Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Club Vietnam @ FCC

FCC in Shanghai stands for Foreign Culture Club..although I'm not aware of any cultural event on going on site, as it seems to be just another garden-setting venue with a bar, a couple of restaurants, a wine cellar, and a patisserie.  

Even though I was on my own I decided to pig out.  The menu was pretty big and I had to restrain myself from over-ordering.  Since my husband loves prawn cakes I decided to do some detective work for him.  The result:  more than satisfactory and mostly importantly it wasn't swimming in grease!  I thought it would get the prawn-cake connoisseur's approval.

Beef curry with baguette.  The beef was tender but a little fatty, and the curry sauce wasn't bad.  It's probably as good as it gets in Shanghai.  

Here is the main reason for my visit: pho.  I have nothing bad to say about it except the fact that it's so small in portion.  

My pho condiment.  I guess I could have asked for more spouts but then my bowl probably wasn't big enough to fit more in!
Lunch came to almost RMB200.  Very pricey but with the lack of Vietnamese places in Shanghai what else can we do?

889 Julu Rd. (nr. Changsu Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel:  6445-8082

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Good Times Cafe

When we found out we could get dosas in Shanghai we rushed to Good Times Cafe in no time.  When we arrived we hesitated as it doesn't look anything like a regular Indian restaurant from the outside.  I even popped in to check on the menu to be sure that we were at the right place.

The menu itself is pretty weird both in presentation and selection wise.  It's like a tabloid newspaper with snippets of news article about nothing.  And hidden amongst them we found a wide selection of food including soups, pastas, meat courses, then Indian dishes, and some fusion stuff like chicken tikka sandwich.  I guess they are trying to do diner food as well as light Indian dishes?

Anyway we thought we'd focus on dosas.  My husband went for a Mysore Masala (RMB45) and I had a Paneer dosa (RMB48).  When they arrived we knew we were in for the real thing as they looked just like the ones we had in India.  They came piping hot and they were packed full with fillings (spicy potatoes for the Mysore and cheese for mine).   They were so tasty we wanted to order another one!

The soup with accompanied our dosas.  It's a little too strong and salty for my taste.

Dal Makhani.  I don't think it's on the menu but since you can always order from the sister restaurant Masala Art next door and this dish would have been a regular item there.  It was pretty good after we dished out the vein-clogging nob of butter.

Chicken tikka masala (RMB58).  There were more pieces of chicken in here than the more expensive (and stingy) version in Vedas.  It tasted pretty decent too with all the fragrant spices.

Lamb biryani (RMB55).  It looked a little different than what we are used to.  It seemed dryer and the long-grain white rice looked a bit odd.  The taste was right on though and the tender pieces of lamb were very enjoyable.
We have been back 2 more times since!

Good Times Cafe
401 Dagu Rd.(nr. Chengdu Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 5375-1275

The Flow Lounge and Bar

In the lobby of the Swissotel, The Flow Lounge serves made-to-order afternoon tea.  For RMB88 per set you get enough food to feed two.  In fact we got warned by the waitress each and every time when we wanted to pig out and ordered one set per person. 

Everything tasted pretty good and well-made.  The odd items were all in the bottom draw:  banana bread and cookies....they didn't quite go with the theme.

The scones were more like rock cakes, and there was no clotted cream.  I guess it's as good as it gets in Shanghai.  For the time being we will be going back. I hope things will be different when the Peninsular opens here.
The Flow Lounge and Bar
Swissotel Grand Shanghai
1 Yu Yuan Rd. (nr. Changde Rd.), Shanghai. Tel: 6288-1133

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thai junk food

To be exact I should call them Japanese junk produced in Thailand.  

I never thought I would put anything named Pocky in my mouth but my sister got me hooked on these.  There are many different kinds of Pocky but she said the strawberry one is the only one worth trying.  I agree fully.  Crispy biscuit sticks are coated with strawberry cream infused with bits of strawberries.  They are highly addictive!  The Thai version is fairly similar to the original Japanese version and it's at least half the price.

There must have been at least 200 types of instant noodles on the rack.  Thai people love their noodles.  I wanted something Thai tasting, i.e. spicy and somehow the picture on the pot made me believe it would be so.  Big mistake.  It tasted exactly like the regular Nissin pot noodles and therefore not very nice at all.  A waste of time!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thai Airways

We were actually looking forward to our journey back as it was our first time flying first class...perhaps travelling with a baby isn't such a bad thing!

