Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ruen Urai @ The Rose Boutique Hotel

We were invited to dinner to meet friends of a friend.  Our friend chose one of her favourite Thai restaurants...Ruen Thai at The Rose Hotel.  We have heard of the Rose Hotel and always wanted to see what it was like.  So, this was the perfect opportunity.

The Rose Hotel has been operating on Surawongse Rd. for over 40 years...a long history.  I will not go into details about the hotel.  But what makes Rose famous is their Thai restaurant.

Ruen Urai is situated in a beautiful old Thai house on stilts.  Once you climb the stairs, there is a choice between an in-door and out-door dinning area.  We decided to eat outside because it was not too hot.

The in-door dinning room (photo above) is covered with teak wood floor to ceiling.  Nice volume and height for such a small room.  Not many tables due to the size of the room; yet it looked comfortable and the noise levels were decent.

Since I did not order the food; I have to apologise that there will be no prices included for each dish but will give you the summation of the cost of each person for the dinner.

The first dish was Cuplets with seafood & herbs.

The next dish was Seafood glass noodle salad.

The next dish was Eggplant salad with prawns.

The next dish was Fresh spring rolls.

The next dish was xxx

The next dish was Palm heart mixed vegetables.

The next dish was Water mimosa with bean sauce.

The next dish was Fried fish with peppers.

The next dish was Crab mixed with vegetables.

The next dish was Chicken massaman curry.

The next dish was a Chicken curry.

The next dish was Mushroom curry.

For dessert...Mango and sticky rice.

Overall; Ruen Urai was good but not terrific...I know my friend will kill me later for this review.  However; the reason why I say the food was not terrific was because I thought some dishes lacked spiciness, a dish was not well balanced, a dish was too watery and a dish was too bland.

I will not blame this on the fact that Ruen Urai is catering mostly to tourists.  I am sure tourists like spicy, well balanced, thick & rich and full of flavour Thai food as well.  Maybe the chef had a bad night...anyway; no matter the reason, Ruen Urai did not live up to the hype and all the amazing reviews on Trip Advisor from my point-of-view in terms of the food.

The atmosphere is lovely; sitting outdoors on the terrace of an old style Thai house with trees surrounding us...can't beat that.  The service was very nice and professional.  The prices live up to a restaurant for is on the expensive side.  There were six of us so we ordered each dish twice (the servings were a bit small for us) and it came down to around 1,500 baht per person.  

In the end; Ruen Urai is a very nice place to take out-of-town guest to.  There will be no issues what-so-ever...your guests will love the food, atmosphere and service.  But; I am not sure if it will be on my top of mind list when I am craving for Thai food.

Address:  118 Surawongse Rd. 
Phone #:  02-266-8268-72
Operating Hours:  Daily 12:00 - 23:00

Friday, February 08, 2013


Our friend at BK Magazine had a posting on his facebook that he liked Shuffle restaurant at the Rain Hill.  We had no idea what Shuffle was; so we asked him if it "was it good?"  Our friend's reply was that; "it was not bad at all."  The chef comes from Hamburger Factory on Ekamai soi 10...I think there was a disagreement between the chef and his partners, so he left and opened Shuffle.  Good for us...another place to try out.

Shuffle is on the second floor of Rain Hill community mall on Sukhumvit.  Actually; to my surprise when we arrived at Shuffle was that; Shuffle has replaced a Japanese restaurant, which I presume had not been doing well since it Rain Hill opened.

The design of Shuffle was following the restaurant design trend in town...the industrial look.  Lots of steel, concrete and glass.  A great kitchen view (but covered with glass).  However; the design of Shuffle does stand out for its use of space.  They did not try to cram in a lot of table but instead used a island sofa and put tables around the sofa...a touch touch.  This gives the illusion of more ground space.  The height of Shuffle also gives the illusion of it being larger than it is.

We sat outside on the large terrace with the view of Sukhumvit.  The tables are nicely spread out so that you can have your private conversations.

