Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Food and Hotels and Massage in Bangkok November 2011

Again, posted these on Tripadvisor.

We had booked a Bangkok trip way ahead of the floods that hit Thailand late October 2011. After some fannying about with MAS which kept changing its mind about rescheduling flights we opted to stick with the planned flights and hotel. Some evidence of precautions being taken, with cars parked on flyovers and sandbags outside the shops in the Sukhumvit Road, but other than this life went on pretty normally.  The malls heaved with people and the food outlets all seemed to be doing healthy business. Was not the case further north, with advisories against visiting the big open air market at Chatuchak. We like Bangkok - looking to the future yet not at the total expense of the past. And always a great sense of peace and reasonable safety - not scared to walk the night time streets, which is becoming harder to do at home in KL.

JW Marriott New York Steak Bar Bangkok November 2011 - Overhyped

Disappointing. All the usual review sources had been building this place up as the business for good steak. Really? Didn't do it for me. Whilst the decor was indeed straight out of uptown New York, the so called 20 oz Porterhouse (Australian beef) looked a bit thin and more like a minute steak on the plate and tasted a bit on the cool side. Spinach was oversalted (but removed from the bill) though the hash browns were delightful. Wine list okay at the top end but substantial markups in my mid range. Maybe it was the floods disrupting supplies, but not a place I would return to for steak. 

Previously had steak at the Prime in the Bangkok Hilton on the Chao Praya river during a 2009 visit and it was very very good. But since it was off the radar in the reviews, we presumed others had overtaken in quality terms. Seems increasingly tough to get really good steak in South East Asia…  

Basil restaurant at Sheraton Sukhumvit Bangkok November 2011 - Great food, ambience too cool to relax

Decor felt like a modern temple with subdued lighting and modernistic table settings. Very upmarket feel. Impressed with the food quality and taste. The set dinner menus offered a great introduction to top end Thai cuisine. The three styles of rice was a nice touch. All the dishes were good in texture and taste, with the Tom Yam proving excellent - spicy but not overpowering with fire. The scallops in coconut soup and red curry duck were also top notch. 

Only issue for me was the somewhat overpowering new age music. I understand it creates a presumably desired ambience of chic and fashion style, but for me it made the restaurant feel impassive and austere. Kind of like eating at a fashion show. The result was that we felt we had to leave rather than languish and enjoy the place. Felt almost like the place was pushing us out, in stark contrast to the rest of the hotel which was extremely warm and relaxing. 

Sheraton Sukhumvit Bangkok November 2011 - Romantic luxury

Lovely hotel. Rooms were spacious and airy, bed was comfortable and large. Bathwater was a bit smelly, having that dank stale smell that seems to be pure Chao Praya, but hey, this is Bangkok! Hugely relaxing and great location being four stops down from Siam Paragon on the skytrain and with a walkway direct to the station. Concierge service was fantastic - anything we needed appointments for they did with grace, excellent courtesy and speed.  There is a lovely romance about the place. Would very happily return, especially now that we know there is a Healthland massage outlet within a ten minute walk along soi 19!

Taling Pling Bangkok November 2011 - Safe, not too spicy, excellent crab noodles.

This started out as a small eatery in 2009 and has now grown into a chain across Bangkok. The original restaurant remains on Thanon Pan but on this visit we tried the Siam Paragon outlet for lunch and were not disappointed. The quality and taste remain true to the home base roots, and the ambience is pure Thai silk cushions. Try the fresh lime juice over crushed ice for your welcome drink and the glass noodles and crab meat as main course. The red duck curry was also very tasty. Visual menus, so you can see what to expect on the plate. A good way to dip your toe in the water of Thai cuisine without burning your tongue or your pocket. 

Health Land Bangkok November 2011 - Genuine Thai Massage from trained professionals

A growing chain of traditional Thai massage centres. Forget the myth of lithe nubile young nymphs giving you a gentle back rub, this is the real massage deal. Two hour session for Bht450 with highly trained and professional masseuses, you get pummelled and pulled and painfully pounded but get to feel totally refreshed at the end of it. The joints and ligaments get the stretching they need and the circulation gets pressured and pushed around the body. Not for the faint of heart, this massage gives a sense of the real Thailand - considerate and giving. You will neither regret nor forget your Health Land experience!!

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