Friday, September 30, 2011

Bangkok 2011 - Yim Yim Chinese Restaurant

Based on a few bloggers recommendations we decided to try this obscure Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. It is run by an old Teochew couple. The old man’s father started the restaurant years ago and he is carrying on the tradition. It felt like a trip down memory lane – the restaurant looking very much like many of the old Chinese restaurants in Kuching.

They are famous for serving up a whole platter of giant crab claws, so that was the first thing we ordered. At first the old man said they did not have stock, but after ordering several pricey dishes like shark’s fin and roast suckling pig, he suddenly said they had just the right number of crab claws for us – 20 in total. It was the most impressive serving of crabs I have ever experienced so far - a mountain of giant crab claws simply steamed with ginger and light seasoning - and tasted divine. The cost - RM 500 per plate which works out to be around RM 50 per crab claw. Extremely pricy but it was worth it – some of the best crab claws you would ever taste !

What was left of the crabs. They haved cooked them up and the meat would no doubt be used in other dishes. They should have served these to us considering the price we paid for the dish !

The other dishes paled in comparison, but were all good and reminiscent of the old recipes dished up by the top Teochew restaurants in Kuching.

Shark's Fin Soup - this is the original Teochew Style with a rich broth made of chicken stock and light soy sauce. Nice chunks of shark's fin make this a luxurious treat - but since sharks are an endangered species have this sparingly.

Teochew Oyster Omelette. Simply the best oyster omelette I've ever tasted. We had to order a second serving. The oysters were fresh and plumb, the seasoning perfectly judged, and what made it extra special was the bed of bean sprouts which was charred by the heat from the hotplate - which imparted a really nice caramelized and smokey flavour to the dish.

Stewed Goose Feet with Glass Noodles. The goose feet were deepfried and stewed until the skn and cartilage fall off from the bones - delicious.

Fish Head Soup with Yam and Vegies.

Roast Suckling Pig. Only the skin was served. This was not as good as we had hoped.

Deepfried Intestines. This has a slightly gamey taste and chewy texture which is an acquired taste, but I liked them.

Vegeterian Stirfry Lohan Style.

This hugely satisfying meal was finihsed off with a traditional Teochew "Or Nee" - sweet yam custard. This was topped with gingko nuts, coconut flesh and red dates. Great !

If you are willing to spend a bit of money, Yim Yim Chinese Restaurant will be able to deliver one of your most memorable food experiences in Bangkok. A must for foodies.

Yim Yim Chinese Restaurant
Yaowaphanit Road, Chinatown

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bangkok 2011 - Chatuchat Artist Corner

Chatuchat Market is so huge that most people get lost during the first visit. You can go around in circles, and feel very frustrated especially under the burning heat. For a little respite from the chaos and crowd, head for the Artist Corner. If you can't find it, ask around and most people will be able to point you in the right direction. It is at the North-Eastern corner of the Market.

The Artist Corner is where you will find original artworks by local Thai artists. Unlike other sections of the market which are very crowded and filled to the brim with products, here it is more orderly, and the artists have turned the area into a nice and cosy corner for visitors to browse their works. There are quiet seating corners if you want to take a rest, and it is a really nice treat to order up an ice-cold coffee, sit under one of the shady trees and admire the art.

Most of the artists here look after their own small galleries, and you are buying mostly direct from the artists and not through agents. Because of this the art here is very affordable - but more importantly there are some really high quality and creative works if you care to spend the time sifting through the thousands of pieces on display.

There is a great communal spirit here - when not tending to customers the artists are sitting around chit chating, playing music or doing their work. They even help each other with the packing after a sale.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bangkok 2011 - Chatuchat Market

If there is one thing I am envious about Bangkok, it is the Chatuchat Market. Bangkokians are so lucky to have this market right at their doorstep. You can literally get anything under the sky here - from pets like dogs and cats, to even snakes and lizards - you name it and there is bound to be a stall here selling it.