We started with Witte Trappist draft beer (7 for 1,260 baht).  That's a pretty good deal for a very good draft beer.  

Instead of bread...why not croissants?  The croissants were fresh and came out warm.  The croissants were flaky & crusty and at the same time; fluffy, light, buttery and soft.  Not bad.

The starter was Calamari Fritti (185 baht).  The calamari was very fresh so it was not too chewy.  They were lightly coated and were deep fried to a light golden colour.  The combination of crispness and tenderness was nice.  The dish came with two dip sauces.  Well done.  

The next starter was Parma Ham Quesadilla (195 baht).  A simple dish but not too bad.  The quesadilla was light and crispy.  The parma ham was good but I thought they were a bit stingy on the ham.  There was a slight parma ham taste to some bites but I was expecting an explosion of the flavour in every bite.

My friend's main dish was One Good Burger (325 baht).  A massive burger that looked amazingly good. lived up to its looks.  All the ingredients were very fresh from the meat to the bread.  The meat was cooked as ordered (my friend does not like a well done hamburger) and the cheese added good flavour.  A hearty and good tasting burger.  The only one thing we can complain about this dish was that the bacon on the side was beyond room temperature cold.  In the end the bacon was not eaten.

My main dish was Grilled lamb & rice (425 baht).  The lamb was incredibly tender and juicy...very yummy.  The lamb was cooked as ordered.  They were also very generous with the lamb portion...good value for money.  The rice was nicely cooked and added flavour to the dish.  The lamb was accompanied with horse radish and cranberry sauce.  A nice contrasting offer in sauces.

My other friend's dish was Pork Chop (425 baht).  The chop was huge and cooked as ordered.  The sauce was a nice blend of tangy, acidity, sweet and sour.  The pork was fresh, tender and juicy.  Another hit because it tasted very nice.  I just thought the dish was a bit boring...a side of plain lettuce, a scoop of mash potato and gravy.  On the other hand; when it comes down to the basics; the food is still the star and this dish was hearty and filling.

The dessert was Cherry Crumble Cheese Cake (155 baht).  At first my stinginess came out and I was thinking no way in hell was I going to order a 155 baht cheese cake...but as usual; hell won, I am weak and ordered the dessert.

The portion was of good size to share.  The cheese cake was creamy, dense and rich...not bad at all.  The cherry sauce was 'ok' usual (and I should have known)...the cherry sauce was way too sweet.  It over whelmed the cheese cake.  The crumble....ummmm, there was a mess of it.  I was not sure what to do with all of it; but it did add texture, not much flavour added.

Overall; the food was not bad at all.  The prices are good since the quality was good and the portions were huge.  We were nicely & humorously warned that Shuffle was only at their 'soft opening' stage.  They were testing and trying their recipies and service.  We were not expecting out of this galaxy tasting food but we were very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the ingredients, the professionalism of the cooking, the portions and the tastes of the food...all very good.

Where you can see that Shuffle was at their soft opening stages was the service.  Though they were very welcoming and nice...a few things the restaurant manager has to teach the service staff.  We had plates for our starters.  When we were finished; they were not cleared...which was ok with us.  However; we assumed sooner or later they would do that.  But; out of no where, the main dishes arrived and the waitress asked me to move the used starter plate so she can put down my main dish.  Then she asked my friends to do the same.  Who on earth taught her that???  Are you not suppose to clear off the table before placing other dishes on the table???  And asking the client to do that is not way to do either.

Because we sat outside;  in the beginning the service staff was attentive.  But as the night passed; all of a sudden they disappeared.  When we needed more beer, I had to wave like a bird about to take flight to get their attention.  When that did not work, I finally had to go inside and ask them to take my order.

The same happened when asking for the check.

Despite all this; we were relaxed and calm.  We knew Shuffle just opened (that is why they are not open yet for lunch...they are making sure they are ready); so we could not be upset.  We were just glad the food was good and that it just can keep getting better and better...same for the service.

