Sunday, February 28, 2010

Intercontinental Asiana Hotel breakfast (Saigon, Vietnam)

We stayed at the Intercontinental Asiana Hotel in Saigon. We got a good rate (hotels in Saigon are so damn expensive) for two nights. The hotel is brand new (opened last year) with a small shopping mall and the Hard Rock Cafe Saigon attached to the hotel.

Our first breakfast in the hotel. We were greeted by the friendly hostess and she led us to a table. Once seated, we were asked if we wanted tea or coffee. We chose coffee and then we were asked cappuccino, latte or black. I have to say that I was delightfully surprised & pleased by the service and the selection of food & drinks offered at the breakfast.

Everything you can think of that can be eaten for breakfast was offered. Here is the hot grill area where they roasted sausages and where they made the fresh omelletes.

The 'hot' food selection was amazing. So many international choices but lots of Vietnamese choices as well which I was happy about.

The first dish we tried was the beef pho. I am always skeptical about pho being made in hotels (bad experiences). But to our surprise the pho bouillon was very tasty, the rice noodles were cooked well and the beef was fresh and tender. Over all not bad at all.

The hot Vietnamese soup area.

The second dish was soup quoc. The broth was light but tasty, this soup had very thin rice noodle, thin beef slices and mined pork & mushroom balls. Some hoisin & red chilli sauce into the soup, a squeeze of lime, and this soup turned out to be very yummy.

After the soups, we tried some local fruit, freshly made yoghurts and pastries.

We had to admit to ourselves that the breakfast was much better in choice than the Park Hyatt Saigon. Which is hard to do since that is right now the best hotel in Saigon. Just for the breakfast alone, I would not mind going back to the Intercontinental Asiana.

Corner of Hai Ba Trung St. &, Le Duan Bl., District 1, Saigon
Front Desk: (84-8) 3520 9999

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Q Bar (Saigon, Vietnam)

After having champagne at 2 Lon Son bar, we decided to move to the uber famous bar of Saigon...The Q Bar.

Everyone knows the Q Bar. It is build on the side of the famous Saigon Opera House. You can imagine how beautiful the building can be. What makes Q Bar very popular is the outdoor sitting area. The inside gets packed on weekends with the dance crowd. The outside is for people want to people watch and lounge.

We decided to drink the local Vietnamese beer; beer 333 (beer ba ba ba).

A shot of the amazing Opera house in the background with the cool people of Saigon hanging out and enjoying the cool evening of Saigon.

The Q Bar also opened in Bangkok. But, the one in Bangkok just does not seem to capture the same ambiance and feeling of the one in Saigon. Sitting outside under the stars and next to the Opera House, where else can you do that?

Opera House, 7 Lam Son Square
District 1, Saigon

Friday, February 26, 2010

2 Lam Son Bar at Park Hyatt Saigon (Saigon, Vietnam)

After having dinner with our friends we wanted to have drinks at the new bar of the Park Hyatt. We used to stay there and the bar was not open yet. The Hyatt group always has very creative ideas in terms of food & beverage. Their concepts always surprise & delight us, especially in Asia. So, we were sure that the new bar at the Park Hyatt was going to be incredible.

We were not disappointed. The Park Hyatt Saigon has a elegant & old world chic feel to it once you enter the lobby. Once you pass the lobby bar with a piano jazz singer, you open the sliding door to the Park Hyatt bar, you are suddenly amazed at the difference in terms of atmosphere.

You walk into modern chicness. You are not in Vietnam anymore but more of a trendy new world atmosphere where the decor & design is an infusion of global trends. The bar is not large but yet seemed comfortable. There was a good vibe & energy in the air; or could that have been coming from the DJ playing house music.

The wine & champagne list was extensive. To our disappointment, champagne Billecart-Salmon that we wanted was out of stock so we settled with champagne Nicolas Feuillate, another good champagne at a great value.

Another fantastic bar to visit in Saigon. As you can imagine, the crowd at 2 Lam Son bar (the bar's name comes from the address) are the rich & chic crowd of Saigon. However, I do have to mention that there was no attitude problem the crowd. Everyone was just having a great time in a great place.

