Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thailand Food Courts: CentralWorld!

I know many girls would stone me for this, but I didn't find shopping in Thailand very attractive. International labels are overpriced and budget buys are not exactly comparable to Taiwan and Hong Kong, but that's also probably because we didn't know where to go for their local designer brands and clearance sales! What did however, intrigued me were the sheer size of their shopping malls!

More infamously known as the mall that got burned during the red shirt strikes, CentralWorld is now mostly restored except for the annex housing Zen Departmental Store. Huge is an understatement as the third largest shopping complex in the world (according to Wiki) took us hours to just run through everything once! Puts Vivocity and NEX and whatsoever combined to shame!

With over 600 shops, you can expect F&B outlets to take up a signifacnt portion too. There were so many interesting independent cafes and eateries that I could be like a happy kid exploring a candy store for weeks!

When I found my favourite Cold Stone outlet here, there was the immediate urge to satisfy my craving for Apple Pie Ala Cold Stone, despite being filled with the hotel buffet breakfast an hour ago. Well don't ask me about the branch in Singapore just as yet, I will save my comments for some other time.

Now the food court here is definitely more upmarket than MBK's. The decor somehow reminded me much of Ikea cafeteria; modern furnishing with bright clean lighting. Of course, there is a price to pay with almost all the items being about 50%-80% more expensive, though I was really surprised that the same shark fins brand sold its stuffs at exactly the same price as MBK.

Fresh Coconut

Opened on the spot, this was sweet and refreshing with plenty of tender meat, definitely cheaper than what you get in Singapore.

Phad Thai Goong

Besides my obsessions with Green Curry and Mango with Glutinous Rice, the other love that I developed during the trip was for Phad Thai. Honestly, I never knew that such a simple plate of stir-fried noodles could be that addictive! I concluded that it was the excellent chewy texture of their rice noodles and the appetising sweet and savoury sauce that got me hooked.

My only gripe? They didn't had the habit of blanching the beansprouts prior to frying, thus its raw crunchy taste.

Mixed Beef Noodles, Green Curry Vermicilli

The quality of their beef broth was really amazing too. Fatty beef brisket, tender meat slices and beef balls that were so full of bounce and flavour. With a light tasty stock, this was another thing that I could eat over and over again!

And then I had an encounter with the spicest green curry ever. The layer of chilli oil was so potent that I literally coughed after every mouth, yet I just couldnt get enough of its creamy taste. Asking for it huh?

Black Glutinous Rice in Coconut Milk, Mango with Glutinous Rice

Loved how chewy every grain of the rice was, mixed with pieces of yam and soaked in the ever important coconut milk.

Hello again! The steamed rice was a tad better than MBK with its al-dente texture, and I really don't need to say much about the mango, do I?

More expensive, but with a modern touch and non-compromise on quality. Take a lunch break here before exploring the mega mall further!

Ratchadamri Road,
Bangkok, Thailand
Note: Located between Chit Lom and Siam BTS Stations, the mall is walkable from both via covered walkways. Zen Departmental Store is scheduled to reopen in August this year!

Taken with Nikon D70
Monday, March 28, 2011

Thailand Food Courts: MBK!

My eats in Thailand were not only about restaurants. In fact, we spent more meals in their fascinating food courts! And the very first food court that we patronised was in one of Bangkok's oldest shopping centre, The Mahboonkrong Centre!

Fondly known as MBK, the huge place is touted as a must-go for tourists and most Singaporeans wouldn't leave Bangkok without visiting it. For what exact reasons I don't know, because it really resembled a mega Lucky Plaza or JB's City Square , selling plenty of electronics and touristy stuffs. Zero interest for me.

Well, the real reason that I was there was because a buddy told me: "You die die must visit MBK's food court, super cheap and shiok shark fins soup!" And so here I am!

The place was showing its age with dim lighting and worn-out decor, but still attracted fairly good business from both locals and tourists, due to its cheap prices compared to other newer food courts. In fact, my very next table was a family of Singaporeans slurping on their shark fins soup!

Taking up plenty of tenant space by itself, you can't miss this well-known store with their huge fin on display. We later realised that they had branches at other food courts too!

