Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mellow @ Thonglor

My colleagues/ team mates decided to have a dinner so to have 'team bonding' session. One of the girls decided to take us to a new place on soi Thonglor. The name of the place was 'Mellow'. It is situated where Lenotre used to be at Penny's Balcony community mall (across the street from J-Avenue). This is currently the 'happening' place on Thonglor; so parking was an adventure in itself.

The atmosphere is dark with strategically placed spot lights to add a mysterious mood and the place is surrounded with windows so that customers had a view of the hussle and bussle of the street but also for passing people to see how trendy & crowded the place was. The decor had wooden tables & chairs; nothing special but the space itself was more of the attraction than the decor. The ambiance had loungey music playing in the background and the place had a lot of energy & activity because the place filled up so quickly. It is one of the very trendy and crowded places in Penny's Corner.

Since there were 10 of us and we ordered a lot of food; let me present them to you and I will give an overall comment. Hope you do not mind.

The first dish was Smoked Salmon Potato Pancake (180 baht).

The next dish was Chicken Nugget Wasabi Blue Cheese (165 baht).

The next dish was Pomegranate Salad (180 baht).

The next dish was Potato Wedges (100 baht)

The next dish was Buffalo Wings (150 baht).

The next dish was Ceasar Salad (180 baht).

The next dish was Tiger Prawn Sake Pink Sauce Linguine (280 baht).

The next dish was Sirloin Steak (550 baht).

The next dish was Spicy Italian Sausage and Mushroom (240 baht).

The next dish was Mentaiko Linguine (200 baht).

The next dish was Pan-roasted Sea Bass (280 baht).

The next dish was Seafood A.O.P. Black Ink Fettucine (280 baht).

The next dish was Tiger Prawn A.O.P. Black Ink Fettucine (300 baht).

The next dish was Salmon Steak White Sauce (320 baht).

The drink was Sake.

Overall: the food; was good but nothing spectacular. For a place like this...a place to be seen, a place that is meant more as a gathering hole rather than a gastronomic pub per se. Some of the dishes were trying too hard to be either 'fusion' or 'modern'...but what Mellow does best is when they stay with the basics like meat or simple pasta. The food was proper in terms of portions, quality, flavours and tastes. The prices were also not that bad actually for a trendy place on Thonglor; the most expensive dish we had was the Sirloin Steak and it was very reasonable at 550 baht....that is a very good thing! The service was not too bad for the place being so busy and the staff were friendly on top of that.

Address: Penny's Balcony, 16 Thonglor, Bangkok 10110
Tel.: o2-382-0065

Current news:
Set Lunch Available 11am-2pm. Free Wi-Fi.
Happy Hours Sunday-Thursday 5pm-7pm:
Buy 1 get 1 Free Cocktails/Asahi Draft

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gaggan...Progressive Indian

Our friend who was the lifestyle & food writer for the Wall Street Journal newspaper based in Bangkok told us that he just had two meals at a new restaurant and he said these two meals were the best meals he has had in Bangkok in a long time. With a statement like that...we HAD to try this place.

This restaurant is called Gaggan. Gaggan is the name of the chef...what is so interesting about this place is the story behind chef Gaggan. He first worked/ opened the Indian restaurant called 'Red' on soi Thonglor. He left Bangkok to study in Spain under the world's most famous chef...chef Ferran Adrià from the gastronomic restaurant El Bulli. Chef Gaggan studied under chef Ferran for a year and returned to Bangkok to open Gaggan (a long story made short).

The restaurant is situated in a stunningly beautiful house in a dead end soi on soi Langsuan. The house was recently re-develped & re-designed. The restaurant's façade is old colonial charm; the interiour design was understated but classy. There was a lovely garden terrace adjacent the restaurant for smoking or having a before or after drink and there was a cool outdoor lounge terrace on the second floor for a more cool vibe.

Here comes the most important and fascinating part of this post....the Food! Chef Gaggan decided that he did not want to open another 'typical' Indian restaurant; he wanted to open a 'progressive' Indian restaurant. It is not modern or is very innovative indeed!

