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.

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Skinny Pizza at Fou de Fafa, Singapore

After a night here and a day full of activities and meeting people, I feel myself settling in and getting in pace for the next two weeks.  Being around the business district on weekends can be a bit quiet, almost isolated, but on weekdays there is a whole different energy. There are people walking around each going on their way, each with their own lives.  The energy then settles when we get to dinner time and everyone goes get something to fill their empty stomachs.   This past evening I got to reunite with a good old friend who lives here in Singapore and she introduced me to this new kind of pizza that is currently in trend in Singapore. It’s called “Skinny pizza.”

Now I’ve never heard anything about it, but it sounded delicious. Anything with “pizza” sounds good to me but I have to beware of the cheese that comes with it.  My friend tells me that its pizza made of extremely thin crust topped with vegetables and other toppings of choice.  It wasn’t baked or filled with grilled cheese like normal pizzas.  It was healthy, yet it was a “pizza.”  What a contradiction right?

I had to try it.  We went to this little cafe called “Fou de Fafa.” It’s at the base of Capital Tower Building on Robinson Road.  It’s a little place that is full of colour and unlike the usual cafe.  It has a little bohemian feel to it with painted tables and chairs and in various colours.  Tables come in various sizes, some large, some small and the menu is handwritten on blackboards with funky names.  It’s all healthy with sandwiches and other unique dishes with healthy vegetables.  Hence the name…french is always a good language for restaurants and to be “fou” or crazy for “fafa” or vegetable is always a good thing. I try the specialty “Pizza Fou’d.”  This skinny pizza is actually thin crispy dough with toppings of creative salads.

Perfect.  Perfect for someone who is in search of something healthy yet delicious and not confined to eating the conventional salads.  We order the chicken pizza to share and its huge..for S$20.   It’s the size of a large pizza yet the topping is filled with carefully sliced avocado, rocket salad, tomato and shredded chicken.  A few other things are mixed with it and the sauce blends everything together perfectly.  I love it.

I hear its extremely busy during lunch time which is not suprising, but in the evenings there are only a handful of people.  Perfect for those needing some quiet space.   I feel like I should go back….but there is much to explore here… Thank you for taking me there 🙂 I had a wonderful time and what better place than to go catch up with good friends over a healthy dinner?  See you again soon!

Singapore’s Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice

Yes, I’m traveling again.  This time though is not to the incredible pyramids of Egypt or the fish market in Japan.  I’m in Singapore, the Merlion City where much happens in this tiny island of only 274 sq miles (710 sq km).  It’s small yet there is diversity and it is ever changing.  The last time I was here was over three years ago and since then much has changed.  On my way from the airport I saw many new  buildings.  I see construction going on in small roads and corners.  It is a city that is continuing to evolve and develop.  No wonder it is one of the region’s financial centres and has one of the busiest ports in the world.

Whenever I come to Singapore, two things (not including work) always pop into mind:  Shopping and Eating.  Shopping here for certain goods are cheaper than in Bangkok.  Foodwise, I just love certain dishes that cannot be had in the same way in Thailand.  One of those dishes is the Hainanese Chicken Rice.

What’s so special about the chicken here than the ones in Bangkok?  For me, its the tenderness of the chicken.  The chicken here seem to be much meatier and so soft it just blends into the rice.  Chicken rice hmm… They go so well together.  I have it without skin and bone which cuts out more than half of the calories but it is still absolutely delicious.  Probably around 500 calories in total and equal to roughly over an hour of running,  I save my indulgences for only the worthwhile dishes.

There is one place that sells Hainanese chicken which I love in Singapore and its called “Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice.”  Luckily for me its close to my hotel. It takes me only 10 minutes walking to get there.  This place is located in the Maxwell Foodcourt on the corner or Maxwell Road and South Bridge Road.  On the outside it looks just like any other food court, but once you get to Stall No. 10 and 11 (which is Tian Tian) you spot a long line of people waiting for their orders.  Other stalls are quiet in comparison whilst at 5.30pm Tian Tian had a 10 people queue.  The orders are taken very fast though so don’t worry about having a long wait.  Everyone knows his job.

On my first night in Singapore I have chicken rice.  It’s so delicious and I will certainly have more before I go home.  I have also been asked to bring it back to Thailand.  Ordered beforehand, Tian Tian can apparently pack the chicken in a box appropriate for travel.  Wonderful 😀  So if you are craving some chicken in Singapore, I recommend this place… Oh, it’s closed on Mondays so don’t go there.  They also have a website! http://www.tiantianchickenrice.com/  Now everything has a website..  Bon appetit!

The Anna Restaurant & Art Gallery

The festive season has begun and with it comes the time for gatherings and reunions. Although we don’t have the whole Christmas feel in Bangkok just yet it is coming. I start to hear Christmas songs and the shops are all changing their displays. Now all we need is abit of snow in Bangkok. So with all these festivities going on, it is of course the time to go out and meet friends. Friends you haven’t met in a long time, friends who are back on a visit and friends who just want to hang out and have a good time. Last weekend I went to meet some good old friends whom I’ve known ever since I can remember. We went to this new restaurant called “The Anna Restaurant and Art Gallery.”

It’s a cute restaurant and one that is simple in its furnishings yet pleasing to the eye. It’s housed in a relatively large compound of an old styled Thai wooden house whose interiros have been fully renovated. The ambiance is white, clean and homey. I could easily be eating at home but with the added benefit of a full menu and wonderfully friendly staff. They have many rooms, but the one we sat in was especially refreshing with big windows. The corner I sat in was close to some trees so we felt like we were sitting in a little conservatory. I like being able to look out and see the blue sky and some trees.

