April 30, 2024

Simple dinner for two

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Foursheets didn't feel like cooking tonight, as we were on the eve of a public holiday. I was in the mood to pop open a simple bottle over dinner. With the last-minute decision to find somewhere to eat out, it was natural that we would end up at La Maison. I've been there a couple of times, and sometimes the combination of simple food, casual atmosphere, ease of booking, and zero corkage (important to some friends) just makes it a great place to go.

We always start with some bread that is piping hot, and we slice it up ourselves and spread with some butter.

Shrimp toast - this is always a good idea.

April 28, 2024

Scorching Bangkok day 5: teenage memories

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It's my last day in Bangkok, and I'm too lazy to go grab breakfast this morning... especially since I'm having an early lunch. I decided to finish eating all the Thai mandarins (ส้มเขียวหวาน) I bought yesterday. But DAMN! Why do they have so many seeds?!

I checked out of my hotel and got picked up by my friend, who was taking me on a trip down memory lane. When the Parental Units lived here in the late 80s, I spent my summer and winter holidays here with them, and on many days I would come to RBSC Polo Club for lunch. My friend happens to be a member and enjoys dining here, so she was kind enough to treat me to a simple lunch. The weather was just too hot today to be hanging out by the pool, so we opted for the more comfortable surroundings of the Air Bar.

April 27, 2024

Scorching Bangkok day 4: no LV at LV

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Since my last trip to Bangkok, Indian Hairy Legs has launched a new project in collaboration with a major global fashion house. Gaggan at Louis Vuitton opened a few months ago within LV The Place Bangkok at the newly-renovated Gaysorn Amarin. The location - Amarin Plaza - holds memories for me from decades ago when the Parental Units lived in Bangkok. They used to entertain at the Heritage Club on the top floor of the building, and I had occasionally also dined at the McDonald's downstairs - which had been the first one in Thailand, where the prices were shockingly unaffordable by local standards back in the day.

These days Louis Vuitton has taken over a corner of the shopping mall, and in addition to a café on the ground floor, they've opened this restaurant inside the boutique. Now it's my turn to check this place out, and I invited a friend along. Neither of us came dressed in Vuitton like many of the other patrons. In fact, I don't think I don't own any item from them...

To no one's surprise, the iconic Louis Vuitton monogram is everywhere... including on the display plates which, like all the ceramics in the house, were custom made in Arita (有田). By the way, that leather Vivienne napkin ring? Not a souvenir you can keep from the meal. You can probably buy it from the boutique, though...

Scorching Bangkok day 4: ice, rice, baby

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I got out of my hotel reasonably early to run an errand. I had forgotten my notebook computer at home, and a kind soul who happened to travel to Bangkok had brought it with him to his hotel, so I got myself a car and traveled to Bang Na to pick it up.

I needed some breakfast this morning, and since the fish ball noodle shop recommended by a local isn't open, I figured I'll just go back to Ta Chai Sukhothai Noodles (ตาชัยก๋วยเตี๋ยวสุโขทัย), where Indian Hairy Legs brought us to have noodles last year.

As usual, the soup with both fresh and preserved radish comes first.

I chose egg noodles for my Sukhothai noodles (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวสุโขทัย), which I immediately regretted. This was just like the noodles in Cantonese cuisine... I do like the vinegar in the mix together with the ground pork, char siu (叉燒), bean sprouts, and diced string beans. Unfortunately, though, the noodles stuck together in my bowl.

April 26, 2024

Scorching Bangkok day 3: an Indian-Mexican romance

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I had a stop to make before arriving at my next hotel in the middle of the city. A few days ago I had a long-overdue catchup up with senpai, and he connected me with two alumni from our school. These guys were kind enough to take time out to grab a coffee with me, so we met at Roast in EmQuartier with my luggage in tow.

Moving from the riverside to Sindhorn Midtown Hotel Bangkok is meant to make it easier for me to get around the city, as it's a few minutes away from the Chitlom (ชิดลม) BTS Station. I did take the BTS after my coffee to get to the hotel, which wasn't too painful with my luggage. I needed to do some emergency shopping before dinner tonight, and as centralwOrld was not far away, I was able to get there on foot and back easily.

When my Grab driver chose to abandon my fare because he didn't want to get stuck on Sukhumvit for a short fare, I took the BTS and got off at the station nearest to the restaurant, then hopped on the back of a moto taxi to get to my dinner at Ms. Maria and Mr. Singh

I was initially slated to dine alone, but discovered that someone I had been corresponding with online happened to be in Bangkok at the same time, so I invited him to join me at my table. By the time I arrived at the restaurant, I realized that an additional place had been set for Indian Hairy Legs and he would also be joining me.

This is a casual restaurant where the whole family is welcome, and there's no set menu. I decided to leave the choice of dishes up to Vlad - and later Indian Hairy Legs.

