Posts tagged “Thai

Thai Farmers’ Restaurant – Wanchai

Reivew:

There were four of us for supper last night in Wanchai, and we fancied showing our new friends the delights of Thai Hut.

As previously explained, there are only a tiny number of seats there since the Po-leece stopped them from setting up tables outside, so you do take your chances.  Unfortunately, last night  we were unlucky, as there was an old gweilo dude slumped on a stool taking up 3 precious seats, chin on chest, snoring drunkenly away (it was only 11pm), so we had to find an alternative.

That’s how we ended up at Thai Farmers’ restaurant across the way on Lockhart Road, sandwiched between The Bell Inn (which seems to have become the pub of the moment for all the International School kids) and some low dive strip-joint.

Food: All the usual Thai staples. Large menu, pretty much as home-style as Thai Hut. Everything we had was very tasty, although not quite as punch-your-lights-out hot as Thai’s usually like for themselves.  Portions were very generous, and the dips they provided with the pork neck and spring rolls were really good, as were those items themselves.

Drinks:  Standard drinks list for Wanchai – beer, canned softs, a few juices. Cheap and cheerful.

Ambience:  Very simple. Love the bold tablecloths. It’s a little shoebox of a place with seating for not more than 30, clean and simple, if a little rough around the edges.  The only others in the restaurant were a Thai couple, one of whom was a decidedly pre-op lady-boy, in desperate need of a stylist.

Service:  The food came quick, and the staff were friendly and attentive.

Price: We spent just over $400 for four of us, and we were only drinking soft drinks.  We had 6 dishes plus rice. So, really rather good value!

Location: G/F King Tao Building 98 Lockhart Road Wanchai Hong Kong. Tel 2520 6607. Almost opposite Agave.

I hadn’t been to this restaurant for years, and was really wondering why after this meal. Chili Club, which is actually almost upstairs from this place, and  seems to be so popular still after all these years, despite having zero ambience and mass produced tasting fare is a poor second to Thai Farmers’. This little restaurant has more authentic food, a more intimate atmosphere and is great value for money.

Rat Alley, LKF – there’s a new reason it’s called that…

Review and an open letter to Uncle Alan:

So when I first arrived in Hong Kong I understood that we called the place of much cheapness that was Wing Wah Lane “Rat Alley”, simply because of the rats – and believe me there were many.

I lived in Lan Kwai Fong for a couple of years on what used to be the wonderfully quiet Wo On Lane (that backs onto Wing Wah), and we used to fight pitched battles with the wily creatures on late night returns home.

More recently, Rat Alley has earned its sobriquet for a wholly different reason – the restauranteurs are the rats now, charging crazy prices for the slop they call food and serve in their establishments.

Yes, I know that the landlords will be blamed for putting up the rent – but Christ – you’re probably in the most lucrative entertainment district in Asia bar Rappongi Hills!

I’m sure there are all sorts of bar owners who would love to pay top dollar for some of that commercial space, and we’d actually have a truly pedestrian friendly piece of LKF Magaluf to hang out in. Sling a roof across that space, add some sort of ventilation and you could have an awesome year-round courtyard.

I used to have a soft spot for the crazy chap who owns Good Luck Thai (and seemed either to be preternaturally cheerful, or just perpetually pissed), but now I understand that he runs most of the establishments on that strip so competition is diminishing, and I’m not quite so enamoured as I was before.

The only reason I went recently was that some poor tourist idiot had heard it was a good place for al fresco dining and was already there by the time I’d arrived to meet him.

It’s time those restaurants went bust, and we got some proper venues in there, or that the LCSD had a moment of inspiration and set up a proper food night-market à la Singapore.

Actually, scrap that. Can you even begin to imagine the monstrosity that would be an LCSD produced “authentic” night market?

Come on Mr Zeman – if you can afford to set up LKF in Chengdu, why don’t you go the whole hog in HK and grab a hold of Wing Wah Lane too and deliver all those poor tourist saps from their misery?

