Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Enoteca Italiana

A friend of mine had been giving good reviews about an Italian restaurant on Sukhumvit. I knew it has been there for a while, but we never had the desire to go. My friend told me that Enoteca got a new chef and he was very good. So we decided to go and try for ourselves. The restaurant is in a sub-soi, so its a bit tricky getting to it. But once you arrive, you arrive at a very nice house with parking in front. The restaurant had a very homey feel to it. I liked that. It was well decorated and the atmosphere was very relaxed.

We were served an amuse bouche while we were reading the menu. It was very good. The first one (from right to left) was minced cod in a parmesan cheese sandwich, tuna balls and parmesan puffs.

Then we were served a basket of fresh bread. Compared to other Italians restaurants that have the nerve to serve day old & hard as a rock bread (I will not name them), this was a nice assortment of fresh bread.

The first dish was squid cappuccino. It was actually fresh squid cut into cubes in its ink and topped with a potato puree. It came in a medium sized glass pitcher. We were given directions on how to eat this dish. You take your spoon and dig to the bottom, scoop up some squid & squid ink and move upwards to also get some potato puree. This was an amazing dish. I have never had it in Bangkok. The squid was plump and not chewy. The combination of the ink and puree was fantastic. As usual, the only down side to eating squid ink is everyone at the table looks grotesque with black teeth and lips. But, I will go through that horror for this dish anytime.

The second dish was selection of Italian cold cuts. I do not know all the names of the assorted meats/ cold cuts. But they were very good. It comes in two sizes. The manager recommended that we take the small one so that we do not eat too much before the main courses.

The third dish was ravioli stuffed with lamb. The ravioli skin was not too thick and cooked very nicely. The lamb was very good as well. The only issue I had was that the portion was too little. At the prices of Italian food in town, I believe we deserve more food. It does not hurt the restaurant to include extra grams of pasta.

The fourth dish was home made fettuccine vongole. This was a great dish. The flavours attacked our taste buds the moment we put the food into our mouths. Since the fettuccine was home made, they were thicker, rounder and tastier. The vongole sauce was amazing, so rich & intense. But again, the portion was too little.

After the main courses, we were still a bit hungry (due to the small portions of pasta). The manager came over to tell us about some of the specials that they had that evening. But, we could not keep our eyes off the cheese and ham counter behind me. So, instead of having another main course, we opted to have the cheese platter instead.

The cheese platter arrived and I was very disappointed with the amount of cheese served. At 690 baht for the cheese platter, I was expecting much more. On top of this disappointment, we watched in horror in how the restaurant owner was cutting the cheese. He was weighing each slice of cheese before putting the cheese on the platter. I have never seen something like that before. It is what I call stingy. The cheeses were weighed to perfection, if the slice of cheese weighed just a gram over, he would actually cut off the over weight. I will never understand this kind of attitude in this restaurant. With restaurant manager's experience in cutting cheese all these years, I am sure he is very capable of eye balling the amount of cheese needed to go on the platter. If this trick of weighing cheese is to save money, it might do the job. But in the end, it also left me with a bad feeling and I will never order he cheese platter again.

We finished the dinner and did not want dessert. However, the manager was kind to offer a complementary iced chocolate dessert. A small glass with crushed ice on the bottom and a chocolate mouse on top. You mix the two together. In the beginning I did enjoy the taste of the dessert, but as the ice was melting, it left a watery taste and texture to the dessert that was not pleasant.

Overall, there were nice and bad things about Enoteca. The food is not bad but the portions are too small. The house & room of the restaurant is nice & comfortable and the staff is pleasant and very good at service. Another negative for me was the prices. It is not only Enoteca but a new phenomena in town, Italian food is getting too expensive. We are starting to pay prices like in Paris or New York to eat in Italian restaurants. I do not understand how or why that is so. Labour is cheaper in Bangkok, overall overhead should be cheaper in Bangkok. I will need to find the answer to this big question.

