Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Casa Lapin X49 @ Soi Sukhumvit 49, Bangkok

Cuisine: Cafe / Coffee Shop
Price: THB190 per person without alcohol (what we paid for)
Visited: 3 November 2013
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value for money: 6/10
Services: 5/10

Commercial coffee shops, such as Starbucks, are everywhere nowadays. For us, it can be difficult to find a place where we can sit and relax with good cups of coffee these days. We, a few months back, mentioned about Bar Storia del Caffe at Eight Thonglor which is a relaxing coffee shop in fact. This time we would like to introduce Casa Lain X49 which is becoming talk of the town currently.

There are a few branches of Casa Lapin. All of which represents with the concept of a cafe where anyone can enjoy a cup of coffee and work/relax at the same time. The one at Soi Sukhumvit 49, which is in the small alley just opposite Samitivej Hospital, is pretty cool and relax. It was our first time here and we admittedly like this place. Casa Lapin X49 was somewhat quiet, cosy, and relax. If this place is near you and you are looking for a place for chit chat or changing work atmosphere out of office, here is one for you.

Casa Lapin X49 @ Soi Sukhumvit 49, Bangkok

here we are, Casa Lapin X49

alfresco can also be relaxing

view of interior

range of goods

more comfy zone on the 1st floor

lapin - bunny

The place of Casa Lapin X49 is put together rather simply but in style. The 1-block building cafe has a few tables outdoor which can be comfortable during non Summer days. Inside, there is one long table laying across the hall. I guess 10 customers can fit in but around 6 people should be comfortable. The rest on the ground floors are a few tiny table with stools. On the first floor, seats are more indeed comfortable with sofa and couch. If you are to be here with friends, we would recommend upper level, else try the alfresco. As for the menu, it is kept simply. There is no long list of choices here. All are on a single brick wall with some food/pastry to be chosen depending of the day. One thing is Casa Lapin is kind of half self-service. Hence, you will order and pay at the counter immediately. Staff may bring some of your orders to your table but some you will have to pick up yourself.

wall menu

barista grinding coffee beans

drip brew from the slow bar

our espresso was dripping out (^^)

This time, we simply went for a cup of cafe latte and drip brew coffee. The cafe latte was surely good: smooth, creamy, and aromatic. The other one we tried was drip brew coffee. For the drip brew coffee, we were asked to choose a choice of coffee beans. Well, we are the expert and the barista recommended us to try coffee beans from Jomthong, Chiang Mai and we did not hesistate to do so. It actually turned out to be great with aromatic fruity flavours with rather low acidity. We kind of like it. To go with coffee, we did also order one Almond Croissant and one Pain au Chocolate. Both were rather nice. Anyway, we did expect to eat here but just the coffee.

All in all, we like Casa Lapin X49 and will sure return. By the way, parking here can be difficult so just walk if you are nearby.

Cafe Latte (THB85)

Drip Brew Coffee (THB140)

selection of coffee beans

Pain au Chocolate (THB75)

Almond Croissant (THB85)

Casa Lapin X49 @ Soi Sukhumvit 49, Bangkok
Soi Sukhumvit 49 (the alley opposite Samitivej Hospital)
Sukhumvit Road
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: Mon-Fri from 07:30am - 08:30pm and Sat-Sun from 10:30am - 08:30pm
Tel: +66 (0) 81 257 7920, +66 (0) 81 261 2040

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Agricola Punica Barrua Isola dei Nuraghi 2010

Date of Tasting: 30 October 2013
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 85% Carignano, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot
Alcohol: 15%
Origin: Sardinia, Italy
Appellation: IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica)
Expect to Pay: ~ THB1,300 - 1,600 (retail price in Thailand)
Chubby Score: 93/100
Value for money: 8/10
Professional Rating: JR - 16.5/20, CT - 88/100

Appearance: vibrant and dark ruby
Aroma: exotic perfume of cherry, spices, liquorice, and tobacco
Palate: fruity with sweet cherry and raspberry dominant, partly herbal touch, liquorice, complex, rich and thick but smooth, balanced acidity and mineral, fine tannins with big body, long on the finish