2 Lam Son Squared, District 1, Saigon

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tib (Saigon, Vietnam)

We flew to Saigon last weekend to meet friends who were on home-leave. We flew down to Saigon not only to meet them but to have a nice relaxing weekend of eating & drinking. The first evening our friends took us to a Vietnamese restaurant which was about a 15 minute walk from our hotel.

The restaurant is called Tib. Apparently, it has been open in Saigon for several years now. You have to walk down a long alley way from the main road. At the end of the alley way, you arrive at a lit entrance that reminds you of a Chinese movie scene with lit Chinese lanterns, tea table & chairs and an ancient Chinese entrance way.

I love kung-fu movies; and this entrance way reminded me of many of the kung-fu movies I watched where the hero would beat up his enemies before entering the restaurant to enjoy a nice Chinese meal.

We decided to sit outside in the courtyard since it was not too hot. The original restaurant is in a house and the courtyard had been added when the owners decided to put air-conditioning and that smoking was not allowed inside the restaurant.

The first dish was goi-cuon (fresh spring rolls) with pork and shrimp. Who would not love fresh Vietnamese spring rolls. These were very fresh, well rolled and had tons of flavours due to the different herbs, rice noodles/ paper, grilled pork and shrimp. After dipping the spring rolls into nuoc mam, the fresh springs were perfect.

The next dish was fresh spring rolls but instead of rice paper as the wrapping, this one was wrapped with leaves (I have no idea how they are called in English). You do not find these fresh spring rolls in Bangkok. So, when we are in Saigon, these are the first things I want to eat. The fresh leaves add another dimension in texture and flavour. A really wonderful dish.

The next dish was cha-gio (deep fried spring rolls). The Vietnamese really know how to make cha-gio. The huge varieties just in the wrapper paper alone is mind boggling. At Tib, they used the thin and sticky rice paper that I really like. It give a slight chewy texture to the cha-gio. The filling of minced pork and other wonderful things was tasty.

The next dish was steamed rice paste topped with crab, pork skin and herb oil. Another rarity in Bangkok. A thin layer of rice paste is put on a small dish and it steamed with crab. Once taken out it s topped with a herb enfused oil and a pork skin. You add some nuoc mam and the you get an amazing palate of flavours.

The next dish was a chicken salad. The Vietnamese have thousands of fresh salads. This was a chicken salad with herbs. Fresh, refreshing, simple but yet so tasty.

The next dish was one of the house specialties; clams with vegetables, pork skin on rice. I never had this dish so I was very excited to try it. The large bowl arrives at the table and a sauce to accompany it. The waiter asked if he should mix the sauce into the bowl and serve us (what nice service). The waiter separated the dish into individual bowls. The outcome was an incredible taste & texture sensation. Cold/ hot, sour/ sweet, crunchy/ soft, tangy/ acidic, etc. Wonderful!

The next dish was bo la lot (grilled leaf wrapped beef). A lovely dish with so much flavour. The beef was tender and juicy and the leaves so much flavour. A great combination.

Overall; the food was really delicious at Tib. The waiter we had was not the best but he was very friendly and very eager to please. The atmosphere was pleasant. I would not mind going back to Tib.

187 Hai Ba Trung, District 3, Saigon

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chua Kim Heng

Probably the most famous 'goose' restaurant in Bangkok. Goose for some odd reason is a rare treat in Bangkok. Very difficult to find. However; thank goodness the best one in town is next to our home.

The restaurant is the most basic place; open air, basic aluminum tables with wooden stools. Nothing fancy at all. But don't let the decor & atmosphere fool you. The goose restaurant attracts the 'hi-society' of Bangkok as well. You can be sitting there at your table and a Mercedes drives up with a driver, the driver opens the door to let out a khun-ying with very high hair, big diamonds & slippers to have her lunch.

The first dish was the restaurant's famous soup. Soup with bitter gourde and stewed pork ribs. The bouillon itself is very tasty, the bitter gourd is soft & bitter and the stewed pork rib meat falls off the bone.

The second dish was deep fried crab, shrimp & pork rolls. These very yummy fried balls are really good. Great texture from all the crab, shrimp and pork. The mix of very crunchy outside with the tender & moist inside also makes this dish unique and tasty.

