Bangkok Dining: Sendai Ramen Mokkori Silom @ Narathiwat Soi 1

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I love it when friends take me to off the beaten track eateries.  Little treasures that just make you wonder what other secrets lay hidden waiting to be discovered.   This latest discovery came quite unexpected for it was a chance meeting and we took the opportunity to go grab a bite to eat.  In search of somewhere not too far from Silom, Narathiwat and the Rama IV area my friend navigated me to this little japanese eatery called “Sendai Ramen Mokkori Silom.”

Don’t ask me what the name means. I only know “Ramen” and “Silom”(road name.)   It’s one of those eateries you find in the least expected places.  It’s at the base of an old-fashioned condominium at Narathiwat Soi 1.  It seems to have been around for quite some time and probably well-known to those who go to that area, but for me it was an area I hardly go to and a street I’ve never driven into.

What’s surprising is that walking out of the condominium parking (you can get your parking ticket validated at the eatery) you do not see the eatery right away.  I saw another Japanese place and almost went there, but lo and behold suddenly this one appears.  It’s surrounded by a lot of things, and it the daylight it’s not easy to spot, but when the lights come on, you see it clearly with the red lanterns and the lights shining from inside.

It’s small and simple inside.  A wall full of photographs of the owner with celebrities and well-known people decorate the shop and japanese writings also adorn the walls.  I always wonder if they have something unique that’s not on the menu.

The menu is dizzying.  The large B5 sized menu is filled with pictures of many types of ramen, rice dishes and other japanese favorites.  Too many makes it hard for me to choose and so I go with my favorite Mabo tofu with ramen. (It’s ramen with tofu sauce) and of course the tonkatsu (fried breaded pork) with japanese curry.    The portions are HUGE.  Not somewhere to go if you are on a diet, but a great place to go if you want to just eat and enjoy.

I liked the fact that the atmosphere took us out of the typical restaurant vibe we get in downtown Siam.  It’s less hectic and probably because it was a lazy Sunday evening one could just chill and relax without feeling pressured to give up our table to the waiting customer.   (I don’t know what it’s like on weekdays since it’s near to the business district)

The food was good and delicious for its price even though the ramen noodles were not made in-house. It wasn’t the best ramen I’ve ever had, but I think it is not too far off from the authentic ramen noodles I’ve had in Japan.  (The owner is japanese and appears on the menu cover and on the photos on the wall) The tonkatsu was crispy and lean. However if you ask me to compare the tonkatsu to that at Saboten (another japanese eatery), I have to say Saboten still wins.  The thing is, food at this eatery is roughly half the price of Saboten.

Dishes were around 140-250thb each which is a pretty good deal compared to other japanese restaurants downtown where a medium pork loin at Saboten can cost you around 290thb.  The portions are large, the flavor authentic and the atmosphere unique. I could be somewhere in Soho.

Would I go back again? Yes I will.   It’s one of those places that isn’t pretentious, the food good and a nice hideaway from the crowds of Bangkok city.  Itadakimasu.

Bangkok Dining: Pizzazo Bistro


It’s been awhile since I reviewed any restaurants or travel places and my brain tingles thinking about all the different options I have available. There are many new and good places to write about and thinking about them is making my stomach growl. (My brain is literally sending eating signals to the rest of the body.) Tonight, Pizzazo Bistro wins. It’s a French and Italian casual dining place that offers both french food and pizzas.

It’s a fairly new place that opened towards the end of 2011 and I have to say that even though it was new, service was already good. I didn’t have to sit around and wave my hands looking for some service or note how they were new. The service was well trained and they stood at just the right distance waiting to be called, but not to make us uncomfortable. Wonderful. There are not many casual dining places that offer good service. Oh, I have to mention that even though we had brought along a birthday cake from elsewhere, the restaurant put it on a lovely plate for us and even decorated the plate! That is what I call good service. Thank you. It’s these little things that matter.

