Saturday, February 14, 2009

Breakfast @ Opera Park Hyatt (Saigon)

We stayed the great Park Hyatt while in Saigon. It has to be the best hotel in Saigon in my opinion. It is even better than some of the five star hotels in Bangkok and that is a difficult task to do.

Breakfast was being served in the Opera Restaurant. In the morning its the breakfast room and at night it is an Italian restaurant. The restaurant is beautiful. Huge floor to ceiling windows that allow the sunlight through.

When you enter the restaurant, you notice the bar. Its used as the coffee bar in the morning

We were seated and I could not wait to start the buffet breakfast.

The freshly baked pastries, bagels and breads looks scrumptious. I did not know where to start.

This side of the buffet counter was the hot food; eggs, pancakes, etc.

But, what I was looking for was the pho. I always like having pho in the morning; actually, I like having pho any time of the day. The chicken pho was not bad at all. I am always dubious about pho made in hotels and especially at the buffet. The bouillon was tasty and the condiments were fresh.

The fresh fruit and fruit juices section

Having breakfast was very good and delicious experience. The service was very nice and good. Since our morning started out so good with a great breakfast, we were ready to play tourist in Saigon.

Please click here for information about Park Hyatt Saigon

Ben Thanh Market (Saigon)

We took a weekend trip recently to Saigon. We wanted to try the Park Hyatt again because the hotel is amazing. The restaurant there is amazing, but that story will be posted soon. One of the great things to do when we are in Saigon is to visit the very famous market, Ben Thanh Market.

We normally go after lunch, which is a huge mistake on our part because the market has some of the best Vietnamese food around. It always looks so tempting and the other amazing thing is that it cost nothing.

Here is one of the stalls displaying the yummy food.

Here is another stall with different type of Vietnamese food.

Another great thing about the market is the selection of food stuff being sold. The market has practically everything you need to cook Vietnamese food. From fresh vegetables, fresh seafood, meats, etc. They have it.

Here is a stall selling the wonderful exotique Vietnamese fruits

Here is a stall selling pickled vegetables.

Here is a stall selling dried spices and fruits.

Friday, February 13, 2009

TsuNami Japanese Restaurant @ JW Marriott Hotel (Bangkok)

TsuNami opened few weeks later after the devastating tsunami hit Asia. At first, we thought they would have to change the name of the restaurant because of the deadly tsunami; but, they actually did keep the name. We were all wondering at the time; 'why on earth would they go ahead and name their restaurant TsuNami?' A couple years later, the restaurant still exist and it does have very good food.

TsuNami is actually two restaurants in one. 'Tsu' is the sushi/ sashimi and Japanese cusine restaurant and 'Nami' is the American/ Disneyland style of cooking the food in front of you. We had a friend in town who wanted to try Nami.

It was a quiet evening at Nami when we arrived so we got our own cooking station. We did not have to share our chef with anyone.

Tsu already has a very good reputation in town for their amazingly fresh sashimi. To start our evening we needed to have a huge helping of that wonderful sashimi. And boy did it live up to its reputation. The sashimi was so fresh and tasty. Huge chunks of fresh fish imported from Japan. I just gave you a hint on how expensive Tsu can be. The word 'exported' from Japan already can tell you that this is not the cheapest place in Bangkok to have sashimi. However, it was worth every baht.

The next starter was also from Tsu side of the restaurant. A selection of sushi. Again, no words can describe how wonderful sushi can be when the ingredients are this fresh and tasty.

To start our meal at Nami is quite complicated. Reading the menu already can make an atomic engineer go bananas. However, once the waitress explains to you how the menu works, it actually makes sense some how. The meal comes in sets. Many types of sets. You choose a set and the set is based on fish, chicken, pork, beef. On top of that; each of those choices consist of local or imported ingridients and on top of that different quality of imported ingredients. Phew...I am tired already just trying to explain that part. The set also includes a starter; which you have to choose from soup (two types of soups) and a salad (two types of salad), then you choose the main course and then a dessert (you have to choose from fruit or a Japanese dessert).

