Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Farm Design @ The 9

I have never seen so many people stand in a queue for a slice of cheese cake. But for some reason; cheese cake from Hokkaido, Japan is the trendy & in thing to eat now in Bangkok. Farm Design a brand from Hokkaido is a smashing success.

Apparently; the cows from Hokkaido are very special and make the best milk around. That is why anything dairy from Hokkaido right now is being gobbled up by the Thais. The soft ice-cream from Hokkaido is selling by the kilo and the Hokkaido milk (different flavours as well such as strawberry, banana, etc.) can't keep up with the demand.

Farm Design is located at the new community mall called The 9 on Rama 9 Rd. You can't miss Farm Design because there are always people queuing up for a slice of cheese cake.

The window display to entice people to take a look and of course ultimately eat one.

There is no amazing atmosphere, great decor or modern design in the Farm Design (the only thing I thought was interesting was the open kitchen where we could see the pastry chefs making the cheese cakes). But; from what I saw, it seems like no one cared about the plain feel or look to Farm Design. They were all just focused on their cheese cakes.

The day we were there (around 15:00 after our lunch), Farm Design had about 10 different cheese cakes to choose from. As you can see most of the cheese cakes were already gone...incredible!

We decided to try the Classic cheese cake (95 baht) & Cow's cheese cake (105 baht). I am no expert of what makes a great cheese cake; especially the ones from Hokkaido. Honestly; I can't say that I am a fan. I found the cheese cakes to be...well; a bit plain but not bad. The texture was creamy, soft & moist, it was less dense than a New York cheese cake and what I did like was that they were not overly sweet.

We also could not resist the Cow's sablet (55 baht). I thought the cookies were cute; designed like a cow's skin print. I found the packaging to be simple, clean and really fun...I even liked the logo of the cow head with sunglasses...I really liked the design of the packaging.

Overall; I am amazed at the popularity of Farm Design...I cannot say that the cheese cakes are the best in town but they are ok non-the-less. When you put a good quality product with cool packaging and incredible word of mouth...there should be no surprises to why a place does so well.

Address: 999 Rama 9 Rd.

Telephone: 02-716-7878

Monday, February 27, 2012

Scarlett Wine Bar & Restaurant

The opening of Scarlett was the buzz among our friends. Scarlett is the incarnation of V9 at the Sofitel on Silom (as of April 2012, Sofitel Hotel will be upgraded to a Pullman Hotel). We for sure were not 'fans' of V9...the ambiance, food & wine were not our cup of, I thought it was a good idea that they were going to tear down the place and put something else more interesting.

AND; I have to say...I am really liking what they did. Scarlette is the brainchild of one man who also started the Wine Bar at the Pullman Hotel (next to King Power). The Wine Bar is a huge success and I am sure Scarlette has the same formula for as much success.

The concept at Scarlette is quite simple: a bistro feel & atmosphere (but in a larger scale), very good quality food & wine and amazingly reasonable prices. A formula I like much.

The space itself is huge (400 sq. meters); there are two parts the indoor dining area and the open air lounge terrace. The indoor area is split into sections...long bar area, large communal tables area or the bistro section with tiled floors and wooden chairs & tables area.

There are more than 150 different wine labels, 10 choices for wine by the glass, a section of the restaurant is dedicated to a huge cold cuts & cheese selection, tapas (hot & cold), daily specials and this is the special aspect about Scarlett...they have the French master chef Manuel Martinez as a consultant. He has brought some of his old time favorite recipes.

We could not wait to begin our evening...

Freshly baked bread with good quality butter topped which was topped with some rock salt (nice touch). The bread had a nice crispy crust and the inside was tender, soft & moist. Not a bad start to our evening.

Since the cops have been very strict lately about drinking & driving (of course, I do not believe in this), we decided to only have a glass of white wine to start the evening and a bottle red (La Spinetta) to finish off the evening. The Veuve Banyuls 2010 was suggested by the F&B manager. The wine had the grape varieties of macabeu & white grenache. It had a pale gold colour. It had a lovely butterscotch, grapefruit and citrus fruit nose & palette. A very nice recommendation indeed.