Shark Fins Soup (฿160), Bird's Nest with Ginko Nuts (฿50)

The "die-die-must-eat"! Well for SGD8, what I got was basically a thick and starchy soy sauce soup with decent bits of real fins. I'm not complaining at all, at least they didn't cheat with vermicelli!

I realised that shark fins soup and bird nest comes hand in hand in Thailand! Again at its price, do expect plenty of syrupy water with floating bits of the jelly-like dessert.

Stewed Pork Leg with Rice (฿45)

I later learnt that this was a really common dish in food courts and with a constant queue at the store, I knew it wouldn't go wrong for a try!

Tender lean meat with gelatinous fats and skin, it sure looked ugly but would definitely satisfy the carnivore in you. If only the stew sauce could be a little more absorbed by the meat!

Spring Rolls

No idea which store did my dad grabbed this from, but crunchy skin with piping hot vermicelli fillings would never fail!

The dessert store was really interesting too, with many bowls of coloured toppings and huge, tempting mangoes hanging.

Mango with Glutinous Rice (฿80), Red Rubies in Coconut Milk (฿45)

Trust me, you will see plenty of shots of this throughout my Thailand collection! The fruit itself was faultless again, though the glutinous rice was definitely lumpy and overcooked, died in the comparison of previous night version at Blue Elephant!

Their red rubies were quite different from ours too, as the center was much harder and had quite an odd taste to it. Oh well, you never know till you try!

Next food court, Central World!

Mahboonkrong Centre
44 Phayathai Road
Patumwan, Bangkok
Note: Nearest BTS station is National Stadium, linked by sky bridges!

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, March 25, 2011

Brasserie Wolf: No Wolf Here, Just Beef Cheek!

This is an invited session

Always thought that French cuisine is too intimate and stiff? Most of the french restaurants I know are somewhat along that line. Excellent places for dates, but not really for a session of gossip and randomness. Well, here's one place that not only whips up hearty french food, but also cozy enough to chill out with friends!

Located at Robertson Quay, Brasserie Wolf is a casual french bistro that aims to impress with fine dining standards of food and service. Having undergone a facelift recently, the place's decor is laidback with a Parisian touch as paintings and posters adorned the wall.

Bread Basket ($3.50)

Last Wednesday, I had the honour to join a tasting session that was crafted by the new Head Chef from Switzerland, Chef Claudio Sandri. We started off with an assortment of breads that was chewy to my liking, with the walnut one being particularly good. But what really stole the show was the coin of salted Beurre Echire butter, so full of buttery goodness that we meekly ask if we could have another one to go with more bread. Addictive!

Traditional French Onion Soup ($16.00)

The first of three starters we had was one of their old favourites retained from the previous menu. Served with a floating piece of garlic toast with melted cheese, the soup was thick and chokeful of stewed onions, as the bread's chewy, cheesy texture worked wonders with the flavourful broth. A very good start indeed!

Journo Tomato Gazpacho ($16.00)

Don't send this back to the kitchen assuming that its a dessert by mistake! Yes that was a ice cold sorbet, but its a tomato one that was intended to be served with a separate jug of hot soup. The refreshing sorbet formed a very strong contrast against the creamy base, breaking the mentality that hot and cold soups are mutually exclusive. Great play on creativity!

Fresh Artichoke Heart ($18)

Stacked like a mini-tower, I have never eaten much or been a fan of artichoke, although the accompanying toppings of poached egg and smoked salmon more than made up for it!

Traditional Bouillabaisse Soup ($36.00)

Another one with DIY fun! The main content was separately served with a jug of soup, sauce and cheese, pour it in according to your own likings!

Actually this felt like a larger portion of an appetiser, but nonetheless very comfort food with fresh sea bass chunks and crunchy prawns.

Seared Cod ($35.00)

Not exactly melt-in-your-mouth, but nonetheless well-executed with a smooth, firm texture. Took quite a liking for the cute mushroom tortellini and firm roasted baby potatoes too, wished there were more!

Beef Bourguignon ($29.00)

Saved the best main course for the last! Braised to such tenderness, knife was simply redundant in gently tearing apart the beef cheek. The accompanying whipped potato was perfect for mopping up the savoury red wine sauce. Awesome was the word!

Chocolate & Coffee Liegeois ($13.00), Floating Island, Peach Melba ($13.00)

No ending is complete without desserts! Now to be frank, I thought we had a vanilla overdose here, as all three were served with scoops of the ice cream, eventually tasting as if they got the same base with different toppings. Not that my companions minded though!