Complex and elegant bottle, it is. At the price around THB1,500 plus/minus, this is a value for money bottle. It was my first time with this gorgeous Carignano based red wine from Agricola Punica. I kind of like the sweet fruit character that express the charm of hot climate style. Agricola Punica Barrua 2010 is a quality wine that is ready and would probably keeps developing for another decade. Fill up your cellar if you happen to come across this bottle. What a great wine by the winemaker with Sassicaia background. Finito!!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Summer Palace @ Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong

Cuisine: Chinese (Hong Kong / Cantonese)
Price: HKD675 per person without alcohol (what we paid for)
Visited: 27 September 2013
Food: 5/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Value for money: 3/10
Services: 6/10

Here comes another Chinese fine dining with award of 2 Michelin Stars "Summer Palace @ Island Shangri-la, Hong Kong". First thing I have to say is disappointment. Not even sure if I had ordered wrong menu or something. Anyway, I just think such prestigious restaurant should perform so much better for all dishes.

Summer Palace is located on the 5th floor of Pacific Place./ Island Shangri-la. To come here, it is pretty easy, not to mention taxi of course. Pacific Place is connected directly to MTR Admiralty Station and travelling by tram can also be pretty convenient. The dining is kind of grand and elegant in the sense of Chinese tradition with red and gold theme. Again, we were not so impressed with the kind of service in fine Chinese restaurant. We suppose that with this price tag, the service should be clearly none or less fabulous with helpful and knowledgeable staffs.

Summer Palace @ Island Shangri-la

traditional and elegant entrance

big dining room

Anyway, let's get into food. For our starters, we had Baked King Prawn in Truffle Pesto (5/10) and Steamed Fresh Crab Claw with Winter Melon in Egg White and Mashed Yunnan Ham (7/10). Cooking skill and quality of ingredients are no doubt. Prawn was cooked to near perfection with soft but meaty texture whilst the aroma and the overall touch of crab claw was cool with fresh and firm crab meat. I like the cool touch of winter melon with egg white which can be really good for Summer dish. However, the taste of king prawn was a bit plain. The East meets West magic of king prawn dish did not quite work for us.

Baked King Prawn in Truffle Pesto (HKD180)

Steamed Fresh Crab Claw with Winter Melon in Egg White and Mashed Yunnan Ham (HKD200)

For the more serious and heavier dishes, first of the three was Deep-fried Crispy Chicken (7/10). The chicken was pretty tender, juicy, and delicious. Skin was really crisp which brought the wonderful touch apart from tender meat. Nevertheless, this dish can be a little oily in which I would recommend anyone to have this with plain rice rather than just pure chicken.

Next was Stewed Spare Ribs in a Clay Pot (5/10). Ok, this was nice but did not meet the expectation of Michelin Star awarded restaurant. It tasted like delicious home-cooking food really. Well, the pork was tender I have to admit. But still not spectacular. The flavour of this one was thick and rich. Again, plain rice is highly recommended to go with the dish.

Lastly, we ended our meal with Fried Rice with Minced Beef and Egg White in Preserved Shrimp Paste (3/10). Guess what, my fried-rice is perhaps similar to this one at Summer Palace. Come on, anyone would not expect soaky fried rice, wouldn't they. The overall taste was ok but the texture and mouth feel just ruined the whole dish.

Well, we would prabably not return to Summer Palace @ Island Shangri-la for the second time, unless we are really bored with other restaurants on Hong Kong island. (^^)

Deep-fried Crispy Chicken (HKD230 for half)

Stewed Spare Ribs in a Clay Pot (HKD175)

Fried Rice with Minced Beef and Egg White in Preserved Shrimp Paste (HKD180)

Summer Palace @ Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong
Level 5 Island Shangri-la Hong Kong
Pacific Place
Supreme Court Road
Hong Kong

Open Hours: Daily from 11:30pm - 03:00pm for lunch and 06:30pm - 11:00pm for dinner

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier 2009

Date of Tasting: 27 April 2013
Wine Type: White
Grape Varieties: 80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Viognier
Alcohol: 11.8%
Origin: California, USA
Appellation: Napa Valley
Expect to Pay: ~ THB600 - 1,000 (retail price in Thailand)
Web: and
Chubby Score: 91/100
Value for money: 8/10
Professional Rating: WA - 90/100, CT - 88/100