Our salad arrived, and you have a choice between four different types of salad dressings to choose from.

The next starter was a choice between a mushroom consume or the typical miso soup. We all chose the mushroom consume. The soup tasted very nice. A light fragrance of mushroom and the consume was light and tasty.

Since there were three of us. We decided to have three different sets so that we can try different things. One person chose pork set, one person chose the beef set and the third person chose the lamb set.

The chef started with the scallop & shrimp as our appetizer. It is fun to watch the chef cook the food in front of you. The scallop and shrimp were very good. The chef actually did not over cook the seafood which was terrific.

The first set was the pork set. Again, due to the terrific raw ingredient, this set was very good as well. The pork was very tender and moist. The cooking style for all the sets were the same, so it really depended on the meat to be the star of the show.

The second set was the local beef set. The beef was amazingly tender and tasty. Who needs imported beef when local beef is this good?

The final set was the lamb set. By this time we were really stuffed with food. But, the lamb did look really yummy. Even though we already over ate, we could not stop eating the lamb as well. As the other meats, the lamb was of good quality and had a nice taste.

For our meal; TsuNami had a huge list of sake to choose from. We are still amateurs when it comes to choosing a sake. We took the recommendation from the waitress and the sake we chose was very good.

The decor of TsuNami is modern Japanese. When you enter a restaurant; you are captivated by the enormous art piece made of wood that replicates a wave. It stretches from one side of the restaurant to the other. Its quite impressive.

We do like going to TsuNami once in a while. It has fantastic food and service. However; due to its prices, we seldom think of going to TsuNami. There are many other Japanese restaurants in town with good quality with value for money.

Contact Information for TsuNami Japanese Restaurant @ JW Marriott Hotel
4 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 2
Bangkok, 10110 Thailand
Phone: 66 2 6567700

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Da Vinci Italian Restaurant (Phuket)

There are several Italian restaurants in the Naiharn Beach area. Some good and some are not worth mentioning. Thank goodness that one of the best ones is next to where we are in Naiharn (practically five minutes away by car). The name of the restaurant is Da Vinci.

The restaurant is very nicely decorated and it is all open air. The restaurant is split into two areas. The fine dinning area is where the tables have white table clothes. The other are area is the pizzeria area; its for people who just want to have a pizza or pasta.

The first dish was carpaccio of octopus (sorry for the quality of the photo, I know the dish does not look very appetizing from the photo, but believe me, its very good). I rarely get this dish, even in Bangkok. So, whenever Da Vinci has fresh octopus, we order this dish. The octopus was tender and tasty. With a spritz of lemon juice and olive oil. This dish was a great starter.

The next dish was beef carpaccio. Another nice dish. The beef very fresh and sliced perfectly. The basil, parmessan cheese and the beef were made for each other. Again a spritz of lemon and olive oil and this dish is very nice.

The next dish was a quatre saison pizza. I am sure I will have some friends who will disagree with me when I say that this has to be one of the best pizzas around. The dough is always cooked perfectly. Even the center of the dough is crispy and not limp like most pizzas (I really hate limp pizza dough). The toppings of cooked ham, mushrooms and artichoke heart are of good quality and they make a great combination for a pizza. Though, I think Da Vinci is a bit stingy on the artichoke hearts. Nevertheless; I always have to have a pizza at Da Vinci because they are really really good. Another nice aspect for the pizza is the very spicy olive oil Da Vinci has for you to drizzle on the pizza. Yummy.

The first wine we had was a Guffens Jean-Marie Enfin rouge 2005, (40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon). Inspired by the Luberon terroir, this wine's aromatic profile is thick and loaded with plum, herb, rose and tar. The acidity balanced, the inky red wine had light tannins and it had a substantial finish.

All the waitresses at Da Vinci are always dressed in sexy black outfits, they are most of the time attentive and they offer really good service. Here they are trying to open our wine.

The wood fire pizza oven. You will be surprised that the superb pizzas are made by a young Thai female pizza maker. It is fun watching her toss the pizza dough up in the air when she is preparing a pizza.