Enoteca Italiana, 39 Sukhumvit soi 27, 02-258-4386

Monday, July 28, 2008

Emporium Food Court

Emporium Shopping Mall is five minutes walk from my office. It is very popular with everyone in my office for shopping and dining. I was in a rush one day and decided to have a quick lunch at the Emporium Food Court. The food court is on the 5th floor. They renovated the food court about two years ago with the design theme of Paris, France. I find this a bit bizarre, but it does look nice. The food court has lots of light coming in from enormous windows. This gives the place a modern & relaxed feel.

I ordered minced pork with sweet basil (gai krapow) & topped with a fried egg. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with my gai krapow. It was tasty, but it was too watery. I think the cook added too much chicken stock.

The gai krapow is made fresh in front of you. You first choose the type of meat and vegetables that you want. Then they will cook it for you (photos below are the condiments you can choose from).

The cook preparing the ingredients to make my gai krapow.

Since I was not happy with gai krapow (and as usual, I was still hungry), I decided to have Siamese fried chicken (gai tord) with rice cooked in coconut cream. I know , I know, the combination of fried food & coconut cream is one of the deadliest thing you can do to your waist and heart. But it is so good. I am a very weak person.

I love Siamese fried chicken. I have no idea how they get the chicken so crispy but juicy inside. At the same time, the chicken has a great taste. I could eat this dish everyday, but I know the danger of doing that. The rice has a nice coconut aroma. The combination is just perfect. This dish also comes with a side of chicken soup.

The chef prepared my fried chicken rice dish and he is preparing my soup. This whole dish was for only 50 baht. No one can complain about the price & taste.

Emporium Food Court has about 15 food courts to choose from. You can choose from pad thai, som tam, duck noodle soup, muslim chicken rice, etc, etc. Plus drinks and lots of Thai desserts to choose from as well.

Overall, I think the remodeled Emporium Food Court looks very sleek and modern. It is normal that prices of the food have risen over the years but the quality of the food I think has gone down. There are many other great food courts in town. I will be reviewing & blogging about them in the future. But, in the end, that will not stop me or my colleagues from coming here for a quick and cheap lunch.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jok Kitchen

I was recently invited to one of the most unique restaurants in Bangkok. I got a call from a friend and said that one of her friends canceled a dinner appointment with her gang and wanted to know if I wanted to join. She said that it takes about two months to get a table at this restaurant and that I should not miss this opportunity. It sounded so interesting that I could not refuse.

The restaurant is called Jok Kitchen and it is in the middle of the wet market in the China Town (Yaowarat). As the evening progressed, I was learning more & more interesting information about this restaurant. For example, Jok Kitchen is known in town as the One-Table restaurant but as you will see soon, it actually has two tables. You will not believe how small the room is. It is like dining in someone's home. The owner and chef was first a crab vendor. Then he turned his passion for crab and seafood into the 'talk of the town' restaurant.

You need to reserve at least two months in advance to get into the restaurant and you should have at least six people to enjoy the food because it is a set menu. You eat what the chef has fresh that day. Even the prime minister of Thailand, Samak, tried to walk in three times and three times was turned away.

The first dish was home made wontons stuffed with fresh shrimp topped with deep fried garlic. The shrimp was plump and juicy, the skin of the wonton was thin, the combination was lovely. A great starter.

The second dish was seared snow fish on top of ice berg lettuce. An incredible sight when it arrived on the table. The two enormous pieces of fish sitting gloriously on the plate. Our mouths were watering and for a good reason. It was amazing. The fish was so fresh, the meat very tender and juicy and flavour was incredible.

The third dish was fresh crab. The most simple way of cooking it; steamed. It was a stunning looking dish when it arrived. The crab was so fresh, enormous claws and so much crab meat. Normally, it is a pain to eat crab because it takes so much effort and it is a mess. But this was a delight in every aspect. I am not surprised that the crab dish turned out so well. The chef was a crab expert by trade.

The fourth dish was fresh abalone. This is a delicacy that every Chinese person is willing to pay thousands of baht for. It is one of those mythical dishes that one should eat and we were very satisfied with this dish. The abalone was very fresh, had a great consistency (not too chewy) and the taste was wonderful. The sauce was light so that it did not over whelm the abalone.

