February 21, 2017

Bangkok 2017 day 4: 130-year-old mee krob

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I'm still on the hunt for some old school Thai food in Bangkok, and today I chose to venture to the other side of the Chao Praya River to a place with a long history.  My friend the Peranakan Baba had done an extensive tour of old school establishments in the city 2 months ago, and Tek Heng (เต็กเฮง, 符德興) was one of the places he found.  Apparently the Teochew family has been running this place for more than 130 years, and is famous for having served their mee krob to King Chulalongkorn back in the day.

We were lucky that the Great One and her Thai friend were coming along with us, and we were able to ask for directions in Thai.  The restaurant suggested that we take the BTS and get off at Talat Phlu, then grab a taxi and ask to be taken to the "King Rama V restaurant".  I guess everyone in that neighbourhood knows about this place!  Anyway, the four of us ended up getting on 4 separate mototaxis, and were promptly dropped off at the location by the river.

February 20, 2017

Bangkok 2017 day 3: Le D'oh!

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A few of my friends have previously enjoyed their meals at Le Du, and when people talk about fine dining or chefs doing creative things to modernize Thai cuisine, this place often gets mentioned.  So when I was choosing a venue for a gathering with friends from New York, Singapore, and Melbourne, this was the chosen one.  Of course, it didn't hurt that the restaurant was within walking distance from the serviced apartments where 4 of us were staying.

I was rather surprised at the no-frills decor of the place.  Low ceilings and bare cement walls.  In fact, the place was so minimalist that there was nothing to absorb any noise, so the restaurant was very, very boisterous.  We had to up our own volumes in order to carry on a conversation with friends across the table.  Not a great ambiance for me - especially when I was expecting (perhaps mistakenly) fine dining on the table.

There was never any question that I would take the full 6-course tasting menu, although a few of us did take the shorter, 4-course menu.

Amuse bouche -
Tomato soup with oregano salt - very creamy, with thick texture like crème fraîche.

Pineapple jelly, caramelized nuts

Lotus flower with Thai salad - with shredded carrots, chopped ginger, dried shrimp, and lime paste.  Kinda like miang kham (เมี่ยงคำ).

Bangkok 2017 day 3: the Tanao trio

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One of the things I really wanted to do on this trip was to check out some old school Thai restaurants that have been running for a few generations, and I thought I'd start by going back to Chote Chitr.  It was where I had my last meal before my self-imposed exile, and I was curious to see how the place had changed (or not) after 9 years.

We arrived pretty late, and the place was practically empty.  Hello Kitty got herself a bottle of Chang, and I picked out three dishes for our meal - knowing that there were still two stops I wanted to hit after lunch...

Banana flowers spicy salad (ยำหัวปลี) - this is one of the signature dishes here, and I never got to eat it the first time, so it was an itch I needed to scratch. Unfortunately, this wasn't anything to write home about.  The chicken was bland and boring, and even the diced banana flower was unremarkable.

February 19, 2017

Bangkok 2017 day 2: a painfully long dinner

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I'm on a mission to check out more fine dining Thai restaurants in Bangkok, and among the usual suspects - at least for us tourists - is Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin.  This sister location of the Danish restaurant holding a Michelin star for its modern Thai cuisine sits on the ground floor of the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, and the very high ceilings here provides a nice and relaxing feel while dining.  This feeling of tranquility was enhanced by seating us in one of the booths with very high backs - helping to shut off some of the noise from our surroundings.  Unfortunately, neither the service nor the cuisine were relaxing.

I had gotten some unenthusiastic feedback from a couple of friends who had tried the cuisine here before, but I was undaunted.  I'm a big fan of chefs who try to deliver modern versions of traditional cuisines with long histories - especially when molecular/modernist techniques are involved - so I was always curious about this place.  Tonight was the opportunity to check this box.

Our welcome drink of chilled lemongrass and pandan tea seemed to be a popular choice among restaurants in this city, but thankfully it's also one that I love.

There was never any question that I would be taking the "Journey" tasting menu, which includes 10 courses preceded by a number of bites.  Halfway through the menu, I would come to the realization that this was simply too much food to stomach.

February 18, 2017

Bangkok 2017 day 1: the most anticipated dinner of the year?

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I'm blessed to be able to call Gaggan Anand a friend.  I've been a big fan of his cuisine since first getting a taste of it about 2½ years ago, and my fondness has only increased with my visit to his restaurant last year.  He's been extremely nice to me both in person and over social media, and I'm very grateful for his kindness.

I always knew that I would take Hello Kitty to Gaggan on this trip, but when I found out via Instagram posts from the two chefs that Hasegawa Zaiyu (長谷川在佑) from Den (傳) was going a 4-hands dinner with Gaggan in Bangkok, it didn't take me long to ask my friend to save seats for Hello Kitty and I at this special collaboration.  And since the Great One was gonna be in town at the same time, we decided to go to the special event together.

I had never had the pleasure of dining at Den, but given all the glowing reviews from the Great One and plenty of other friends, it's been on my list of places to hit in Tokyo for some time.  This would be somewhat of a preview...

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