BKK for a couple of foodies!

Old Jul 9th, 2013, 05:45 PM
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We'll be taking a brief interlude outside the city to visit SiamWinery....don't know how much we'll have to report as our meeting with one of the winemakers is not usually open to the public. But they have set us up for lunch at a seafood restaurant on the gulf so hopefully I'll have much to discuss there.
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Old Jul 9th, 2013, 05:48 PM
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Oh, and Mohan, I don't know if you've beento HK before, but it is an incredible food city. We were there 2 years ago and dream of going back.... When we were there we focused mainlyon dim sum and Cantonese places. If you haven't been before and would like suggestions, let me know - I'll write something up once I get home....
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Old Jul 9th, 2013, 07:27 PM
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1st blush---"she removed seafood from COOLERS...", not fridges.. how did it get there etc??

our concern is about cleaning utensils, woks, silverware, plates... we have seen real horrors.. shop house maybe not so bad..

and I hear you about restaurants in general... I got sick from an Italian restaurant in Ashville, NC last year
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 01:12 AM
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First of all, almost no restaurant keeps their mise en place in the refrigerator. It's either kept in hotel pans on ice, or in cool tops... So keeping food in a cooler with ice in the bottom is just as good or better since, her cooler had a top she kept having to remove ever time she went to get something.

The woks were scrubbed on the street, true, but once it gets hot enough to cook with, all bacteria are instantly destroyed. Plates and silverware may be questionable, but they're using the same hepatitis ridden water a restaurant would use to wash them. I've always seen them washing them in almost boiling water (a good thing) and in Vietnam I actually did see them using boiling water. Not much safer than that. Also, as long as the plates and silverware are air dried, then that should be an inhospitable place for bacteria to multiply.

In any case, we had a great morning at Siam Winery, and afterwards, they arranged for us to have lunch at Lomtalay which is a seafood restaurant (obviously) not far from there, about an hour outside of Bangkok close to the gulf. All I can say is, wow. The place is pretty big, and very pretty right on the river. It was packed with what looked like families going there for lunch. We had a tod mun goong, what looked like a whole seabass, deep fried, then covered in fried garlic, grilled tiger prawns the size of my fist, morniNg glory, and a coconut ice cream for dessert. The tod mun goong were different than I'd seen elsewhere - very light as if they were made froma shrimp mousse, then covered in what looked to be Panko then deep fried. Excellent. Seabass was well cooked and very tasty. The prawns were ridiculous. Each the size of my fist, with head on so you could suck the head fat. Perfectly cooked with great charring from the grill... Google it - it's worth it!!
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 05:12 AM
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Don't forget your lunch reservation TOMORROW at Jok! Looking forward to your opinion of the food there.

Charoen a harn (Thai for Bon Appetit)
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 05:47 AM
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Thanks khtodd, I go to HK often.

You are getting me very hungry. I think I need some seafood now but I haven't had breakfast.

As long as you see ice block, hot water supply, one person collecting money and the other cooking, that should be fine. Enjoy!

Stay away from recycle chopsticks. I usually bring my own.
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 06:37 AM
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Pook, we're very excited for Jok tomorrow - they called me today to confirm. And Nahm tomorrow night.

This evening was Sukhumvit Soi 38... otherwise known as Bob's private hell... just kidding.... Nothing we had here was outstanding, but I'm very glad we went for the experience. Plus I got to have a nice conversation with one of the guys working at the bamee stall we were seated at who wanted to practice his English, and I wanted to practice my Thai....... I thought the whole experience was very interesting - on reading about it, I just assumed they closed off the street, but no! Traffic (cars, motorbikes, etc) all milling about. I wonder how many people get mildly injured per year. I almost got hit a few times as I was a bit distracted checking out all the different vendors. We had 2 different kinds of bamee - one with a clear broth, crispy pork,and wontons, the other had a darker broth with BBQ pork. Also so BBQ pork and Isaac sausage ona stick from one of the busy grilling guys. And a Longan juice... All in all it was a lot of fun and I'm glad we went there.... But it's nice to be back in the air conditioning, especially as it just started to rain! The grilled pork was actually really good, and I really enjoyed the sausage - plump nuggets of slightly fermented pork product, juicy with a nice snap on the skin... And very hot! Just off the grill! Always good to go to the vendor wo is really busy so what you get is fresh....
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 11:07 AM
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anxious on your take on jok's..

glad you escaped "hell" alive, and not poisoned..