Address:  Rain Hill Community Mall; Sukhumvit soi 47 (second floor)
Phone #:  02-206-7447

Monday, February 04, 2013

Chon Thai Restaurant @ The Siam Hotel

We were invited to dinner at the Chon Thai restaurant of the newly opened Siam Hotel.  Everyone in town has heard how beautiful the hotel is; however, it is so far away from the main areas of Bangkok that no has had a chance to see it.  So; I was excited to be taken to the hotel by van from the office because for sure I would have gotten lost.

We arrived at the hotel; don't ask me if I remember how to get there...I passed out in the van.  We walked through the stunning lobby, through the hallways, through the court yard...we finally reached our destination; the outdoor bar on the river.

The platform of the bar is actually on the water and has a walkway landing to reach the shuttle boats.

On the right side of the hotel is the long but narrow swimming pool with lounge chairs facing the river.

Me standing on the boat landing taking the photo of the outdoor bar with Chon Thai restaurant on the left and the hotel rooms on the right.

After having drinks at the outdoor bar; it became dark and it was time to eat.  We were led to Chon Thai.  We waled through the lounge area where people can eat or have drinks (which is underneath Chon Thai).

Before you get the Chon Thai; you pass a two story building where the Deco Bar & Restaurant is situated.  Deco has...well of course a deco decor & atmosphere as well serving international comfort food.  Because the place is so new; there was not one single person in the restaurant.  Very sad.

The first dish was Poo Nim Todd.  The deep-fried soft shell crab was accompanied with green mango salad mixed with chili, lime & palm sugar.  The crab was fried to a deep dark brown, soft, tender and crispy all at the same time.  The mango salad was fresh with a good balance of sweet, sour, tangy but for sure not enough spiciness...probably because we had a lot of foreigners at our table for dinner.  I am sure the restaurant did not want to paralyze the foreigner's palate too much.

The second dish was See Klong Moo.  The twice cooked northern organic pork ribs glazed with longan honey & fresh lime.   The the pork ribs were very tender and fall of the bone.  The glaze of honey added sweetness and the lime added acidity to the ribs; but, I thought it lacked some kind of kick to it; it did not seem well rounded in flavour.

This was the second dish that I thought was lacking something like I am not sure if our office called in advance to ask the restaurant to tone down the spiciness to the dishes but I thought it was a shame.  But still a very nice dish.

The next dish was Gaeng Som Pla.  The sour orange curry with sea bass fillet & morning glory.  The gaeng som was nicely balanced in flavours and it was full of fresh fish and morning glory which added the pleasant contrast of colours.

The next dish was Phad Krapoaw Kai Yeoaw Ma.  The century egg, wok fried minced chicken, chili, garlic & holy basil.  The dish had a good balance of flavours, colours and textures (especially with the century egg).  One of my favourite dishes and this one did not disappoint.

The next dish was Phad Pak Boong.  The wok fried morning glory with garlic, chili & soy bean sauce.  A typical Thai veggie dish in most restaurants.  Bright green, tender yet with still a crisp to each bite...nothing special but still hearty and good.

The dessert was Kai Neiw Mamoang.  Mango sticky brown rice with ice cream.  No issues with this dish; the mango was ripe, soft and good flavour.  The brown sticky rice was cooked well, not too sticky and dense.  One of the best coupling of foods in the world.

The cost of each set menu per person was 1250 baht + +.

The eclectic decorated private dinning room.  Yes; those are deer heads hanging on the wall; not photoed was the giant peacock on the other side of the room.  The room was dark, claustrophobic but somehow had a good feeling about it.  The room was way too hot...I think something was wrong with the air-conditioning which was not a good thing since the restaurant is new.

Overall; the hotel design and architecture was in my opinion...WOW!  Uniquely evokes a return back in time yet still feels up-to-date.

