Traveling Solo in BKK | Drink Like a Local

For a city like Bangkok where nightlife thrives as much as that in the day, visiting local bars is on the travel itinerary.

Before I made my way to Bangkok, a bartender friend in Hong Kong recommended me the charming Vesper Cocktail Bar & Restaurant in Silom area, close to Sala Daeng BTS. What’s good about this visit is that it’s new to myself and Book as well as his local friend, kind of a discovery for all of us.

We sat by the bar, ordered from bartenders Oil and Milk (who were just announced to be Diageo World Class Thailand Top 16 finalists, and Milk, later proceeded onto becoming one of Thailand’s Best Bartenders).

Secret Earl Grey (THB360) is a mix of earl grey-infused Tanqueray and lemon juice, topped with a frothy layer of egg white and a few dashes of grapefruit bitters. It’s presented with the dry ice fog effect that has the subtle scent of berry tea.

It’s lovely when we can involve in the making-of of our eating and drinking experience. Hemingway’s Sazerac (THB450), made of rye whisky, Hennessy VS, bitters and absinthe, is served in this medicine bottle that we poured out of onto the lemon zest air to watch it slowly melt into the drink.

 

Book and his friends brought me to several other places at night. Iron Fairies, though along the main road of Thonglor, can be hard to spot. It is a dark and moody jazz bar with iron machine parts, pipes, chains and cages, and tiny jars of “fairy dusts”.

We had two rounds of drinks, two of which The Iron Fairy (Red) (THB380), a heady drink of La Fée Bohemian absinthe, with hazelnut syrup, gin and hibiscus, and also Erin’s Fire & Sea (THB310) that has this amazing roasted, salted flavours of nori seaweed. What I remember most is that it was Monday, open mic night. I stood on the iron staircase, the centerpiece of the bar, and sang Fly Me To The Moon with the live band in front of like 60 people.

The reward? A shot of vodka that made me wanted to sing more.

 

We also went to —

Blues Bar (aka. Adhere The 13th) near Khao San Road, a small bar with an amazing ambiance thanks to the hippie decor and the different bands that play every night. I’d say half of the customers were young locals and the other half expats — all laid-back and chillaxing along with the beats.

 

BREW Beers & Ciders in Thonglor, offering a broad range of cold, fizzy beverages. It’s where I met Book’s coworkers and friends in the music industry, including the famous ukulele artist and singer Singto Numchok (!).

 

Mulligans Irish Bar on Khao San Road, again with a live band and singers, casual place for friends to gather, have some beer… and flaming Sambuca shots.

– Judith

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My favourite Canteen…

This is the 3rd day I’m officially unemployed.

I’m never a very nostalgic person, though there are a few things that I kind of miss after a year working at the company and eating out occasionally… Singapore and Malaysia Canteen is on the list.

Exterior; Singapore and Malaysia Canteen

It’s inside a Market next to a ferry concourse, meaning it’s not particularly comfy when there’s this heat and humidity in the summer. I can bear with that, however, for the food:

The Noodle with Singapore Dark Soya Sauce (HK$35) comes in generous portion and is my usual order on warmer days, whereas the slurp-worthy Noodle with Pepper Soup (HK$38) might be your new cold winter fave that promises to warm your bones for hours on end. I like to order them with:

  • the savoury, unbeatable Barbecued Pork Neck Meat
  • the gelatinous, comforting Braised Chicken Leg and Pork Leg
  • the simple, delicious Barbecued Lemongrass Chicken Steak

It’s nice to have a drink too – I’d either have the simple, refreshing Iced Barley Water (HK$16) or the satisfying Singapore and Malaysia Milk Tea with Ginger Sauce (HK$15), depending on the weather.

 

Despite all the above that I loved and kept going back to, I have a few **REMINDERS** for you upon your visit:

  1. Do not order rice. The rice is always in that unbelievable gooey state, and you can imagine how bad it can get when drenched in chicken oil if you order it with Hainan Chicken;
  2. 8/10 times they will bring you the wrong dishes – after a fairly long wait; and
  3. If you love barbecued pork neck and Hainan Chicken, visit early because they tend to be the first two menu items that run out.

 

Singapore and Malaysia Canteen
Shop 20, 1/F, Kwun Tong Pier Cooked Food Market, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong
T. +852 2344 2347

– Jude

Quick Update: We Went on a Picnic!!!