The amuse bouche was Yoghurt with Cumin, Salt & Pepper. The amuse bouche arrived the server told us to let the egg white amuse bouche slide into our mouths. The slippery & oval sphere of yoghurt was encased in agaragar. Once in the mouth; the sphere burst and an explosion of creaminess from the yoghurt & the light flavour of cumin, salt & pepper spread through out the mouth. This dish was a conversation starter for sure.

The second dish was Umami oyster with Coriander Foam. I have to start by saying this had to be one of the most amazing and YUMMIEST things I have ever eaten in Bangkok....ok that is out of the way. Oh, did I mention that this is one of the most stunning dishes I have ever tasted? OK, sorry. This was truly breath taking! Umami oyster in Bangkok??? What??? That is right; this is one of the rarest oysters in the world and we had it in a 'progressive' Indian restaurant in Bangkok. Go figure! The umami oyster was intensely savory, sweet, creamy, salty and full of spirit and finesse. The coriander foam was light & airy but rich in deep flavour. The combination was a gastronomical wonder. By the way...did I mention how good this dish was?

The next dish was Clams & Mussels Masala. The clams & mussels were fresh and the masala curry added such intense flavour. A great combination.

The next dish was Soft Shell Crab with Tamarind Chutney. The soft shell crab was deep fried to a deep brown...the crab was slightly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The tamarind chutney added lovely sweetness, sourness, spiciness & acidity. A rich & flavourful dish.

The next dish was a Slow Cooked Egg with Balsamic Vinegar. The egg was slow cooked at 62 degrees. The was a great idea to break the pace of the dinner. As you all know; the break is normally a sorbet. But I do like this idea...a slow cooked egg. The egg since it was slow cooked had a soft yet solid texture. The balsamic vinegar added the rich & intense acidity and flavour. A light break but so satisfying.

The next dish was Risotto with Indian Mushrooms. The risotto was cooked perfectly, the creaminess of the sauce was lovely and the mushroom added lovely texture and flavour. This was a controversy at our table because everyone was wondering how 'Indian' was this dish. So...we asked the chef. He explained that he makes the risotto Indian style; for example, the Italians use wine & broth to make risotto, for him he cooks the rice the Indian way (which I have no clue what that is) as well as using Indian ingredients like mushrooms from the northern Indian mountains. OK, we kind of can see the rational behind it....but the question still remained...can Risotto be considered Indian food?

The next dish was Ravioli stuffed with Cheese. The ravioli had a thin skin (which is a good thing), the cheese inside was soft and melted in the mouth. This was another controversial dish since no one knew what raviolis had to do with Indian food. The only thing we agreed on was that it was really yummy.

The next dish was Seafood Masala. Maybe the chef also wants to play with his clients perceptions and thoughts of what is suppose to be served in a 'progressive' Indian restaurant because after the raviolis...the seafood masala changed our minds again. The dish was accompanied with home made nan bread (which were really good). The seafood was fresh and had good texture. The curry was rich & creamy...perfect to dip the nan bread into. A nice way to end our meal before dessert.

However; the next dish was a shocker...Goat Brains. Chef Gagan came out and asked us how the meal was and of course we loved it. He explained that one of the signature dishes of the restaurant was 'goat brains'. We were so curious to know and what that tasted like. So, the chef made us tasting portions so we can experience this dish. The slow cooked goat brains had a texture of fois gras. The taste was a combination of curry & spices. What an eye opener and so delicious. We decided that the next time we came back to Gagan; were were going to ask for the goat brains for the main course (with nan bread of course).

The next dish was Snow Flakes (yoghurt ice-cream freeze dried). The dessert did look like snow flakes. When you first placed a spoon full of the snow flakes into the mouth; the texture was cold & solid particles, but then in an instant the particles started melting the full flavour of yoghurt with slight vanilla after tastes hinged in the mouth. Simply amazing!

The next dish was Truffle Rock (with chocolate & peanut dirt). The last dish first looked very solid (even the name suggested it); however, then the spoon hit the rock, it was actually a soft piece truffle. Then we blended the 'dirt' with the truffle and it added nice flavours & textures. This chef is indeed a mad gastronomic scientist.

