Saturday, July 23, 2011

BKK Bagel Bakery

Many people have asked me..."Have you been to the bagel place"? And; my answer has always been..."Not yet, but very soon". Anyway; we were having a dim-sum/peking duck lunch at Gaysorn with friends and the discussion came up from the friends we were having lunch with..."Have you been to the bagel place"? That's it! I decided that after our dim-sum/peking duck lunch that we were going to 'the bagel' place for a coffee and a bagel even if we stuffed our faces with too much Chinese food.

The bagel place is called...BKK Bagel Bakery. It has such a following in town (especially with Americans living in Bangkok who I am assuming miss their bagel fix) that when we arrived at BKK Bagel Bakery; there was no seats for us. The place was packed (with Americans).

But then again, the place is very easy to fill up. BKK Bagel Bakery itself is very small (space wise)...I think around 25 square meters, has only five very small tables and a counter with four tall counter stools (this is where we ended up sitting). There is not much decor or ambiance to the place. It is just a cozy hang-out place. No one cares for atmosphere...they come to BKK Bagel Bakery for one thing...the BAGELS.

Since we sat at the counter; we had the perfect view of the chalk board menu as well as the 'special bagel sandwiches' that were printed out on paper and pasted under the chalk board menu. All the bagel sandwiches looked really good & yummy. But, we thought they were on the expensive side...the Tuna melt or the Reuben cost 225 baht. Or the Open-faced tongue sandwich at 200 baht.

Though we were all stuffed from our lunch. We still decided to try a bagel. We first wanted to order one of the bagel sandwich choices, but decided not to order one because it just felt so wrong to be such gluttons. So, instead we decided to share one bagel.

We chose a Sea-salt bagel and a salmon & capers spread to go with it.

Of course; we needed dessert after our big lunch. We had a New York Cheesecake topped with blueberry (95 baht).

The selection of the bagels of the day. I bought two sea-salt bagels for our breakfast (35 baht each bagel).

The selection of the spreads for the bagels. I bought two pots of basic cream cheese to go with our bagels (30 baht each pot).

The selection of daily home made sweets...chocolate cookies (20 baht) on the left, short bread lemon squares (45 baht) on the right and chewy brownies (45 baht) in the back.

It was a big coincidence that one of our lunch friends was visiting Bangkok from New York. So; of course she was THE expert on bagels. At first she was skeptical that Bangkok could have authentic bagels like in New York. But after we tasted one bagel she started to believe.

On top of that; we talked to the owner (a New Yorker). He told us that he did try all the bagels places in New York. But there was one specific place that he thought had the best bagels and wanted to emulate them. The popular bagel place is called Absolute Bagels; a bagel shop on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and you will not believe who actually owns and runs the Absolute Bagels...Thais, that's right...Thais. We thought this was cool & funny at the same time that Thais are running the best bagel bakery in Manhattan.

Overall; we are amazed that it has taken this long to have a decent bagel place in Bangkok. BKK Bagel Bakery does promise proper, boiled-then-baked bagels just like in New York. So no wonder that BKK Bagel Bakery has such a huge American following...but I am sure the rest will follow. The service is friendly but a bit blur (maybe because the place was too busy for them to handle); but I ordered one iced coffee and they brought me two. My friend was kind enough to drink & pay for their mistake. The prices are reasonable for some items but expensive on others. But in the end; from what I saw, no one really minded paying a higher price for bagels in Bangkok than in New York.

Address: G/F, Maneeya Center, 518/3 Ploenchit Rd.
Nearest BTS: Chit Lom
Phone: 02-254-8157
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am-6pm; Sat 8:30am-12:30pm

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

99 Restaurant

One restaurant that has been getting a lot of PR lately is the brand new 99 Restaurant. I am not joking when I say; I practically saw a write-up or story about 99 Restaurant in all the print media I got my hands on in one week. With so much hype...we had to try it.

99 Restaurant is an in-house restaurant of a super duper upscale residence (all owned by a hi-so family) out on first; I had to say 'where?'. It truly seemed like the restaurant was up-country. However; once we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised how lovely the place was.

The concept of 99 Restaurant is to serve Western & Thai comfort food developed by chef Ian Kittichai (one of Bankgok's celebrity chefs) who has made Hyde & Seek famous. The style of the food at 99 Restaurant is very similar to Hide & Seek.

99 Restaurant has a huge (I really really mean huge) tropical garden where there is out-door dining area but it was raining the evening we went so we had to eat inside. The long room is furnished with dark stained garden furniture; which is a smart idea to extend the concept from the outdoor garden to the inside decor.

The floor is covered with dark stone; the walls are covered with dark woods and the restaurant is surrounded by large glass windows. The lighting is strategically placed to give the restaurant a dark & somber ambiance.

The first starter was Organic new seasons green salad...kirk's hydroponics farm, poached egg, asparagus, creamy balsamic (220 baht).

The second starter was Crispy calamari...semolina crusted, zucchini, capers, garlic aioli (230 baht).