Out of the three, I would go for the first one for its robust coffee flavour and its rich, smooth chocolate sauce. The second one with salted caramel sauce was just alright for me while the third used white peach for that natural sweetness.

If you have a large crowd coming in, you will definitely enjoy the private corner with an oval dining table that seats up to 10 comfortably. Want to have a pre-dinner drink? Head outside for their extensive wine bar!

With its relaxing ambience and commendable dishes, Brasserie Wolf might just be the place for some satisfying french fare without the hassle of gowns and jackets. Eyeing steaks on their menu, I might just return to see how it fares with the other french bistro!

Brasserie Wolf
80 Mohamed Sultan Road #01-13
The Pier at Robertson
Tel: 6835 7818

Special thanks to Danielle, Xiao Min and Sihui of Ate Consulting for the invite!

Taken with Nikon D70
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

T&K Seafood: Reunion Dinner in Chinatown!

My second night in Bangkok was actually Chinese New Year Eve. Having done plenty of shopping (they don't close early too!) in the day, we researched for a place to have our own little reunion dinner. And what's better than to have it in Chinatown!

The whole area was simply alive and soaked in joyous atmosphere by the time we arrived, squeezed full of tut-tuts and pedestrians alike. We originally made a reservation at one of the pricier, bigger Chinese restaurants which ran their own supply of sea delicacies, but decided to scout around first after seeing how empty it was.

And just further down the road, there was this small establishment with tables packed to the sidewalk, as waitresses rolled out piping hot dishes from the kitchen and helpers continuously picking out crabs from the tanks. Now that's a good sign! Choose to enjoy the alfresco mood or head into the shophouse for some air con (we did anyway, cant really stand the heat)!

Singha Beer

Cool yourself down with one of these before browsing through the seafood-heavy menu. I'm sure you will order more bottles later!

Grilled Prawns

Plump and succulent, these fresh ones were grilled simply with salt and served. Had a nice smokey flavour to it!

Baked Stuffed Crab, Steamed Fish

I literally gasped when I saw how cheap this was. For only ฿100, you get a huge chunk of crab flesh, minced chicken and tanghoon, blended with a bit of pepper before baking. So darn satisfying that we had encores for this!

We don't even know the name of this fish, merely relying on the waitress's recommendations! Nothing outstanding, but the reasonable quality of tender, flaky meat with a dash of soy sauce worked well for me!

Fried Kangkong, Crab Tanghoon

The obligatory greens, nothing to shout about really.

This was my other favourite Thai dish! The tanghoon was more peppery spicy than the usual ones, but still very moist and rich in flavour after absorbing all the juices. Crabs played only a supporting role here!

On a side note, anyone watches funny Thai commercials? I can't help but to be reminded of the part three of this outrageously hilarious one.

Oyster Omelette

Their version of Orh Luak, the oysters wasn't fantastic but when paired with sweet thai chilli, I was loving how fluffy the omelette was with a slight crisp at the edges.

Sharkfin in Claypot

It is reunion dinner after all, lets have a pot of this each! For only ฿300, don't expect humongous fins to be swimming in your claypot. But as usual, I was looking forward more to its sticky, rich stock that went so well with bowls of rice. Felt the warmth from within!

Bird's Nest

The must-have dessert here! Again, don't expect a pile of the delicacy for the ฿100 you are paying, but when served in a milky base, this was nonetheless a nice, sweet ending to the meal.

Good ol way of passing orders from the second storey

I didn't list out all the item pricing as I couldn't understand what was written on the receipt. But the final bill for three was ฿2170, approximately SGD98. Everybody scream with me: "What? I couldn't even get all those stuffs at double the price here!" Not like they skimped heavily on quality too! If I am ever coming back to Bangkok, I am definitely making a revisit for the awesome seafood spread!

T&K Seafood
49-51 Soi Phadung Dao
Chinatown, Bangkok
Tel: 02 223 4519
Note: The restaurant is located at a major junction of Chinatown, you can't missed it with all the employees wearing green uniform. Just opposite is a rival restaurant with employees cladded in red. Let me know if the other one is good too!

Taken with Nikon D70