Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Le Garde Temps (Paris, France)

Our first dinner back in Paris turned out to be very good.  We decided to try new bistros on this trip.  We read a lot good press about Le Garde Temps.  The restaurant is situated in the 9th arrondissement.  This is the new place of chef Benoit Gauthier, who also is famous with Le Grand Pan in the 15th (where we had a great dinner that only consisted of very good meat).  The co-owner of Le Garde Temps is Marc Rosenzweig who was running the room.  The executieve chef is Pierre Siewe from chez Camdeborde...with the three guys like this opening a new place; no wonder there is a buzz about the place.

Le Garde Temps small but long restaurant.  Very simply decorated but it still had so much charm to it.  Brick wall on one side and stone wall on the other added texture and colour to the bistro.  The chocolate brown wood tables and chairs blended well with surroundings.

My friend's starter was Filet de maquereau (8.00 euros).  The fillets of mackerel was fresh, firm and tasty.  The mackerel was served in two ways; bite chunks and fillet.  Nothing special but just good fish that was the star of the dish.

My starter was Salade de salicorne (8.00 euros).  The green beans, Paris mushrooms and salicorne (seaweed) were very fresh, cooked perfectly and the combination of the ingredients tasted so good.  A very nice combination of textures, colors and flavours.

The were only two people running the room; Mr. Rosenzweig and a female wait staff.  The place was packed but between the two of them; the service was friendly and efficient.  Mr. Rosenzweig was not only helpful with the food but also had good advice on the wines.

My friend's main dish was Onglet de boeuf (15.00 euros).  The beef was of good quality, very tender and juicy.  It was cooked perfectly.  The beef was sitting on a bed of spinach.  The beef jus sauce was rich and flavourful.  A simple dish done well.

My main dish was Cote de cochon (18.00 euros).  A large piece of pork which was also tender and juicy.  The sauce was light and foamy but added the necessary flavours.  A lovely dish.

Overall; a very nice, a simple place for good food at amazingly affordable prices.  Le Garde Temps is the kind of bistro I like.  Nothing pretentious; but a very comfortable, easy-going and friendly place to go.  The food is also not pretentious; just good seasonal cooking with good ingredients.  This for sure is a good addition to the neighborhood.

Address:  19 rue Pierre Fontaine, 75009 Paris

Telephone:  09 81 48 50 55

Friday, August 24, 2012

Erawan Tea Room

We were at the Erawan and we wanted a quick and easy lunch.  We always remembered that the Erawan Tea Room had good service and good food.  So; it was decided, Erawan Tea Room here we come for a quick and yummy lunch.

However; the experienced started badly once we arrived.  We were greeted by an arrogant restaurant manager who treated the Erawan Tea Room like one of those VIP places in New York or London where the customers queue up along a red rope and he alone decides who deserves to enter his domain.  OK...atleast he was not rude, he was just obnoxious.  He showed us to our table, gave us the menus and disappeared.

The decor of the Erawan Tea Room is of old Thai charm mixed with a dash of Philippe Stark like red lipstick curved sofas.  The room is full of natural light from large windows and is spacious.

My friend and I shared the starter; Grilled pork with Sticky Rice (180 baht).  The pork was of good quality, was tender and juicy.  The sticky rice was the perfect partner to the roasted pork.  A simple dish that is always satisfying.

For our main dish; we both ordered Pad Thai (250 baht).  The pad thai arrived and it was beautifully presented.  The pad thai was wrapped in a lovely thin egg omelette.  Once we opened the omelette to our dismay; the pad thai was mostly made of rice noodles.  We could barely find any shrimp or even tofu.  So pretty much; the pad thai dish was of noodles and egg.  The taste was too sweet and we had to add more fish sauce and chili to balance the tastes.

Overall;  what a disappointment!  It was not the Erawan Tea Room we remembered for good service and food.  On top of the most useless and arrogant manager who seated us down; the service was the worst we have experienced in a very very very long time in Bangkok.  It was obvious that they were understaffed and the place was 100% full.  It took 15 minutes before someone came to take our order, then it took another 10 minutes to get our drinks, it took another 20 minutes to get our food, it took 10 minutes to get our bill, it took 10 minutes for someone to pick up the bill, it took 15 minutes to return the bill.  It was an irritating experience to go through for just a mediocre pad thai.

This in no way is to say the staff that was working that day were not doing their best; they were working very hard and trying to be positive with the situation; but it was the manager's job see the situation and call for help from the Erawan Hotel.  This was a sad and unexpected waste of an afternoon.