Picnic spot; Ngong Ping picnic

Another wonderful time with my wonderful friends 🙂 The weather last Sunday was clear and sunny, with temps of about 12 or 13 degree Celcius – perfect for a hike & eating outdoors!

Food; Ngong Ping picnic

Along the Ma On Shan Country Trail we walked uphill for an hour or so until we reached the picturesque Ngong Ping Plateau. We just couldn’t wait to find a spot facing the cliff-side, line a shower curtain (LOL) on the grass and share the food we prepared.

We had freshly DIYed sandwiches, with ingredients including cherry tomato, cabbage, avocado with salt, cheddar cheese, ham and salumi. A drizzle of sesame dressing played a huge role!

Just-out-of-the-oven-chocolate chip & poppy seed muffins (by me!! 😀 ) The only question I have is I’d coated the chocolate chips with part of the all-purpose flour before I incorporated them into the batter, but most of them still sank to the bottom of the liners…

Super-duper cute Fungi of the Fungi Gardening Kit, one of the top grossing Japanese game app (click here for recipe)!!

We also had this classic Hong Kong-style picnic snack Frankfurter sausages with pineapple that everyone loved since childhood, Sara Lee pound cake in original flavour, bananas and blueberries too.

It was pure awesomeness to just lie there under the sun, laugh hours away, cheer for gliders who’d take off from the plateau, and pat dogs that would occasionally come near our picnic mat in search for food.

Who loves hiking and picnic like we do? 🙂

– Judith

Lovely, “Oldish” place to chillax

Haven’t updated my blog for some time, but this place named Oldish in Sheung Wan that I went with my girl friends last Friday has given me motivation in typing!

We booked a table ahead and were seated close to the entrance. It’s a warm, cozy place that serves up international dishes, and these are what we ordered:

Starters / Side Orders –

Thai Minced Pork Salad with Herbs & Glass Noodles (HK$128): Love the freshness of the lettuce. The ground pork tasted kind of light, not as savory as traditional ones from Thailand. Of course you may argue that it’s healthier in such a way.

Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings (HK$85): Deep-fried single bone wings were addictive and easy to eat (thanks for being thoughtful because girls wouldn’t have to worry if they look bizarre when chewing to get the meat off!). The fried garlic pleased me as a huge garlic lover.

Roti (HK$45, photo forgotten): Hot, puffed up and light, a perfect match with Thai Curry (see below).

Thai Style Potato Stir Fry (HK$75): Evenly-cut potato cubes cooked with onion and bell pepper, coated with spicy, sweet and sour sauce that stimulated the appetite. Potato cubes were moist in the inside but the lack of crispness on the outside was what I thought needed improvement.

Garlic Stir Fry Broccoli with Anchovy (HK$75): Simple veggie dish made special with bites of meaty anchovies!

Main –

Smoked Salmon Brown Rice Risotto in Cream Sauce (HK$148): I didn’t have problem with its mild, creamy taste but I found it too dry as in having too little cream sauce, let alone the desirable all’onda consistency.

Thai Style Fried Brown Rice with Minced Pork & Sunshine Egg (HK$148): This wasn’t impressive as it was, like the Minced Pork Salad (above), absent of the rather bold and exotic flavors typical in Southeastern food.

Thai Curry with Lemongrass Cornflakes Chicken (HK$168): Well, the same issue… maybe it’s because Oldish does not focus on just one type of cuisine, Thai curry did taste fine but did not taste Thai… and I suggest that they serve a bigger portion of it to do the Roti justice (after all, without its dip it’s nothing). Cornflake-coated chicken were good – crunchy and tasty.

Baby Pork Shanks with Spicy & Sour Sauce (HK$148): Cooked to just right, the meat was so tender that they came off from the bone effortlessly. The other girls skipped the sauce because they found it too intense, but to me it was fine and could add excitement to the meat.

Dessert –

Oldish Ginger Crème Brûlée (HK$70): This was essentially a Crème Brûlée flambé! After a minute or so when the flame had gone out, with our spoon we tapped to crack the caramel crust to reveal the creamy, decadent custard that wasn’t sickly sweet (thank God). Very satisfying, and we loved it.

Oldish Tiramisu (HK$75): Classic Italian recipe with a twist, making it look like a donut or an inflatable pool ring. It was smooth in the inside, with the sweetness balanced when eaten with a spoonful of black coffee.