Suan Thip – great way to spend a few hours in Bangkok

Review:

Follow these instructions carefully and you will have a great half day in Bangkok, and one of the best Thai meals in the capital.

suan thip caustic candy

1) Get your lifestyle manager (I have mine through my Vertu mobile phone ) or your hotel concierge to organise a longtail boat for half a day’s river trip.  We paid Bht5000 for 5 hours (no doubt you can get it cheaper, but I like to spread my money into the economy).

2) Set off around 10:30am and go on an explore around the Klongs for an hour or so.  Well worth it to see the wildlife, the temples and businesses along the canals.

3) After an hour or so head upriver to Suan Thip, it takes around 60mins and it’s just fascinating seeing all the action on the river.  The barges, the military installations, the temples, the timber yards, the houses etc.  It’s a lovely way to spend an hour relaxing whilst watching the world go by.

suan thip river bangkok caustic candy

4) Stuff face at Suan Thip which is a lovely old complex comprising a restaurant/cooking school/banquet hall and a beautiful garden. (If you are there in the daytime then ask to sit in a sala by the river.  At night I’m not sure how horrific the mozzies might be, so consider carefully whether you want inside or out for dinner).

5) Roll back in your boat and digest the huge amount of food you are likely to have eaten whilst you whizz back to BKK, in time for a shopping spree and a massage before dinner.

Suan Thip is very popular at night, and I’m sure it would be all sorts of romantik in the garden but you would miss seeing all the life along the river if you went in the dark. Lunch wasn’t very busy so it was super relaxing.

Food: Surprisingly it’s Thai… They have a huge menu, and they do pride themselves on showcasing the country’s cuisine, and it’s really very good.  We particularly like the more jungle style soups and curries, whose flavours were incredibly delicate yet still lovely and hot, certainly not your bog standard fare.

If you like your Thai food proper Thai-hot then do impress this on your waiter as they automatically tone it down for foreigners.  The other great thing is that all the dishes come in small or large portions, so if you are a couple you can let rip and order lots of different things – very smart thinking that restauranteur.

Ambience: Just lovely in the salas in the garden. Insects chirupping, the occasional roar of boat engines, surrounded by palms and pot-plants. There was a massive tour group in the main restaurant when we went and I was glad to be out in the garden.  As I say – if you go for dinner make sure you have the mozzie repellant.

Service:  Very good service.  Staff are very friendly and knowledgeable about the food.

Price: Incredibly reasonably priced for the quality of the food and the venue.  Delightful meal, around US$20-30 a head – good value.

Location: 17 Soknai,Wat Koo Road, Pakkret. Tel: +66-2583-3748

You can also get here by going to Mo Chit Skytrain station and then it’s a 10km taxi ride – but why would you bother when the river trip is so much part of the experience.

Open: Daily from 11am to 11pm, with last orders at 10pm.

Note: If you’re not a regular to BKK then take the advice and make sure you send a lunch-box down to your boatman at the restaurant and if you buy food and drinks on the canals then share with him too. Sometimes when you are enjoying yourself these things slip your mind.

L16 Cafe & Bar – Like dining in a public toilet.

Review:

L16 Hong Kong Park review

L16 has an enviable location bang in the middle of Hong Kong Park.  You’d have thought that if someone could work out how to keep the mozzies at bay, this would be THE prime location in Admiralty/Central for a proper pukka restaurant/bar – sadly not.

I recently went for a late lunch here on a Sunday because I’d been walking through the parks and was hot and bothered. First off I had to move from table to table to find the location that reeked least of toilet (this isn’t a one off, I’ve moved outside before for drinks because of this issue). Really, really unpleasant especially when you realise that the toilets and the kitchen are in one central block in the middle of the room, but I was in need of air-con having to choose between eau de urine or heat-stroke.

Food: Thai.  Bog standard menu, nothing special, nothing bad, middle of the road cheap fare.

