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

Advertisements

Bangkok Dining: Krua Mae Yui @ Arisumpun 1

Happy Songkran everyone! It’s the Thai New Years now and how wonderful it is to have a peaceful one filled with sounds of laughter, happiness and splashes of water. It’s a great way to cool down during the hot summer weather where the sun burns in the mid thirties (Celsius). I won’t dwell on Songkran today but want to take you to this cosy traditional Thai restaurant that I have just had the opportunity to go eat even though it has been opened for years: Krua Mae Yui. The name literally translates to Mother Yui’s kitchen.

It’s a restaurant that is tucked away in a corner of garden belonging to a large compound at Soi Areesumpun 1 not far from true Ministry of Finance. I suppose it must have started as a simple project but its good food and garden view and atmosphere in the middle of the city makes you feel at home and instantly relaxed. There’s something about seeing green that calms my nerves.

It’s a garden atmosphere so there are no air-conditoned rooms for those who prefer cooler air, however, I didn’t feel hot at all under the green green trees.

What food do they serve? Interestingly a mix of Thai food and western food ranging from noodles, fried rice, kao chae, to spaghettis, grilled rack of lamb, apple crumble and even panacotta. Its a restaurant for families or groups who want to eat all kinds of food together.

I opted for the special of the month, which is most often eaten during summer in Bangkok, called “Kao Chae.” It means soaked rice. If you’ve never seen it you must wonder what is this soaked rice? It is basically cooked Thai jasmine rice soaked in iced water incensed with jasmine. This is accompanied by fried small balls of shrimp paste, fried stuff pepper, sweetened pork floss, fried onions and some other ingredients. You eat all this with the rice in iced water. It sounds strange but it is indeed delicious. The smell of jasmine calms you while the coolness of the rice makes the summer weather more enjoyable. The accompaniments all go together well with the rice. The dish was good here, but not the best I’ve had in town but it’s atmosphere certainly make up for it.

Writing the makes me want some, but I have been eating way too much this weekend.

Other dishes we ordered included pork satay, fried noodles and simple Thai pork noodles. All were good as well but not the best in terms of taste. However, it’s atmosphere was cosy and in tune with nature. You also get a chance to have local Thai food in a somewhat nicer atmosphere (rather than in a hot shophouse).

Pricewise? Noodles were 50-95 thb, 10skewers of pork satay 140thb. The Kao Chae was 200thb. Western dishes range higher starting at 150-520thb.

Would I go back again ? Yes I will. I might even take some non-Thai friends there for a change of air from all the air conditioned restaurants and shopping malls.

There is a little parking lot further into the soi but it’s a residential area so don’t expect convenient parking. 🙂

http://www.maeyui.com tel: 02-619-9952

20120414-181052.jpg

20120414-181134.jpg

20120414-181111.jpg

Bangkok Real Estate: Help a fellow reader..

As one of my readers (who is also a good friend) commented the other day, I seem  to be in a good mood. Yes I am.  It’s a good day, not because I was efficient  and got many things done, but because I have received and heard interesting  stories from my readers.  It is always a pleasure to hear comments or recieve emails.  It’s one of a writer’s little joys in life.  Tonight I write about an email I recieved from a reader (“S”) earlier this week with regard to where one should look to purchase a condominum in Bangkok.    Although this is not  directly my field, I will try my best to help her. 🙂

Of course the condominum one ultimately ends up purchasing,  depends upon your lifestyle, your needs and your budget.  It also depends on what purpose you are buying the condominium for.  Are you buying it for yourself?  Are you buying it for rental? or are you buying it for speculation in the hopes that the real estate price will go up?  What is your budget?   These are the questions you have to ask yourself.  Once you have the purpose, the goal of the purchase thought out, then comes the question of what area one should buy the condominium?   Bangkok is so diverse and each area has its own particular characteristics.  Even with the BTS (skytrain) and MRT (underground), one end differs day and night from the other.  Of course, this happens in many large cities where intercity life and life on the outskirts diverge.