Along with a bottle of German Riesling (Pieroth Blue 2013), the dinner cost roughly at HK$1,460, about HK$290 per head.

In all, it’s a rather secluded place to chill. They have warm, welcoming staff, not to mention Norman, one of the owners who passionately recommended dishes, brought us Crème Brûlée and two glasses of bubbly for free and took time to know our thoughts on his restaurant (and photo-bombed us).

Show Us Your Tattoo (ig: @oldishhk); Oldish

P.S. Do not miss the “Show Us Your Tattoo” promo!
(check out their Instagram: @oldishhk)

P.P.S. Wooden stools, tables and other furniture and household items are available at Growth Ring & Supply, if you like them 🙂

Oldish Limited
G/F, 53 Tung Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
T. +852 2697 3313

– Judith

Guided tasting at HKIWSF 2014

Being at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair (6 – 8 November) this year was quite a different experience. Rather than as an exhibitor, I was invited to a wine session and tasting tour hosted by sommelier Damon Yuen, together with some others in the blogging community on the last day of the fair that was open to traders and the public. Thanks again to HKTDC and WeShare.

We began with a 20-minute USA wine session that centered on the geographical and weather conditions in the states of Washington and California, and the effects they have on the grapes thus wines produced. It was followed by tastings at various booths with guidance — see, smell, swirl, smell again, sip and savour.

First tasted were some Japanese whiskies, and then German blanc de noir that’s described as “the wine perfect for ladies to drink when looking at the sunset and then the next sunrise”, followed by an elegant rosé and pinot noir that are not only a pleasure to drink, but also of good quality-price ratio.

Stopping by another booth, we tasted single-malt beer and ale that carry a prominent sweet floral scent to the nose, finishing with a hint of fresh ginger and yeast in the mouth — much different from the commercial brands that I often refrain from drinking.

Since the topic of discussion at the session was USA wines, we moved onto the third stop and with two Oregon whites (p.s. Oregon’s the state in between Washington and California, along the west coast), we engaged our senses and learned to tell if wines made of the same grape have been aged in steel tanks or oak barrels.

The tour ended with a taste of three decent Karma Tequilas made of agave that were all distilled to their purest forms, quite powerful to the nose yet velvety-smooth on the palate, followed by a lingering finish. A tiny sip goes a long way. The interesting part comes when they handed us Tequila Karma bracelets found on each bottle, which made me curious of its background. After Googling, it came to my knowledge that it donates a portion of its purchase to Karma Care, a non-profit org that supports the well-being of children around the globe 🙂

Later, I met with a few friends and spent the next couple of hours tasting wines to our liking. It was a shame though for missing on a few good (and popular) French producers whose booths closed early for they have ran out of wines; not to mention the freshly-made gelato at Vinitaly too! 😡

i’m already looking forward to in HKIWSF in 2015! How about you?

– Judith

Old-school HK style “Cafe Virtue”

View from the opposite street; Mai Tak Cafe

I usually arrive at the office pretty early, so today, I’ve decided to walk around the industrial area for “treasure hunting”. Look what I’ve found — it’s Mai Tak Cafe across the street!
p.s. “Mai Tak” means virtue in Chinese

So I crossed the street and walked to the takeaway counter. But before that, I was attracted by the 80’s Canton pop songs that played through an outdoor speaker (tiny white square near the window) and that’s when I then noticed the front door that led me up the stairs to this old-school Hong Kong-style cafe!! Super cool, don’t you think?

After a quick look I went back to the ground floor, followed the queue and bought myself freshly made Egg Sandwich with Hot Coffee (HK$16). To be honest, I must say my breakfast was yummy but actually quite ordinary, but I would return for my hope that this kind of places won’t get replaced by restaurant groups that lack personality and human warmth. We’re having too many of those already.

+ + + + +

Quick update:

I brought my friend here again this morning and actually sat down for a proper breakfast. We ordered the same thing – English Breakfast with Fish Fillet, Fried Egg and Hash Brown with toast, plus a cup of Milk Tea added with Condensed Milk (HK$24)!

It was a sizable amount of comfort food, and with that sweet, smooth, absolutely luscious drink that rounds up the meal (forget about the calories for a sec), what more can I ask for?

