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. 🙂 tel: 02-619-9952




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: 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: Mexican Food @ La Monita

Sunday night is here and finally this writer gets to continue on with her blog. The fast few days have just been hectic, tiring and not enough “me” time. There have been some comments that I haven’t been reviewing enough restaurants so tonight I want to share with you a Mexican restaurant that just makes you feel like you are in the Americas.

It certainly does remind me of college days when we’d go to Happy Hour after hours or after late study sessions at night to munch on quesadillas and nachos. Since moving back, I’ve been only to a few places that serve good quesadillas, nachos and other mexican foods. La Monita is one of the better ones.

The first time I went to La Monita was about a year ago when it was just newly opened. Near to the Ploenchit BTS station it is only a few minutes walk to the row of shop houses neighboring Mahatun Plaza where the restaurant is open. I went with a long time friend of mine and together we ate several dishes, all were delicious and good. The restaurant itself was relatively quiet with only a handful of tables, dim lighting and relaxed service. You felt like you were in some remote Mexican restaurant. What I did notice though was that most of the clientele were expatriates. I kept in mind that I will have to go back and eat there again.

This past week, I had the opportunity to go back with another group of friends and what a surprise I had. Within the space of one year, the restaurant had expanded to occupy a neighboring shop house and it was brimming with clients. In the new adjoining section, they even had a second floor as as far I could see, all the tables were occupied. Reservations were needed. This restaurant was no longer a remote little place, it was now a hot and happening place. I even unexpectedly ran into a couple of old friends whom I had not met in a long time.

Okay so its now a busy restaurant with lots of people, but what about the food? The food was still as good as I remembered it to be. I love quesadillas and the ones at La Monita come with a choice of fillings and size. You can have either the ten-inch or twelve-inch quesadilla depending upon your appetite. I had the chicken ten-inch one and I have to say that it was very satisfying. The filling was well cooked and the guacamole is just enough to give it bite and taste.

I also had the soft-flour Tacos and those were equally satisfying. Soft wrappings with lots of stuffings have always been a type of food I enjoy and especially so when the filling isn’t too rich nor heavy. Their beef nachos were also delicious as well as rice with a kind of cuban topping. (If I remember correctly) They also have a number of other dishes on the menus including ensaladas, but since the dishes are relatively large, we could not stuff ourselves with anymore food.

If you want some drinks to go along with your dishes, they also serve drinks so its a good place to go for some “happy hours.”

The decor is simple and in bright colours which liven up the place. The seats are simple benches or if you want a higher view, they also have high chairs to go with the high tables that line the front of the restaurant.

The service is fast, efficient and friendly. Overall, I think La Monita is a great place to go hang out with friends, colleagues for a relaxing Mexican meal of Tacos, Quesadillas and Nachos 🙂 Buen Provecho!

Bangkok Must See: Relax at Pra Athit Road

There’s a road in the old part of Bangkok (now often called Rattanakosin Island), that I enjoy visiting not only for the food but also for the ambiance.  This row of old shop houses has stood the test of time and now caters to a young and funkier crowd that I guess would never have crossed the original owners’ mind.  Located next to Thailand’s second oldest universities, and adjacent to the backpacker haven of “KhaoSan Road,”  students, artists, and those seeking an alternative atmosphere come here to dine, listen to Jazz and walk in the park.

Although it has changed much over the years, some of it still remains the same.  The old shop houses most date back roughly a hundred years and the old fortress of Pra Sumen date back to time of King Rama I.  It is one of only two remaining from the original fourteen built.  It’s ancient yet it stands there towering above the park and Pra Athit Road for all to see and to admire.  It’s now part of the Santichaiprakarn Park which occupies an area between the fortress and the Chaopraya river. 

It’s one of my favorite parks and when the weather isn’t too hot, I’d sometimes go and sit there looking out across the river during lunch.  It’s been awhile since I did that, but it used to be one of my favorite pastimes.   It’s relaxing to just watch the water or just simple observe human activity. There’d be people reading, people having a picnic, some practicing juggling, some artists, or couples out for a chit chat.  There’d be older people out too on their daily work.  In one part of the park, not far from the Sala, there is a little walkway that takes you out towards the river and onto a walkway that runs along the lenght of the river.  It’s beautiful.

Okay, so I’ve gone on at lenght about the park, I’ll now mention a favorite few restaurants that are worth visiting if you need somewhere to go for a good lunch.  I’ll start from the area neigbouring the Pra Sumen Fortress and run along the road down towards Thammasat University

1. Roti Mataba:  This is a classic muslim restaurant where you can have the chicken with saffron rice, mutton curry, fish curry, roti, and mataba.  Their menu is a lot more diverse than this, you’d just have to go check it out for yourself.  It’s a tiny little shop house, but they have upstairs dining in an airconditioned room.  Oh, it’s closed on Mondays so don’t go there 🙂

2.  A newly opened Chicken Curry Rice (ข้าวหน้าไก่)  shop just opened not far from Roti Mataba and their chicken curry is delicious.  Although new, it comes from the original shop that is well-known for it’s chicken curry in the five intersection area near Chinatown.  You can opt to have the chicken rice with either rice, steamed yellow egg noodles or friend yellow egg noodles.   I like them all.

3.  If you want Italian Food in an atsphere that takes you away from local Bangkok, then go to Primavera.  They serve lunch sets and for a couple hundred baht you can have soup, salad and a main course. Their food is average but the wooden walls give it a cosy feeling.

4.There’s Gingerbread House on the corner just opposite the fortress that sells cakes and coffee.  It’s very small, and has very few seating but I like the way they decorated the shop. It makes you feel like you are really in “old bangkok.”

