Bangkok Sweets: Strawberry Daifuku

It’s hot in Bangkok. Temperatures run up to 36 degrees celsius and on some days it feels like 44 degrees celsius. Everything slows down in Bangkok. This weekend is the start of the Thai New Years or “Songkran” Festival where people everything slows down and people go home to the provinces or take holidays abroad. I personally love being in Bangkok this time of year when the roads are clear. The only problem is. It’s hot. I need food that is cool and refreshing. A few weeks ago, thanks to a dear colleague who gave me one, I discovered the Japanese confection of “Strawberry Daifuku.”

It’s cool, refreshing, and melts in your mouth.

I’ve only ever had daifuku with red bean, chestnut fillings or other sweet fillings. With fresh strawberries, this strawberry daifuku has since become my favorite. You get to get mochi with less guilt. I also particularly love the green tea filling and the freshly made mochi. It’s thin and melts in your mouth. Just like the ones I’ve had in Japan.

The website says each piece is made my a Michelin Star chef. I can’t say I know the difference, but I do know I like it. If you eat it right away, it’s even better.

I stopped by their stand at Central World by the supermarket the other day and there wasn’t any queue for it. Great for me. Not sure if its great for the owner though. I have to admit I personally think it tastes much better than the new hit Croissant Taiyaki which is all the fad right now and has long lines. But that’s for another post.

It’s a bit pricey, ranging from 50baht to 90 baht per piece, but then you get what you pay for. Large juicy strawberries surrounded by melt in your mouth mochi. Hmm.. I better stop before I start dreaming about it. O

h, and no, I don’t know the owner nor do I get paid for writing this. I just like it and wanted to share this little treasure 🙂 Itadakimasu

They have a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/strawberrydaifukusweet as well as instagram.

Green tea strawberry daifuku
Green tea strawberry daifuku

Half strawberry daifuku

Inside the strawberry daifuku
Inside the strawberry daifuku
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Travel Tales: Introducing Vientiane, Laos

Sometimes a place so close can seem so far and when you finally get there, you wonder what kept you from visiting sooner.  My work this year has given me the opportunity to travel to many South East Asian countries (as some might say “regional” travel) and though most days you miss the comfort of your own home, the almost monthly travels does have its perks; for a few hours in the evenings or early mornings, you get to explore the city.  Some cities are not so convenient, but Vientiane, Laos is a great city to walk around even if you only have a couple of hours.

It’s so charming I have to confess that I have fallen in love with it and even as I am writing, images of its streets and shops appear like a trailer in my mind.   It’s as if I have been charmed, intoxicated.  There’s something about the place that makes me yearn to go back and visit once more.

A city with a population of roughly 700,000 to 800,000 on the banks of the Mekong river, Vientiane still retains many of it’s old world charms.  There are no shopping malls, no large advertisement billboards or flashing electronic ads to numb our senses but rather there are streets of local shops and eateries nestled in between boutique hotels and guests houses.   I’m not sure how long this old world charm this will last, seeing that there are plans to build a large World Trade Centre Complex, but I have to admit I have a selfish dream that it will continue to retain its charm.

What is there to see in Vientiane and should you visit it?  Find out and follow me on my next few posts as I take you on a virtual tour around the city to ancient temples, bakeries, eateries and shopping.

 

Bangkok Brunch: Chu chocolate bar and café

Having my own home, kitchen and not so crazy about food as in my fat days, I’ve been eating out a lot less.  However, don’t get me wrong, I still go out and enjoy good food.  Today my good friend recommended we go try this new place in town called “Chu: chocolate bar and café” as we wanted to have “Eggs benedict” and this place served breakfast all day long as well as a variety of chocolate drinks and desserts.  My favorite kind of place for a lazy weekend breakfast.

It’s still it’s soft opening, but it seems to have attracted quite a bit of clientele with its new space and great atmosphere.   It’s furnished fairly simply in an industrial style with open ceilings, cement floors and wooden tables.  Simple, yet comfortable and most importantly, spacious.   Something that is now harder and harder to find in Bangkok.  It has a lot of natural light which is great, even though there is no view.  There are seats for every kind of customer. If you just wanted dessert, there were soft sofas where you could rest, and if you were eating alone, there’s a high table with high chair where you can look out of the restaurant and people watch. Lovely.  A seat for everyone.

What about the food?  We ordered Eggs Benedict with Norwegian Salmon, Norwegian Scramble, Homemade Pancakes with blueberries, Chicken Ciabatta with pesto, walnut .  For dessert we had Lava cake and Chocolate con churros.  What a feast it was.  So what’s the verdict?  I think overall the food was average.  The ingredients were fresh, presentation beautiful, but taste wise it wasn’t the best place in town.  The Eggs Benedict were a bit disappointing.  I had expected the jumbo poached egg to just melt into the smoked salmon and sourdough muffin base when pierced, but instead the yolk was soft boiled.  I wanted runny eggs to just melt into the hollandaise sauce and permeate the smoked salmon and muffin.  That’s how I like it.  The sauce was okay, but I think there was slightly too little of it to offset the jumbo egg.

