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Going veg

5 Jul

I have been eating vegetarian at home for some time now, as I get plenty of meat as it is whenever we eat out, which is most of the time. And considering this week I have practically no lunch appointments (I know, what a loner I am…) I thought I might as well go where few have ventured before, and that is to some vegetarian restaurants in Wanchai. By no means am I an expert in this area, but fortunately I do know of two places with good, affordable vegetarian selections.

First up – I went to Loving Hut Vegan Cuisine, which I had visited once before for dinner and was curious to see what it’s like on a weekday lunch. Surprisingly, business was good this time, yet not too full. After considering the wide range of dishes available, I settled for a typical vegetarian fried rice with some kind of special herb called heung chun (香椿). Portion was big, and came with a side of veg. All in all, I was satisfied, though feeling a little bloated from all that starch. I should try something else next time.
An interesting point about this place is it actually is an international chain, with all over the US, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and has some affiliation with a spiritual teacher called the Supreme Master Ching Hai and they place videos from this network that have subtitles in so many languages they take up more space on the screen than the video itself. Go check out ‘supreme master ching hai’ on youtube and you’ll see what I mean.

Next up, finding myself again without any lunch appointments today I ventured a second time to this other place called Happy Veggies. [More to come, with pics too]

Lunch in Central

17 May

Ironically, I don’t have much to talk about lunch in Central because typically I like to get away from the financial area to avoid the workday rush hour in favour of more variety at more affordable prices elsewhere. There’s a saying in HK that Central is 搵食艱難, which can mean either it’s hard to “find a meal” or “make a living”. You either have to make a booking, which would mean somewhere upwards of HKD200, or find yourself spending most of your lunch hour in a queue for something easier on the wallet. Of course, there is the alternative of bringing something back to the office, but I like to go for a walk after a long morning at the desk. Being a creature of habit, today I headed out in search of new culinary delights in Wanchai.

Just over the weekend I stumbled upon this chic-looking vietnamese place just at the edge of Wanchai and a stone’s throw from a tram stop. Though it isn’t within my typical budget for a meal in this area, around HKD100 for a set, I wasn’t up for wandering further and was curious to check it out. Not being much of a food critic, I’ll just say the chicken salad with cabbage, beef brisket stewed with tomato and mung bean coconut drink were all satisfying and surprisingly good.

A final word on lunch in Wanchai is generally I would expect a meal for about HKD30-50 but with all these swanky establishments cropping up these days and the rising food costs perhaps it’s time revised my lunch budget.

Checking out the street food price in BKK : Quick walk on Wireless Road

23 Apr

I’ve read more and more complaint about the rise of street food in Bangkok both from twitter and from a Thai web board, so I decided to check it myself.  I have to admit that I haven’t been eating the food from the street for a while, and when I do, I usually go around Silom, Sathon and Ploen Chit area, where the food price there tend to be more expensive than in other area anyway.

According to a survey by Adecco, who published “Thailand Salary Guide 2011” , it stated that average salary for a junior position with 0-5 year experience are between  6,200(US$200) THB  to  15,000 (US$500)THB. The minimum daily wage in Bangkok according to Ministry of Labor of is 215 THB or about US$7 per day. When I look at the figure, it is quite difficult for me to imagine living on very little money. Being a  freelancer, sometimes I have to live on a small budget, and trust me, it is tricky to survive on 200 THB a day.

Office Lady buying lunch from the Khao-Raad-Gaeng Stall on Wireless Road

I’ve read on a popular Thai web board that a plate of rice with curry, stir-fries or others on top  (Khao-Raad-Gaeng) would cost between 35- 40 baht  and if you want some kind of eggs on top, then you’ll add 8 more baht. For drink, soft drink is between 7-10 baht, iced coffee is between 25-50 baht.  When you add all that up, it’s easy to spend 100 THB for a meal.

200 THB is not an ideal budget to survive a day unless you don’t have to travel and only spend the money on food.

……………….

Yesterday I had an appointment in All Season Building on Wireless Road, after the appointment I decided to do a quick walk to check out on the street food price.

Wireless Road street stalls at lunch time

I only checked out the snacks sell around the area, as I thought it was more interesting than the rice/noodle shops. Thai office women usually buy snacks back to the office for their afternoon break, so even if they pay 50 baht for lunch they would certainly buy coffee, fruits or other snacks after as well.

Thai omelette with rice pric

But I was surprised that amongst the snacks sold by the street, there’s a cart that sell Thai omelette.  So I took the photo of the price list.  15 THB for omelette with rice, 20 baht for adding minced pork, 25 baht for omelette only and 30 baht for 2 eggs omelette with rice.

30 baht for just omelette with rice??!!  That sounds crazy but consider the price of the eggs now is very high, it is understandable.

Corn, Sweet Potato and pumpkin seller

Now, lets check out some snacks, I walked past the lady who was selling corns, sweet potatoes and pumpkins and decided that I wanted a bag of corn already cut off from the  cob. I asked her the price, and it was 15 baht per bag, which wasn’t bad at all.

fried chicken on stick and friend chicken tendon

The fried Chicken on the stick price, how ever, I thought it is a little on the expensive side, It is 15 baht per a tiny stick where as fried chicken tendon is 30 baht /100 gram which is not much. As much as I like fried chicken I don’t think that I would be a customer.