Address:  494 Ploenchit Rd., Bangkok

Telephone:  02-254-1234

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Christina's Kitchen

We have a Thai friend who studied in America, then lived in America and loves anything American...especially American food and American football (even though they never use their foot).

So; she told us that she just went to an American restaurant that serves the typical American food and that she looooves it!  Though I am not a huge fan of American food; we had to try it out for lunch.  Even though our friend is a junky for American food; she actually happens to be a foodie, so we do trust her opinion on food.

The new American restaurant is called Christina's Kitchen on soi 20 Sukhumvit (almost at the end of the soi on the right side if you are coming from Sukhumvit).    

The decor is nothing special; there is no concept behind the decor or atmosphere so it could be any type of restaurant.  A very large flat screen tv hangs on the wall (I presume its to watch American sports while eating American food).  Faux black alligator leather chairs with black and white table clothes dominate the colour scheme of the room.  There is a small window in the back of the room allows the customers to view the cooks at work.

The first starter to share was Buffalo Wings (229 baht).  You always are reminded that you are in an American restaurant by the portions; oh my, Christina's Kitchen lives up to that reputation.  I think there were 10 huge buffalo wings; however, it was not only wings but some leg sticks as well.

The chicken was accompanied with a ranch dressing dip and some old looking celery sticks which were black on the ends and carrot sticks.  I am presuming that Christina makes her own sauce; which was thick, not sweet at all (a good thing), slightly smokey but in my opinion way too sour.  I am not an expert on buffalo wings but maybe they are suppose to be sour.

The chicken was of good quality, they were cooked well...crispy on the outside but tender and juicy on inside.

The second starter to share was Deviled Eggs (125 baht).  The friend I had lunch with said he used to eat this dish when he lived in America and wanted to have them again.  The deviled eggs were good; the yolks creamy with a nice balance of the mayonnaise and the mustard.  The paprika and herbs added extra flavour.

My friend's main dish was Cuban Sandwich (395 baht).  Wow did this sandwich look appetizing.  It was huge and oozing with so much goodies.  Something new we learned that day by looking at the menu; the bread is called a 'hoagie'...a long sandwich bread split in the middle and stuffed with meat.

The sandwich was stuffed with roasted pork, glazed ham, cheese, dill-pickles and jalepeno peppers...all grilled till the cheese melted and the bread was crunchy.  The sandwich was out of this world; all the flavours and the textures melted so well together.

My main dish was Chicken Pot Pie (454 baht).  I ordered this dish because it is rare to have a good chicken pot pie in Bangkok (or I have not found it yet).  After we ordered our lunch; a few minutes later a blonde American woman arrived at the restaurant with grocery bags (we assumed it was Christina).

In a few minutes more; Christina came to our table and appologised that her staff did now warn me that the chicken pot pie would take longer because she makes the dough fresh for each chicken pie ordered; which was a very nice aspect of this dish.

My chicken pie finally arrived after my friend was finished with his sandwich.  I did not mind because we were in no hurry but I was very hungry.  I opened the chicken pie; the dough was baked well and was a golden brown.  The dough was very thick, fluffy and moist; it had that American breakfast biscuit texture to it.  As for the taste of the dough; I thought it was too sweet; it was like a dough for a dessert pie instead of a savoury pie.

The filling was very thick, rich and creamy.  Tons of large chunky chicken pieces and so much corn, carrots, potato and green beans.  The portion was very large (which is a very good thing for a person who eats a lot like myself).  The chicken pie was very tasty, was a hearty dish and so it was worth the wait.

Overall;  the food at Christina's Kitchen was not bad at all.  I seldom eat American food; so I am no expert.  However; when you are feeling for simple and hearty American food; this is a good place for sure.  Christina uses the best ingredients for her dishes...for example; we over heard Christina tell one of her staff when they go shopping for jalepeno peppers, she prefers that they buy the US jalepenos vs. the Thai ones (I assuming they are more expensive and spicy).  The portions are large.  The service is friendly and efficient.  The prices are some what reasonable since she is using more expensive ingredients.  Oh; I almost forgot to mention, Christina was a very outgoing and nice person who takes her time to explain the food and was very attentive to our needs.

Address: 64/1 Sukhumvit soi 20, Bankgok

Telephone:  090 408 0647


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Taling Pling @ Sukhumvit

I think everyone in Bangkok knows Taling Pling...majority of us has eaten at their first restaurant on soi Silom.  Over the years; Taling Pling has branched out to (I think) around 6 more restaurants around town.  Everyone agrees that Taling Pling has had over the years consistently cooked good food, use good quality products, is reasonably priced and yummy for the tummy Thai food.