you illustrate another reason I don't like these places... I dislike eating in the extreme heat.. I often pass up very lovely outdoor venues for the comfort of a/c...
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 11:08 AM
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will we get a review of any of the great bkk restaurants on your trip, i.e. a gaggan, a biscotti, a lord jim???
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 07:32 PM
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The only great BKK restaurant will be Nahm, this evening. I usually feel that when traveling to an area that I may not return to so often, I want to saturate myself with as much of the local foods as possible, rather than the high end places, no matter how different or special. Nahm is acceptable since they are supposedly doing traditional Thai recipes using high quality ingredients. I am all for that. Something like Biscotti does not interest me even though it may be incredible, I have tons of fantastic Italian options at home, plus, I know I'll be traveling to Firenze next year for a wine symposium, and the food there will be ridiculous, in incredible settings - like old castles in the countryside... And I did check oht Gaggan - there is even a video online of a family's meal there from beginning to end (edited of course) so I. Know what I'm missing. But I've had some incredible modernist cuisine experiences in the past few years at some of the top places (El Bulli, Cellar de Can Roca, Arzak, Pedro Subiyana to name a few) and while I believe in the modernist movement when well executed, I also think it can be gimmicky when misapplied, or modern techniques used just to show what a restaurant is capable of rather than done for a reason. Personally, I believe restraint is more important in modernist restaurants for just that reason.

Anyway, off to Jok!

Btw, this trip may be cut short depending on the typhoon situation near Taiwan as we're supposed to connect through Taipei to go home on Saturday!!! Keep your fingers crossed. I'll have more information later this afternoon when EVA calls me back with an official decision....
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Old Jul 11th, 2013, 09:35 PM
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Sorry for the delay... we've been checking all our options trying to make sure we won't be stranded... As of now, we bought the last couple of seats on the Sing Air BKK-SIN-JFK via Frankfurt that leaves today at 6;30PM... the one way ticket is expensive, but I don't know how many other options we have, and EVA is still unclear as to what will happen with our normal flight. Looking at the Weather channel's satellite imagery, and path forecast, the storm looks like it will hit Taipei around the time we should be taking off from there to JFK. I can't get a good answer as to what kind of conditions it would take to cancel flights or close the airport in Taipei. The good thing is that our SIN tickets are fully cancelable minus a USD100 fee, so I booked it thinking that $100 is not that expensive for insurance. We have a couple more hours to make our final decision and commit to packing and getting to the airport a little early.

Anyway, back to the real topic at hand....

Jok was awesome. We were seated in their front room at a large table by ourselves. It's an interesting experience being in a restaurant and being the only people in the room. The food there was incredible - some of the best we've had on this trip. Pook, thank you so much for setting this up for us.

We started with the quick fried ginkgo nuts, which I've never had before, but were enjoyable - especially with the spicy dipping sauce. Next were the shrimp wontons that were excellent - a great texture, and flavor that was only enhanced by the black vinegar. Followed by the snow fish salad... this was really impressive to me, as the fish had a wonderful crispy skin, a great color on all sides, and was really perfectly cooked in the middle. Juicy, moist, tender... Then, for me the star of the show (who thought it could get better than that fish?) were the steamed crabs. It is obvious how his reputation was built on them. Crab claws the size of my fist (almost) that were perfectly cooked and simply prepared so the flavor of those crabs could really shine through. My wife's favorite dish came after - the stir fried abalone. I really liked them, but she went crazy for it. The abalone was really well cooked - very tender, with some pieces having just the slightest bit of chew, and others being so tender that they practically melted. The sauce seemed to be an oyster sauce base, but very earthy from the addition of the mushrooms. I don't know if the mushrooms were fresh or rehydrated, but were a great foil to the subtle flavor of the abalone. I was worried when I saw it that I didn't have enough cash on me to cover the bill, especially with the abalone, but the abalone was not expensive itself - actually one of the least expensive dishes... only 200B, with the total coming to 2290B.. no problem and certainly well worth it!

Now, onto Nahm.... I think it's impossible to give a dish by dish review - you'll see why in a second. We got the set menu, which turned out to be an unwieldy amount of food. The sheer volume alone was daunting - and try as we did, I think we barely made a dent in a lot of the dishes. This should not be an indicator of our enjoyment or its quality, however. In fact, we thought that the meal was amazing - so many of the dishes were so complex it would be impossible to try to describe them. Plus, I did wish we had a list of what we ordered, because our one complaint was that a lot of the servers were hard to understand when they were presenting each dish. If we had a copy of the menu or of what we ordered, we could read the descriptions as we were having them. But it was worth getting the set menu to be able to taste so many dishes - we just thought the portions could have been a LOT smaller.

The set menu also opened our eyes to the sheer variety of styles that are available in Thai cuisine. Some dishes had some extremely bitter components, some very sour. Others fragrant and heady. Somehow everything balanced each other out wonderfully. Also, everything was perfectly prepared and executed, and the pacing was great. All in all, it may turn out to be a fantastic end to the great BKK experience.