Now where should “S” buy a condominium?  I went through the qualities she is interested in.  She and her husband enjoy travel, good food and the local cuisine.  They enjoy eating local authentic foods and even hawker shops.  That is the lifestyle, the desire to be within walking distance of a little part of authentic Bangkok.  Not the business nor the commercial side of Bangkok.

Having shared information with me that she enjoys eating local hawker foods, while at the same time would like a modern luxury condominium is indeed a difficult question to reply to.  I cannot say exactly which condominiums would be the best ones but I can give my opinions upon the location where quite a few luxury condominiums are located so here goes:

There are a lot of modern luxury condominiums along the sukhumvit road.  However, in my opinion, Sukhumvit is a great place to be if you are an expatriate and want to live the expatriate life.  There are lovely restaurants for brunches, more international cusines, boutique shops and spas that cater to the expatriate kind of lifestyle and budget.    It’s a wonderful place to be, and almost all the shops speak english.  However, it doesn’t get very “local local.”  It’s where Thais go when we want to enjoy the clubs, the  music, and the food.  It’s buzzling at night.  It’s great if you are young (or young at heart), enjoy the night life and the convenience of having lots of shops all around.  There’s everything from salsa clubs to local food.

Then there’s the Sathorn Area.  This place is in the heart of the business area.  Accessible by skytrain, it is adjacent to Silom Road and most of the major banks have offices in the area.  High rise office buildings rise up into the air amidst four to five lane roads.  Some major embassies also reside in this area.  It’s clean and has the air of a central business area, but I am not sure if it is some place I would want to live in.  On the weekends, it gets a little quiet and there are no local markets for me to walk to.  No stalls to where I can just hop over to buy fruits or other local snacks.  If that’s not something you do anyways, then that’s not a problem.  You could almost always dine out, or just buy food from supermarkets.   It’s a clean and safe area.

Lumpini Area.  This is not too far off from Sathorn Road, but it is near to Lumpini park which is one of the few parks in Bangkok.  This is where locals and expatriates alike go exercise, have a walk and enjoy being shaded underneath tall tall trees from the hot Bangkok air.    Local stalls and foods can be found lying along its outer edges.  It is indeed a place where locals also go have some good local cuisine.  However, the BTS (skytrain) doesn’t reach this area and the nearest station would be the MRT underground) station.  I think the MRT is a great thing for Bangkok especially since it links the
residential areas to the city centre.  However, if you want to go shopping at Siam and the main shopping malls, it still requires a connection to the BTS.   If you don’t go anywhere along the BTS that much anyways or always prefer the taxi, then I suppose it’s not that bad.

Another area is the Langsuan area.  It is in the middle between the local and the commerical areas.  On one  end of the road, you have the BTS and the major shopping malls. On the other end of the road, you have the park and the local food stalls.  It’s not too far off from the BTS station which means that it is easily accessible to the main shopping malls and financial districts.  It’s also walking distance to the Lumpini park which means that you can enjoy the park, the local stores as well as the convenience of supermarkets and other eateries along the skytrain station. However, Langsuan is a one way road which means that if you are going by car, depending upon the traffic, the ride by car could be a bit inconvenient during rush hour.

Other areas of Bangkok though also charming in its own way, still do not possess luxury modern condominiums.   They usually comprise of smaller units and target a different market.

If you ask me, (and I must first say I am no real estate guru here)  I would say that “S” should opt for a condominium along the BTS route.  It is still basically the main road that links the suburban local areas of Bangna to Sukhumvit, Siam and the weekend market which is a must for all tourists.   If you plan on having guests from out of town staying, these are the places that tourists are most likely to visit.  If  they go to visit temples, they can hop off the BTS station at Phyathai or Siam square for the Jim Thompson house.  It’s also connected to the Airport Raillink at Phyathai so that is a plus if you are traveling light and taking a weekend trip to Chiangmai or Phuket.

For me, the MRT seems to be more for locals. It’s the route that links the outskirts of Bangkok to the city centre.  For me, there are very few places that I have actually taken the MRT to.  I still mostly take the BTS.

If you can’t already tell, I think from all the above areas…I like Langsuan the most.  It’s not too densely populated, it’s not too full of clubs and night life, yet its not far from the main shopping areas and the Lumpini park.