Chon Thai restaurant was not bad at all.  Just getting to the restaurant by climbing up stairs to an old style Thai house was already dramatic.  The anticipation for sure was high.  The private room was a good size for about ten people.

I felt the food was prepared too much for tourists (nothing wrong with that at all...Chon Thai does belong to a hotel).  But; there were certain things I was looking for in Thai food and they seemed to missing...for one of course is the spiciness (not the kind that kills you; but enough to make you aware that you are eating Thai food).  Nothing dramatic; however, if Chon Thai wants to attract more locals...I don't have the answer, but I would assume they will want to make the taste a bit more 'authentic'.

The service was very friendly and attentive.  The price of our set dinner menu was not bad at all; especially for a 5 star hotel.  I am sure Chon Thai will do well because it does have a lot of good things going for it.

Address:  3/2 Thanon Khao
Phone #:  02-206-6999

Friday, February 01, 2013

Vino Di Zanotti

My team was having a farewell party for one of our colleagues and I decided that we would go to the new Vino Di Zanotti which was only ten minutes away from our office.  Vino just recently opened.  We drive pass Vino practically everyday and we kept telling ourselves that we should try it out.  We finally had an occasion to do so.

Vino Di Zanotti is located in the old Italian embassy.  So you can imagine that the structure of the house that Vino is in is quite nice.

The decor was actually nothing special that captured my eye. Perhaps, because the house is a showcase in itself, the decor just settles in the background. The house is divided into four areas for dinning.  The main room when you enter (photo above), the adjacent room (where we were seated), upstairs room and outdoor terrace for dinning.

Complimentary amuse bouche.  This was very nice of Vino to give this to us.  It was breaded deep fried mushrooms.  I think there was a sauce missing because the fried mushrooms did not have any flavour to them and they were cold (but maybe they are suppose to be that way).  However; it was still very nice of Vino to offer us the amuse bouche.

The first dish was Pizza Margherita (250 baht).  The pizza was light in flavour, lightly covered with tomato and cheese.  The crust was thin and crispy.  A very nice pizza to start the meal with.

The next dish was Pizza Zanotti (600 baht).  I did not order this pizza; but if I would have known that this pizza cost 600 baht, I would have not ordered it (yes, I am a cheapo).  However that was very yummy.  The pizza was loaded with goodies...ham & mushrooms.  The crust thin and crispy and it was cooked perfectly.

The next dish was Pizza Prosciutto (320 baht).  The pizza was loaded with prosciutto; here we got our money's worth.  The pizza was loaded with flavour from the ham.  The crust was thin and crispy.  A lovely pizza.

The next dish was Rocket Salad (320 baht).  A nice portion of rocket salad.  Good flavours, bright colours and great textures to round out this simple but nice salad.

The next dish was Caprese Salad (290 baht).  A nice portion of mozzarella cheese and tomatoes.  The quality of the mozzarella was was chewy, soft and dense.  The tomato did not have much flavour but the olive oil and basil saved it.

The white wine was Villa Martina Sauvignon Blanc (1,300 baht).  I never had this wine so it was a good occasion to try.  It was not bad at went well with the pizzas and fish.

The next dish was Grilled Seabass (380 baht).  The seabass was cooked perfectly.  The meat was tender, soft and flaky.  The simplicity of the dish was its was really good.

The next dish was Vegetarian Tortelloni (320 baht).  Each tortelloni was enormous (which is a good thing) but I thought the skin was a tad too thick.  Each tortelloni was nicely stuffed with loads of veggies.  The sauce was thick, rich and added tons of flavour to the tortelloni...just lovely.

The next dish was Lobster Pasta Spaghetti (490 baht).  The spaghetti was cooked nicely.  The lobster ragu was really tasty and the lobster was fresh, plump and tender.

The next dish was Sausage Pasta (380 baht).  The sausage for sure was the star of this dish and an amazing amount of it in one dish.  Loads of flavour and a touch of spiciness...very nice.