There’s also several other stalls that sell interesting snacks, and the price over all is acceptable (except the omelette rice and the chicken on the stick) I would not mind going back there and try some of the snacks I haven’t seen before and spend more time talking to the street food sellers checking out on their thoughts on the food price hike.

That would be fun.

Bangkok: Convent Road, back to the childhood

22 Apr

The other day I was having a coffee appointment with a journalist friend who is new to Bangkok. He was running errands when I called him asking if he would like to meet for coffee.  He was up for it, and I told him to meet at Starbucks on Convent Road just off the Saladang BTS station on Silom.

I arrived early on purpose so that I could walk around the road where my primary school is. There’s a catholic school on the street and I went there from grade one to about half way through grade seven before I went to study abroad.

A School on Convent Road

When I was at the school, there used to be a rule that students were not allowed to buy food off the street outside school premise, not even at the shopping mall nearby. I think the rule was imposed on and off for a while, and for the kid like me who absolutely love food (especially the Moo-Ping or grilled pork and sticky rice right outside the school’s fence) it was hard to stick to the rule.

While I was walking along the road, I noticed a lot of changes. My coconut ice-cream uncle is no longer there nor his nephew who took over the business, the once very popular book/comic store  is  now a convenient store and my favorite noodle shop no is no longer my favorite.

An old man biking

Another thing that I noticed was that there were so many people pushing the carts, whether it was food carts, or some other kind of carts through this road to go to the main street of Silom. I guess that there must be a space where carts are being kept somewhere nearby. It’s always interesting to see them pushing the carts containing what ever inside, some of them made it look like they are moving the lightest cart in the world.

Food Sellers getting ready for the business

I arrived Starbucks first, ordered my coffee and managed to take a few photos while waiting for my friend who arrived shortly after. He is new to the city but already noticed about the price of street food rising and he also pointed out that street food that sells in Silom are mostly Chinese food.  I never thought of that before, but as I looked right outside, there’s a stall being set up, and it was a “Kueh-Chub” cart.  (click here for more details about “Kueh Chub”)

…He was right…

"Kueh Chub" - Chinese noodles stall

Apart from Kueh Chub stall, this street, around 5-6 pm is always packed with other food stalls such as, the BBQ pork stall, fish maw stall, noodles stalls, pork legs stalls and many more.  The stalls would open until very late to cater for office workers and tourists as well as the party goers, as the street is right opposite the famous Silom Soi 2 and 4.

A boy, busy pouring the soya eggs, preparing a "Kuah Chub" ingredient

I would say, Convent road is pretty good and convenient for people who live around there to get food. Not only it has varieties of street stalls, but there are also restaurants and and Irish Pub.  It is certainly one of my favorite place to go for food after work, and I would always bump into friends or even my primary school teachers who still recognized me even I left school many years ago.

Michelin Guide and Chinese Food in Hong Kong

13 Apr

I was in Hong Kong last week for a couple of days, and my first meal there was Yumcha at a restaurant recommended in the Michelin Guide, ” Tim’s Kitchen”

The sign at the restaurant's window of Tim's Kitchen can be seen in many other restaurants around Hong Kong

Sign at the restaurant's window of Tim's Kitchen can be seen in many other restaurants around Hong Kong

Now, before I went to Hong Kong, my friends, M and H said that they were going to take me to the “Amazing”  Yum Cha place. I was hoping for the traditional push cart place, but I was not disappointed about this place either. The Yum Cha was good, but not amazing like I was told, maybe I was tired or talked too much and neglect the food.

Yum Cha at Tim's Kitchen

Out of more than ten dishes I had, my favorite dish was probably the fish maws wrapped in tofu skin. It was deliciously juicy and crunchy and definitely the only memorable one out of all dishes. Apparently Tim’s Kitchen is famous for its crab claws and other seafood dishes that we didn’t have.  Next time when I’m there I would have to try the seafood at Tim’s Kitchen and find Yum Cha somewhere else.

Two nights later, I went out for a dinner and drink at Posto Pubblico with S, his friend who came out for a drink later mentioned to me on her thoughts about Michelin Guide that, she’ll definitely go to the French Restaurants they recommend but for the local? She’d rather trust her own judgement. I’m totally agree with her.  By the way, Posto Pubblico makes great mozzarella cheese!

The next day, I was craving for roasted goose,  so my friend, Mel  and I opted for a restaurant called Yat Lok on Lan Kwai Fong, without knowing, we went to another restaurant recommended by Michelin Guide. It was obviously very popular  with the locals as we couldn’t get in until about 2 pm.

Recommended by Michelin Guide

While the food was good the standard of service was on the low side,  M was not happy with the aunty serving us who chose to communicate to us in only Cantonese, despite the fact that we could speak mandarin. In the end M refused to communicate with her what so ever, but we came into the conclusion that they probably won’t care anyway.