What about the all important factor to a restaurant..the food? The food was as the description calls, a mixture of French and Italian casual dining. They had a wide variety on the menu ranging from cheese salads to pizzas, calzonies, and risottos. My favorites I have to say were the black squid ink spagetti, risotto and cheese. The pasta was done al dente, the sauce just good, and the presentation beautiful. The pizzas were good also if you like thin crusted pizzas and are health conscious (they have whole wheat options), but I have to admit nothing yet beats the pizzas at Limoncello or the truffle oil infused mascarpone foccacia at Biscotti. Those I have to say are the best in town.

Ambiance? It’s a renovated house from the 1960’s so you have the lovely home atmosphere but with the added modern kitchen outfront that lets you see the food being cooked. I went there during lunch and I found it very relaxing, especially if you want a quiet restaurant away from all the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. They have outdoor seating also if you like the outdoors, but I think that better be saved for cooler days. I haven’t been in the evening, but some friends have and I they seemed to like the atmosphere. I suppose with the big trees in the garden and the lighting, it must be a cosy restaurant to go to. Maybe a nice romantic quiet dinner this Valentine’s 🙂

What about price? The pizzas were around 300-400 baht, and the spaghetti and risotto I think around 200-300 thb. The price nowadays at most italian dining places.

So if you want somewhere relaxing to stop by for a dish of spaghetti or pizza, then go to Pizzazo Bistro. Here’s their website: http://www.pizzazobistro.com The great thing is that they also have some parking so its quite convenient for get-togethers. Buon Appetito!

Old Bangkok Dining: Vegetarian at Thamna on Samsen

The vegetarian festival is coming up soon in Bangkok and so if you are looking for somewhere that serves delicious vegetarian food, I recommend this little restaurant called “Thamna”.  This literally translates to “farming” in Thai.   It’s a lovely little eatery that opened up roughly two years ago and is very close to my office, so close that I had not written about it.  It is, however, one of my all time favorites and somewhere where you can go have a healthy meal.

It’s a tiny little shop with a cosy ambiance and soft music playing in the background.  Paintings line the walls and it has a somewhat artistic feel to it.  It has roughly 6 tables so I recommend making a reservation if you plan to go there during the peak hours of noon.  Office workers from nearby go to this shop during the lunch break.

What kind of food do they serve?  It’s a vegetarian restaurant so no meat is served here, only vegetables and lots and lots of mushrooms.  I love mushrooms so this is a wonderful restaurant for me.  They cook up mushrooms in different ways.  I always order the mushroom puff balls which is mushroom mixed into a little ball and fried.  It’s not greasy and is served with salad and dressing.. Somewhat like a takoyaki but with mushrooms.

Then there’s the somtum (papaya salad) which is another favorite.  They serve the papaya salad with mushrooms that have been shredded and cooked in such a way that it resembles dried pork.  It also comes with sushi which is made of brown rice wrapped in seaweed.  I love it’s originality.

If you want something a little tastier, I liked the spring rolls with three types of mushrooms stir fried in curry.  For something more filling, they also have sphaghetti stir fried with three types of mushrooms.   They also have tofu dishes and curries which are also equally delicious.

What about the price?  Together with two glasses of herbal drinks, and a whole coconut, four dishes (papaya salad, sphaghetti, mushroom puff balls, and mushroom spring roll) the receipt came out to 590 thb.   It’s slightly pricey for the area, but then you have the lovely ambiance, the soft music and the quality organic food.  For a good healthy meal, I think it’s well worth it!

Location? It’s located on Samsen Road between Soi 3 and Soi 5, and within walking distance from Banglumpoo.   If you are visiting the Grand Palace and walking around the Old Bangkok area, its not too far, so a nice place to go rest those tired legs. It’s also just around ten minutes walk from KhaoSan Road.  There is no parking, but you could find a spot somewhere in the sois nearby.  I recommend taking the taxi if you don’t want to risk having to go round and round looking for parking.  it. For reservations, call tel. +662- 282-4979 or mobile 086-662-6060.

Have a healthy meal everyone! 🙂

Bangkok Dining: Wine I love you @ CDC

Finally the weekend is here and what else is there to think about other than good food and good company?  (I, however, will be home resting since the flu has caught up on me and going around with my sore throat and stuffy nose is just not good).    Although my tastebuds are currently tasteless from the flu, I do have some craving for some sphaghetti and hamburgers which reminded me of this place I went to a few weekends ago.  It’s called “Wine I Love You” and is located at the CDC also known as Crystal Design Centre.
I have to admit, the last time I went to CDC was when it was just newly opened with few shops and hardly any people.  Now on weekends, it’s bustling and full of activity. Absolutely amazing.  With shops, comes restaurants and wanting to try something new, Alex and I decided to try out “Wine I Love You.”