5.  If you want beef noodles, there is the famous beef noodle soup restaurant.  It’s not the clear soup kind so it can get a bit “beefy,” but its a good place to go have simple beef noodle shops.  It occupies two shop houses so it’s pretty big, but their’s no aircondition so it can get a bit warm.

6. Further along the middle of Pra Athit Road in the area opposite the World Bank’s FAO and UNICEF offices you’ll see a row of shop houses that have been new renovated.  One of my favorite shops there is “Saffron” which is a little restaurant and bakery.  They serve homemade traditional thai food and delicious cake in a cosy homey feel.  My favorite is always the rice with pork fried with green chilli and for dessert I like the banoffee.  Mind you, they also have waffles with ice cream as well as another whole shelf filled with different kind of chocolate brownies, blackforest cakes, orange cake, cherry pies, and cookies… There are so many I can never resist the temptation to buy some home.  Oh, it’s airconditioned so that makes it even better. There’s only around 4 tables so be sure to make a reservation or go there early.

7. Not far from Saffron is a Thai restaurant called “Hemlock” that only opens in evenings, but it’s a great place to take visitors from abroad if you decide to visit the area for dinner.  Their restaurant is minimalist and upstairs also serves as a little art gallery.  They serve traditional thai food and the shop is cosy you can spend a good hour or so there.

8.  Another place I like is “Ricky’s Coffee Shop.”It moved from it’s original location but that’s because it was doing so well it had to expand.  It’s a favorite amongst my colleages and I for it serves both Thai, Mexican, fusion and a number of foods.   I like their fried rice with potataoes and veggies, their tuna salad, quesadilla, nachos, sphaghetti with bacon and garlic and various open sandwiches.  It also opens for breakfast which makes it my breakfast place when I decide to go on a walking tour of Old Bangkok.  They serve omelettes, bagels, croissants and coffee… All taste good and for a very reasonable price too.  If you like mango, they do an awesome mango smoothie.  I also think they sell on of the best bagels in town.  I really do like it more than Au Bon Pain’s version.   Now I feel like going there sometime this week..

9.  If you are looking for another nice restaurant in the evenings with a view of the river, there is also Navalai River Resort opposite the street.  I’ve yet to eat there, but I’ve walked around and the view is beautiful.  You sit there on a deck overlooking the river.  I’ve also heard that the food there is quite good.

Hmm…I could go on, but I think this post is getting slightly long. 🙂  Hope you all enjoy dining on Pra Athit Road! I really will need to go take some more snapshops next time I visit :)..Sometimes things so close by, don’t get recorded as much as it should!

Singapore’s Clarke Quay: Life through time

This trip I’ve been to Clarke Quay already three times and everytime it gives me a different vibe. It’s strange this area by the Singapore River but I like it and am at the same time impressed by it.

The first time I went there this trip was on a group tour to take the “Bumboat.”  I’ve been to Singapore so many times but never took the bumboat and so I decided to join it this trip.  I enjoy being the tourist no matter how “touristy” it is and I especially enjoy anything to do with water and rivers.  It’s so calming and relaxing.  We get there at around 9.30am and Clarke Quay resembles a deserted town.  All the shops and restaurants are shut and not a single soul is to be seen.  It’s quiet.  This part of Singapore has not yet awakened.  Only after nearing the crossing roads do we spot a few people.  They are runners out for their morning jog. Healthy people.

It’s quite educational this trip.  I learn that this beautiful area where the shops are painted in different colours and there are outdoor seatings by the singapore river was once the “Stinking sewer” of Singapore.  After the advent of large containers, the bumboats that used to bring goods back and forth to Singapore were abandoned as were the trading houses and warehouses along this river.  People disregarded the river and everything you shouldn’t throw into the river was thrown there.  It stank and it was polluted.  Then in 1977 the Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was said to utter the words “Clean it up.”   It took ten years for the government to clean out this stinking sewer and today its waters are quite clean and it has become a popular place for all to hang out in the evenings.   It gets crazily crowded.

What amazes me though is that this area is also part of the Singapore reservoir and that the long term goal is to make the water drinkable. Imagine that.  Even the bumboats are now operated by batteries so that they don’t pollute the water.

And so in the morning, I am riding down the singapore river in a bumboat with the breeze in my hair. I pass by Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, the Merlion and then out to Marina Bay.  I see a beautiful view of the Marina Bay Sands and hundreds of white balls filled with New Year Wishes of Singaporeans.  It’s relaxing and a great overview to the main sites along the waterway in Singapore. 

I return later that Saturday evening to meet wonderful friends who take me out to enjoy the famous pepper and chilli crab at Jumbo Seafood.  It’s mouthwatering and I eat more than I should.  Food in Singapore is always good and even better when you are with good friends.  We walk around after dinner and the hoards of people are overwhelming.  There are people everywhere,  I hear a couple languages being spoken.  There is a brazillian bar that lures guests with some brazilian dancing.  Guys stop dead in their tracks to watch blocking the passageway.  I wonder if the gimmick works and people actually go in to order food. 
Then  there’s a bar that resembles a clinic. Guests sit in wheelchairs and drink out of hanging blood bags.  It’s a bit too much for me.  At almost midnight, Clarke Quay is still humming full of life on a Saturday evening.

My third visit to Clarke Quay was Sunday evening just before the sunset.  It was not crowded, the shops were open and it was just  lovely to walk along the Quay with my cousin.  I love having relaxing strolls.  If only Alex was here it would be great.  I go have dinner at the Hot Stones restaurant which allows you to cook your own steak on literally hot stones.  Its fun.  The steak stays juicy and delicious.   I make a mental note to buy myself a stone for cooking at home one day…..

There is a certain charm to Clarke Quay.   It’s a mixture of history with modern day life.   Who would imagine 100 years ago that these trading houses and warehouses would one day be converted into restaurants and bars?