SPICEGASM.COM My travel tales and food hunting

December 31, 2011

Unexpected experience in Thailand’s Chinatown

Filed under: Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 12:49 pm

I was browsing the net for some cool places to go eat in Bangkok. I stumbled upon a site which offers a food tour in Chinatown. In order to join the tour, one got to book half a day in advance. I have to admit that I suck when it comes to doing things that is scheduled. I am more of the spur of the moment guy. So I did not book the tour and went to sleep.

I woke up the next day at 7am and I really felt like going to Chinatown and get the taste of Chinese Thai Dim Sum. The thing with Chinese food in the region of South East Asia, every country has its own special twist to it. It is normally a fusion mixed between Chinese cooking and the local style. So I thought would be a cool idea to go sample some Chinese Thai style Dim Sum. My friend Zach is still sleeping and I thought would be a good idea to invite him as well.

Busy street with many roadside vendors in Chinatown, Bangkok

Wen Zach woke up, I told him about my idea. He said yes and we should do it. So we were thinking whether to take the MRT or taxi. Since Chinatown does not have an MRT station nearby, we decided to take the taxi. How bad could the traffic be at 9.45am in the morning. We stopped a cab and the driver was more than happy to bring us there. That’s when our ordeal began!

I have no idea why the traffic was so bad on that day. It took us 2 hours to reach Chinatown from Ratchada. I bet without any traffic, it would probably take us less than 20 minutes to be in Chinatown. We had to go pee so badly while in the cab. By the time we reached Chinatown, our man pipes feels like is going to explode. I gave the taxi driver extra 100 baht on top of the meter charges and frantically trying to look for a restaurant. To my surprise, I didn’t see one single restaurant near the area where we were dropped off. It was all shops selling various merchandises. There’s a lot of street food though, mostly selling “Wan Ton Noodles”.

Street food in Chinatown, Bangkok

We walked frantically for another ten minutes looking for restaurants with toilets. My mind is no longer thinking of Dim Sum. I no longer feel hungry. Finally out of desperation, we thicken our face and asked a Thai lady vendor in our halting Thai – “Where’s the nearest toilet. She gave us some directions in Thai. We quickly thanked her and walked as fast as we could. “Thong Pai, Liaw Sai , Liew Sai, which means go straight, turn left and left again.”

We were so happy to have found a run down restaurant which has a working toilet. Is not 5 star quality but under the circumstances, this is more than welcome. I went first and asked Zach to sit down like we are customers. I have no idea why at this old age, I still feel embarrassed to use the restaurant toilets only and not eat there. Zach is no better than me when it comes to having a thick face. I guess no Dim Sum for us, whatever the shop sells, we will consume it.

This is the front of the beef noodle shop

When I got out of the toilet, I only realized that the run down shop is selling beef noodles. This is the kind of shop that I love. Run down shops in Asia always serve the best food, most of the time based on my personal experience. Judging from the crowd, the shop must be really popular. The waitress came to us and asked us what we want. We couldn’t understand a word and upon sensing that, she told us in Thai what they have. We could only understood the word noodles and beef. I just nod my head and put up a peace sign, indicating TWO please. I have no idea what we are going to get but at times is fun to eat something different in situation like this.

Customers waiting for their beef noodles

Beef balls that is really crunchy and bouncy – awesome!

My second round – beef tripe, tendon and more beef balls

Gelatinous goodness – beef tendon

She brought us two bowls of rice and another two bowls of soup with beef meat and beef balls. The serving is pretty small and after finishing my bowl of soup and rice, I wasn’t satisfied. I knew beef noodle shops would definitely have the cow innards like stomach, tendon and tripe. I went to the area where they prepare the dishes and just pointed to all the innards that I wanted, together with their awesome beef balls.

Can’t understand Thai, but it seems like this is a recognition poster by a TV station for serving excellent food.

After the meal, we walked a bit in Chinatown and as usual, like most other Chinatown in the world, is pretty busy. Rows of shops selling clothes, toys, hardware and many other products. The afternoon heat was pretty intense on that day. After snapping a few pictures, we decided to hop on a tuk tuk and go to the nearest MRT station. The ride was just less than 10 minutes and the MRT ride home was less than 20 minutes.

Rolex anyone?

Toy vendor

Rows of shops most likely own by Chinese Thais

This is the main reason I want Dinemates to be successful. I wouldn’t have to tell my friends in the future that it took me 2 hours to go to Chinatown to pee and eat beef noodles only.

December 24, 2011

Mum Aroi Thai restaurant near 3rd Road, Pattaya

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 2:07 am

Had the pleasure of being invited by a friend who is from France that is based in Thailand for many years to go eat in a fancy Thai restaurant. The name of the restaurant is Mum Aroi and is situated near to 3rd Road in Pattaya. Even though I am a big fan of street food but sometimes dining in a chic restaurant is very much welcome too.

