Friday, 11 November 2011

MBK for the last time...

Today we decided to do MBK again to tie up a few loose ends. We had a few last minute gifts still to buy and a couple of things for ourselves of course. I am certainly shopped out and won't be doing much shopping for a while when we get home. I don't know that I could say the same for Tina!

We had lunch again at our usual place in MBK and Tina had rice with a selection of dishes that we really had little idea what they were. I had Pad Krapow once again which seemed a fitting last meal for the holiday. It's certainly one of my favorites.

We are now at reception having checked out. Unfortunately the car transfer to the airport that Tina booked yesterday was not arranged so sadly it is going to be a half hour wait until it arrives. We have a few beers left in our fridge so it's not a problem really. They have suggested we wait by the pool which is fine with us.

Luggage wise we are right on the limit, or so we hope! We have gained an extra bag that is massive and pushing close to the 30 kg maximum. Our other bags are around the 15 kg mark so we should be right...

Anyway I will sign out from Thailand now and give a wrap up of a what has been an absolutely fantastic holiday once we are safely back home in Melbourne.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Loy Krathong (Festival of Light and Water) Celebrations

In a major coup Tina has secured a us a 5 pm checkout on our last day which is wonderful as we fly out quite late on the evening. On returning from reception with this great news Tina also discovered that the hotel was having a mini Loy Krathong celebration around the Level 11 swimming pool. This is where you make a Krathong and decorate it with flowers, candles and incense then release it into the river (swimming pool) and make wishes for good fortune. Of course we thought this would be great fun for Charlie do we headed there around 6. Charlie had a great time making her Krathong and we all released them into the pool and made our wishes. The hotel provided all the materials and even some drinks and appetizers. We had lovely chilli prawns and some nice pork meatballs.

Being pretty exhausted from the big days shopping and a late night the previous evening. We arrived hone from Nahm around 11 to find Charlie still awake! She runs rungs around the submissive Thai babysitters. We decided to head back to Soi 38 as it is the closest option and we both felt like duck noodle soup. The soup was fantastic and all three of us enjoyed a bowl, Charlie had hers dry but loved slurping the noodles and Tina and I were happy to raid any of the duck she didn't eat. We also had a great mango shake which I am keen to make at home. They call them shakes but I'm pretty sure there is no dairy content and they are more like a juice slushy. I got Charlie a serve of satay chicken sticks as I didn't realise Tina had ordered her noodles. Of course this was no great problem and between the three of us we consumed them easily. If we weren't full enough Tina got Charlie a lovely bowl of coconut ice cream lathered in condensed milk. It usually comes with a raw egg but Tina opted for an eggless version. This was very popular with Charlie as you would expect! We grabbed ourselves a serve of Mango stick rice from the well known Mae Varee of Sukhumvit Soi 55 to enjoy at home. It was wonderful!

Siam Paragon

This morning we all had a great sleep in and after some breakfast we decided to check out a Diamaru Department store that was shown on a map in one of my food guides. It was close by so we thought it could be a nice easy option. The girls at reception told us they had never heard of a Diamaru in the location on my map but as usual we ignored their advice. We caught a taxi to the location that my map showed several department stores but there wasn't much to see save for a few construction sites. I rechecked my book and noted that it was first printed in 1995 and although reprinted in 2005 it was obviously a bit outdated and a food guide not a shopping guide so obviously the priority on updating the maps with the latest department stores was not a high priority!

This was not a major problem as we took a short walk to the nearest BTS station and caught the skytrain to Siam Paragon. Tina was still focused on finding at least one pair of jeans in an attempt to keep up with my shopping efforts. To let Tina focus on shopping I took Charlie for a couple of hours and decided to check out DAISO which is a Japanese $2 store that Colin had spoken highly of. After a bit of wandering around I found a 3 level store in Siam Square. It's quite an interesting store with lots of Japanese plastic gadgets and bits and pieces all priced at 60 Baht. I had read that these stores were the latest craze in Bangkok. I found it quite interesting and bought a few items. Soon after leaving, Charlie passed out and I met up with Tina. She had finally found some jeans and was starting to catch up with my efforts. It didn't last long though as I found a great pair if boots by J Shoes and quickly extended my lead. As Tina had covered the ladies department pretty well we headed for the men's clothes where I found 5 fantastic shirts by Paul Marc. Obviously this put me in an unassailable position so in sympathy we went to the ladies shoes department where Tina found a great pair of Italian leather ladies thongs. I decided that I needed a leather belt so I left Tina with Charlie and went back to the men's department. After about 20 minutes I didn't find anything and sent Tina a text to meet at the level 2 VAT refund counter. This is where you apply for VAT refunds that can be claimed at the airport. After about 10 minutes Tina showed up looking very worried as she had lost her phone and only found me out of sheer luck. I tried to call the phone but couldn't get through. Just as we where thinking the worst some of the department store staff came running over holding Tina's phone! All extremely lucky really. We thanked them profusely and headed for the exit. We were just about clear when Tina spotted some singlets. She had been looking for some for a while so of course we stopped and she quickly purchased four of them. Not a bad days shopping really.

We were obviously pretty hungry by this stage and while we had snacked on some Obanyaki (I mistakenly called these Takoyaki in a previous post) from the vendor in Siam Square near Som Tum Nua it was time to get some proper lunch. We opted to get the skytrain back to Thong Lo station and get food from Sukhumvit Soi 38.