The first starter was a Board of selection of charcuterie and cheeses with some sides of pickles, olives, nuts and fruit (figs & dried apricots). The selection of cold cuts & cheeses were very fresh and tasted very nice.

The next starter was Lucullus. A country pork pâté surrounded with a breaded wall. I am a sucker for pâté. Any time there is pâté on the menu; I must try it. The lucullus was a good portion and it had great flavour and chunky & rough texture. Yummy.

The next starter was Sardines in the tin. When I read this dish on the menu; I had to try it. I do love sardines. I was really expecting sardines cooked and then put into a tin can as a presentation.

But, sardines packed in a tin really did arrive on the table. These are the famous tinned sardines from Spain. They were actually really really good; especially with the grilled bread and fresh butter.

My friend's main dish was Quenelle. This is one of chef Martinez's old time favourite recipes from his famous restaurant in Paris. You seldom find quenelle in Bangkok. So, when my friend saw that this was offered...he took it right away. The quenelle had a delicate mousse like consistency with a lovely subtle taste of fish (Pike fish to be exact). The dish was topped off with the creamy Nantua sauce. A well rounded dish with such subtle flavours and textures. Really nice to have it finally in Bangkok.

My main dish was Trio Lamb. My dish was three cuts of lamb; which were on a bed of pan-fried polenta. The lamb was such good quality and all cooked perfectly. The lamb was moist & tender. The sauce was light yet very flavourful. The polenta added some texture and subtle taste to the dish.

The open air terrace...such stunning views of the city.

Overall; we definately will return...this says it all. Scarlett is a really unique place in town and has a lot of positive things going for it. The atmosphere was relaxed & easy-going yet has a chic vibe to it. The food was amazingly good. The wines were terrific. The service was impeccable. But the great thing about Scarlett was the so so affordable for such a place with such high standards. Oh, did I mention that this place is very affordable?

Scarlett is a great addition to the Silom area.

Address: 188 Silom Rd., Bangkok 10500

Telephone: 02-238-1991

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bangkok Hamburger Company

We heard of a new hamburger joint had opened on Thonglor soi 10. The place is called Bangkok Hamburger Company. The very first gourmet hamburger place (to my knowledge) and only place on Thonglor that is very focused on only the 'hamburger'.

I know the hamburger is making a come back as a trendy type of food…it has evolved to into something more than the typical McDonald's hamburger. When we were in Paris; yes even Paris, the hamburger was popping up in all the high-end restaurants (at ridiculous prices).

BHC is designed like a typical American diner; large booths with faux burgundy colored leather benches and chairs & wooden tables. The wooden walls were simply decorated with photos of cows, etc.

The menu offered the typical American diner fare…such as milkshakes, floats, onion rings, buffalo wings, large ice tea, etc., etc. They also offered pork, chicken and vegetarian burgers.

But of course the star of the place were the hamburgers. Lots and lots of choices to choose from. From the basic to the very inventive. You can also select the size of the hamburger you want…regular or large. All the hamburgers were freshly patted that day (no frozen patties), the meat is of the highest quality and the sauces & marinades are home-made.

It was actually; fun to see the possibilities of how a hamburger can be dressed up.

My friend decided to have the basic Bacon cheese (295 baht). The burger consisted of triple bacon and cheddar cheese. Loads of beef & pork in this dish. All the flavors of the beef and bacon were apparent. The cheese was of good quality. Never can go wrong with just going basic.

I decided to have the Mexicana (320 baht). The burger consisted of chili con carne (beef), sour cream, salsa, cheddar cheese and jalepenos. This was a messy meal (a good thing). The dish exploded with so much flavors and textures. The only negative aspect of this dish was that because it was so full of ingredients; the hamburger beef did lose its taste. Yet; it was still a great hamburger.