The actual size of the market is difficult to ascertain – some say 27 acres, others 35 - and some say 8,000 stalls, others 15,000 ! One thing is for sure – this must be the biggest weekend market in the World. About 200,000 people visit the market every Saturday and Sunday.

The stalls are quite small, but most of the shops take up multiple stalls. To really buy anything at the market, you have to know what you are looking for. It is so huge that back-tracking is to be avoided at all costs. Most likely you won’t be able to find the shop again anyway.

The market is conveniently divided into different sections selling different products. If you are going there for the first time, it is best to carry a map. Other useful tips:

Go in the mornings when it is cooler. By 2.00 p.m. it gets unbearably hot.

The market opens on Saturdays and Sundays. There is no point in getting there too early, as most shops open around 9.00 to 9.30 a.m.

Bring a shopping trolley with you - you will feel much better being able to drags your purchases rather then carry them around. Some people even bring whole suitcases.

Bring cash - most of the shops will only accept cash. There are however some ATMs around, but they may not accept your cards.

Chatuchat has many great small corners for a quick meal or snack. You will not go hungry here.

Sit down for a break whenever you get tired and drink lots of water.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bangkok 2011 - Luxx XL Hotel

For our second hotel in Bangkok we chose to stay at Luxx XL. Luxx XL is a boutique hotel on Langsuan Road. It is right at the heart of Bangkok’s shopping, business and entertainment district. Siam Paragon and Siam Square are literally minutes away, so are Gaysorn Plaza, Central World and Amarin Plaza. The only slight problem is that the BTS Station is at the junction of Langsuan and Sukhumvit Road which is a bit of a walking distance. It is better to use taxis for your sojourns rather then rely on the BTS if you are staying here.

The design of the hotel is really stylish. The overall theme is Modernist Minimalism. Lines are very clean and the decor is cool and uncluttered. Even the music played in the lobby is very hip and cool.

The room interior is rather spartan - in a nice way. The only flaw is water tend to splash into the room when you are taking a shower.

The hotel is tucked into a side lane off Langsuan Road, so it is very quiet and private. Another big plus point is that Lumphini Park is only 5 minutes from the hotel, so you get to enjoy Bangkok’s best outdoor space within walking distance.

The hotel has a small swimming pool behind the reception area. Breakfast is served in the lounge overlooking the pool. It is Continental Breakfast with the eggs cooked to order. There is also a nice selection of pastries, fresh fruits and cereal. Breakfast is the same everyday so could be a small problem if you are staying a few days, as they do not serve a la carte.

Eggs are freshly cooked for you. The presentation can't fail in bringing a smile to your face.

Rates at Luxx XL are very reasonable considering what you are getting and the convenience of the location. A big recommendation if you are visiting Bangkok anytime.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bangkok 2011 - Lunch at T.House Vietnamese-Thai Restaurant

K Village is a lifestyle mall which focuses on food and lifestyle - the latest trend in retail therapy. There are lots of small fashion boutiques, quirky home decor shops, personal grooming outlets, and of course cafes and restaurant. We were looking for a place for lunch and stumbled across this Vietnamese-Thai restaurant. The name is rather peculiar - T.House. I am not quite sure what it means - maybe Thai House ? It is apparently part of a sizable restaurant group in Bangkok.

The restaurant decor is quite nicely done. Eschewing the usual traditional Thai design, the interior is quite a refreshing blend of Classic European and Modern Colonial.

The menu is quite extensive and there were some unusual dishes on offer - including steamed snails and raw preserved crabs. We ordered some of the more usual appetizers to go with our individual serving of noodles. The steamed rice cakes with minced pork topping was very good.

A combination Vietnamese Thai Salad - interesting.

Crispy duck served with fresh pineapples. A surprising combination which worked very well.

Minced Pork Rolls wrapped in Good King Henry Leaves. First time I have tried this dish and I like it.

My main course was a Pho - since this is a Vietnamese restaurant. It was a bit disappointing though - the broth was rather thin and didn't have enough of a beefy taste. Can't beat Hanoi or Melbourne !