A new branch has just opened on Sukhumvit soi 34.  The restaurant is situated in the childhood house of the owners of Taling Pling and their kids have turned the enormous house into an amazing looking restaurant.  There is also a huge garden with outdoor sitting.

The design is eclectic...a mix between 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'old world colonial charm' all rolled in one...can you imagine it?  The use of colourful furniture mixed with black & white floors, floor to ceiling glass everywhere and tons of space and volume makes the atmosphere quite unique.

The first starter was Miang with Ground Chicken  (120 baht).

The next starter was Noodle Roll (120 baht).

The next starter was Pork dumplings (85 baht).

The next starter was Grilled Pork (145 baht).

The next starter was Deep Fried Spring Rolls (145 baht).

The last starter was Crab and Pork Dip (145 baht).  Boy, do I love nahm phrik with vegetables.  My friend who is not a Thai and a vegetarian (but can eat seafood) asked (in her Thaiglish) if we could order this dish with only crab.  The waitress said yes (which I heard).  When the dish arrived; it looked really yummy.

But when we dove into the dish; there was minced pork in the nahm phrik.  We told the waitress who took the order that the kitchen made a mistake.  We can accept that there was a mistake made so we just asked if they can take this dish back and make the one we ordered.

A few minutes later; the waitress came back with a more senior wait person and immediately they both approached and talked to our Thai friend and told her that she should have made the order in Thai and that is why there is a mistake. That we should accept this dish because it was 'our fault'.

You can imagine the faces of all the people at our table.  We were first quiet and took the dish because we were so stunned that they actually came back to us and accused us that it was our fault.  But afterwards, we started discussing amongst ourselves the unbelievable situation.

The young waitress made the mistake; she did not want to pay for the mistake she made (it might be monetary) so she and her superiour came up with that kind of lie & absurdity to save her ass.  Just shocking.

Oh by the way; the dip was actually very good for us non-vegetarian people.  The dip was thick and rich.  It was so flavourful with coconut cream and other spices.  The crab and minced pork was plentiful and fresh.  It went so well with the dipping vegetables.  

The first main dish was Water Vegetables  (145 baht).

The next main dish was Crab Curry (185 baht).

The next main dish was Pad Thai (185 baht).

The next main dish was Kailan (145 baht).

The next main dish was Mushroom Curry (145 baht).

The next main dish was Vegetable Green Curry (145 baht).

The final main dish was Wing Bean Salad (145 baht).

Overall: the food is still the star at Taling Pling.  Even with its new modern setting; I am so glad they have kept the food tasting like we have been used to and love (though some dishes can be on the sweet side).  The food is well cooked, well presented, good quality ingredients and tasted very yummy.  However; some dishes seemed to be too sweet. The prices are still so reasonable for the quality you receive.

The service started out very good; they were attentive in the beginning. But it went down hill from there.  As mentioned earlier; they lied to us, then had the audacity to blame our Thai friend for their mistake.  Which was incredible and unbeliveable already.

But; 'putting salt on our wounds'; what else could they have done to make us feel upset or unwelcome?

Well, how about...we were the last customers around 22:00.  All of a sudden; the staff started turning off the lights and air-conditioning in the other parts of the restaurant.  The only lights left were the ones in our area; of course we were under the 'spot light'.  They were giving us very strong signals to leave.  This was such bad manners and badly trained staff.  This left a very bad taste in every person at our table.  This was a shame because the night started well at Taling Pling.

In the end; will I return to Taling Pling?  Yes (I like to be tortured...just kidding); simply because, I think the food at Taling Pling is not bad for an easy going Thai meal.  It is close to my home, tons of parking and we never need a reservation.  But if we are ever treated as poorly as we were treated like that particular evening, I do not think I will be as nice and silent as I was then.

Address:  24 Sukhumvit soi 34, Bangkok 

Telephone: 02-258-5308-9 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bourbon Street

I still remember going to Bourbon Street for the first time about 20 years ago with my father when it was at Washington Square.  I will always remember those visits to Bourbon Street because the place was a dark, seedy, run down and loud (full of drunk Americans) place...it was absolutely fun and great.  I also remember the food; I had never had cajun/ creole food...Bourbon Street was my first experience.

Now in 2012...Bourbon Street has moved to its new location on soi Ekamai.  Washington Square where Bourbon Street used to be is going to be torn down to build another boring shopping mall.  I wanted to try the new Bourbon Street just for memory sake.

The place is huge; the main dining room on the first floor and a mezzanine on the second floor.  It still has the old style wooden chairs and tables that I remembered.  A huge fish tank bar is the main focus in the middle of the room.