We enjoyed the food & experience so much that we had a long talk with the chef. He invited us into his lab. The beautiful colours & textures of his spices he uses to amaze our palettes.

More of the secret ingredients that goes into making all the wonderful dishes.

Overall; what a surprising and great journey. Chef Gaggan has changed our minds of what Indian food can be. He is inventive, outrageous, daring and fun (himself and his food). He has put so much thought into everything, even the plates that he uses to serve every dish has its own design and purpose. That kind of attention to detail, is great. Though we had a lot of food; we did not feel 'stuffed' like we would after eating in a 'normal' Indian restaurant.

The staff were fantastically professional, efficient and friendly. The atmosphere...though, had a old world colonial feel & class to it was actually comfortable & inviting. The ambiance was lively because the chef kept walking around to see if everyone was enjoying the food and having a good time. The staff were in an instant movement due to all the dishes coming out of the kitchen. And of course; the place itself is just beautiful.

You can choose à la carte; but I really recommend the 10 dish tasting menu like the one we had. The chef decides what you eat and the price? At 1,500 baht per person is a really good deal and so so worth it.

Address: 68/1 Langsuan Road, Bangkok 10330
Tel.: +6626521700

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Madame T Vietnamese Cuisine

We noticed that a new Vietnamese restaurant 'poped' up on Sukhumvit soi 23. But, you must really look for this place. The restaurant is not on the street level; so most people do not even realize that the restaurant is there. It is not 'in' the building rather it is connected to the building.

It is situated above the car park of the 'Sukhumvit House' apartment building (across the street from Pegasus...I am sure you know what that is, wink wink wink).

The restaurant is called; Madame T. We climbed the steps that led us to the first floor of the building. Once you step into the restaurant; the decor is what you notice right away; it is bright with white wooden tables & chairs; the walls have flower wallpaper and there were tons of paintings with the typical Vietnamese scene or women wearing the traditional Vietnamese dress. The atmosphere was easy going and comfortable. What surprised me was the place was packed and more & more people kept coming in.

The first dish was Fresh Spring Rolls. The fresh spring rolls were indeed 'fresh'. The ingredients were of bright colours and rich in tastes. Always a great starter to open up your taste buds.

The next dish was Deep Fried Spring Rolls. No one can resist Vietnamese spring rolls and the people at our table could not resist these indeed. The spring rolls were made with the sticky rice wrap (which I prefer). This type of rice paper gave the spring rolls a lovely crispy texture. The stuffing was abundant and tasty.

The next dish was Steamed Raviolis. The raviolis came in steamed white & blue rice flour wraps (unique), the stuffing of minced pork & mushrooms were tasty, the toppings of pork pâté & deep fried onions added nice texture & flavours.

The next dish was Sautéed Lemon Grass Beef. The beef was of good quality and tender. The lovely flavour of lemon grass was abundant. A nice & simple dish.

The next dish was Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab. The soft shell crab was deep fried to deep brown. The crabs was lightly crispy on the outside but very tender & soft inside. Soft shell crab is normally bland; so the sauce is really important...the sauce was a good combination of spicy, sweet & sour.

The next dish was Braised Pork Ribs. The pork ribs was tender and falling off the bone. The sauce was light but rich in flavour. I would have to say pretty good.

For dessert...Deep Fried Bananas. The beignets were nicely deep fried to a rich golden brown. The outside of beignets were crunchy & crispy and the inside, the banana was soft & hot. This was a very nice dessert.

Overall; I have to admit, I was very skeptical about this place. Actually; I am always skeptical about Vietnamese restaurants in Bangkok. I am normally disappointed with Vietnamese food in Bangkok. Simply; Vietnamese food is not very well represented in Bangkok. But, Madame T was not that bad! The food was fresh, tasty & well presented. The prices were very reasonable and the service was friendly but the junior service staff were a bit 'blur'.

Madame T is a good addition to Sukhumvit 23, where there are already a good number of restaurants to choose from.

Address: Sukhumvit House, 128/46 Soi Sukhumvit 23,
Bangkok 10110
Tel.: 2259 1127