Ambience: They rely totally on their location and the surrounding greenery to detract from the fact this place is in massively bad repair.  Sit outside and you are attacked by mozzies, but other than that it’s a pleasant place to be. Sit inside and you are faced with tatty menus, chipped chairs, tables with the laminate peeling off, stained floors and the underlying bouquet of privvies.

Service: We waited a long time for both food and drinks even though there were very few people in the restaurant.  Dishes came at very long intervals so you had almost finished one of your mains before the next one appeared, so not great.

Cost: It’s reasonably priced considering you are in the centre of the park and the quality of food is decidedly average.  You’d be pissed if you had to pay more.

Location: Close to the Pacific Place end of Hong Kong Park in Admiralty.

This is such a shame.  Props that they are making the venue accessible to all pockets in such a popular tourist spot, but come on!  If a place like Nha Trang on Wellington Street in Central and in CC Wu Building on Queen’s Road East, Wanchai can make tasty, interesting, quality food at very reasonable prices, in a smart and clean venue, what is the excuse of these fools in Hong Kong Park?

If you have to go, just go for a glass of vino and sit outside, that way you remain oblivious of its massive failings.

Bloody dreadful – it needs new management and new vision.

Cafe de Laos, Bangkok – Bring me my sossidge.

Review:

If you haven’t been to Laos, then you really should.  It is a beautiful, simple, spiritual place with awesomely hot food, and one particular dish that I will kill for – Laos sausage (the very good ones in Thai Hut in Wanchai, still pale in comparison to the real thing).

Laos

If you need some more convincing then the next time you’re in Bangkok go try the food.  There are a few Laotian/Isaan restaurants in BKK, the most well known one being Vientiane Kitchen.  We were put off this one by the concierge and the fact that they have a band and dancing, which isn’t really my bag, so instead we went for Cafe de Laos.

Cafe de Laos

Food: Very tasty food.  Laos sausage-tastic.  These are rustic, garlicky slightly fermented sausages served with fresh coriander leaves, slices of chili and peanuts.  Bloody love them.  The beer marinated pork neck and  jungle curry were also really good. Quite a lot of interesting dishes with more of a bent towards river fish and shellfish rather than seafood as Laos is landlocked, so flavours are quite delicate.  DO tell them that you eat food hot like they do, otherwise they will tone down on the chillis for sure, thinking that you are a useless nancy farang.

Drinks: They serve Beer Lao which is always a bonus.  They even have a wine list, although I’m not really up for pairing Laos food with wine yet.  Beer is perfect for me!

Ambience: Restaurant is in an old colonial house, and it’s pleasant enough, but the main ground floor room where we ate was rather bright and lacked any vibe at all, which is a shame because the food is very good.  There is also a lot of wood and tiles, so very little material that damps down noise.  You do feel a bit like you are in a National Trust tea-room in the UK.

Service: Service was a little slow, and fortunately for us they actually forgot one dish which was fine as we were stuffed.

Price: Very reasonable, can’t remember exactly, but it was very good value for the quality of food.

Location: In Silom, 16 Silom Road Soi 19. Tel +662 6352 3389

There are a few more Laos and Isaan restaurants in Bangkok which I would try over going back to this restaurant, simply because I believe there must be somewhere with better ambience.  Can’t fault the food though.

Where is the truly original, Modern Thai restaurant in Bangkok?

As you’ll know I can be a bit agressive when it comes to reviewing restaurants. Mahanaga was getting rave reviews last year and was meant to be the next big thing in modern Thai cuisine.

We spoke to a concierge at the Peninsula, and a couple of Thai friends in Bangkok, and the resounding opinion was – nice decor, food ain’t much.  More Asian-confusion than modern Thai, so we swerved.

Come on Bangkok – we need a Demon Chef down in your city!  I love, love, love Thai food, especially Isaan.  Be bold, be creative, be focussed and create somewhere to blow my mind.

