Friday, September 19, 2014

Penang 2013 - Around the Old Town

Penang is one of the most popular destinations in Malaysia and it is easy to see why. The Old Town is very charming, the people of Penang are friendly and creative, and the food is always great. Whenever I visit I like to stay in the Old Town where just walking around is a joy. No matter how many times you have been there, there is always something interesting around the corner.

The old buildings with layers of patina is what makes the Old Town so charming.

While you may have seen these buildings many times before, it is always nice to make a re-acquaintance - like visiting old friends.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bangkok 2013 - Baan Kanitha @ Asiatique

For our last night in Bangkok we wanted some nice Thai food. Since we were at Asiatique, we decided to try out the new branch of Baan Kanitha right at the riverfront. Baan Kanitha is a popular chain of restaurants with several branches in Bangkok. The Asiatique outlet is housed in a Colonial-style 2-storey building. Since the ground floor was full, we were directed to the first floor.

The food at Baan Kanitha is traditional Thai cuisine. We ordered several of the Thai staples including seafood with rice vermicelli, pandan wrapped chicken, tom yam soup, and green curry.

The fish and prawn cakes were well executed and packed with flavours.

The fried rice with chicken was surprisingly good and served in a cute clay pot.

On the whole the food at Baan Kanitha is good but not outstanding. The pricing is quite expensive for what you get. In Bangkok you are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to good Thai restaurants, so this place is only worth considering if you are willing to splurge.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bangkok 2013 - Asiatique The Riverfront

One of the new retail and leisure development that is a bit more original in concept is Asiatique The Riverfront. This is a shopping, entertainment and leisure complex located right next to the Chao Phraya River. The  complex consists of a series of buildings designed like waterfront godowns and warehouses. Some of these accommodate shops - others cafes, restaurants and pubs. Calypso - a popular cabaret venue with nightly shows have also moved to their new base here.

The place only comes alive at night as the open-air concept would be too hot during the day. Even if you are not there for the shopping it is quite nice to stroll around the large complex as there are lots of interesting things to look at. The number of F&B outlets seem endless, and there are choices to suit all budgets.

Getting to Asiatique is not so easy as it is not directly served by the MRT. The nearest MRT station is Saphan Taksin next to the Taksin Bridge. From there you can take the normal taxi or water taxi to Asiatique. If you are staying at Anantara Riverside, you just take the hotel boat to Asiatique - very convenient.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bangkok 2013 - Vanilla Cafe @ Vanilla Garden

Bangkok F&B entrepreneurs never cease to amaze and there are always interesting trend-setting concepts popping up here and there. Vanilla Garden is one which is a bit obscure and difficult to find. It seems to have been purposely hidden away so as to keep away the crowd - not sure this is the best business strategy, but it keeps the place wonderfully serene and private. The location is near trendy Thong Lo, but off a quiet street Ekkamai Soi 12 which is filled with private houses instead of commercial entities. Even the taxi driver had problem finding the place.

Vanilla Garden is made up of 3 buildings set within a lush garden. The buildings are immaculately built with a retro-architectural vibe. One of the building houses Sauce - a bookshop specializing in cookbooks - a haven for foodies. Vanilla Cafe is right at the back, behind some big trees. 

The interior of Vanilla Cafe is like a house with split levels. At the entrance is a reception with an impressive cake counter. Further up are some intimate seating areas filled with period Japanese furniture and decor. The overall ambiance is relaxed and homey - yet very stylish and chic.

The food here is a fusion of Japanese and Italian cuisine. To start off we ordered a salad with grilled chicken. The ingredients were really fresh and top notch, and the Japanese dressing was light and refreshing.

Miso grilled chicken was very well seasoned and tender. The miso paste packed a punch and was great with the cucumber sticks.

The spaghetti with pancetta was very tasty, but the portion was a bit small.

One of their signature all day breakfast items - omelette with bacon and mushrooms.  The omelette was perfectly executive - still moist and creamy inside and was a perfect combination with the crispy bacon and mushrooms.

Being a cafe they have quite a large selection of cakes and desserts. We ordered the dark chocolate cake with banana and it was very good.

The crepe with banana, vanilla ice cream and strawberry sauce was delicious.

The pricing at Vanilla Cafe is a bit high by Bangkok standards, but you are paying for the ambiance, and the quality of the food can't be faulted.If you are looking for something a bit different in Bangkok then give this place a try.