Golgappa : chole mousse / pomegranate panipurri - golgappa (गोलगप्पे) is Dehli-style pani puri (पानी पूरी), and inside the crispy shell we had a mouse of white beans and seafood which was nice and creamy. On the side we had a drink made with pomegranate and green mango, which was savory and acidic with spices.

Scorching Bangkok day 3: Bangkok brasserie

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Woke up to another glorious morning in Bangkok, and I was hungry! So I decided to go down and get breakfast in the hotel, which is served at Riva del Fiume Ristorante. I normally don't care for buffet breakfasts but I wanted to take things easy today. It has been a LONG time since I last took in a meal or a drink by the Chao Phraya River so I decided to get myself a table on the terrace.

I tried to pick up a few things which gave me more of a "local" flavor, but I did start with one of these very pretty butter croissants.

April 25, 2024

Scorching Bangkok day 2: Isaan with the boys

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Besides coming for the launch of Hairy Legs' new outpost in Bangkok, I'm also spending time hanging out with the Indian Hairy Legs and the boys. In addition to scheduling meals at his restaurants, he promised to take me out for some Thai food. I left the choice entirely up to him, only cautioning that my tolerance for heat is limited.

Not wanting to take me somewhere for fine dining, he chose the Sathorn branch of Baan Somtum (บ้านส้มตำ) as it's relatively close to my hotel. This would be my second Isaan meal in as many days, and I was really looking forward to it. The place was heaving when I arrived, packed with lots of people who looked like they just got off work. Vlad and Rydo made it a foursome for us tonight.

We left the ordering to the person who speaks the best Thai, which is of course Indian Hairy Legs. I am grateful that most of the dishes tonight weren't over the top in terms of fire...

Prawn coconut salad (ตำมะพร้าวอ่อนกุ้งสด) - the place is, after all, called Baan Somtum, so we would try a couple of som tum. This one with pieces of coconut flesh was nice.

Deep fried chicken wings (ปีกไก่ทอด) - who doesn't like fried chicken wings? These were pretty good, so a second order was placed by Vlad, who proceeded not to share it with anyone else.

Scorching Bangkok day 2: Thai home cooking

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I woke up this morning feeling a little hungry. I could have walked down to have my buffet-style hotel breakfast, but I wasn't sure how "local" that would be. Instead, I decided to follow the recommendation of a local I met last night. I walked out of the compound that the Four Seasons Bangkok at Chao Praya River sits in, crossed the road, and sat down at Lao Si (เล่าสี่ เกาเหลาเลือดหมู 黃瑞發).

The place is famous for their pork blood soup, or more accurately, pig offal soup. They have even written the words 豬雜湯 in Chinese on a cardboard stuck to the wall. So that's what I ordered... and since I was having an early lunch today, I didn't ask for a bowl of rice like other people. I also didn't have any deep-fried pork that I saw.

Pork blood soup (เกาเหลาเลือดหมู) - we've got the blood, kidney, liver, stomach, heart, as well as "regular" minced pork. Standard MSG broth. Pretty tasty.

April 24, 2024

Scorching Bangkok day 1: an evening by the river

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I checked-in to my gorgeous room at the Four Seasons Bangkok at Chao Praya River and took in the refreshments before deciding it was best to nap and catch up on some much-needed sleep. The resort feel of the hotel put my mind in a very relaxed mode so it was lights out for me pretty quickly.

The sun was setting when I got up, and it was time to freshen up for the event tonight. The main reason why I made the trip to Bangkok was to celebrate the rebranding of the the French brasserie within Four Seasons Bangkok as Palmier by Guillaume Galliot. Hairy Legs now takes over responsibility for the menu, and has also placed Keith Cheung from his team at Caprice in charge as chef de cuisine.

Scorching Bangkok day 1: offally Isaan

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I'm in Bangkok for a few days to hang out with two of my favorite chefs, where the priorities on my itinerary were - quelle horreur! - NOT restaurants serving Thai cuisine. After a second night where I didn't get enough sleep, I was pretty tired by the time I landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Thankfully getting through immigration was a breeze today, and per SOP I took the Airport Rail Link into town, then got myself a Grab car from Phaya Thai station.

Thanks to my flight being delayed, I arrived at the Four Seasons Bangkok at Chao Phraya River a little later than anticipated. However, it was just a little after noon, and my room wasn't ready for check-in. I left my luggage with the hotel and headed off to lunch not too far away.

100 Mahaseth had been on my radar for a few years, but it never became a priority as other, newer spots kept popping up. Well, their Si Praya location isn't too far from the hotel, so I figured it would be a good place to grab lunch today. I don't think I've ever dined anywhere specializing in cuisine from Issan (อีสาน), as I was always under the impression that it is fairly spicy, so this would be an educational experience for me.

It didn't look like the "tasting menu" listed on their website was still available, or at least it wasn't offered for lunch. I found a few dishes I was interested in on the menu, checked with the staff on sizing, and placed my order.