Mai Tak Cafe
M/F, Mai Tak Industrial Building, 221 Wai Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Hong Kong
T. +852 2344 2512

– Judith

Motorino + Origin = Fulfilling

For those who have followed my posts, you’d know that I’ve left the publishing group and moved on at a new working place. It’s been brilliant fun so far, which within one month of employment they’ve already sent me onto a business trip to Greece! *GEEZ*

I’m pretty lucked out and I’m absolutely happy about it, but of course that’s also when I started getting real busy too and have seemed to leave my blog behind…

Before I talk about what I’ve eaten at Athens and the beautiful Santorini, I’d like to give way to this one first. Exactly two months ago it was my friend’s birthday. We’ve known each other for some eight or nine years and only in 2014 it came to my mind that I’ve never made her a cake.

So here it is, a not-so-nice-looking-but-super-delicious-matcha-cheesecake — once again, I love you and I wish you the best, Samantha.

Of course, it’s more than just a cake! Another night I brought her to Motorino, an Italian place located along the stairs of Soho.

It’s been quite a long time and it didn’t leave a deep impression. As I can slightly recall, the two antipasti — Prosciutto di Parma + Buffalo Mozzarella (HK$138) and Octopus and Potato Salad w/ Capers & Chili Oil (HK$ 138) — weren’t bad. My strongest opinion though, is if you might order Cherry Stone Clams Pizza ($208) like we did, please DO NOT overspend time on taking photos because it can smell and taste awfully fishy once it starts cooling down. I learned that if I must order this again, I must either boost my photo-snapping skills or only order it when I have more than two people to share.

I introduced her to Origin later of the night. Some of you might be aware of a coverage on Spirito diVino Asia about gin (if not, click to read! http://goo.gl/TkeQvV); thanks to its awesome (and HOT) barmaid Cherry who you’ll find more often at Quinary instead, I’ve developed affection and appreciation towards the world of mixology.
That night we didn’t meet her there, but felt her presence by ordering her award-winning B24 Gimlet (HK$120) chrysanthemum cocktail with a ginseng taste, and also one of the bar’s signature cocktails named KGB (HK$120), likely to be a short form of “Kyoho grapes – Gin – Bubble Bath”. With both its taste and fabulous presentation, you really don’t want to miss out on this.

Motorino
G/F, 14 Shelley Street, Central, Hong Kong
T. +852 2801 6881

Origin
G/F, 48 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong
T. +852 2668 5583

– Judith

SdVA – Delightful press events…

… that preview up-and-coming events, restaurant menus, fine wine products and more.

Over that 1.5 years with Spirito diVino Asia I’d been invited to numerous press events, and in fact quite a number of them are still coming up even I’m only a small potato in the blogging community right now. Thanks for the support and trust!!!
25 May, 2013@ Domani Ristorante
Press lunch for Made in Italy 2013: Quality & Lifestyle
1. Capesante: pan-fried scallops, butter snow peas, orange dressing
2. Crema di Zucca: pumpkin soup, parmesan ice-cream and amaretto reduction
3. Orata: pan-fried seabream, sauteed spinach and clams
(other options — Lasagna: open-faced lasagna, stracchino cheese, bacon, spring onion and fava beans / Stinco d’agnello: lamb shank, spicy carrots in ginger bread)
4. Zuppa al Cioccolato: cold chocolate soup, milk ice-cream, coffee waffle, vanilla oil

7 October, 2013@ Harbour View Ballroom II, Four Seasons Hotel
Press preview of Castiglion del Bosco‘s Year of Horse limited edition of 888 bottles, collaborated with Chinese artist Tian Shuhan
1. Baked Crab Shell Stuffed with Fresh Crab Meat and Black Truffle (with CdBianco 2012)
2. Double-boiled Sea Whelk with Matsutake Mushrooms and Brassica (with Campo del Drago 2007)
3. Roast Chilean Sea Bass Fillet with Sweet Soy Sauce, Braised Australian Wagyu Beef Cheek in Gravy (with Campo del Drago 1999)
4. Caramelised William Pear with Fromage Blanc Creme, Lemon Verbena Gelato (with San Michele 2008)
5. Petits Fours (with Grappa del Drago)
*AMAZING dishes — the William Pear is one of my most-coveted desserts ever*

8 October, 2013@ Mimura Japanese Restaurant
Press preview of Tokushima specialties — “gifts from the beauty of nature”
1. Deep-fried Awaodori Chicken with Italian balsamic vinegar and Shanghai hairy crab roe
2. Soba-gome with Awaodori Chicken
3. Oden (Japanese hotchpotch with Daikon and chicken ball)
4. Awaodori Chicken wing with aged tangerine peel
5. Torikara with Awaodori
6. Simmered Japanese Eggplant by Dried Awa Shrimp
7. Naruto-Tai Okaki Age
8. Tempura Naruto Kintoki Potato
and A LOT more dishes… let’s not forget the sake Dassai 23, by the way!

