sauce for the tempura and the amuse bouche of salmon & tuna sashimi.

The second tray consisted of the main dishes such as shrimp tempura, egg custard and braised pork shoulder. I have to admit that all the dishes tasted wonderful. Not only were the dishes beautiful to look at, but each individual dish had its own characteristic flavour.

With good ambiance, delicious food and intereresting conversation; this was a very good lunch.

Click here for direction to the Pan-Pacific Hotel & Keyaki Japanese Restaurant

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chaan Suay (Bangkok)

Even though my colleagues and I work in the same office, we never seem to have time to eat lunch or chat with each other. So, we decided that every month we would eat dinner together to have a gossip session with good food and wine. This time we decided to try a very unique restaurant near our office.

The restaurant is called Chaan Suay (Pretty Plate) This restaurant has only four tables. The owner used to be a musical composer. After retirement, he and his wife opened this neighborhood restaurant (they have another branch in Hua-Hin where they cook on weekends).

We started our evening by opening a bottle of prosecco to celebrate that we actually made it to the dinner. The prosecco was just ok, nothing outstanding. But since we were all in the mood to just catch up and gossip, we did not mind.

The first dish was a mix salad with Italian sausage. A very nice salad. but the star of the dish was the Italian sausage. Slightly spicy and full of flavour.

The next dish was sauteed mushrooms. A very simple but great dish. The mushrooms were very fresh and they still had a slight chewyness to the texture.

The next dish was baked spinach with Parmesan cheese. The combination of spinach and Parmesan cheese were made for each other. Though, the spinach taste was diluted due to the Parmesan cheese, it still was a nice side dish.

The next dish was mixed salad with smoked salmon. Since we had a vegetarian friend, we ordered a lot of salads and seafood. The smoked salmon was good. I have had better but this dish was not bad.

The next dish was lasagna. Not bad at all. The meat sauce was very good and thick, the pasta was not overcooked and the dish had a very nice taste.

The white was Vision from Australia. I was not very impressed with this wine. A bit over worked and a bit on the oaky side.

The next dish was baked chicken Provencal style. The chicken was baked was tender and juicy and the sauce was light but tasty.

The next dish was pork ribs. I was not happy with the amount of ribs that was served. The portion that was offered was more for an appetizer. Pork is very cheap in Thailand, so there was no reason to be stingy. However, the ribs were very tender and tasty (for those who like garlic).

The next dish was fish (sorry I have forgotten what type of fish this was). A lightly baked fish with garlic. The fish was fresh and tender. But, I thought there was too much garlic, which overwhelmed the taste of the fish.

The red wine we had was Le Volte 2006 from Tuscany. An amazing wine from Italy. For the price and quality ratio, this is one of the best you can find in Bangkok. Assemblage of 51% sangiovese, 34% merlot, 15% cabernet sauvignon. The aromatic and structural components of the wine display perfect balance, with fresh, lightly spiced red berry fruit notes, and smooth fullness on the palate, where the soft Merlot tannins combined with the structure of Cabernet and the classic liveliness of Sangiovese.

The next dish was baked shrimp and macaroni & cheese. As you can see, my friends like baked cheese dishes. This dish was unique since they added shrimp. Another nicely baked dish, the sauce was light and tasty and the shrimps were plump and had a nice flavour.

The next dish was spaghetti bolognese. A very good dish where the sauce was light and tasty.

The next dish was fettuccine with pesto. I do like pesto and they make a very nice pesto dish here. Loads of flavour.

The first dessert was baked apple crumble. This dessert was rich and tasty. Just the right spices to add life to this dessert and another good aspect is that it was not too sweet.

The second dessert was fruit tiramisu. A very unique interpretation of the classic dessert. This was more exotique due to the fresh trpical fruits. The whipped cream replaced the cheese and the sponge cake on the bottom added more texture to the dessert. This dessert was much lighter than a tiramisu but still had a good taste.

For a simple neighborhood restaurant ambiance, this is a great place to go. It almost seems like you are eating in your own home due to smallness of the restaurant and the home cooking. The prices are very affordable for the very good quality of the food.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Som (Bangkok)

It is very rare that I have a bad experience and on top of that bad food in Bangkok. Well, we just experienced it. A new som-tum restaurant opened on soi Thonglor last year around September. We tried it and it was not bad. So, we decided to try it again.

To our surprise, the restaurant changed. It had the same name, but I think it must have changed management or owners. The prices increased. The decor was changed; not to our liking. The restaurant before had an easy going and comfortable atmosphere to it. A som-tum restaurant does not need to be fancy. Well apparently, the new owners of Som think it does. The new furniture was too massive for such a small space and the mix of styles was also a strange.

The first dish was Thai som-tum. This dish was ok. There was nothing wrong with the raw materials. But they added too much fish sauce, which made the dish too salty. There was no balance in flavours from the ingredients.

The next dish was minced pork with sweet basil (phad krapow moo). Actually, there was a slight confusion on this dish. On the menu, it was listed as curry pork fried rice. So, you can imagine our surprise when this dish arrived. There was nothing wrong with this dish. I think the reason for not enjoying it as much as we should have was that our expectations of something else.