The decor has a bistro kind of feel to it, and it reminds me of a wonderful hamburger place I went to in D.C.  I felt like I was living somewhere else other than Bangkok.   The decor was lovely, wine decorated the walls, and the high ceiling made it feel spacious.  The seating, however, was a bit uncomfortable.  Or maybe I just got one with a low table, but others seemed okay with it.   The music also seemed somewhat off with the place.  I would think that if they played jazz it would have been a better choice, but instead it was a mix of pop rock music.

Food?  They serve western dishes, from salads to spaghetti, sandwiches and even pizza.  We ordered the spaghetti carbonara and a lamb hamburger.  Yes, we were not on a diet.  It was a hot, humid day and we were both hungry.  Eat then exercise.  That’s what we do.  All exercise and no eating makes life no fun.

What did I think of the food?  The sphaghetti was delicious.  I loved the creamy texture and it wasn’t
too salty.  I finished the entire dish by myself, however, it was served with an extra egg yolk and after a few bites it started making the dish a bit too rich for me.  Definitely not something to eat if you are watching your cholesterol level.  If, however, you really enjoy the dish rich and creamy, this is the one for you.  The hamburger too was good.  Medium rare it was juicy, and served with large fries.  Not spectacular, but a satisfying hamburger.

I think the fact that service was extremely slow might have affected the overall experience.   It took a while for the spaghetti to arrive and the hamburger took what seemed a very long time to arrive.  We finished the spaghetti, sat and chatted, asked about our hamburger, and still it did not arrive.   The staff were cordial, thought we would have appreciated a little more attention or a little “sorry” considering how long it took for the food to arrive.

The price was reasonable for a nicely decorated fashionable place.  The two dishes amounted to a little less than 500thb.  Yes, its a great place to go chill and enjoy the ambiance if you are in no rush and do not mind waiting.  Perhaps the low table offers a good excuse to lean in to talk to the other person opposite you.  Perhaps at night it is a good place for drinks and wine.   I must go see it in the evening one day.

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: Taling Ping

Since my good friends are out eating at Taling Ping today (which I have to skip due to a bad stomach)  I thought I’d write about this restaurant that is a great place to take guests from out of town or a place to have little reunions over authentic Thai food.  The great thing about this restaurant is that it has expanded from it’s original location on Silom’s Pun Road to the convenience of Siam Paragon and Central World Shopping Malls.  All within BTS access.  Wonderful if you are meeting friends who are coming from different parts of Bangkok.

Taling Ping is somewhere I always take my guests from out-of-town for a relaxing dinner combined with some shopping.  It serves traditional Thai cuisine with a good ambiance and good service.  Make sure you get there early for the seats fill up quite quickly.  Their food is reliable and the taste is consistent no matter where or when you go.

There are a few favorites of mine at the restaurant.  I especially like
the basic chicken wrapped in pandan leaves.  It’s something I’ve had since I was little, it’s not spicy and it’s delicious.  Their curries are equally tasty. They of course have the Tom Yum, Kaeng Som as well as red curry with mushrooms.  To have a balance meal, they also have an assortment of stir fried vegetables which all taste good.  Hmm..thinking of it makes my mouth water.

Their menu comes with pictures so if you are not familiar with the names of Thai dishes, the pictures are a great help. 😛 The prices are also quite reasonable ranging from 150-250 per dish.  Service is good and seats comfortable (which enables you to have a good long dinner.)

The original restaurant is on Soi Pun, Silom Road but there are also two other locations which are in Siam Paragon and Central World Shopping.
At Paragon it is on the Ground floor towards the North Side and at Central World it is on the third floor.

Okay my stomach is growling now so I’d better go.  Remember, if you have out of town guests, Taling Ping is one option for Thai food which is especially useful when you find yourself taking them shopping 🙂  Enjoy!