Finally, although this is extremely off topic, I wanted to give a great big shout out to Ben and his team at Tailor on Ten. Probably the best tailoring experience I've had, not that I've had too many.... just one in BKK years ago, and a great experience in HK 2 years ago. They didn't have a huge fabric selection, but what they did have was very high quality. Their attention to detail and style is what really sets them apart. You can tell by the way everyone who works there is dressed that they are very style and fashion conscious. After picking fabrics, they take out a book and mannequin which illustrates every possible option you can imagine, that they go through step by step. This is great because many times, as most places measure you, they ask questions about how you want things, but not in such great detail as this place does. Plus, the fact that they take so much time to go through all the options, it's impossible to forget some detail that you later come to regret. Only after you have chosen all your options, do they do their first measurement. While measuring, they constantly ask questions and show you how they think the item should be cut so that it looks best on you. By the first fitting, the shirts and pants I had made were already almost perfect - the pants were perfect, but the shirts needed just a slight tweaking. By the second fitting, they were finished - cut beautifully. I've never had clothes that fit so perfectly. What is also nice is that their prices are fixed - you can even see them on the website before you go so you know what you are in for. They are certainly not the cheapest around, but I think you certainly get what you pay for and here, you get extremely high value for the price. If we come back to BKK for another 5 days or so, I would make a stop here as my highest priority and would get much more than I already did. I can be a hard fit for off the rack stuff, especially very fashionable items, and their work came out so good... It's very exciting. They even rearranged their schedule so that they could deliver the last couple of pieces before we left today - a day ahead of schedule. Very service and detail oriented with a great eye for fashion, cut and style... what more could you want? They are, however, getting quite a lot of press lately, and have become quite busy - I'd recommend making an appointment if you are serious - I didn't have one, but I got very lucky as they were able to squeeze me in between other appointments - but I saw other people turned away when I was there on later visits.

OK - off to relax a bit before packing.. it looks like we'll be leaving early....
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Old Jul 11th, 2013, 09:42 PM
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Glad you enjoyed both Jok and Nahm! Hope you didn't have much of a problem finding Jok.
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Old Jul 11th, 2013, 10:05 PM
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No problem finding Jok at all - your Google map and GPS on my phone made it pretty easy. The biggest problem was the construction on Charoen Krung right near there, so the traffic was pretty bad - so we basically got out and walked after sitting long enough.
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Old Jul 12th, 2013, 02:04 AM
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Thanks for the detailed reviews! Wishing you could stay longer just so we could read more of your amazing experiences! Really, I'm sorry that the trip is cut short for you - have a safe trip home!

Paule
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Old Jul 12th, 2013, 06:18 AM
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I will google tailor on ten but where are they located?
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Old Jul 12th, 2013, 09:28 PM
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Thanks, we're sad that we had t o leave a little early, but thought it was forthe best. Turns out that while Cathay cancelled a bunch of flights, our flights on EVA were on time... Oh well... But better safe than sorry, as we're currently having a terrible bratwurst in Frankfurt airport.

Tailor on Ten is at the end of Sukhumvit soi 8. Explicit directions from the sky trainable on their website.
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Old Jul 13th, 2013, 07:37 PM
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return tickets bought yet?
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Old Jul 14th, 2013, 04:47 AM
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We got home yesterday - then attempted a "1 hour nap" before getting up, which turned into like a 5 hour nap before getting up for dinner then taking 2 benedryl and going back to bed. Woke up this morning around normal time, so hopefully this is a good start to getting back on schedule.

I wish we could return sometime soon - but it will probably be a while until we return to BKK. Our work schedule basically only allows us one decent trip per year. Next year, we are already scheduled to go to Firenze, partly for a 3 day symposium, and the rest of the time will be for vacation around the region somewhere. So, at the earliest, we will return to Asia 2 years from now.
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Old Jul 14th, 2013, 07:40 AM
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Glad you made it home safe. The typhoon in Taiwan looks pretty bad.

Next time you go to Asia you might want to try 'no jet lag'. It somehow works.
http://www.amazon.com/health-persona.../dp/B0013HUNOW

In case you didn't have a chance to get your durian fix, this one is for you:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/ny...l?ref=nyregion
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Old Jul 14th, 2013, 12:17 PM
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Thanks... I've never seen that guy, but I have seen lots of people selling durian from sidewalk carts... all of what I've seen look like they've been frozen - they actually look like they're thawing on the street... I never tried it because I don't know what happens to durian during freeze/thaw.. I'd hate to waste that kind of money... also not sure on the import laws - they may have to be frozen for import...
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