The fifth dish was prawns with XO sauce on a bed of broccoli. A really really great dish. The prawns were cooked perfectly, they were juicy and plumb. The XO sauce (minced dried shrimp) was amazing. I could not stop eating the stuff. I actually, kept spooning the sauce onto my plate.

The sixth dish was Japanese mushrooms with shrimp & green onion. I really adore mushrooms, so this dish did not disappoint. The mushrooms had an earthy and smoky taste to them. The texture was soft and slightly chewy. Very nice.

The seventh dish was fried rice with ham. We were told how to eat this dish. Apparently, the chef uses a very special ham for this dish. The directions on how to eat this dish. You are suppose to savour the flavour of the rice and ham. So, you take a spoon full and place it into your mouth. You then chew very slowly (this was a very important aspect of eating this rice dish). The reason why is that, when you chew very slowly the chewing affect releases the intense flavour of the special ham. We all stopped talking, took a spoon full of rice and started to chew very slowly. We all looked at each other after swallowing the rice and we all had the same questionable look on our faces, "Did you sense anything special?" I personally did not notice anything out of the ordinary, but I still loved the fried rice dish.

The eighth & final dish was mushroom soup. A very nice way to end such an amazing dinner. We were indeed getting stuffed. The mushroom soup was light and very tasty. It had a nice soothing effect and it did its job of cleansing our taste buds for dessert.

The dessert was a taro dome which covered sticky rice & topped with prunes, on a soup of gingko and water chestnut. This was my least favourite dish of the night. For the simple fact that I do not like taro desserts. But, that is a personal thing. Trying to be objective, the taro paste had a nice consistency but I found it too sweet. The sticky rice was also very sweet and on top of that the gingko and water chestnut sauce was also very sweet. But, I have to say, the dessert looked very nice.

Overall, the place is amazing. Even though I only knew one person at the beginning of the dinner, the food was a good topic to start a discussion with the people around me. Credit cards are not allowed, cash only. I asked my friend to help me get reservations for the next time. I actually got a table in September. I can't wait.

Please do not ask me how to get to this restaurant. I honestly have no clue. Even if I wanted to find the restaurant again, I would be lost forever in China Town. However, I am very lucky to have my friend who promises to draw me a map for my next dinner. She is the greatest! I did however, take photos of the street signs.

23 Trok Issaranuphap, Phlap Phla Chai Rd., Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phi, 02-221-4075, 02-623-3921

Monday Free Lunch III

Yeah, another Monday Free Lunch. The very popular program my office came up with due to the economic crisis and just to make the employees get together for lunch, talk and be happy. We do love this program (the guy in the chef hat is our MD, Bob)

The first dish was terriyaki stewed chicken with soy sauce. The chicken tasted great. A nice dish that goes very well with plain rice. The rice soaks up all the sauce. Very nice.

The second dish was fishballs with chillies and hot basilic. Not a favourite dish of mine. The fishballs had a chewy consistency, but the chillies and hot basilic did add good flavour to the fishballs.

The third dish was macaroni with ham. This was the least favourite dish of mine. Not that I do not like macaroni. This dish was just too sweet. It was almost dessert.

The fourth dish was double boiled cabbage with tofu. We have a lot of vegetarians in my office, so the office was nice of thinking of them as well for the free Monday lunch. This dish was good. Though the cabbage was double boiled, the cabbage was not too soggy, which is a good thing. I liked the fried tofu. It added more texture to the dish. My only problem with this dish was it was very oily.

The drink of the day was pandanus (bay toey) juice. A very refreshing juice. Pandanus grows profusely in Thailand. The leaves are shiny, pleated, long and slender – they are the source of a well-loved flavoring that goes into a wide assortment of Thai desserts and sweet treats. A Thai equivalent to vanilla. Besides its culinary value, bay toey is an herb known for its healing properties. It has a cooling effect and is excellent for the treatment of internal inflammations, urinary infections, colds, coughs, measles, bleeding gums and skin diseases.

You can see from the photos, we do enjoy Mondays!!!