The french fries were good; fried to a golden brown, slight crispness to it (but I would have preferred a bit more crispness to it) and it was soft & tender inside.

Overall; I am no expert on hamburgers. I eat them only once in a while. So, I can only tell when the meat is fresh, the bread is of good quality, the ingredients are fresh, the sauces are not industrial and there is care & passion put into the dish. And what we experienced; had all the things mentioned above.

We did have a disagreement with a friend of ours who says that the hamburgers here are not good; but he did not give a reason for his negative reasoning or even tell us where there is a better hamburger (for sure I would not know). He could not counter me on the reasons why I believe BHC is has good quality hamburgers. So until he can prove otherwise; we will still consider BHC a great place for hamburgers.

Address: Opus Building, 139 Thonglor soi 10

Telephone: 02-715-9407

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kasa @ Rain Hill

Rain Hill is the latest addition of community malls in Bangkok. Located on the corner of Sukhumvit soi 47; it is not as big as the others but it actually looks really nice. It adds some nice architectural eye candy compared to most of the ugly shophouses on Sukhumvit.

The two largest tenants are Wine Connection and Au Bon Pain. The concept of Rain Hill is getting back to nature; so the place looks like a tropical rain forest with its very high walled gardens and rain fountains. If you are an eco-conscious; you will like the eco-design of the place.

It was a Sunday and we decided to have Udon at a new Japanese arrival. We heard that this udon place is very popular in Japan. Just the other day we were at Rain Hill and the udon place was empty…so we thought…let's go for it.

Oooppppssss; to our shock and surprise (as you can see in the photo above), every Japanese family in town with some Thai families as well had the same idea as us. Word of mouth must have spread really fast.

There was no way we were going to wait in a queue for udon and besides I was starving. So we decided to walk around Rain Hill to see if there was another place that we could have lunch.

We saw another Japanese restaurant called Kasa which had a nice dinning terrace; so we decided to eat there.

I decided to have the Tuna maki sushi set (240 baht). The presentation was nice; good portion of food. The tuna was very fresh and tasted very nice. The other fish; such as the salmon, eel, etc. were just as fresh.

My friend decided on the Sushi special set (340 baht). The colors and textures of this dish was amazing. All the fish was very fresh and tasted lovely. This was a good choice and a great value at 340 baht.

As usual; I was did not have enough food. So, I ordered the Ten Zaru soba (185 baht). The cold soba was cooked well and tasted very nice when dipped into the sauce with wasabi, green onion & ginger. The tempura was deep fried to a golden brown; crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Another aspect of the tempura was that it was not oily.

Oh…back to the story of the udon place. We targeted a family that was in the queue to eat udon when we sat down at Kasa so that we can know how long it was taking for the people to order their food. It took the Japanese family 30 minutes to reach the counter to give their order. I have no idea how long it took to get the food but I was soooo happy that we did not do that non-sense of waiting in a queue for udon.

Overall; Kasa was not bad at all. I would not say it was the best in town…but the fish was very fresh; the food was very well & beautifully executed and it tasted good. Can't ask for more. The menu is extensive but with all the basic or common Japanese foods that you would expect. The prices are on average like every other mid-level Japanese restaurant in town. The service was very attentive and friendly.

Kasa was actually packed with families…I am guessing all the people were the spill over like us who intended to eat udon but decided to not to.

Address: Sukhumvit soi 47
Telephone: 02-261-7610

Monday, February 20, 2012


We heard that there was a new French restaurant on Thonglor. What even made it more fascinating was that chef Chalee Kader was the former chef for the French Embassy for several years. With a resume like that…we had to try the place out.

The restaurant is called Surface. The restaurant is in a 1950's house. The house itself has been nicely renovated.