The first dish was had was penne with tomato and basil. A good basic first pasta dish. The penne cooked al dente, the tomato sauce was light and the basil added another flavour element.

The second pasta dish is one of my favourite dishes at the restaurant. It is speghetti with minced seafood. I do not find this dish often, even in Bangkok. So, if we do eat at Da Vinci, I always order this dish. The pasta is always cooked perfectly. But, its the seafood ragu that is great. Thick, hearty and full of flavour.

The next wine we had was a Sancerre 2006 from Domaine Vacheron. The cousins Vacheron, dubbed the “Kings of Sancerre” brought us a beautiful Sancerre Blanc with notes of lemon, sea, and stones providing a base for mouth-watering citrus flavors.

Wine enthusiast with their biodynamic vineyards, it’s no wonder that the Vacherons are able to produce such intense fruit, even in their simplest wines. This is fresh but concentrated, with currants and pink grapefruit enriched by a firm structure.

The first dessert was the basic tiramisu. This was a great dessert. It had all the balanced tastes and textures that I look for in a good tiramisu.

The second dessert was called the 'Pope's Hat' because when the desssert is prepared, the end product apparently looks like the Pope's hat. However, this dessert was not my cup of tea. I did not like the flavours but the texture was like a sponge cake, which I did not mind.

The outdoor dinning area.

The indoor dinning area.

Please click here for directions to Da Vinci Italian Restaurant

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Supper Club (Phuket)

On Surin Beach area is a popular restaurant called The Supper Club. We have not been to it for about five years simply because it is too far from Naiharn Beach area. We have a friend who lives half way to the restaurant. It was he who suggested that we go to The Supper Club because it still had great food. How can we resist? So, we stopped over his place for drinks and then he drove the rest of the way to the restaurant.

The Supper Club interiour is dark and with lots of wood. It reminded me of an old jazz club. There are lots of black and white photos of the nostalgic days of hollywood glamour. The music in the background is a mix of Buddha Bar.

When you enter the restaurant, a large bar is situated in the middle of the room. The dinning areas are either on the left or right side of the bar. We were given a table on the left side, which I preferred because there was less traffic than the other side.

The first dish was warm goat cheese on toast. One of my favourite starters and I was delighted that the Supper Club made a very nice one. The goat cheese was of good quality and had a very nice taste. It was baked just right and actually arrived warm to the table. I have had not so good experiences where the warm goat cheese dish was served room temperature.

The next dish was beet root soup. Simply Amazing and delicious. I have never had a beet root soup so when our friend highly recommended it, we could not resist. I never thought of making soup from beet root. But, actually why not? This soup was so rich in taste and flavour. The consistency was smooth and slightly creamy. And the colour was deep red almost burgundy. It was so good that I am inspired to make this soup the next time I find fresh beet root in the market.

The next dish was crab cake. A very nice dish because the crab cake had huge chunks of crab. It was fried nicely, making the crab cake golden brown with a slight crispyness to it. You could actually taste the crab. I normally hate the sauce that accompanies crab cakes, so I prefere just a squeeze of lemon.

The next dish was lamb. Cooked perfectly. The quality of the meat was very good. The meat was tender and juicy. The sauce was a red wine sauce. It tasted very nice and it did not overwhelm the taste of the lamb. A very good portion of mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables to accompany the lamb.

The next dish was yellow tail tuna. The chef really know how to cook his meats and fish. The tuna arrived cooked perfectly. Very good quality tuna and very good taste. The outer layer of the tuna was slightly herbed and spiced so there was no need for a sauce.

The next dish was mushroom risotto. I do love a good risotto. This was a good example of one. The rice was cooked perfectly. Just the right amount of cheese. The mushroom added another texture to the dish. The flavours of this dish was lovely.

The final dish was baby back pork ribs. The meat just fell off the bones. The meat so tender and tasty. I thought the sauce was on the sweet side, but my friends thought it was ok.

The dinning room was long and narrow. The room was very dark with the flicker of the candles on each table as the mood lighting. When the menu arrived, each menu has its own mini lamp attached to the menus so you can actually read it. A very good idea.

Please click here for directions to The Supper Club