What do you think?   Are any of you knowledgeable about real estate?  Where would you recommend our reader “S” to invest in? Please share you opinion.  Thank you!

Bangkok Dining: Dimsum at Yuan, Millenium Hilton by the River 

It’s the weekend and though I am still feeling under the weather, something about sleeping at the early hours of 9pm and waking up in the wee hours of the morning is refreshing.  The sky is blue, the birds are chirping and the wind is in the air.  It is refreshing and a great way to re-energize.  Of course, another great way to re-energize is to go out and have some good food with good company.  If you fancy some dimsum I recently discovered a new place upon recommendation of a dear friend.  It’s called “Yuan” (which makes me think of the Chinese Yuan which is the local chinese currency).

What I love about this dimsum place is that you get freshly made dimsum. None of that frozen and re-steamed kind of dimsum.  Each portion is large and you can taste the quality of the ingredients inside.  I had some dimsum made out of snow fish, the usual shumai, fried taro with red pork, fried cream buns and a few other dishes. My favorite was the fried cream bun.  It’s crunch on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside.  Great food, just go run afterwards.

If you opt for the “All You Can Eat” dimsum which goes for 730thb net it does not only include dimsum, but you are also give choices of soup, noodles and dessert.  A great deal if you eat a lot.

I had the fish soup with thousand year old egg, fried noodles with red pork, jelly fish,  and mango pudding.  Everything was delicious.   Nothing like those greasy chinese food I had while in college.  At Yuan, everything is good quality and non-greasy.  I suppose this is what real Chinese food should be like.

Ambiance ?  It’s by the river so that’s always a plus for me.  If you book early, you can get a seat by the window, but since the restaurant is relatively well-known it gets quite crowded and all tables are fully booked.  Not somewhere to go if you want a quiet romantic lunch.   If you want a private room, they also have a large room which is in a corner so it has a beautiful view.  It’s also large enough for kids to be running around in.

The decoration is modern and simple.  My kind of place.  The greatest surprise, however, was the music.  Throughout the entire lunch I could hear beautiful chinese music playing in the background and just assumed it was a CD playing.   Only later did I realize that the music played at Yuan is actually live music.  A young lady sits on the upper level of the room playing a chinese string instrument.  (forgive me I know not what you call it.)

Another great surprise for those who like to watch people cook is the kitchen.  It’s separated by a glass wall from the dining area so you can sneak a peak at all the chefs cooking.  I feel like I am Ratatouille watching all the action from a corner.  I see the dimsum section being steamed to order, the noodle section sizzling away on the stove and even the peking duck being roasted in a wood fried oven. It’s amazing.  Everyone knows what to do to get our food out on time.

Getting there? The journey for me is always as important as getting to the destination and getting to Yuan is in itself an adventure.  It’s located at the Hilton Millenium Hotel by the Chaophraya River on the Thonburi side so for Bangkokians who live on the other side of the river, the Thonburi side is somewhat of a mystery and feels like unchartered territory even though it’s just a bridge across.   I have good news though.   If you feel like going carless and avoid the traffic, this hotel by the river is skytrain BTS accessible.  All you have to do is go to the “Saphan Taksin” station and take exit number 2.  Follow the walk way until you reach the pier.  There will be piers for the Chaophraya Express but those are for those taking river tours.  To your left will be the hotel boat piers.  There are signs available telling you which hotel boat stops at what pier.   Each hotel boat usually comes 15-20 mins apart so just take a seat and enjoy the view.

Oh here’s their contact info:  Millenium Hilton Hotel:  http://www1.hilton.com/en_US/hi/hotel/BKKHITW-Millennium-Hilton-Bangkok-hotel/dining.do;jsessionid=00E1A6D4599DA83DC74FFB61B8F0AC19.etc82

Address

:  123 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan, Bangkok, Thailand 10600
Tel: 66-2-442-2000    Fax:  66-2-442-2020

It’s open 11.30am to 10.30pm, but when I called they said I could arrive at 11.00am.  🙂  Have a good dimsum everyone!