AND finally, the dish everyone comes for...the 'goose'. We ordered a medium sized dish with no skin. The goose has a more tender texture and is richer in flavour. The sauce is light but full of taste as well. You scoop up some of the sauce and place it in the bowl of rice that accompanies the goose. Heaven is the only word I can use to describe this dish.

Of course, the restaurant serves other wonderful dishes. However; we have never tried them because we only eat the goose. This is one of the best places in Bangkok to eat. The service is good and fast. The price is unbelievably cheap! No wonder the place is always full.

81, 83 Pattanakan Rd. Suan Luang, Bangkok, 10250
02-319-2510/ 02-729-8822/ 02-314-4486/ 02-314-7829 (I have no idea why they have so many phone numbers)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


A new steakhouse just opened in Bangkok and we were excited to try it out. The restaurant is owned by a man named Arthur. He was well known in town for opening and running the best steakhouses such as New York New York at the JW Marriott and Prime at the Hilton Riverside. Now, he has ventured out on his own and opened Athur Steak Restaurant. The restaurant is in the Bliston Suwam Park View Service Apartments.

The ambiance is moody with dim lights and strategically aimed lights at each table so to emphasize the food. The decor is art deco with red velvet as the main material with brown and black hues to complement the rich red colour. All the cutlery, plates, napkins, candle holders, etc. were thought through carefully and are very nice. But all in all, the room is not overly done and it is trying not too hard to impress.

The amuse bouche was cream of ciboulette in an egg shell. A rich, thick & creamy cream. Simply presented and was very tasty.

The first wine was a 2007 Chablis from Louis Michel & Fils. Steven Tanzer (a wine specialist) said that this chablis was "Serious, typical, structured Chablis" I would have to agree. Drinking very well, refreshing and a nice way to start the dinner.

The first starter was Arthurs's famous Ceasar salad. The salad station is wheeled to your table and the waitress prepares the salad to your liking.

The Ceasar salad was well made & presented. I normally do not like this salad because the dressing is too creamy and the taste of the salad dressing is over powered with too much garlic. At Arthur's; the dressing is home-made and is light. The dressing was well combined with the bacon bits, croutons and lettuce so that the salad is just the perfect combination of tastes and textures.

The first red wine was a 2002 Le Merle Aux Alouettes by Alain Chabanon. More focussed than the other Merlots, with a rich and distinguished nose. Some herbaceousness - (from the 20% Syrah and Carignan?). Despite it's richness it's never heavy. Dryish finish. Still surprisingly tannic too. An amazing wine, especially in this vintage.

The second starter was bone marrow on toast. We have not seen this dish in town so was very interested to try it. My friends are all bone marrow fans; and we were not disappointed with this dish. The bone marrow was liquidy soft on a thin toasted baguette. A nice contrast of soft and crunch.

The main course was 1.3 kilo piece of meat. The meat is wheeled to the table and Arthur himself comes over to gracefully slice the beef off the bone.

The outcome is a beautifully & perfectly cooked (medium rare) piece of meat which could have fed an army. One suggestion when you go to Arthur....share!!! The portions of meat are amazingly big. Bring lots of friends so that you can share different cuts of meat.

Our meat was very tender and tasted very nice. You get to choose from a large selection of side-orders and sauces to accompany your meat. Which by the way are very tasty.

The second bottle of wine was a 2002 Chateau La Lagune. Here is what someone said about this wine and I would have to agree; a very nice wine, elegant, classic. Acidity shows the vintage. Tones of cherry, black berry, plum, tobacco, earth, cinnamon and soft tannins. Gentle, fresh, honest, but not too complex. Short to medium finish.

The last dish was a platter of cheese. The cheese platter was simply awful. The cheese was old, dry and barely had any taste. A huge disappointment after such a great start. We actually told Arthur that if they served such awful cheese they might as well not have a cheese platter. It is an insult to any cheese lover. However; I have to add that the restaurant was very nice to not charge us for the cheese platter after we told them we were not happy with it. That was a very nice gesture on their part and much appreciated.

Overall, a very nice addition to the Bangkok dinning scene. Well decorated and good ambiance; amazing service and a huge plus...its very affordable compared to the other steak restaurants in town. Do bring a pull-over (guys) or a shall (gals), it does get a bit chilly in the restaurant.