Now that I'm in Bangkok, the drink I most wanted was orange juice (น้ำส้มคั้น) made with Thai tangerines (ส้มเขียวหวาน) that I love so, so much. Even though I was trying to get over the remnants of a nagging cough, I just had to gulp down a couple of glasses of this iced nectar.

At the start of the meal, the staff brought me a collection of salads and dips, which included two som tum (ส้มตำ) and three dipping sauces: jaew (แจ่ว) tamarind, jaew pla-ra (แจ่วปลาร้า), and Thai chimichurri.

April 23, 2024

Little flowers with sake

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Those little flowers I love so much each spring are finally in season, and I know that RAW Yeah has been getting them in his restaurants. Plenty of friends have had their turn enjoying them at Nikushou, and I figured I needed to get some for myself. It's been a while since we last hung out with Winnie the Chew and the Zhongmeister, and having a little sake together with some beef sounded pretty good right now.

The boss has now put together a special menu just to showcase the sansho flowers (花山椒), so that makes things easy for us.

Toyama firefly squid and spring vegetables with sumiso (富山螢烏賊 山独活 こごみ 白アスパラ 酢味噌) - the sumiso (酢味噌) came with a mustard-like kick and it was on the sweet side. Love that we have a few of the spring vegetables that are in season now.

April 21, 2024

Ogier without Ogier

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A lunch was being organized to round up a group of winos to go have seafood on Lamma Island. The guest of honor was going to be Stephan Ogier, the winemaker from the Rhône Valley. I had the pleasure of visiting him back in 2011, and was definitely looking forward to seeing him again.

Well... the weather was pretty bad today, so the organizers decided it would be best not to go out on a boat to Lamma Island. The venue was moved to Luk Yu Tea House (陸羽茶室), but the Man in White T-shirt still went to the Ap Lei Chau Market (鴨脷洲街市) to buy seafood to bring to the restaurant. I know the Man in White T-shirt is used to BYOF(ish) at a few places, and I guess he or someone else has a good enough relationship with Luk Yu to be able to do that...

The organizer mentioned that he had taken Stephane out partying over the last few days, and our guest probably had a little too much fun last night... so he wouldn't be joining us for lunch. Oh well...

The powers that be ordered a bunch of dim sum items for the group, as there's not enough seafood to feed everyone. After all, we did have 15 mouths seated around our table...

Deep-fried cuttlefish (椒鹽鮮魷) - what's not to like about battered and deep-fried squid?!

April 19, 2024

Belated birthday drinks

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I'm slowly recovering from my flu and the associated cough, and I've stayed away from any alcohol for 2 weeks. I was planning to keep things relaxed in the hope that I'd be in better condition for my upcoming trip next week, but Hairy Legs pinged me and asked me if I wanted to pop over and try out some of their new dishes at Caprice. Since we haven't had a chance to catch up in private over some wine, I decided to take him up on his offer, and bring along a couple of special bottles.

I was a little surprised when the boîte à bijoux arrived, and there were two new amuses bouches:

Lobster roll - this was obviously much prettier than your average version. Very cute and gone in one bite.

April 13, 2024

Dim sum piggy

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She's finally back!!! Mikacina is in town this weekend, her first trip since before the pandemic, and she's introducing us to her beau. I wasn't at all surprised when she requested a roast suckling pig, so naturally, I booked us a table at Moon Bay Chinese Cuisine (灣悅 賞 • 中菜) for the occasion.

Mikacina had invited a number of friends to come along, which included the Man in White T-shirt. I was trying to wager with a few friends on whether he would show up... or end up going to the wrong restaurant. Given his recent record, I guess I wasn't too surprised when he was a no-show... But I was glad that Kutsuyama was in town from Seoul and could join us.

Barbecued suckling pig (皇牌大紅乳豬全體) - as is customary, we asked for the suckling pig to be served first. Dim sum could come later.

April 4, 2024

No flowers in the spring

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It's been a few months but I'm finally back at Godenya (ごでんや). I usually make bookings around this time of the year as I try to catch those little sansho flowers (花山椒) during their short season, and tonight I also asked the couple of the Tiny Urban Kitchen to join us. Unfortunately for us, the season this year has been delayed just like the cherry blossoms have been, so the little flowers wouldn't be on the menu tonight.

Hotaru squid, bamboo shoot, wsabi-stem, sansyo-leaf (螢烏賊 筍 花山葵 木の芽) - this is a dish I look forward to having every year, as it is full of wonderful ingredients available in spring time. Would have been nicer to have a few little flowers on the top...

April 3, 2024

More goose

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I had to come back to Yat Lok (一樂燒鵝) as I was on a mission.

Rice with roast goose and roast pork belly (燒鵝燒肉飯) - decided to do something different today as I was on my own. The pork belly was pretty good with that crunchy crackling.

April 1, 2024

Comfort goose

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Foursheets hadn't had her favorite roast goose in a while, so we decided to visit Yat Lok (一樂燒鵝) for lunch today.

Lower quarter of roast goose (燒鵝下庄)


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