The new Bourbon Street in my opinion has lost its charm; it's too pristine... it has lost its darkness, seediness and scariness.  It is now a 'proper' looking restaurant/ bar.  When we arrived; the place was empty...no drunk Americans to add noise and atmosphere to the place.  Either most of the old and regular customers agree with me that Bourbon Street has lost its charm or most people do not know yet that Bourbon Street is on soi Ekamai.  I just hope for Bourbon Street that its the second reason.

However; I noticed that their menu has not changed over all these years.  It still has all the wonderful Cajun/ Creole food, American food, Mexican food, Thai food and so much more.  The menu is so extensive; I never know what to order.  All the food looks really yummy.  We decided to make it a mostly Cajun evening.  

My friend's appetizer was Shrimp & Crabmeat Gumbo (150 baht...small portion).  The soup was rich, thick and hearty.  It was accompanied with corn bread (which is pretty good).  The gumbo had a very nice taste to it.  The soup had so much shrimp and crab (which is a great thing), on top of that a good portion of rice was added...this was a meal in itself.   

My appetizer was Creole Bouillabaisse (200 baht...large portion).  A variety of fresh fish and shrimp in a light sauce of tomatoes, garlic and herbs.  The soup was full fresh fish and shrimp.  The soup was light but yet had good flavour to it.  Loads of good things to make this soup very satisfying. 

My friend's main dish was Pepper Steak (495 baht).  A fillet mignon simmered in their pepper sauce.  We were very surprised that the steak was of very good quality and that it was cooked perfectly.  It was tender and juicy.  For the price and the portion; this was a good bargain.  The steak was accompanied with a baked potato and corn bread.  

My main dish was Shrimp, Crab & Eggplant Casserole (295 baht).  Bourbon Street's version of a classic from New Orleans' Bon Ton restaurant with rice.  This was an interesting dish full of goodies;  the eggplant, shrimp and crab were abundant and fresh.  It had a good roasted flavour, it had nice textures and was hearty.   

Overall; even though I miss the old Bourbon Street for its dodgyness...I am still glad that they kept the food as it used to be.  Big portions of hearty cajun/ creole dishes  The service is always friendly and attentive.  The prices are very reasonable for the quality and portions.  Honestly; there are no major issues with Bourbon Street; its easy going and comfortable; but the atmosphere needs improving.

Address:  9/39-40 soi Tana Arcade
Sukhumvit 63 Ekamai, Bangkok

Telephone:  02-381-6801-3


Monday, August 13, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake

We read that there was a new pastry room on Sukhumvit soi 20, almost at the end of the soi.  There is a new community mall with a Watson's and a 24 hours Max Value supermarket  I had to try it because I am always looking for new places that serve amazing & interesting pastries in a very nice atmosphere.  This new dessert heaven is called 'Let Them Eat Cake' (a very clever name).

The space is small.  The decor is very minimal and simple; the interiour design is a mix between a bistro and a brasserie consisting of grey walls, grey leather benches and chairs and marble tables, there is a slight break in colour with the caramel coloured cushions.

The great thing about 'Let Them Eat Cake' is that they are open passed midnight on weekends.  A very nice idea for all the people have late dinners and need a nice place for dessert.

The first cake was a Thai Tea Tart (135 baht).  The size of the tart was good, not too much for one person, it was structurally well put together, was pleasing to the eye, looked fresh and appetizing.  The tart's thai tea flavour was rich and the thai tea cream was soft & creamy.  The

The second cake was a Madame Pompadour (130 baht).  This was a hazelnut creamy mousse pastry that tasted wonderful.  The hazelnut mousse was soft and velvety.  The taste of hazelnut was rich and  the taste lingered on the taste buds for a long time.  

The beautiful pastries on show.  The nice thing about 'Let Them Eat Cake' is that they are not trying too hard by making too many cakes at the same time.  They are focusing on about nine cakes...emphasizing on quality instead of quantity.  I would have loved to try them all...next time.

Overall;  Let Them Eat Cake is a very nice addition to the dessert scene of Bangkok.  It is going to do very well (it is already impossible to get a table on weekends and it is full of Japanese house wives on weekdays) because it is offering something very unique and on top of it...it is very yummy.

Making (or copying) Pierre Hermé inspired pastries but with a Thai twist is a lovely idea.  It could have turned out horribly wrong for example, too sweet or too creamy, but the pastry chef has kept the focus on French pastry techniques and using good quality ingredients.

The service is good and attentive, the prices are reasonable; especially for the quality of the pastries.

Let Them Eat Cake has recently opened and it is not the easiest soi to get to; and yet, it already has a huge following through word of mouth and simply because they are making good pastries in a nice setting.