It is actually complicated to find Surface if you are driving. Long story short. The official address of the restaurant is on Sukhumvit soi 53 at the end of the soi. But when you get to the end of the soi, its a dead end…with no sight of the restaurant (you have to walk in further and you will find the restaurant…no cars are allowed). So; you will be asking yourself…'what the hell?' which we did when we first tried to find Surface. What we had to do was find the huge parking lot on Thonglor soi 11 (the parking lot is connected to the back of the restaurant).

When we entered the restaurant from the parking side; we were greeted with a long wooden terrace filled with loungey 1950's inspired chairs & tables. The lighting was nicely placed and they gave a good glow & ambiance to the place.

There is inside and outside dinning and we chose to eat outside. The view from our table was the loungey day beds in the garden…on top of that there is an official 'vegetable garden' with herbs and veggies they are growing to use in their dishes. Very nice touch.

My friend's starter was the Salmon tartare...Scottish salmon with cognac, capers, shallots, herbs and mustard oil (340 baht). The salmon was fresh, the dressing was too creamy for my liking but it was tasty anyhow and it was nicely hand chopped into chunky pieces. The dish had the right balance of acidity & saltiness. A good dish.

My starter was the Calamari farcies…stuffed calamari with black risotto on a bed of ratatouille and spinach (280 baht). The calamari farcies was very good. We liked the idea and it was well executed. The calamari was fresh, soft & tender. The risotto stuffing had a very nice taste and it added extra texture to the dish. But…I was very disappointed in being only served three pieces of calamari….hmmmmm!

My friend's main dish was the Bouillabaise…combination of fresh seafood of the day in a warm fish broth with saffron (420 baht). The seafood was very fresh; soft & tender…all cooked perfection. The broth had a lovely taste to it. But…as a main dish; it was a very small amount. Or do we just eat a lot???

My main dish was the Tongue and Cheek…braised ox tongue and veal cheek in a sauce Bordelaise (350 baht). A very interesting combination and that is why I ordered. The tongue and cheek were cooked perfectly. Both were very tender and the sauce added the perfect touch to the dish. But…one slice of tongue and veal cheek??? Now that is pushing it!

We were still hungry after our starters and main dishes so we decided to share another main dish; the Roast game hen…the game hen was stuffed with chorizo risotto marinated in sage & rosemary (320 baht). The game hen was cooked very nicely; slightly crispy on the outside and soft & tender on the inside. Nothing wrong with this dish…expect that this was a very skin game hen.

For dessert; we shared the Chocolate fondant (190 baht). The chocolate fondant had a very rich chocolate flavor…its a good sign that they are using good chocolate in their desserts. The texture was soft & gooey (a nice thing).

Another view from our table…the front entrance of the restaurant from the dead end soi that I mentioned earlier and the lovely veggie garden.

Another view from our table of the outside dinning area.

Overall; Surface has some very nice aspects about it. The house is very nice…it was renovated with good taste. The decor is simple 1950's inspired and it is done well. The lighting is done so well that anyone looks good. The garden is a good addition with the day beds (though I would never sit in them) and I really like the veggie garden…cute.

The service needs a bit of help. They were not friendly but they were not unfriendly…so I guess no personality what-so-ever. They were never there when we needed them, such as when we needed the menu to order more food or more water. We had to keep asking them to pour our wine; so we finally asked them to leave the bottle of wine on the table so we can serve ourselves. And try asking for the check-bill…hmmmm!

The only fault I can find is that the portions are so damn small. Ok, Ok, I am known to have a big appetite (known as the black hole), but I am not exaggerating here when we had to order more food because the portions are so small. Maybe this is the concept of the restaurant; which is to give small tasting dishes…then I will not complain and just eat before we come back the next time.

The prices are really reasonable…but that might have to do with the concept of serving small portions. I will have to ask the chef one day.

Address: 107 Sukhumvit soi 53
Bangkok, 10110
Telephone: 02-258-7597

Friday, February 17, 2012

Beirut Lebanese Restaurant

I used to go to the Ploenchit building to see my clients and in the basement was a really good Lebanese restaurant called….well, Beirut. It had the most amazing chicken wrap sandwich. I was always anticipating one of those wrapped sandwiches when I went to see my client.