Bangkok Dining: Brunch at “The Horse Says Moooo”

This past weekend, my friends and I went to try out a new restaurant. Thanks to one of my dearest friends, who always seeks out wonderful new places, we get to try out new restaurants and eateries which aren’t located in hotels and department stores. Those are left for the days when you need a safe option. This weekend we went to a Restaurant and Winebar on Sukhumvit Soi 33 called “The Horse Says Moooo.”

It’s a strange name that really catches your attention and has everyone asking “What is the name again?” the first time they hear it. That was certainly my reaction. It is also a name that once you’ve heard it and been, it’s hard to forget. I definitely won’t be forgetting it anytime soon (which I suppose is what the owners must want.)

We went there for brunch, but they are also serve wine and beer and have live music in the evening so
the atmosphere must be quite different. It seems to be a restaurant of many “moods” depending upon the time of day. Perfect for a horse that needs variety. The brunch mood was calm, cosy and I felt like I was eating in a private room. It was Saturday so the brunch crowd wasn’t too big and there were only a couple tables while we ate there. I loved it and thought it perfect for alittle mini-reunion because then you are sure to hear the person opposite you whilst just relaxing and taking your time eating. You don’t need to feel pressured to vacate the table for the next person in line.

What about their food? Starters was Grandma’s original pancake with butter, honey and maple syrup(200thb). The pancakes were crispy on the edges and the middle soft.  Just the way I like it. Maple syrup is always good and they provide it in a jug so you can have as much as you want.

We ordered the all time favorite brunch food of Eggs Benedict (350thb). It came out beautifully arranged and equally tasty. I loved the freshly poached eggs and the salmon. My only wish was that we had a little more of the hollandaise sauce. I suppose I also am a bit of traditionalist. I am not too big a fan of the citrus in the sauce, but it was still good nevertheless. Yes, I will go there and eat it again.

Next was the corned beef hash with potato slices and fresh thyme (280thb). This was one of my favorite dishes. I think it’s because for me it’s like comfort food. It simple yet satisfying with corn beef and potatoes. I feel like that food critic in the animation “Ratatouille” that gets pleasure from a dish that reminds him of home. (The only difference for me is that I don’t eat beef hash at home, but it is someone like one of those comfort foods.)

Crab cake salad with lemon creme fraiche (250thb) came next. It was good and seemingly more healthy than the beef hash, but the amount of fresh crabs they put into the crab cake might be enough to make anyone with high cholesterol scared. It’s good a good scare though, I love crab cakes which are filled with crab meat. You really taste the flavor and biting into it is very satisfying. I also loved the fresh greens they put on top. It complements the crab cake well.

Our final main dish was Toad in the hole with yorkshire pudding, italian sausage and onion gravy (300thb). It’s a large portion so beware when ordering. I loved the sausage (yet I always do) and the pudding was great too. Though, I think my stomach was just a little too full from all the other delicious dishes to really appreciate it’s flavor. You will just have to go and try it yourself.

For dessert, we ordered the Raspberry Tiramisu. It was out of this world. I love raspberries. In fact I love anything berry so it’s always a delight for me to eat. I have to tell you though that here you really get a full satisfying serving so make sure you have enough space to eat it all.

The pictures and the writing is once again making me hungry so I shall have to say my farewell. I know not who the owners are, but I heard that the name comes from the years they were born. A group of friends with some born in the year of the horse and some in the year of the pig (which in Thai pronounced “moo”) Wonderfully original isn’t it?

It’s accessible by BTS Phromphong station (the same one as Emporium) and they have 4 hours parking at the UBC building at the beginning of Sukhumvit Soi 33. The restaurant is just a short walk and is located diagonally opposite Novotel Lotus hotel.

Oh here’s their contact info: Tel. 02-662-0402 Fax. 02-662-0402 Website: http://www.thehorsesaysmoooo.com they also have an FB page so check it out. I tried their website and seem to have trouble, but you might have better luck than me! Bon Appetit.