The first main dish was White fish of the day...pan-seared whole fish fillet, organic baby vegetables, seafood bisque (395 baht).

The second main dish was The first main dish was Salmon fillet...pan-seared Atlantic salmon, buttered sugar snap peas, safflower-volute (395 baht)..

The dessert was Hot green tea chocolate tea creme anglais (120 baht).

Actually; after sitting in the dining room for a while, we realized that the dining room looked like a modern green house.

The entrance of the restaurant has a round wooden table show casing the desserts of the night. Very clever idea to temp us right away when people enter the restaurant.

Then entrance to the restaurant (my camera lens was fogged leaving the restaurant..but I liked the effect to the photo).

The large sign outside to let customers that they have arrived.

Overall; the restaurant had a nice atmosphere, ambiance and a certain charm to it (though it was freezing inside). The decor was well thought out for the lay-out of the place. The food was not the most sophisticated but it was honest comfort food with a twist. The raw ingredients were fresh and of good quality. The food was cooked well and presented well. The flavours of the dishes we had were well balanced and delicious. The prices were reasonable for such a hi-so place. And finally the service was friendly and efficient. All in all; with a combination like all that I mentioned; this was really nice & pleasant place to go. We are already planning to go back so that we can experience the garden dining.

Address: 99 Rama 9 Soi 41
Phone: 02-300-4339
Opening Hours: daily 11am-11pm

Friday, July 15, 2011


Every time we drove down soi Thonglor; we noticed that a new Japanese restaurant opened. It is next to The Orient (a Thai restaurant that I need to blog about as well) and is across the street from Tops shopping center. The new restaurant is called Iza which is short for Izakaya.

Iza is a sushi restaurant, part barbecue place and part sake bar all rolled into one, Iza is trying to do it all. The decor is modern & plush; with comfy sofas & chairs, granite tables, chocolate hard wood floor and mood lighting with backlit walls filled with ceramic sake jars, lots of glass, wood and metal. The colour scheme revolves around, chocolate, browns, beiges and black.

Iza has an impressive spiral staircase leading up to the second floor yakiniku dining room. We decided to sit downstairs but did take a sneak peak at the second floor. We were surprised how small the room was compared to the size of the restaurant downstairs.

Iza has a very interesting photo book menu detailing their choice of fusion-focused sushi. Some of the most interestingly named & looking sushi.

The first dish was Maguro Avocado Temaki (180 baht). The tuna, avocado & rice were of good quality, nice textures and good taste. The problem was that the sushi chef did not toast the nori seaweed. So the nori seaweed was limp, soggy & too chewy.

The second dish was Spicy Wonder...salmon, tom-yum, onions, nori (140 baht). This was one of the choices of 'roll of the month' sounded interesting so we decided to try it. After having popped a roll into our mouths; at first it had a unique texture & flavour but after chewing, it turned out that the tom-yum was too over powering and salty (not a good thing).

The third dish was Druken Dragon...spicy tuna, asparagus, topped with avocado (380 baht). This was a good & fun looking dish, the ingredients were fresh & good and it tasted very nice.

The next dish was Beef Teriyaki...150 g. (450 baht). The beef was cooked right (which means not over cooked), it was tender & juicy. The only issue we had with this dish was the teriyaki sauce was absolutely yucky. It was too sticky & gooey and it tasted industrial. We think the sauce was not home made and from a bottle...really bad.

The last dish was Grilled Kurrobuta Pork...150 g. (350 baht). The pork was cooked nicely, it was tender & juicy.

Overall; the food was not bad but not the best in town. They did use good raw materials & presented the food well; but when it comes down to the details, Iza was not strong. From the soggy nori seaweed to the horrible industrial teriyaki sauce, these small things will catch up with Iza. People are not stupid and will start talking if Iza does not improve.

On top of this; Iza has an army of staff (actually, I have never seen so many people walk in & out of the kitchen) but for some strange reason, the service is a bit chaotic. No one is talking to each other; after we ordered, two other different staff came to our table to ask if we wanted to order. We ordered hot green tea but it never arrived, so I had to ask another staff.

We probably would think twice to return to Iza...not that it was horrifically bad. It just was not a memorable experience.

Address: 1/F, Somerset, soi Thonglor
Phone: 02-712-7836
Opening Hours: daily 11am-3pm, 6pm-midnight

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


We read about a Japanese organic vegetarian restaurant/grocer in the BK magazine. I think it is the first of its kind in Bangkok and probably in Thailand. The restaurant/grocer is called Sustaina. Since we are big supporters of the organic/bio-dynamic eating & drinking movement; we wanted to see what Sustaina was all about.

The grocer is on the first floor and the entrance to the restaurant is on the second floor by using a curved staircase. Sustaina has an orderly & neat atmosphere; everything is so precisely placed and the place is very very clean. The restaurant is plain in terms of decor; they use wicker chairs and wooden tables. The colours are browns, beiges and yellows. Nothing special stands out here. It is just clean and orderly.