To my surprise; Lebanon now opened a branch on Thonglor at The 8. We wanted a light lunch so we decided to try it out.

Lebanon is situated on the second floor of The 8 mini-shopping complex. They have both terrace and inside dinning areas. We sat outside. It was decorated with large sofas, which is not very comfortable to eat on but it was relaxing.

The amuse bouche of pickles, cucumbers & tomatoes with some dips.

We shared a Babaganoush (120 baht). The babaganoush was of good texture and flavor. We ordered pita bread to accompany the babaganoush; but we were disappointed that they were microwaved rather than toasted. I am not sure if that is how it is eaten in Lebanon; but next time, I am going to ask the staff to toast pita bread.

I had a Mango lasso (120 baht). The lassi had a good richness & dense texture. It had a good mango taste. It was refreshing and tasty.

My friend and I ordered the Sharwarma Chicken wrap sandwich (140 baht) set which was accompanied with french fries and cold slaw.

Overall; Lebanon was not bad at all. We need to go back next time when we are more hungry so that we can try more dishes. But what we had was good. This type of food for sure is something new to the Thonglor area (which is a good thing).

The service was good and professional. The prices are very reasonable. The ambiance was good outside but I found the decor inside to be over-the-top. I am not sure if this type of place will do well for dinner but for lunch I am sure it will do fine.

Address: Eight Thonglor (second floor)
Thonglor 8, Sukhumvit 55
Bangkok, 10110

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Le Jardin

This is the second reincarnation of Le Jardin. The first Le Jardin was a sorry excuse for a French restaurant. It was more like a hang out for the French mafia than for a place to go for good French food. I am not sure who now owns the new Le Jardin but my friend is a fan and he is the one who told us we should try it out again.

The nice aspect of Le Jardin is their garden/ terrace dinning area. This has not changed from the past restaurant. We decided to eat outside since it was not too hot.

The amuse bouche of three types of hams with different spreads on toasted baguettes. They were ok but nothing memorable.

My starter was a Warm goat cheese salad. The salad had a big portion of lettuce accompanied with four warm goat cheese on toasted baguettes. The salad did not have enough salad dressing to coat the lettuce. The goat cheese was lacking the strong cheese flavor I was expecting & used to. The goat cheese was too dry and I needed to drizzle olive oil on it to give it some moisture and flavor. I did not know that you could mess up such a simple salad.

My friend had the Tuna tartare for his starter. The tuna tartare was a good & right portion. The tuna was of good quality and it was chopped chunky (which is a good thing). The flavors were balanced yet not overwhelming so to not hide the tuna flavor. A very nice dish.

My main dish was Roasted lamb. The two slices of lamb were generous. The lamb was moist and tender. It had good flavor…good quality lamb. The sides to accompany the lamb was pan fried potatoes which were too oily and a roasted endive which was burnt beyond recognition (take a look at the back of the photo…something very black is sticking out). Too bad for the potatoes and endive…the lamb itself made this dish ok.

My friend's main dish was Carbonnade a la flamande. A traditional Belgian sweet-sour beef & onion stew made with beer and seasoned with thyme and bay. The beef was so dry which was very surprising since this was a stew…meaning the beef should have been cooked long enough so that it would be tender…apparently not. The french fries were actually good; crispy outside and tender inside. Another mediocre dish.

Overall; we were disappointed with the hype our friend made about the 'new' Le Jardin. Maybe we ordered the wrong things. Maybe we came at a bad night…who knows, but the food was mediocre. There was at least one thing wrong with the dishes we ordered except the Tuna tartare. We did not order the most complicated dishes, yet they were not able to execute the most basic dishes well.

The service was professional and good. The ambiance is not bad. The prices are really reasonable. With all these good thing going for Le Jardin…its a wonder that the food cannot keep up. What a shame!

Address: Thonglor soi 11 Sukhumvit 55
Bankgok 1o110