Roasted Goose on Rice at Yat Lok

Yat Lok serves varieties of roasted dishes with limited menu in English.  I always frustrated about this when I go to the local places with limited or non-existing English menu, they should have put more effort in the menu, seriously.

I came out of the shop full but not fully satisfied, thinking of the word that S’s friend said the night before about her opinion on the Michelin Guide, next time in Hong Kong, I’d either call my local friends for recommendation or do what I always do, walk into random places and start the food adventure from there.





BKK Bagel Bakery, tried and tasted (2)

4 Mar

So, continued from my previous post,  without further adieu let the tasting begin!  There are 5 bagel sandwich menus on the board, but….unfortunately the smoked salmon is out today,  I’ll have to come back to taste the smoked salmon bagel next week.

*By the way, this is the honest testing as the bagels are not paid for, although Eric and Tri were sharing the bagels with me.*

Tasting No. 1 ) The Show stopper(225 baht) : Turkey, Harvati cheese, bacon,  lightly brushed avocado spread (More Plssss) and whole grain mustard  served on a plain bagel

The Show Stopper

Verdict :  Loved the whole lot! I was surprised from the very first bite, The fillings are generously stuffed  (hence the price of THB 225) and you can taste everything in one bite. The only downside was that I couldn’t find the avocado spread until I dissected the sandwich.  It would be nicer to have thicker avocado smear on my turkey sandwich though.

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Tasting No.2) Fin or Feather(175THB) : Homemade Tuna or Chicken Salad  lettuce, tomato, red onions, served on a whole white bagel,

Fin or Feather? I went for the fin

Verdict :  The fin was good but not great  I’d like more mayo and salt in my tuna salad. But again, everyone have their own preferences of their tuna salad sandwiches.

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Tasting No.3) The Verrazano(225 THB) : Home made spiced roast beef, whole grain mustard, swiss cheese, lettuce, served on plain bagel

The Verrazano

Verdict :  I’ve been looking for real deli roast beef sandwiches for so long.. and this one is the answer to my prayer.  All I can say is “Y-u-m-m-y!”

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Tasting No. 4) The Veggie Monger (150 THB) : Hummus, alfafa sprouts, tomato, carrots, avocado spread, red onion, served on poppy bagel

The Veggie Monger

Verdict : As much as I love the humus, it’s a bit strong for me, but for the vegetarians out there?  Go for it!

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Apart from the coffee, bagels and bagel sandwiches,  Bkk Bagel also serves coleslaw and pasta salad.  I ordered a serve of  coleslaw (45 THB) and I was not disappointed. The mix of the ingredient are perfect, simple, fresh, tangy and crispy.

BKK Bagel Bakery is my new favorite place, with its location conveniently situated by the Chidlom BTS station and downstairs from many of the foreign media bureaus I think the future of the shop is very bright.

Now only if I can convince my mother to move from her usual place to here……..that will be my plan for the next few weeks.

 

BKK Bagel Bakery, Tried and Tasted (1)

4 Mar

Few months ago, a friend of mine was talking to me about the lacking of good bagels in Bangkok. Fast forward a few months later, here I am sitting at the “BKK Bagel Bakery” sampling almost every menu on the board!

A bite of Roast Beef Bagel, part of my tasting

The original idea of the bagel shop came from a co-owner, Eric Seldin, a long time Bangkok resident who had been craving for good bagels in Thailand for many years. After years of working as a camera person, he suffered a stroke  a few years back, his priority in life had changed. He needed something to keep himself busy. When he met  his business partner Tri Kanchanadul on twitter in 2009 the idea of opening the shop came through very quickly… and the rest….is history.

Caroline Schule, Deli manager

Apart from Eric and Tri, another main force behind the Bkk Bagel Bakery is Caroline Schule, a native of Washington DC . Eric had been a long time friend of Caroline’s father Jim Schule and originally approached Jim to come to Bangkok for the Bagel shop, but unfortunately for Jim (and fortunately for the shop!) the timing wasn’t right so he send his replacement, Caroline instead. Coming from a family where food has played a big part of her life and with a catering background, at 26 Caroline knows what she’s doing. Before jumping on a plane to Bangkok, she was in an advertising business and doing “catering on the side” from her home’s kitchen.  Now, at the Bkk Bagel Bakery,  Caroline design all the sandwiches menus as well as baking her famous “red velvet cupcakes”  For those who wonder if Jim, her father is coming to Bangkok or not, Caroline reassured me that he will be heading this way around April and the menu will be expanding real fast.

Yummy Bagels in the basket

I missed out on the grand-opening on March 1st because I was very sick.  So I decided to come in today to sample all the sandwiches. I had tried and tasted the bagels  since before it opened and was a regular customer last week for the bagel and cream cheese breakfast.  Even took home for my sister who immediately texted me how good the multigrain Bagel was, well, after all she just loves bread and bakery… what can I say.

Coming up….  BKK Bagel Bakery… Bagel Tasting,  stay tune!

Bkk Bagel Bakery :  518/3 Maneeya Centre North, Ploenchit Road ( BTS Chidlom Station, ground floor next to the Kipling shop)

Tel + 662 254 8157