The concept of Sustaina is about natural & locally grown organic produce. The restaurant has an extensive menu that is very healthy with options that feature a mix of Japanese and international dishes and NO meat on the menu. The local fish is caught in Rayong.

My friend had a fresh Carrot juice (75 baht) and I had a herb cocktail (photo above) Pineapple & mint soda (65 baht).

My dish was Home made curry with deep fried tuna (medium size 210 baht). You can always tell a home made curry due to its 'thinner' consistency as well as its natural sweetness due to all the fruits and vegetables used for the sauce...which by the way is a lovely way of making the curry. The deep fried tuna was fried to a golden brown; crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

My friend's dish was Tuna & tofu steak with grated okura (270 baht). The tuna and tofu was really good in term of the texture and flavour. The taste of the dish was nice from the herbs and spices. The only bizarre thing was the grated okura; it made the sauce too slimy...actually, it was simply weird.

For dessert we chose the Sustaina's 'choose any 4 combination petit sweets' (70 baht). Starting from top left (going clock wise); cheese cake, gateau chocolate, fruits pound cake & pumpkin pudding.

The organic grocer with fresh organic fruits, rice, etc. Besides fresh produce; they also have organic dish washing detergent, cleaning products or even 100% natural herbs anti-mosquito incense coils with key ingredients of Lemongrass, Citronella & Bergamot (I bought one for 70 really smells good).

They have organic shampoos, lotions and soaps...the soaps came in different varietal mixes; Lemongrass mixed with another ingredient or Lavender mixed with something, etc. (I can't remember all of them now...I am getting old), I bought a Aloe vera, Kaffer lime & Olive oil soap (120 baht).

The organic vegetables...all the vegetables found here come from the Harmony Life Organic farm up in Pak Chong, Nakhon Ratchsima. There were Japanese sauces, dressings, home made breads & desserts, etc., etc. And on top of that; organic eggs...we bought a dozen (120 baht).

Overall; since we always have Thai organic vegetarian food, this was a good chance for us to try for the first time, Japanese organic vegetarian food (fish is included in this). It was not bad at all. The food was very fresh, well prepared and was large portions. The juices were very fresh & tasty and the desserts were made with good ingredients (they were not too sweet...which is a good thing) and they were yummy. The staff was attentive and friendly and overall prices were very reasonable; especially for the juices and desserts...super reasonable.

The great thing about Sustaina; (even though it is a Japanese owned restaurant/grocer) is that they not only support organic produce & practices but that they are growing the produce in Thailand. They have their own farms so that they can teach the farmers what 'organic' farming is all about. This in the long run is good for everyone. The farmers will know that this kind of farming is good & healthier for themselves as well as for their land. So...its a win win situation for everyone...especially the end consumers like us.

Address: 2/F, 1/40 Sukhumvit Soi 39
Nearest train: BTS Phrom Phon
Tel.: 02-258-9766
Opening Hours: daily 10:30am-2pm, 5-10pm

Monday, July 11, 2011

Krua Im-Aroy

It is very rare that my entire department can have lunch together due to everyone having meetings out of the office. So; it was great that the majority of the team was able to have lunch together. We decided to enjoy a good lunch at Krua Im-Aroy.

Krua Im-Aroy is actually not really a restaurant but the chef/ owner turned her home into a lovely restaurant. Once we walked into the drive way; all of a sudden we saw the outdoor kitchen where a car is suppose to be parked.

The chef of Krua Im-Aroy and her team cook up some of the yummiest Thai food around our area. All that lovely food is made in this 'made-up' kitchen. Absolutely amazing.

We reserved the 'sala' for our department; it actually fit all 12 of us. The house has a huge pond and the sala sits right in the middle of the pond.

The first dish was Deep fried Crab omelette.

The next dish was Gaeng-som.

The next dish was Stir fried pork.

The next dish was Stir fried squid & shrimp with vegetables.

The next dish was Curried shrimp with egg yolk.

The next dish was Som-tum with salty egg.

The next dish was Glass noodle with ground pork.

The next dish was the Fried chicken (house specialty).

The next dish was Stir fried pork with thousand year old eggs topped with fried sweet basil.

The next dish was Fried tofu with ground pork & mushrooms.

Krua Im-Aroy turned the patio into the main dinning area of the restaurant.

The Krua Im-Aroy's doggy taking a rest under the kitchen counter.

Overall; not the prettiest restaurant around; but no one cares. It does have its charm due to it having the natural & simplistic touch. The menu is so extensive that it is so difficult to choose what to eat. So in the end; we just ordered a lot of food so that we can taste as much dishes as we could.

The food is and always going to be the star at Krua Im-Aroy. Authentic, simple, tasty and ridiculously cheap...we ordered 2x the dishes that I have shown in the photos above as well as drinks & ice; and the bill came to only 150 baht per person...amazing! Oh and on top of all that; everyone who works at Krua Im-Aroy is very friendly. A great place for a lovely lunch with the team.

Address: house #1 Yen Akat soi 1
Tel.: 02-2491872