Bliston, 9 Soi Tonson Ploenchit Road Lumpini Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330

66 2658 7979

Friday, February 19, 2010


There is always a restaurant that you drive by all the time and always say to yourself; 'I must try that restaurant'. Gedhawa is one of those places. It is situated deep inside soi 35, which is not used by many people, so not so many people know about the place. But for the people who know about Gedhawa; it is considered one of the BEST Thai restaurants in town. It is actually Lanna style/ influenced food, which is the Northern part of Thailand (Chiang Mai area).

The restaurant gets your attention because of the bright & beautiful Lanna style decorations you can see from the street. Due to the decor inside; you actually feel you are in Chiang Mai.

We started with the typical Lanna style appetizer platter which consisted of sai ooua (this is the Chiang Mai sausage basically made from pork and spices, always roasted over an open fire), naem (it’s a well known northern pickled pork sausage zipped up with pieces of green chilly pepper), moo yor (steamed pork sausage, is ground pork, flour, and seasonings, it is squeezed then wrapped in banana leaves with tantalizing aroma and flavor), kaeb moo (crispy pork rind, deep fried with salt, clove, garlic, and crushed whole coriander stalks) with naam prik noom (chilly paste, made from young, long, light green chilies is thick, wet and fibrous, as a result of pounding together a mixture of roasted chilies, shallots, garlic, tomatoes, and other ingredients. It’s hot, salty, and sweet due to its ingredients), fresh vegetables & herbs, naam prik ong (it’s made with ground pork, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, garlic and shrimp, all is meticulously blended together, then cooked). Please allow me to say; everything was a wow, amazing, fantastic, delicious! That's all I wanted to say.

The second appetizer we had was deep fried pumpkin. Deep fried to a golden yellow; crispy outside but very soft & moist inside. So much better than french fries just because there was a sweet taste to it. No need for any sauce.

We ordered another dish of sai ooua because they were so delicious. Very spicy, full of meaty textures and the flavours were so complex. We could have ordered another one after this but we contained ourselves.

The next dish was deep fried Thai fish with herbs. The Thais really know how to deep fry their fish. No matter from the north, middle or southern Thailand; it always turns out fantastic. The frish is a golden brown, perfectly crispy outside but the fish stays soft & moist inside. The mixture of herbes from ginger, lemon grass, etc. adds amazing flavours to the fish.

The next dish was larb. Actually this dish is from the northeast and easy to eat with sticky rice and fresh vegetables. The larb was made from ground meat e.g. beef, liver pork or duck then mixed with spices and fresh mint leaves. Such complex flavours from a simple looking dish.

The next dish was the most interesting dishes of the night. A northern vegetable, fish & ant egg soup. Yes, you read right...ant eggs. And why not? The northern vegetable reminded me of spinache but had a smoother texture but had a sweeter flavour. The ant eggs were pearly white and had the texture of barley. The soup was very flavourful. A nice soup full of different tastes and textures. A soup you can tell friends about.

The next dish was northern style yellow curry with cococut heart, pop in your mouth mushrooms and duck. Another great dish. The fresh & crunchy coconut heart was tasty, the duck tender but the mushrooms were the star of the curry. A small type of mushroom that soaks up a little curry in its head. When you bite into the mushroom, it pops. Very unique.

The next dish was hung lay curry. A Burmese dish not made with chilly peppers and really easy to eat. The base curry is made with pork pieces and tamarind resulting in a sweet and sour flavor. The pork was so tender and flavourful.

The entrance from the street. You are greated with a small Lanna style garden. Very charming.

Here is the restaurant sign and garden that stands out in a quiet and dark soi. No wonder, it gets everyones attention when they drive by.

Overall, a very cosy, comfortable & charming place to have amazingly delicious northen style Thai food. I have not met one person who has eaten here and has had a bad thing to say about it. The service is very good, the owner is very nice, she let us stay after closing to finish our wines, and the prices are so reasonable. A wonderful place to eat and get your money's worth.

The only problem with Gedhawa is that parking is non-existant because the soi is so narrow and residential. You can park further down the soi and walk. But the best way to get to Gedhawa is take a taxi or take the Phrom-Phong BTS and walk about 10 minutes. But's its worth it.

24 Sukhumvit soi 35
02 662 0501