The next dish was Tagliatelle Lobster (490 baht).  Another lobster pasta...this one had tons of lobster, an amazing amount actually (a very good thing).  The lobster was fresh, plump and tender.  The tagliatelle was cooked well and was a good accompaniment to the lobster.

The next dish was Italian Sausage (550 baht).  This dish was a good portion; the sausage was dense, tender and cooked well.  However; it was lacking flavour.  I am not sure if this is the same sausage they use in the pasta dishes but for some reason this was bland...the drizzle of balsamic vinegar added some sweetness but it did not save the dish.  

The red wine was Caldora Montepulciano D'Abruzzo (1,500 baht).  Another Italian wine I never tried was very good and went well with the pastas.

The outdoor dinning area with the view of the two pizza ovens.

Our dinning area.  We were not pleased at all that they put our table right in front of the jazz band.  Please forgive me; but I need to complain.  Who in their freaking mind would put a table right in front of a jazz band???  

I already hate and let me emphasize hate having live bands in an enclosed restaurant.  You can never have a conversation because of the band.  I have nothing against jazz bands; actually, I love them...but not when I am eating and especially not 'smack' right in front of my face.

Actually; it is my fault.  We were the first people in the restaurant when we arrived.  When we were led to our table, I did notice that they were setting up the jazz band.  I should have asked immediately for another table.  But, I did not think they would dare play because our table was right in front of them...oh how wrong I was.

Once they started playing; we then asked if we could be moved.  The arrogant waitress (I will go more into detail later) told us that it was impossible and that she said that we can move outside.  Oh 'thank you for your consideration'.

The jazz band was actually very good.  The reason why I know?  Because we stopped talking because we were tired from shouting at each other and so we just listened to the band play.  But for sure...never ever ever again!!!  

The first dessert was Tiramisu (330 baht).  A huge portion of tiramisu which was great because it was a good size for all of us to share.  The tiramisu was rich, thick, creamy and not too sweet.  A nice dessert.

The second dessert was Pannacotta (210 baht).  The pannacotta was bouncy, light & velvety soft.   The added sauces added the much needed flavours to wake up the pannacotta.  

The old Italian embassy turned into Vino Di Zanotti.  It is amazing that they even got this house.  The architectural structure is amazing.  The land is huge which is used for parking and a coffee shop.   At first I thought no one would go to Nanglinchee for Italian food...boy was I wrong.  That evening every table was taken in the restaurant.  Good for is already popular.

Overall;  the atmosphere is very nice due to the amazing house.  The food is actually not bad at all...there is nothing new and exciting in terms of Italian cuisine but just basic and hearty Italian food that we are used to and at huge portions and I do not mean just overloading on the pasta but actually the ingredients that accompany the pasta (which is a great thing)...a great value for the money; maybe except for the Pizza Zanotti at 600 baht.

I highly do not recommend you eating in the room where the jazz band is not playing.  They are actually very good players but its not comfortable to have a conversation in that room.

The Italian restaurant manager is very nice.  He was welcoming, attentive and very helpful.  However....NOW back to the arrogant waitress story.  When we asked if we could be moved due to the  jazz band playing while we were talking.  A very tall and heavily make-uped waitress actually gave us we were lucky to even have a table in the restaurant.  We first asked if we can be moved upstairs; she said, no because the rooms were not ready.  Then we asked if we can be moved to the other dinning section (there was no other customer at that time); she said no because they could not set up a table for us...I am not sure why...probably due to 'laziness'!!!  Then she said; we can move outside.  But the way she said it; like we were trash to be put outside.  At that point; I just said forget it and we will suffer with the music playing in front of our table.

At the time; we were the only table in the restaurant; if they wanted to, they could have easily set up and moved us.  But; that is a good learning for me.  If there is a next time; I go there and this specific waitress dares give attitude again...well; what goes around comes around!

Address:  399 Nanglinchee  soi 9
Phone#:  02-678-0577
Opening hours:  Monday to Saturday 17:00 - 24:00