I invited another American friend to come along. He came to my La Cerise, the guest house which I am staying and we asked for direction on how to go to Mum Aroi restaurant. The front desk staff then told us that transportation is provided for free to the guests of La Cerise. I thought the gesture was super cool and on top of that, the transportation was a bad ass looking tuk tuk!

It was just a 7-10 minutes ride and upon reaching the restaurant my host is already waiting together with an ex staff of his who is a Thai. His Thai ex staff brought along her mom as well. I really love it when there’s a party of 5 or more  when it comes to dining in restaurants like these. On top of that, there are locals in the group and this means we will definitely get to sample more varieties of dishes.

The restaurant looks really classy and has the Zen like feel to it. Spicy and delicious food served in a calm atmosphere is good for a change compared to the loud and noisy atmosphere of street food.

The parking lot of the restaurant is pretty huge. Easy to find a parking slot.

The ambiance of the restaurant is really cool. Dim lighted with some lights on trees and sound of the pool with a mini water fall.

Dining at Mum Aroi restaurant feels like eating in a really nice garden. Felt very relax and made me feel at ease and ready to swine and dine.

The restaurant has a pool which added a touch of class to this chic Thai restaurant. With the sound of flowing water it made me kinda thirsty and it just confirmed my beverage of choice for the night – BEER!

First dish was a spicy seafood salad. The shiny round balls are not pearls but some kind of fish egg. I have to admit this is my first time seeing fish egg this big. It has no distinctive but I guess is added to the salad for texture. I don’t know how to describe the texture exactly but is definitely not chewy  like those taro balls that you find in the pearl tea. I will leave it to Andrew Zimmern to make those descriptions. If he can describes how is it like eating dried camel testicles, this fish egg would be a piece of cake for him.

Baked mussels with Thai herbs. Really good appetizer when dip with the Thai seafood sauce. Sourish and spicy makes you want to eat more.

Khao Moo Yang, barbeque pork’s neck. Very famous Thai dish from Isaan. I can remember this dish’s name in Thai as I simply have to remember the words “young cow that moo”. I used to get confused during my first trip to Thailand between pork and beef. Pork is known as “Moo” and I always get mixed it up with beef as cow moos. Beef in Thai is known as “Neua”.

Dried chili stir fried with chicken and cashew nuts. Most likely a Chinese influenced dish but ordered for the courtesy of the American friend.

Can’t remember the name of this Thai soup dish. Made of coconut with spices, lemongrass and sea food. Didn’t want to order Tom Yum as we been ordering the King of Soup since the first day I was introduced to Thai food. Just wanted to try something new for a change. I have to admit that I still prefers Tom Yum but is good to experience new dishes once in a while.

BBQ river prawns! Just fresh big head river prawns grilled on charcoal. It has a special spicy dip to go with it to make eating these prawns more heavenly. Super fresh and the flesh of the prawns bounced right back to your gums. I love the head also which is full of yucky looking gooey goodness. The elderly Thai lady that was with our group would only eat the heads. This comes as a perfect trade between my American friend and her.

Nam Prik with crab eggs. I ordered this as I’ve never tasted Nam Prik with crab eggs. I was disappointed though as it is just regular Nam Prik with some crab eggs in it. It cost 120 Baht which I think is pretty pricey. All the other dishes were pretty standard and I think the bill came up to 2000 plus ( with 5 bottles of large Heinekken beer ). I did not know the exact price as my host fights to pay the bill.

Overall, the dining experience was pretty good because of the ambiance and atmosphere of Mum Aroi Thai restaurant. As for the food, I think is pretty good but definitely there are places that are better and less fancier. Everybody has their preferences and I am sure some people would regard Mum Aroi as their number one Thai restaurant. I would definitely go dine there again once in a while if given the choice.

December 21, 2011

Many types of Nam Prik in the new Central Mall, Ratchada

Filed under: Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 3:41 pm

Central Mall Ratchada opened to the public on the 14th of December. I went to check it out on the next day. First stop was the food court and the first thing that caught my eyes is one stalls that offers Nam Prik set meals. Nam Prik is similar to the Singapore or Malaysia version of sambal belacan. My mouth literally watered when I see Nam Prik and I decided to get this set meal for lunch.

The set meal comes with plain white rice, a piece of fried fish, three kinds of vegetables of your choice (fried, boiled or raw  ) and egg omelet. Fried fish and omelet comes as default and I selected raw cucumber, boiled okra ( ladyfingers ) and fried egg-plant. I added a fried dried fish.The stall offers six different types of Nam Prik and I only know the name of one. I chose Nam Prik Kapi. It cost me around 65 Baht.