The Norwegian Scramble was good though.  I love anything with eggs and the scrambled eggs were a delight to eat.  Soft with mascarpone cheese and smoked salmon, it melted with each bite.  I just wished I had a little more of the scrambled eggs. Portions are not exactly on the large scale here, but good if you want to watch your waistline.

My favorite was the Homemade Pancakes.  I think it was probably the only dish to which I have nothing to comment on.   The texture was nice and fluffy, the fruits fresh and the maple syrup just lovely.  I enjoyed every bite.  Chu only provides you a little pot of syrup though, so if you are the type that loves to just drench your pancakes in maple syrup then you’d better ask for more.

The Pesto Chicken Ciabatta with Walnut Sandwich was okay.  I always like chicken and pesto so for me, it’s always a good choice to order.  It tasted great, but if you want to use fork and knife, it gets a bit hard to cut.  I ended up using my hands to eat the sandwich.

Dessert was chocolate lava cake and Chocolate con churros.  It’s okay, but I thought the lava cake slightly too sweet, the outside not soft and fluffy enough.  If you’ve had chocolate and churros in Spain, of course it’s no way as good as the original.  I miss San Gines in Madrid and wanted the Chocolate con Churros here to be like the one I had in Madrid, so was a bit disappointed at the small size of the churros and the chocolate that wasn’t liquid chocolate.  It could be from a different part of Spain, but helas I’ve only had the one in Madrid.

Service?  It was fast, friendly and efficient, but I was a bit surprised when one of the waiters did not speak Thai.  Hey, I’m in Thailand!  It was also a bit inconsistent. Before dessert, they cleared the dishes, but failed to finish clearing all of it.  Minor details which I am sure will be improved upon once the restaurant is fully opened.

Overall?  I still like the place and thoroughly enjoyed sitting there for almost three hours without feeling rushed.  The food was average, atmosphere pleasant and a great place for a lazy weekend breakfast with friends.  It’s great if you are indeed of a quick meal and are not necessarily in search of the best Eggs Benedict in town. Will I go there again?  Yes.  Location is great. Atmosphere lovely.

It’s at Asoke BTS, Exchange Tower 2nd Floor.  Convenient and you can even go walk around Terminal 21 afterwards to digest. Bon appetite!  https://www.facebook.com/CHU.BKK

Seating area
Seating area

IMG_8652 IMG_8648 IMG_8647 IMG_8644 IMG_8642 IMG_8641 Chu cute sofa corner Like their decor Chu brownies Chu seating view Chu menu Chu long table Chu menu Chu menu

Japanese Sweets: Maple Snaffles from Hokkaido

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I wake up in the wee hours of the morning (4.30am) for no apparent reason today with the thought of Maple Snaffes in my head.  The thought of it won’t go away, my brain wants to have some, but helas we don’t have any and so I will just have to write about it instead.  Continuing from my previous posts on Snaffles from Hokkaido, where I talked about the original cheesecake flavor and chocolate favor, I have to say that my new favorite one is the Maple Snaffes Cheesecake.

The Maple Snaffles cheesecake have the same soft and feathery texture of the original cheesecake flavor but it has an added tinge of maple syrup.  The great thing is that you can taste and smell the maple syrup but yet it does not overwhelm the cheesecake.  It makes the cheesecake aromatic (I like the smell of maple syrup, don’t you? )  Too much of the maple syrup would make it too sweet, too little would not be enough to make it aromatic.  The Maple Snaffles, have the amount just right.

If you’ve never tried the Maple Snaffles, I think you should try it.  The chocolate cheesecake one is for chocolate lovers and if you don’t like the smell of maple syrup, then the original cheesecake one is good for you.

I suddenly have a craving for some rich maple syrup now writing about this.  Maybe today I shall go buy some and make some pancakes!

Have a good weekend everyone! 🙂

Japanese Sweets: Snaffles from Hokkaido

I love to eat. I think many like me also like to eat but our likes and dislikes change over time. I think our tastes also change the older we get. When I was young, I hated mushrooms. Now I devour them as if they were the most delicious thing on earth. Anything with mushrooms are good. Tonight I want to share with you one of my all time favorite sweets, not sweets but (as if you can’t tell from the post title) Snaffles.

In Japan, apparently each city/region has their own specialty when it comes to sweets. You can only get the triangular mojis from Kyoto, Tokyo Bananas from Tokyo, Castella cakes from Nakasaki, and Snaffles from Hokkaido (correct me if I am wrong here). My first experience with Snaffles was early last year when we had a Japanese friend come visit. With him came along a box of Snaffles which has since become one of my all time favorites amongst cheesecakes and japanese sweets.

I usually don’t like cheesecakes too much because they are heavy and creamy. Not my thing.

Snaffles’s cheesecakes, however, are light as a feather. As my spoon scoops up a piece I feel as if I am take a spoon through a souffle. Despite it’s lightness, it is rich in flavour and with the plain cheese one, you can taste the cheese. Not overwhelming. Just delicate and light. Snaffles also comes in chocolate and I have to admit I like chocolate purely for my love of chocolate. The chocolate is chocolate and the texture is light (though not as light as the cheese flavored one.)