Made-to-order club sandwich at the lounge.  It was as good as the club sandwiches I had had at hotel cafes (somehow it's such a hotel food).

Once on board we got served a small snack rather quickly.  They were supposed to be bite-sized crab cakes but they didn't taste too much like crab at all.  Maybe it was the rubbery texture which distracted me.

Champagne with grissini and ciabatta. Finally some decent airline bread.

To start we had scallops with avocado and pate.  Didn't touch the pate but the rest was very good.

Caviar and all the fixings.  I am not a regular caviar eater so I couldn't tell if it's good or not.

Pumpkin soup.  It was not hot enough and even if it was it wouldn't save it from being tasteless.

Now things definitely started to look up when we saw the size of that lobster.  The sauce was excellent too.  I assume it's yellow curry?  It tasted more gingery to green curry and it wasn't spicy.  The lobster was actually pretty decent too and for once I was getting full on a plane!

Rice which came with the lobster.  To nitpick the veggies were overcooked.

There were a number of cakes to choose from for dessert but our precious little baby kept whining we had to pass.  It was a shame.

Mango sticky rice

I have to say that was some good mango sticky rice!  When we saw how the mango lady handled her mangoes we knew we were onto a good thing.   It is true that a good chef respects her food.  Three portions of rice and 3 whole mangoes came to US$4.   We paid a little extra to get the mangoes whole.  Otherwise a portion with sliced mango is about US$0.8.
Mango Lady on Cart
Naresdamri Rd. (across from Hilton, there is a big "Don't touch the mangoes" sign up), Hua Hin

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chao Lay Seafood, round 2

We went back to Chao Lay for the second time and sadly we were hugely unsatisfied.  Perhaps we should have stuck to dishes which worked instead of trying new stuff.  

Prawn cakes.  They were actually not bad.

Cuttlefish salad.  I was disappointed that it didn't have vermicelli.  To make it worse the salad had not a hint of dressing.  Even the fresh and nicely blanched cuttlefish did not save the dish.

Stir-fried beef with chili.  I have no idea what cut the beef was but it tasted like shoe leather.  Not only was it tough it was also very dry like beef jerky.  I tried chewing a piece but had to give up as it hurt my jaws.

Fried noodles with seafood.  We got the impression that the dish was just thrown together with a few pieces of seafood.  The noodles were a little strange too and they tasted like instant noodles.  Perhaps the chef was off that day?

Chao Lay
15 Naresdamri Rd., Hua Hin, Thailand.  Tel: 032 513-436

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nem Chua in Thailand!!

I hit the jackpot during a casual stroll in Tesco (of all places!) in Hua Hin.  For those who know me know that I'm crazy about this Vietnamese sausage Nem Chua.  I couldn't believe it when I saw them  stacked along side the regular cold cuts.

On the sign it says Thai fermented sausages.  I had no idea that they are fermented as they sure don't taste anything from a fermentation process.  I wish I can read Thai.

Another Vietnamese sausage I though I'd try.

I didn't think much about the white sausage but the Nem Chua was excellent and just like the ones in Green Cottage!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Chao Lay Seafood

There are a number of shore side seafood restaurants by the Hua Hin town pier and Chao Lay is one of them.  We decided to give it a try as it ranks quite high up on a travel site.  

The menu was full of seafood items, but they would do regular Thai dishes off the menu like green curry chicken etc.

To start we had to have spring rolls.  They were hot, crispy and no frills.  It was a refreshing change to the fancy (and  fussy) Thai food we kept having at the resort.

Tom yum soup.  I think this was a small portion.  It came bubbling hot and despite the chili oil on top the soup was not spicy at all.  I love all things spicy so it was somewhat disappointing for me.  Then again for the first time I actually got to enjoy the seafood without having to gulp water in between bites.  The pot was full of prawns.  Yum!

Green curry with chicken.  Again it came in a big pot boiling hot.  The curry sauce was excellent and in it chunky pieces of lean chicken.  It was so much better than the version at the resort and it was 10 times cheaper also.

Thai fish cakes.  Great taste and consistency.  