Lan Na Thai and Face, Bangkok – too farang by far

Review:

Disappointing juxtaposition here.  Great bar, crap restaurant.

The venue that houses Face, Lan Na Thai and Hazara it stunning.  Beautiful teak housing complex, fishponds, palms, soaring ceilings, nooks, crannies and separate buildings.  It’s well hidden behind big gates and a high white wall, so it’s a lovely feeling to discover it and leave bustling Bangkok behind.

Face Bangkok

If you haven’t been to BKK before then you really have to go and have a few drinks at Face, it is really lovely – good cocktails, great surroundings, good service etc.

I haven’t tried their Indian food (Hazara), but the Thai food (Lan Na Thai) is very disappointing and expensive for what it is.  Far too farang friendly, the heat is completely toned down and just dull, dull dull – don’t bother if you like it fiery.

Location: 29 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 38, Bangkok. Tel: 662 713 6048. Very Close to Skytrain station Thong Lo, couple of mins walk.

Best hole in the wall – Thai Hut, Wanchai

Review:

Thai Hut is always there when you need it – they have seen me at my office best and at my Wanchai worst. I can go at lunchtime for a quick $35 lunch-box of curry and rice, at supper for pad ka prao, tom yum gai, and a papaya salad, and at kicking out time for a Laos sausage, chicken satay, or deep-fried chicken skin.

Caustic Candy Thai Hut Wanchai

The Hong Kong fun police have stopped the snackery from setting up tables and stools outside which is frustrating, so as it’s a tiny spot you have to cross your fingers and hope there is some free bottom space.  On the crossroads of Luard and Hennessy it is my favourite Wanchai people-watching joint – the hookers, the sailors, the conference goers, the mamasans, the tourists –  sit as near to the pavement as possible to goggle at the goings on.

Food: Homely thai fare.  Rock solid, hot as you can bear, caters to the Thai community in Wanchai so it’s proper stuff like.  You have to try a Laos style (or Isaan I suppose it might be here) sausage if you haven’t ever had one.  It is the “rustic” looking one with the big bits of garlic and fat.  Also, my favourite supper dish is the Pad Ka Prao  - steamed rice, minced meat and long beans, with chilli, basil, garlic etc, topped off with a fried egg.  Massively hot and yumtious.

Caustic Candy Thai Hut Wanchai Sausage

Drinks:  Great value for money as they sell beers and soft drinks in cans at basically 7/11 prices. Can also have lime sodas, iced lemon teas, lots of Thai favourites.

Ambience: Eclectic clientele, Thais (girls, boys and ladyboys) and people who know this place serves some of the best Thai food in town. You’re basically on the street, so it’s that Wanchai feeling all the way.

Service:  Always friendly, always quick, seems like the whole family are involved in some way.

Price: Cheapness. Rarely more than $100 per head if you have a mix of dishes to share and some drinks.  At lunch I struggle to spend more than $40 including a drink.

Location: Opposite Mes Amis in the same strip as Ebeneezers etc on corner of Luard and Hennessey Road, Wanchai. 2866 8528

Open:  Almost constantly.  Seems to close around 5am until brunch-ish.

Thai Restaurant – Citygate Mall, Tung Chung

Golden Siam is probably the most decent restaurant in the Citygate Mall in Tung Chung.  Useful if you are going to the cinema there or can’t wait to get back to civilisation after trawling through all the outlet stores.

Food: Basic Thai, some Cantonese twist dishes. Nothing spesh, just solid.

Drinks: Decent price, have a mix of lagers including Thai.  Some options on different soft drinks, herbal teas, iced, thai-style teas etc.

Ambience: Bit of an effort to put up some Thai-style decor and lights aren’t turned up quite so bright as your usual Cantonese diner, which is always a massive plus in my book.

Service: Swift, friendly and attentive.

Price: Curries around $60 so very reasonably priced – looking at $300 for two inc service.

Location:  Basement of Citygate next to the supermarche.