Another detail I like about Snaffles is that they come in small little rounds. Each little piece is around two bite sizes and perfect for those who want a taste, but don’t want to over eat. It also lets you have a bit of each flavour without feeling overly guilty. Yes, I used that excuse. Tonight I had one cheese and one chocolate. Tomorrow I go running.

They also have different flavours that I have yet to try. Waiting for me is another box of Maple Snaffles. That will have to wait it’s turn, but I will let you know how it is. My guess is that it is light and tastes like aromatic maple syrup.

Oh, if you get a box of Snaffles be sure to open it right away and eat it. They have a very short lifespan and need to be refrigerated. www.snaffles.co.jp

Oban Yaki: Japanese Style Pancake @ Isetan CTW

I love Japanese food. I can eat it everyday and still not get bored with it.  Tonight I feel like having some Japanese Oban Yaki (which are Japanese pancakes with some fillings) so to curve my craving,  I will tell you instead about it.  It’s incredibly delicious and satisfying.  It’s comfort food that beats all the other comfort foods. (For me anyways)

I’ve never had this pancake anywhere else other than at the Isetan Store at Central World in Bangkok so I cannot tell you if it’s the best one, but even then I find it scrumptious.  I can feel my eyes sparkle and already my mouth curving into a grin just thinking about this pancake hot off the stove with gooey fillings.  I like the one with the hot chocolate filling, but the creamy custard or the red bean are also just as good.   The chocolate is hot and gooey to the right consistency, not too sweet nor too bitter.  I can imagine myself biting into the warm hot chocolate, whose taste is just perfectly offset by the pancake.  It also doesn’t run down your hands so it’s perfect.  The cream is just lovely and not too sweet.  A great cream pancake if you love cream buns.  The red bean is a thicker consistency and full of nutrients.  (I’m not a very keen red bean person)

The counter is just outside the Isetan supermarket on the fifth floor and behind a glass wall you can observe the pancakes being made.  A special stove with large indentations form the shape of the pancake.  The batter is first put in, rotated and the filling finally dropped in just as the pancake is partially cook.  Towards the end, the second half is placed on top and a few minutes later you have the Oban Yaki.

I love watching it being made.  Almost every time I go there, I find a little crowd of people watching as they wait for the Oban Yakis to be ready.  It’s that popular, on weekends they aren’t made fast enough for the hungry consumer.  I always buy at least three and for a mere 30thb each, they aren’t a bad deal…

They are so good that when I went to Japan last year, I actually went around looking for the “original” from Japan, made in Japan Oban Yaki, but helas I could not find it.  Perhaps its only found in certain cities.  I suppose this gives me an excuse to go back to Japan and look for it some day.  I still love the country.

The Bread Machine

The weekend is always dangerous. It’s especially dangerous when I find myself in the electronics section or in the kitchen appliances area. If I am in the Apple Store too long, I get tempted by the iPad 2, the MacBook Air or even the little accessories. Suddenly my iPhone feels like it needs a couple more accessories. (I already have three brand new cases waiting to be used. I’m stocking up for when iPhone 3GS cases become hard to find… :P) At the moment, the universal dock is tempting. I can charge my phone on it at night without taking up space on my bedside table and it’ll look pretty on its stand..hmm

In the kitchen appliances area, I’m drawn by all the baking materials. Yes, I enjoy being a girl and cooking although I am also a working woman. I enjoy cooking. For me its like I get to go on a little vacation and create a few things. A stir here and there, pop it in the oven and suddenly you get a new creation. At the same time, it’s also relaxing and gets your mind off things. Yes, my house is full of cooking books, and machines of all sorts. We have the yogurt maker, crepe machine, fondue set, all sorts of baking trays and cake pans. The house is overloaded with cooking materials, utensils and all sorts of machines. This past weekend’s newest addition is the bread machine.

Of course nothing beats making bread the traditional way by hand, but with so many things to do nowadays the machines are always so tempting. Here, I can just pop the ingredients into the machine and roughly three hours later, I’ll have fresh bread. How absolutely wonderful. I can use it to make pizza dough or just bread dough so that I can take it out to put in stuffings. I can make fruit breads, carrot bread, or any kind of bread. All this, without getting my hands dirty. This is exciting stuff.

I can even pre-programme the machine so that it starts later on at night. This way I can wake up to the fresh smell of bread. Ahh…what I good dream. Tonight I’m trying it out. Lets see what the results are like. So far the dough looks promising and thinking about it is giving me little bursts of joy. I’ll have fresh bread soon!

Although I love all these machines and gadgets, I have to admit that I wonder if one day I will be overwhelmed with all these machines. What do we do with all the unused items? What will this earth do with them? I still have my Palm V since the days when PDAs were the chick thing to have. The younger generation no longer know what it is. It still works wonderfully but it is mostly left to sleep in my drawer. I could throw it away, but it’s such a pity to throw something so good away. So what do you do with all your unused gadgets? Do you recycle them or keep them? What do you think?

Not to forget my bread machine, if you have a bread machine, how do you like it? 🙂 Do you have any good recipes to share?