I had some lovely crunchy noodles with pork in gravy, I think this is call Rad Nar but I'm not too sure. Tina went for Pad Thai and maybe because we were starving it was delicious and probably the best Pad Thai so far.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


We left MBK having spent all our cash save for about 60 Baht which was enough for out BTS tickets but not for a taxi from the station to our hotel. We decided this would be necessary given how many bags of shopping we had accumulated! I found an ATM and without really thinking I withdrew 10,000 Baht and was straight away wondering how we would be able to spend it all given we only have two days left in Bangkok.

Our first plan was to book a babysitter and head back to the Long Table. We then decided that drinks at the Vertigo rooftop bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel followed by dinner at David Thompson's restaurant Nahm would be even better. Tina organised it all in about 20 minutes and we were set for a great night. After dressing up in all our newly purchased clothes and shoes we caught a taxi to the Banyan Tree. The Vertigo Bar is an open air bar and restaurant on the roof of a 60 story building. We caught the lift as high as it went then climbed a few staircases until we reached the roof and were immediately overwhelmed by the awe inspiring 360 degree views of Bangkok. It is the absolute top of the building and you can see for miles in every direction, absolutely unbelievable! This is a must visit for anyone coming to Bangkok. The name Vertigo is very apt and I was certainly a bit wobbly knee'd. We enjoyed a number of delicious cocktails and took in the beautiful views of Bangkok at night. The cocktails definitely helped to calm the nerves.

After finishing up at Vertigo we caught the lift back to the ground and wandered next door to Nahm. The menu was amazing with so many options, choosing was going to be difficult. Fortunately they have a banquet option for 1,700 Baht per person where you get a sample if all the appetizers, soup each, a relish, a curry, a stir fry, a salad, dessert each and if course rice. We also ordered lychee Mojitos to kick things off.

I will try and recall all the dishes but it was such an assault on the senses with so much food coming out in rapid succession that combined with my cocktail intake I am going to struggle.

First out was a pork, prawn chilli jam on a slice of pineapple. Then a savory crispy Thai cupcake, then mussels on a satay stick, a Miang (betel leaf wrap) and some kind of lovely glutinous mini steamed dumplings. All of it was sensational and immediately devoured as soon as photos had been taken.

Not long after finishing our appetizers the main meal arrived and we were given plates of rice and a beautiful brothy duck soup with slices of duck and shitake mushrooms and other goodness I couldn't identify. Our curry was a sumptuous blue swimmer crab meat curry, this was a favourite. The stir fry was frogs legs which was also delicious but incredibly spicy. The salad was lemongrass prawn and chicken with cashews I think, it was so light and crunchy with a refreshing lemongrass flavor. The relish was wonderful and I am very intrigued by Thai relishes. This one was accompanied by deep fried soft shell crab and some crunchy raw thai vegetables, one of which was rose apple. We loved it and are going to try and find it back home. Sadly I can't remember the description of the relish as I was poring over this section of the menu much that all the dishes kind of became confused with each other in my memory. Needless to say, it was incredible and not something I had tried before but hopefully one I will try again soon.

The whole meal was unbelievable, David Thompson has been quite controversial over here because of how expensive his food is compared with how cheap traditional thai food usually is. I have to say that during our holiday we have eaten some amazing food but nothing that compares with how beautiful and delicious as what we enjoyed at Nahm. It is so delicate and refined and the taste sensations are superb. Perhaps his food is not tidally traditional, I am not informed enough to judge but to me it's irrelevant. He is a genius and through his excellent cookbooks he has made the wonderful Thai cuisine so accessible to so many that he really should be applauded by the Thai rather than criticized. After reading his books so many times and cooking many of his recipes it was really great to be able to taste and see what the actual versions of his dishes should look and taste and smell like.

If the whole experience wasn't special enough, who should wander past our table but the man himself. I had imagined that this might happen and promised myself that if it did I would accost him for a photo. So that's exactly what I did! He was happy to pose for a photo with me and was such a friendly person and we had a brief chat and of course I told him he was a genius. I may have been a but excited but I still think this is true. Along with Luke Nguyen and Adam D'Sylva he is one of my favorite chefs so being able to eat his food and meet him was a pretty special night for me.

I should also say that by this time we were absolutely stuffed and I had to have a bit if a lie down to recuperate for dessert! Tina kindly took a photo. For dessert they brought out a palate cleanser which I believe was more rose apple sweetened with crystalized sugar, very light and refreshing. I chose Durian sticky rice and Tina had the grilled banana with coconut cream custard. I had to eat most of both dishes which was a bit of a chore but I coped ok. The durian sticky rice is definitely a quintessentially Thai dessert and while I love mango sticky rice I don't think it is as delicious as durian sticky rice. I had to stop short of calling this my favourite thai dessert because there are just so many wonderful thai deserts but this is right up there in my estimation. The bananas were also very special and the thai bananas are quite different to ours at home. They have many varieties over here and different varieties are used for different purposes. These were delicious and the creamy custard sauce really enhanced their smoky sweet grilled goodness. if that wasn't enough they finished us off with a plate of two each of four lovely sweet treats that I can't even begin to describe.

Ok so I have done my best to recap what was an unbelievably amazing evening and I believe a must do for anyone visiting Bangkok. I know that we will definitely be repeating this evening next time were in Bangkok and I would even go so far as to say that it would be worth the trip from Singapore or KL for the weekend just to enjoy David Thompson's amazing food and wonderful service at this very special restaurant. And of course that spectacular view from the Vertigo rooftop bar!

For the record I saw David Thompson again on our way out and thanked him for a wonderful experience. He asked if I wad a chef! I said no but I do gave both your cookbooks and told him we'd be back next time we were in Bangkok. Oh and I might have told him he was a genius again.