– Judith

SdVA – exploration of some of the world’s…

… quickly-evolving cuisines — the exciting Spanish and Peruvian! 😀

In fact, the concept of Peruvian cuisine only came to my mind while I was talking to the “Demon Chef” Alvin Leung of BO Innovation (see photos here), who said that it’s something that every gourmand in the world is paying attention to. Thanks, I think I’m really in love with these two right now.

11 April, 2013@ Catalunya
(read 13 July, 2013 full review here)
1. Avocado and Lobster Roll
2. Catalunya Tomato Tartar
3. Bombas de la Barceloneta
4. The Bikini
5. Suckling Pig Tapa
6. Lobster Rice

20 June, 2013@ VIEW62 by Paco Roncero
1. Liquid Nitrogen Mojito
2. Liquid Olive
3. Liquid Iberico Ham
4. Avocado Cream
5. Nitrogen Passion Fruit, Mint, Coffee with something more
6. Lobster with Olive Oil Soup with Green Tea Foam
7. Beef Cheek
8. Green Tea Chocolate
9. EVOO Candy
and A LOT more…

24 February, 2014@ Chicha
1. Ceviche: Corvina, Tuna, Mixto
2. Causa: Aji de Gallina, Squid, Black Cod
3. Lomo Saltado
4. Pisco Sour
5. Pisco Punch
6. Jolly Roger
7. Tacama Don Manuel
8. Tacama Blanco de Blanco

– Judith

SdVA – fine-dining experiences…

… at award-winning restaurants in Hong Kong.

I visited the below places with the magazine. Some were media luncheons, some were tastings during/after interviews, and some were private dinners held with a cause (let’s say, the one at GOLD by Harlan Goldstein, each pax was actually priced at HK$10,000!!). Great food and wine; overall a great experience.

And by the way, I was in fact thinking whether to have BO Innovation in this or in the coming post, but at the end I’ve decided to keep it here since it did fetch some outstanding accolades… Guess what the coming theme of my SdVA post would be?

7 March, 2013@ 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA
3 Michelin-starred
#10 of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014
1. 30-month Culatello di Zibello Ham on Thin-sliced Green Apple
2. Fried Shrimp
3. Homemade Tagliolini with Maguro Tuna and Bottarga
4. Perigord Black Truffle Risotto
5. Tajima Beef Short Rib and Tenderloin with Plum Sauce
6. Montebianco (Mont Blanc Dessert)

20 May, 2013@ GOLD by Harlen Goldstein
Michelin-starred
1. Mediterranean Fish Soup, Japanese Clam and Garlic Saffron Toast 
2. Hokkaido King Crab, Organic Fruit Tomato, White Asparagus and Ginger Sesame Dressing
3. Wild Seabass Fillet with Octopus
4. Giant Spanish Red Prawn, Linguine, Baby Shrimp Sauce and Bottarga di Muggine
5. 24H Slow-cooked Beef Cheek, Parmesan Mash, Forest Mushrooms and Honey-glazed Brussel Sprouts
6. White Chocolate, Strawberry, Passion Fruit


19 July, 2013@ L’Altro
Michelin-starred (read full review here)

3 January, 2013@ BO Innovation
3 Michelin-starred
#15 of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014
1. Molecular “Xiao Long Bao” (Little Bun)
2. “Lap Mei Fan” (Chinese Waxed Meat Rice)
3. Mulhoe: foie gras, spicy Korean miso, pear, sea urchin, sea bladder, smoked squid, sea bream and yacon
4. Lotus Leaf: chicken, charcoal biscuits, bone marrow, chicken liver, preserved kumquat and lily bulb
5. “Mao Tai” (Calamansi)


– Judith