My Caucasian friend Zach ordered the same set meal too. He is being featured in my blog a lot as I am trying my best to convert him into a real Asian foodie. Still got to get him to enjoy eating innards and the big prawn heads. So far I am pretty happy with his progress as he really loves Nam Prik Kapi. His love for Nam Prik is real and sincere as I’ve seen him whacking it few days in a row. I do know some other Caucasian friends who declared their undying love for Asian food but whenever we go to food court, they would still order hamburgers.

I actually wanted to eat with my hand but there’s no sink available in the food court. I voiced my disappointment to Zach and he gave me a look that would be translated as “Ewwww…with your hands!” I then told him that to enjoy Nam Prik Kapi 100%, you need to eat with hands. By using fork and spoon, is just probably 80% satisfaction. The statement made him gave me another look like I am retarded for coming out with that reasoning. At that point my mind was working extra hard to find a perfect example to strengthen my reasoning. I then asked him if he ever eaten steak with plastic fork and knife. I then got a look from him that I was felt very pleased with. Case close and i started to eat my Nam Prik Kapi with a smugly face.


December 16, 2011

La Cerise guest house in Soi Lengke Pattaya

Filed under: Hotel,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 6:53 pm

I had to come to Pattaya to meet up with my programmer friend to complete my Asian Food Social Network site. He suggested that I stay in a new guest house in Soi Lengke. I am not so picky when it comes to accommodation. As long there’s free Internet access and clean, I am all good.

I thought I would make a review of the guest house that I stayed for more than 2 weeks. The name of the hotel is Le Cerise and the owner is from France. La Cerise is pretty cool in my opinion as it’s a restaurant and a guest house at the same time. Everything is new and I opted for the cheapest room which is at 999 Bath a night. It comes with free breakfast and you can order up to your room at any time of the day.

My room has a tiny balcony that can accommodate 2 person and it is really breezy. I always eat my breakfast at the balcony during my stay there. Another thing that is worth mentioning is that La Cerise has a living room on the second floor. The living room is a common area that can be shared with all the guests. It has satellite TV and DVD player as well. Is cool to entertain your friends here when they come visit you.

I normally do not review hotels or guest houses but I had to with La Cerise because at one time, the manager told me that they also provide transport services with their special made “tuk tuk” around Pattaya City. So this cool service made me want to include this little guest house in one of my post of Spicegasm.A guest enjoying the Free Wifi at the cafe just outside of the guest house premises.

The lobby is also a restaurant where you can have your free breakfast here if you choose not to have it in your room. At the end of the restaurant is a counter where all the friendly La Cerise staffs that will attend to your needs. The restaurant has a big selection of Thai food and also French food. There’s also French pastries for those who has sweet tooth.

This is the living room for the guests and it has satellite TV. The bean bag chair is pretty comfy.

This is where I do my work most of the time. Sometimes I would work at the balcony too.

My bed is clean and comfy. Mattress is good, no complains.

Toilet is clean but I wish the shower would have stronger pressure.

Having my free American breakfast at my tiny balcony. Feeling really happy and contended. It doesn’t take much to make me to feel a million bucks.

Some days I would have the French breakfast instead. Still having it on the balcony though.

The guest house also has many bicycles for rent. I have the feeling the owner of La Cerise is into biking. Tour D’ France!

And finally the picture of the coolest “tuk tuk” in Pattaya City. Bad ass looking motorcycle taxi!



December 7, 2011

Finally my new project Dinemates is ready for beta testing

Filed under: Chit Chat,Food,Travel — Alex @ 12:13 pm

I am happy to announce that my latest project is online now. I created a social networking site catering specially for Asian foodies. The site is currently under beta testing and few friends are invited to test out the functionality of the site. So far everything seems to be working fine.

I got the idea of making this site when I was blogging one day. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be cool if I were to visit some new places and I can find a fellow foodie who would be eager to introduce me to their local cuisine. I tried using Facebook to look for fellow foodie but most of the people there are only connected to their good friends.

Then I thought, why not try a dating site. But then again in dating sites, most of the girls might expect me to be her soul mate and I for one am not looking for romance. In the end I decided, why not make a social networking site that could actually work as a dating site too. The only difference is, people can hook up for one common interest – “Good Food”. If people can find love via Dinemates, good for them. In a way, I think meeting via Dinemates might not have so much pressure as opposed to the conventional dating site.

I have no idea how this site will turn out to be but I do have plans line up to make this into an awesome site. Making a site successful definitely is quite a challenge as it will cost a lot of money and time. End of the day, the site just got to be useful and fun for its members. I hope to create more events and members will provide useful contents to its community. Is hard to compete with the more popular social networking sites but I still believe there’s room for a new social networking site like Dinemates that is very niche.

So head on to Dinemates and create a profile to make the site more interesting. Your presence is very much welcome. Oh and did I tell you that the site is 100% Free?



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