Address: 66/4 G Floor, Mille-Malle
Sukhumvit soi 20, Bangkok

Telephone:  02-663-4667


Monday, August 06, 2012

Ogu Ogu

My friends and I decided to try the new Japanese restaurant in the same building of the newly opened Japanese hotel...the Okura.  The new Japanese restaurant is called Ogu Ogu.   We all heard about it and we have all passed by it and thought it looked interesting in terms of design.

The decor is modern with the use of wood as the main material.  The wood is used in many fashions to give texture and colour to the place.  There is strategic mood lighting; but a bit dark to see the menus.  Modernised retro furniture adds more interesting design elements to the place.

We started with Lotus Chips (140 baht). With rosemary infused salt.

The next dish was Spicy Tuna Roll (230 baht)...thinly chopped tuna in spicy mayonaise dressing rolled with avocado and tobiko caviar.

The next dish was Dragon Wings (280 baht)...their version of buffalo wings served with whipped blue cheese dressing.

The next dish was Tuna Ceviche (530 baht)...tuna marinade with yuzu dressing served with green tea salt.

The next dish was Sashimi Salad (390 baht).

The next dish was Ogu Ogu Tofu (190 baht)...fresh tofu served with different kinds of salts and ponzu.

The next dish was Assorted Sashimi (950 baht)...a combination of tuna, salmon and red snapper.

The next dish was Grilled Beef Tongue (320 baht)...thinly sliced grilled beef tongue served with green tea salt.

The next dish was Ogu Ogu Salad (390 baht)...their simple rocket and green salad with truffle oil and anchovy.

The next dish was Grilled Pork Belly (280 baht)...thinly sliced grilled pork served with yuzu kosho.

The next dish was Truffle Carbonara Udon (380 baht)...their modern take on traditional carbonara using their udon noodles with truffle infused cream sauce.

The next dish Mentaiko & Egg Udon (380 baht)...udon noodles in egg broth with mentaiko fish roe served in hot stone bowl.

The first dessert was Sake Affogato (280 baht)...our sake sorbet floated in sake wooden box.

The next dessert was Tofu Blanc Manager (280 baht)...soy milk mousse served with ogura red bean and their special green tea gelato.

The next dessert was Baked Apple Spring Roll (280 baht)...served with vanilla gelato and calvados liquor infused syrup.

Overall; I rarely say this but I thought the evening was disappointing.  We went into Ogu Ogu with perhaps too big of an expectation.  The place looked so different and cool that we wanted it to be really good.  It was a let down.

The food was just ok...presentation wise; no issues.  But when it came down to execution and preparation, this was their down fall.  I am not sure if Ogu Ogu actually knows something about Japanese food or their chef was ever trained properly.  Everything was eatable but there was nothing that 'wowed' us or even allowed us to say that this is interesting.  I was actually hoping for something atleast to be 'this is really good'.  But it never materialised.

Most of the sashimi and sushi rolls were of good quality and no issues.  The more unique dishes turned out to be disappointing like the Truffle Carbonara Udon; the only thing different about the dish was they used cream and udon noodles.  There is nothing creative what-so-ever in this dish; this was their chance to truly make this their signature dish if they actually just thought a bit deeper.  On top of that, the dish was infused with too much truffle essence that the dish tasted fake.

There was a dish that we all did agree was not bad at all...the grilled pork belly.  Very good quality pork, good texture, grilled nicely and had a good taste.

The most annoying elements of our evening came down to service and ambiance.  Let me start with the service.  There was no lack of staff in the establishment; but the problem was either they were not trained properly or they really did not care.  Ogu Ogu is split into sections separated by a wall.  For some strange reason the staff preferred to stay on the other side of the restaurant.  So when we needed or wanted something, we could never attract the attention of one of the staff.  We were so annoyed that we began to serve our own sake.

The next thing Ogu Ogu has to decide is if they want to be serious restaurant or a disco-teque.  The freaking techno music was playing so loud that we had to ask twice for them to turn it down because we had to scream at each other to have a discussion.  I do not want to kill their concept...if they want to attract a young crowd who knows nothing about food and just want to listen to techno music all night long; that is their prerogative.  But if this is 'truly' going to be a restaurant; this is where they will kill their main source of business...in my humble opinion, people who want good food will not sit in Ogu Ogu, pay those kinds of prices and be driven crazy by techno music.

In the end; we were a table of 8 people we and we all agreed that we would not return; just for the simple fact that we had a lot of food but we were not full and we were not satisfied.

Address:  Park Venture Ecoplex, G floor, 57 Wireless Rd. Bangkok
(BTS Ploenchit)

Telephone:  02-108-2255