Bangkok dining: The Garret @ Ekamai

Today I had a wonderful girls day out with a group of friends I’ve known since I was still in fifth grade.  Gosh it was a long time ago, but it’s always good to see everyone again.  We use birthdays as an excuse to catch up, chit chat and try out new restaurants.  Today the birthday girl decided that we go try out this restaurant ontop of the Mini showroom called “The Garret.” We all loved it and spent a good few hours there enjoying the company, the food, and the ambiance. Thank you for finding this place 🙂

Now I’m a big fan of Mini Coopers which made the journey to the final destination that much more fun.   I got there early, walked around the showroom and immersed myself in the cuteness of Mini Cooper.  There’s something about it that just makes you smile when you see it.  Especially when they are there sitting in rows as if it were waiting for me to just pop in and take a ride.  It pains me to think that if I lived in the US it would be much much cheaper than in Bangkok (tax is around 240%) and it would cost less than my  little white Honda Jazz.  Oh well.  One can’t have everything in life.

 I eventually make it to “The Garet Secret Bistro Bar.”  I have no clue what the name means and google enlightens me with a definition “An attic or semi-finished room just beneath the roof of a house.”  It makes perfect sense.  This is a room above the Mini showroom. I wonder though,  Why is it secret?  If anyone knows, please let me know. Thank you.

I like the atmosphere.  Being lunchtime, it was nice and airy with a rooftop view of Bangkok. Colours are my thing and I particularly enjoyed the splashes of colours here and there that were used in the room’s interior.  The yellow and slate coloured uniforms of the waiters and waitresses and the green background of the bar contrasted with yellow lampshades.  The dark red cushions with wooden chairs gives the place a comfortable and warm ambiance.  It was a relaxing place to be, not too overdone.   There’s a bicycle by the entrance and some random pieces of sculpture and an old telephone.  It goes well nevertheless.

We stayed there until almost 3pm.  A three hour lunch.

I think the fact that once the few tables that ate at the place finished their lunch, it seemed like we had the place to ourselves.  You might wonder why were there so few people? I wondered too.  I think it’s because it’s probably a place that’s more frequented at night than during the day time.

The food was my cup of tea.  I like food like this. I like burgers, big juicy ones where you can take big satisfying bites into.  They have a page full of burgers for you to choose from ranging from Wagyu Chunk beef burger (950thb), Lamb burger (390thb), to Foie Gras Burger (570thb).   I also liked the fact that you can choose what time of bread you want, your side dishes, and if you want truffle french fries it’s an additional 100thb.  Not bad.  I wanted it to be as good as the Shoestring truffle fries at PS Cafe in Singapore, but it wasn’t.  It was good juicy fries, but I wished there were more truffle.

 

If you are not a meat eater (as were some of my friends), the spaghetti were just as good.  The Italian sausage with spicy tomato sauce (280thb) was indeed spicy, and the parmigiana (350thb) was good.

Dessert was also not bad.  We had the molten chocolate (which wasn’t very molten, but that maybe because we spent too much time looking and taking pictures that the chocolate continued to cook inside), the Apple Garret (190thb) whch is really lovely tin slices of apple pie served with custard and Pineapple Tarte Tartin (190thb). 

Portion sizewise it is also quite reasonable and if you don’t eat too much any main can easily be shared for two.  We just went all out and ate our hearts out.  13 dishes for six people not including drinks.  Yes we ate that much.  I counted.  Tomorrow I’m going to have to make up by running my heart out and doing extra cardio, but it was worth it.  What’s exercise if you can’t enjoy life now and then right?

The service was also wonderful.  There are plenty of staff and when I asked them to bring out some cake I had bought for the Bday girl and asked them to put on some candles, they did so happily.  Everything came out on a beautiful platter and a candle for wish to blow on.  Thank you Garet 🙂

So if you want somewhere secluded, fun, and good food, I recommend “The Garet” during lunchtime.  In the evening I’m sure there’ll be a different vibe, with the balcony and people walking out and about. If you have Citibank, it gives you  25 percent discount on food!!! Woa….  I like it and as it goes, no I’m not getting paid to write this.  I don’t even know who the owners are.  Check out their website:  http://www.thegarretbistrobar.com/

 

Bon appetit!