The next dish was chicken coconut palm salad. Oh my; just Awful. This normally is a very nice dish. We even had a discussion what on earth could be wrong with this dish. My friend said that the chicken and coconut palm were not fresh. I thought they were ok, but I thought there was something very wrong with the sauce. I cannot even explain to you what it taste like. Just believe me something very bad.

Not only was the food mediocre, the owners were not acting properly as well. The owners were lounging on the sofa, like it was their living room instead of making sure their guest were happy. They were sitting on the sofa and constantly switching the channels on the television. On top of that, they were playing awful music, re-makes of famous songs like 'Over the rainbow'. Very scary indeed.

But, what really confirmed to us that the owners did not care anymore about the quality of food or the ambiance for their guest. We noticed a sign on the window; 'Restaurant for Sale or Rent'. That explained everything.

No need for direction or the address to this restaurant.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baan Chamnong Restaurant (Bangkok)

We finally decided to go to a Thai restaurant many people were recommending us to try. The restaurant has been opened for several years now and getting fantastic reviews. We have not tried out the restaurant simply because we were always lazy to cross town. But, it was time to try the restaurant.

The restaurant is very simply decorated and is open air. The owner of the restaurant speaks perfect English and was very nice to us. Recommending some dishes as well as taking care of our wines. Without us asking; he asked if the white wine needed to be iced and if the reds needed to be open to breath. I already knew we were going to have a great evening.

The first dish was raw oysters (shelled) with condiments to eat them Thai style. The condiments were; deep fried shallots & garlic, herbs, lime, very spicy chili sauce, very very spicy green sauce and see-ra-cha sauce. Since Thai oysters do not have much flavour, you need all these condiments to add extra flavour. We really enjoyed this dish. The oysters were very fresh and had good firm consistency. A refreshing and tasty starter.

The second dish was Thai fried chicken (gai thod). What makes fried chicken Thai? I have no clue. But, I think its how they deep fry the chicken. I have no idea how or what they do to the chicken, but they have such a wonderful flavour. The fried chicken was a deep golden brown, very crispy on the outside and the chicken meat on the inside a bit dry. But, that's what we like about the fried chicken.

The next dish was deep fried shrimp cakes (thod mun goong). I have a weakness for fried food and here is one of them. This dish was deep fried to perfection, meaning they were not oily (I really hate that). Crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. A sweet sauce accompanied this dish.

The next dish was roasted duck (phed ped). A very nice dish. The skin was crispy but the meat was a bit on the dry side; however, still had a very nice taste.

The next dish was stir fried kale. A nice vegetable dish. Lots of flavour and textures.

The next dish was wing bean salad (tum tua pu). One of my favourite salads. The wing bean has a unique shape, great crunchy texture and the spicy, sour, sweet sauce makes the wing bean salad very tasty. Hard boiled eggs accompany this dish.

The next dish was steamed egg custard. We rarely have this dish in a restaurant; simply because it is rarely served. One of the most basic dishes to serve for dinner. The taste of this dish is very light. A hint of fish sauce and herbs makes the base of the flavour.

The next dish was deep fried fish (pla-ka-phong-thod). Another deep fried dish I love. The fish was a lovely colour, the fish meat flaky and the spciy shreded mango sauce was very the perfect sauce to accompany the fish.

The last dish was crab fried rice (khao phad pu). I really love fried rice but I always try to stay away from it because its so fattening; the mix of carbohydrate and oil is the worst. However, I am a very weak person and I eat it all the time. This was my least favourite dish of the night. This dish had no taste. I had to add extra fish sauce with chili to get some taste. I also thought it was a bit too oily.

For dessert, we had the coconut jelly. We seldom see this dessert in restaurants. So, we needed to have it. It is coconut jelly with coconut meat inside the coconut. It is such a refreshing dessert and a great way to end the dinner. It was not too sweet and good flavour.

37 Thanon Mahaset
02 234 1432

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Daeng Seafood Restaurant

We were heading back to Bangkok from a weekend in Hua-Hin. We called a friend who was an expert on restaurants along the long stretch of highway between Hua-Hin and Bangkok. Right away he recommended that we eat at Dang Restaurant. Apparently, everyone knew about Dang Restaurant (of course we did not). He gave us directions and we thought it would be easy to find. Well, let's say it was NOT. We had to ask for directions twice. The locals probably thought; 'these Bangkok people are idiots'.

We finally saw a restaurant with tons of people and the parking lot was packed full. So, we assumed that this was the restaurant. When we entered the restaurant, there were newspaper clippings hanging all over the walls praising how wonderful this restaurant was. We were so happy that we finally found the restaurant and we were finally going eat dinner. Dang Restaurant is very famous for its seafood. Bangkok residents drive out of the city just to eat here. We were lucky to even get a table right away.