There is also a lot of space which is something I love. Your seat is comfortably set apart from the other table so you don’t feel like you are imposing on them or happen to just hear their conversation. At Anna restaurant, you have your privacy and the table is large enough for all your food. Large enough but not too large to make conversation difficult. Perfect. It’s always these little details that matter.

For those who seek quiet restaurants, this one should is quite good. Despite being a restaurant where people seem to like having birthday gatherings, (there were at least three large tables with birthdays that day) the noise level remained at a reasonable level. There wasn’t the constant ring of noises going through your ears. My ears felt comfortably quite.

Now for the most important part: the food. The food was good and the menu serves Thai food as well as some western dishes. The Thai food all tasted good and were seasoned to fit everyone’s taste. Not too spicy, not too bland. They had dishes ranging from all the yums (thai salads), curries, vegetables and noodles to smoked salmon salad, spinach gratin, and even lamb. Being the confused Bangkokians we are these days, my table had both Thai and western dishes and we ate them all together. They were all delicious but not out of this world or a five star Michelin. It’s a wonderful restaurant to go hang-out and have reliably good food. Home cooking at its best.

I liked a certain Thai noodle dish made of shanghai glass noodles (that’s what we call them in Thai). The baked spinach gratin was also very good as well as the Casablanca lamb served with Roti. They were also presented beautifully which is always a feast for the eyes. Dessert was also good. They had a long list of cakes to choose from and all looked extremely tempting. There was the Banoffee (which seems to be a Thai favorite), Lemon Tart, Apple Crumble….etc…

What about service? Service was friendly and attentive. I didn’t have to wave my hand around to get attention, I was spotted whenever I needed someone. Oh, and if it’s your birthday all the waiters will temporarily stop and come sing you a big birthday song!!! The owner also came walking around to see how everyone was and if the food was okay. You can tell that he is clearly paying close attention to all that’s happening. Thank you!

In conclusion, this is a great place to go for all those reunions, birthday parties, or just a big family gathering. The food is great, the ambiance wonderful, and there is ample parking. If you go on the weekend, being located on Soi Pipat off from Sathorn Road (the business district) there is hardly any traffic. I took the BTS (skytrain) to Chong Nonsri and it was only a five minute walk. Price was extremely reasonable too. Having ordered ALOT of food, the bill ended up being roughly around 500-600thb ($16-20) per person. They also have a website: http://www.theannarestaurant.com/

And if you wondering, NO I am not getting paid to review this place. 🙂 Although I wouldn’t mind being paid to go try out restaurants….. hmm…

If there is a particular restaurant you love and would like to share it with us, please let us know! I would be more than happy to hear from you. Have a happy festive season! 🙂

Ramen at Ra-men Restaurant

I love lazy Sundays. I love it especially when the weather is not so warm outside and there are Christmas songs playing wherever you go. I love the feeling of not having to rush anywhere or having to be at a certain place in time for an appointment. What better day then than to go explore a new restaurant and find something good to fill our stomachs? Today, Alex and I went to a new ramen place recommended by my brother. Thank you. The ramen was absolutely delicious. It’s name is easy to remember. It’s called Ra-men Restaurant. What do they serve? Ramen.

The ramen I have to say was one of the best ramens I’ve had in Bangkok so far. Chabuton was good but slightly too salty for my taste. Ramentei is delicious, but the ramen at Ra-men restaurant was good. Very good. The soup wasn’t salty and the noodles the right consistency. I had “Hiyashi” which is the cold ramen noodle topped with vegetables and pork. I loved it, and despite it’s huge portion size, I finished it all. Alex had the pork ramen with soup. His was also delicious and the soup tasted wonderful. You can tell that this wasn’t mass produced. The ramen at this place gets top stars from me.

Now for the ambiance. I wasn’t really expecting anything fancy or super nice for a ramen restaurant but I have to say this place was quite unexpected. It’s a small restaurant, which is acceptable. I understand the lack of space, but there are certain things that somehow I just cannot quite overlook despite the wonderful food. The first thing that hits you is the smell. The place absolutely has a problem with ventilation and the smell hits you smack in the face even for someone with a blocked nose like me. It’s not a place you’ll take someone out on a first or second date. Both of you will come out smelling of food. The smell stuck for quite a bit afterwards.

I might be a bit picky, but when I see glass used for doors and walls, I like that glass to look clean. The glass here wasn’t. Some cobwebs were spotted. Looking at how inventory was arranged or how clean the place was, I felt like this place was perhaps a restaurant that the owner opened up a while ago. He/She probably got it up and running and haven’t really been around to look at it much. While these thoughts were flowing through my head, I did hear the telephone ring and the lady picks up to talk to the “Boss.” I hear her reply that the flow of customers was steady and mention something about noodles. I wonder if they are brought fresh here from somewhere.

Other than the decor, this ramen place was also quite amusing. The staff were trained to be very japanese-like. Whenever the head chef said out the order, all the other staff would reply and say “ka” in a very japanese style. They sounded japanese while working, and when customers left you would here the customary “thank you” in japanese. It all sounds japanese until they start relaxing and then I start hearing the North-eastern dialect. It’s funny.

Where is this place? It’s right next to Emporium Department Store on Sukhumvit Soi 24. It’s on the same side as the department store, and if you exit the department store from the perfume section its on your left. Okay in conclusion, food at Ra-men Restaurant is top quality, price range on the high side,.. (270thb for a Hiyashi Ramen, 230thb for the Pork Ramen), but ambiance is….hmm… you read it. If you aren’t too picky about smell and ambiance, but love good ramen then this is the place for you.

For me, this is one of the places that Alex calls “A place where you love the food, but can’t stand the ambiance.” Do you know any other places like this? Please share 🙂