Fried rice.  It was the weakest dish.  Rice was soggy and there was nothing Thai about it.  It was as bland as plain rice without any hint of spice.

Steamed sea bass in lime and chili sauce.  The fish itself was very fresh and plump.  The sauce was a little lame in the spicy scale.  Whenever we had this dish it always came in a small table stove.  Without a stove our fish got cold pretty quickly and it wasn't the nicest when it cooled down 5 minutes into its arrival.

Stir-fried vegetables.  Nothing special but at least they were crunchy and not the frozen variety.

The meal came close to US$30.  And it's one of the more expensive places in town - we love Thailand!

15 Naresdamri Rd., Hua Hin, Thailand.  Tel: 032 513-436

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Motion, Alila Cha-Am

We have had a number meals at our resort restaurant Motion.  With the LO's early bed time it was difficult to be out for dinners and luckily the menu covered quite a few things/continents and we were able to try different dishes.

On our second night we decided to check out the place.  The night was quiet and warm and we thought we would grab a quick bite.  It turned out to be rather romantic actually with candles and wine.  

Homemade grissinis were served promptly when we were given the menus.  Crunchy and subtly seasoned they disappeared rather quickly.

As we were still craving Thai food we gave the menu's Thai section a go.  Here we have Thai deep-fried dressed crab.  I love crab to begin with but this dish was so delicious my husband was impressed also.  Chunky white crab meat was mixed in with breadcrumbs and Thai spices.  Even thought they were fried they weren't too greasy at all.  We wanted more!

Seafood salad with vermicelli.  This dish has to be one of my all-time favourite Thai dishes.  I always wanted to find out what exactly is in the dressing, as there has to be more than just lime and chili.  The version in Alila looked very dainty but it was full of punch.  I reached for my glass of water very quickly!

Stir-fried prawns and asparagus.  While we liked the taste we felt the presentation was too fussy.  The fact that it looked interesting did not distract us from realising that it tasted blah.  And for what they were charging they were two very expensive prawns too.  

Green curry with chicken.  The curry sauce was fragrant and yummy but then it'd be difficult to mess that one up.  The big disappointment was that there were only about 3 pieces of chicken in the pot?  The rest were some kind of sliced vegetable which might have been bamboo shoots but it tasted more like wood.  

I specifically asked my husband to put his hand in the shot to demonstrate relative sizes.   In the little bamboo shoot lied our pad Thai noodles.  It was definitely not for sharing.  And again, it looked very cute in presentation but the taste was nothing special.  

We were happy with our meal because service was good and it was romantic.  The food, however, was marginal.  If "gourmet Thai" means small portions and fussy plating then we will pass.

On a different day we were back for lunch.  Even though I had decided to give the gourmet Thai menu a miss I couldn't resist spring rolls when I saw them on the menu.   I hate to say this again but they were truly unremarkable.  I do like the way the served it.

My husband's pizza with prosciutto was actually freshly made and surprisingly nice.

My pasta with clams was very well made as well.  The garlic and white wine sauce was neither too garlicky nor overwhelming, and the clams were meaty and fresh.  The chef responsible for non-Thai cuisine is a gem!

Another evening, another supper.  Where were the grissinis tonight?  The rolls here were no match to the grissinis.

Nicoise salad with seared tuna.  It looked great and tasted equally as nice too.

I had to have another Thai seafood salad with vermicelli.   I think there were more seafood here then the first time we had it.  
The pizza was so good my husband decided to have another one.  This time around there were olives!

Spaghetti with creamy chicken and green peppercorn sauce.  It was very delicious indeed and I loved the interesting taste and texture of green peppercorns.  I must find the recipe and try making it at home.  

Mango sticky rice.  We are back to stingy portion again whenever we order Thai food from the menu!  We loved the dish but we could definitely use more mango.

Another supper and I was more than happy to try another pasta dish.  It didn't disappoint - a generous amount of salmon was seared and infused in a nutty pesto sauce.  Nice!
My husband had a pizza again.  They must be good!

All in all we were quite happy with the variety and quality of the food. The prices they are charging are of course way more than normal street restaurants but they are not extortionist.  The only problem we had was the fact that we got charged for bottled water when it is free anywhere else in the resort - a bit cheeky if you ask me!

Cha-Am Thailand