We had a very good waiter. He was maybe only 14 years old, but he had the ability, good sense, intelligence and sense of humour of a professional waiter. It was actually incredible. He knew right away that we barely could read the menu. He right away described to us what was on the menu and even recommended some dishes.

We were very hungry and wanted to try everything. We assumed that the amount of food for each dish would be small like most restaurants. Boy were we wrong. The problem was that boy did not tell us that the portions of each dish was going to be monstrous. He just let the us be greedy and let us order dish after dish without warning us that we ordered enough food for a small village.

The first dish was a deep fried seabass in fish sauce. This dish was amazing. The fish was fried to a beautiful golden brown. When we stuck our forks into the fish, we heard a lovely crunch of the crispy skin. Once the fork passed through the crispy skin of the fish, we found the beautiful white meat which was tender and juicy. The fish sauce added the necessary saltiness to the dish. I still cannot believe we ate the whole beast.

The second dish was shrimp fried rice. A kilo of fried rice for three people. But that did not matter. The fried rice tasted very good. I am not sure what type of curry paste they fried the rice in, but it was lovely and not too oily. The shrimp was a nice addition to the dish.

The next dish was steamed prawns. This simple dish is always my favourite. The prawns were huge and full of flavour. The green sauce that accompanied the shrimp was spicy but we always love that.

The next dish was squid in lime & lemon juice. When squid is this fresh, you cannot but love it. This salad is so simple to make; lemon & lime juice, chilis, garlic and chopped herbs. All tossed in a pot and warmed up over a low fire. The outcome is such a lovely tasting dish.

The next dish was tom yum seafood. WOW, the taste of the tom yum was amazing. The seafood was not overcooked in the soup, which we often do not find in a tom yum. The tom yum had the right balance of sourness, saltiness, sweetness and spiciness.

The next dish was steamed crab. We were not expecting the crabs to be so big. But we were very happy they were. The messiest seafood dish to eat but it's worth the mess and every single minute we stuggle to get every piece of meat out of the crab legs and shell. The flavour was of the crab was outstanding. We did not even need the spicy sauce that accompanied it.

This was an amazing dinner. The restaurant is split into three sections (due to extending the building). The rooms are basic in decor. The service is very very young but very attentive. The enormous open air kitchen is as big as the restaurant. We could not believe how big it was. It seemed like they had an army of chefs cooking. No wonder the food came out so rapidly.

Our table was the show of the evening. We had stares from the other tables because we ordered so much food. They were actually laughing at us. However, we did not mind because we were in seafood heaven.

Click here for directions to Daeng Seafood Restaurant

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Baan Tawan Gai Yang (Bangkok)

I am very lucky to live very close to one of the most famous gai yang, som tum and seafood restaurants in the Thong Lor and Ekkamai area. The locals called the restaurant Sabai Jai; but I noticed that it has a new name; Baan Tawan Gai Yang. It is well know for its Isaan food & seafood. Whatever, they call the restaurant. It has fantastic food!

The restaurant has two sections; one open air and the other is enclosed with air-conditioning. We prefer to sit in the open air part. It seems more authentic and fun. The restaurant is loved by Thais and foreigners alike. Any given evening, there is a mixture of people enjoying the food at this restaurant.

The restaurant is not at all decorated since it has no walls. There are TVs hanging from the celings and it always has a football match or soap opera playing with the volume quite loud. Basic wooden tables and aluminum chairs make up the furniture. But who needs fancy decorations when the food here is so good.

There are always tons of young waitresses/ waiters in bright blue coloured shirt/ uniforms running around the restaurant as well as 'Beer Girl' pushing their beers to consumers. The staff are always friendly but do not speak English.

This is one of the reasons why we keep going to Baan Tawan Gai Yang. Their famous grilled chicken. I have no idea what they do to the chicken; but the taste is out of this world. The grilled chicken comes with two different sauces. One spciy/ sweet (the right) and one spicy/ tangy (the left). We only use the spicy/ tangy sauce. Its also home-made. Its stunningly good.

We also never order the normal som-tum thai. We always order the som-tum carrot. It always turns out so good. It has the perfect blend of sweet, sour, tangy and spicy.

This was the first time we tried this dish and I think it will not be the last time. We had a laugh because of the spelling of the item on the menu. It was suppose to be grilled 'beef', but instead it was grilled 'beep'. No matter how it was spelled, it arrived at the table on a sizzling plate and it smelled terrific. The meat was tender (which I was not expecting), but it was over cooked (sizzling for too long).

The next dish was mekong cat fish with pepper corns and chili. Do not worry, this was a farmed mekong cat fish. Due to over fishing in the mekong, the giant mekong cat fish is slowly disappearing. Therefore, I would not support eating an endangered specied like the giant cat fish. This specialty dish was not bad at all. This dish was very tasty and wow; spicy. The cat fish also had a nice textured meat.

Can you believe that all that wonderful food comes from the most basic open air kitchen. Everytime I pass the restaurant, I can see the chefs cooking their simple and delicious dishes. The great smells always catches my attention.

Baan Tawan Gai Yang
Ekkamai soi 1