Friday, July 25, 2008


There is a famous Thai woman in town who cooks some of the best pasta in town. Her life story is very famous amongst the foodies in town. Its way too long to explain but in a nutshell: at 18 she left Thailand to study in Italy. She studied, lived, learned how to cook Italian food, married, divorced and came back to Bangkok after 25 years. She opened her small restaurant (in a shop house) several years ago on Thonglor. It was a hit instantly. The success has prompted her to build and move into her new restaurant near by. It is a very large, two story, stand alone restaurant (house). It is very spacious, enormous open kitchen and the tables are nicely distanced from each other.

The first dish was grilled vegetables and antipasto. It consisted of grilled eggplants, red & yellow bell peppers, asparagus and zucchini. As well as salami and prosciutto. The vegetables were nicely grilled and were sitting on nice olive oil. The only problem was the limited portion of meats. We only three thin slices of salami and one, yes one slice of prosciutto. I have no idea why this was so, but its not acceptable.

The next dish was the tuna salad. A good portion of salad and with lots of condiments. Big chunks of tuna, tomatoes, egg, cucumber & shrimp. It was tasty and a nice portion to share.

The next dish was fritto misto. The presentation of the fritto misto was very nice when it arrived. Deep fried to a golden colour. But as you took a deeper look, the portion was too small. Three shrimps, five squid rings and two salmon strips. They were too oily and the squid was too chewy. A disappointment since I love fritto misto.

The next dish was seafood soup. This has always been one of my favourites to eat at Delicatezza. Its not really a soup but a meal in itself. It comes in a huge bowl, overflowing with seafood: large shrimps, two types of clams, squid and salmon. The sauce is a balance of sweet, tangy and spicy. This is a soup that can be polarizing. One friend said it was too spicy and it ruined the taste of the wine, another said it was too sweet. I thought it was just right. After all the seafood is shared & eaten, I like to dip the french bread into the soup. Its so good.

The next dish was penne a-la-vodka. Another favourite of mine. It is also a unique dish in town. I do not see this dish at other Italian restaurants. The sauce is thick, creamy and has a dirty orange colour. Very tasty. The only complaint we had was that the penne was over cooked.

The next dish was home made fettuccini with bolognese sauce. This dish was a disappointment for everyone on the table. The sauce was too sweet and too watery. I am not sure why this was so. It could have been that the fettuccini was not properly drained before putting it on the dish. Or that the sauce itself was too watery. It was too bad, because I normally liked Delicatezza's bolognese sauce.

For dessert we ordered Delicatezza's famous home made ice cream. My two favourite flavours are the chestnut or hazzlenut flavours. We ordered the hazzlenut and we instead got the chestnut. Which was ok, because it was so good. It had a creamy texture and was not too sweet. The fine taste of chestnut was very present. The only problem about the desserts at Delicatezza is that the dessert menu does not have prices on them. Which is a bit sneaky on their part. Since no one expects that a scoop of ice cream can cost 240 baht. That is the most expensive scoop of ice cream in Thailand.

The second dessert was apricot sherbert. Another fine tasting dessert. It was like biting into a real apricot. The texture was also very nice and again not too sweet. Yes, a scoop of sherbert at Delicatezza is the most expensive in Thailand.

And the final dessert was the tiramisu. The flavour was good and the texture was right. The only problem was that the tiramisu was still frozen in the middle. We could not believe this. How on earth can you charge extravagant prices for dessert and cannot serve it correctly. There has to be better quality control coming out of the kitchen.

Overall, it was not a good night compared to what I am used to be getting at Delicatezza. A huge disappointment in terms of quality and quantity. Italian food prices in Bangkok are sky rocketing every year. It is getting out of hand. Delicatezza is also riding that wave of being expensive. We do not mind paying sky high prices for Italian food, but we better get the quality that we are paying for.

On top of all this, the staff at Delicatezza needs more training. They are not very competent. Delicatezza was not very busy the night we dined there, but we needed to ask several times to get our order, we needed to ask four times for olive oil, there was never a wait staff when you needed him. I am not sure what is going on at Delicatezza, but I do hope things get back to normal. I will return for sure because I have faith in chef Paula. I know she is a perfectionist and will not stand for the deterioration of quality control in terms of food & service.

145 Thonglor soi 10, Sukhumvit Rd., 02-3924977-8