Bangkok Dining: Ramentei

 

Talking to a Japanese friend about Japanese food and ramen, I cannot but think about taking you to this ramen place I’ve been going to since I was young called “Ramentei.”  If you live in Bangkok, I’m sure many of you have heard about this place and have been to it.  They have a couple branches, with the original one being near Villa Supermarket on Sukhumvit 33.  There’s another one next to Thaniya Plaza where one goes to see golf materials, and there is also one between Suriwong and Silom roads.

What I love about it, is that it’s simple, serves good food fast and you know what to expect.  Delicious ramen, served efficiently and in a relatively clean restaurant.   Some locations are older than others, but overall, it’s clean and good.   You can choose between sitting in the Japanese style tables, or on regular tables.  I personally prefer regular tables since I always think they’re more comfortable and don’t require my pushing myself to get up.

What’s good? My current favorite is the Hiyashi Ramen. I’ve suddenly grown to enjoy cold ramen and especially when it’s full of vegetables and delicious sesame infused sauce, I cannot resist it.  You get to enjoy the full flavor of the noodle and its texture.  Alex had the pork ramen and that too was good if you enjoy hot soup with meats.  I’ve had other kinds of ramen though and so far I’ve enjoyed them all.  Also, I like the fact that Japanese people also frequent this place (which to me means that it is a sign of approval).  If the japanese come here for ramen, then it must be quite good don’t you think?

Oh another thing, if the portion is too large for you, you can always ask for the smaller bowl.  I think they take around 20baht off your bill, which isn’t much, but then you don’t have to worry about wasting food that could go to feed other hungry people.

The last time I went (which was a few months ago) the dishes were around 180thb each and very reasonable.  With all this inflation, prices may have gone up a bit, but I suspect it will still be value for money.    Itadakimasu!

Bangkok Night Out: Jazz @ Saxophone Pub

The weather is kinda blue, the sky is cloudy, the rain drizzles.  It sounds like a perfect evening for a night out listening to Jazz/Blues.  I’ve been in Bangkok for years and heard about this “Saxophone Pub” as the place to go listen to jazz/blues, but never had the chance.  Finally, one drizzling evening, I had the opportunity and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed sitting and listening to live bands playing the Blues.

It’s located right by the Victory Monument and withing walking distance from the BTS station.  If you drive they also have limited parking, but its by the roadside so you take your own risk.  At first glance, I thought I was somewhere else other than Bangkok.  It reminds me of Philly.  The outside has orange lighting and a small door leads you inside to a dimly lit room.  It’s more spacious than it looks outside and the high ceiling upon entering makes it feel comfortable.  The live band plays in the middle of the room and a counter surrounds it, allowing one to grab a seat and fully enjoy the music.  They also have a second floor and seats line the balcony allowing those upstairs to also peer down and watch the action.

A painting of Jimi Hendrix hangs on a back wall and the beer dispenser is shaped in the form of a Saxophone.  I love it.   The lights that hang above the tables upstairs are the old trumpet shaped sound projector part of antique music boxes.  (Forgive me, I cannot remember what you call it!)  The wooden walls and the somewhat rustic decoration makes you feel at ease.  It’s relaxing in here.  No ties nor suits.  It’s jeans and t-shirt.

The crowd is mainly those who love jazz and blues.  From my guess it’s mostly upwards from mid thirties.  Wonderful.  The no-smoking regulation makes it heavenly.  You can sit there listening to the live band playing without having to worry about getting smoke in your eyes.  Whenever I’m near a smoker, I tear and tear .  I tear so much people always stop to ask me if everything is “okay.”  With tears in my eyes, I reply “yes..thank you, it’s just the smoke.”  Now, I no longer have that problem. Yipee!

Apparently they have different bands playing on different nights.  The night I went there was  a man playing on a harmonica with the rest of the band.  It was awesome.  I loved it, if only the electricity didn’t suddenly die out on us.  Fear not, they had back up so there was no panic.

My only comment is that the decibel level was too high for me.  It averaged around 90-100 decibels and it made my ears ring.  I’m not used to loud noises, but if you are they it should be fine for you.  I wished I had ear plugs, but I did not.  I look around me but everyone seemed happy.  I guess it was just me.

Anyways, they have a website (being in modern day age)…here goes: http://saxophonepub.com/2010/