Appearance: lemony yellow
Aroma: fragrant citrus blossom and white floral with peach and pineapple notes
Palate: aromatic fruity and refreshing mouth feel with layers of clean acidity like lemon, grapefruit, apricot, pear, crisp and lusciously off-dry honey-like, good flow of spices 

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier offers really good value for money fresh white wine. A fabulously blend bottle that is perfect for summer time. I had a few bottles of this 2009 and all bottles were in par. However, if you happen to have a few of this wonderful wine in stock, you may consider to consume them within a year as its charm starts to fade away. Raise your glass now.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cuisine Cuisine @ IFC Mall, Hong Kong

Cuisine: Chinese (Hong Kong / Cantonese)
Price: HKD660 per person (what we paid for)
Visited: 26 September 2013
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 5/10
Value for money: 4/10
Services: 5/10

Awarded 1 Michelin Star Cantonese style Chinese restaurant, "Cuisine Cuisine", is located on the 3rd floor of the famous IFC Mall (another branch is at The Mira @ Tsim Sha Tsui). The location is pretty much convenient with Hong Kong MTR station right below the mall.

From outside, the restaurant looks pretty much elegant and in a rather modern style. However, the interior is not so impressed. It is rather crowded from my sense. Perhaps it is because tables are just put around the big hall without any divided section or partition. If privacy is needed, do ask for more private tables which are located near the entrance.

For the night, we had a bottle of Billecart Salmon Brut Rose to accompany us which was somewhat disappointed. It kind of showed the over-aging or unwell storage of the champagne. Anyway, the taste of champagne is not the big point, it just reflects how much care they put for their customers. Otherwise, the overall service here is at average standard.

Cuisine Cuisine @ IFC, Hong Kong

kind of elegant entrance

rather crowded open floor setting

Upon arrival, we were welcomed with a cup of herbal juice which tasted like Roselle drink in fact. To start our meal, Abalone Marinated in Chinese "Hua Diao" Wine (4/10) and Steamed Whole Tomato Stuffed with Assorted Fungi (7/10) were selected. The tomato and fungi was splendid. Tasty, sweet, and soft peeled whole tomato. Stuffed fungi was light but enhanced with flavour well. If you like fungi and tomato, do not hesitate and just go for it. However, the abalone was rather disappointed. If would not say it is a dish served in an awarded restaurant. Ok, it was not unacceptable, it was perhaps at par. The abalone itself had firm but soft texture with good natural taste. Nevertheless, the wine sauce was just overly alcoholic that was unbalance. I would not personally recommend this dish.

herbal juice

Abalone Marinated in Chinese "Hua Diao" Wine (HKD88)

Steamed Whole Tomato Stuffed with Assorted Fungi (HKD88)

As for more serious dishes, we decided to have roasted meat which is of course the well-known traditional Cantonese choice. Roasted Crispy Pork Belly and Sliced Suckling Pig (8/10) were delicious. Suckling pig was crisp to the max and full flavour. So tasty and not overly salty. Crispy pork belly was tender and crisp on the skin. Minimum fat layers. As a crispy pork belly lover, I really like it. The other dish was Roasted Crispy Goose (7/10). This goose dish also gave me a lot of pleasure. Skin was crisp. On the palate, the flavour was fabulously yummy. I just wish that the dish would come as boneless which would make it much easier to eat and a better "finale".

Well, Cuisine Cuisine at IFC Mall may not be the ultimate Cantonese restaurant but it offers pleasure and joy. I would not mind returning to this restaurant to try other dishes.

Roasted Crispy Pork Belly and Sliced Suckling Pig (HKD280)

pork belly along side suckling pig

Roasted Crispy Goose (HKD188)

roasted goose comes with traditional sweet dipping sauce

Cuisine Cuisine @ IFC Mall, Hong Kong
3101-3107, podium level 3, IFC Mall
Hong Kong

Open Hours: Daily from 12:00pm - 02:30pm for lunch (10:30am - 03:00pm on Sunday) and 06:00pm - 10:30pm for dinner

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Isole e Olena Collezione de Marchi Syrah 2006

Date of Tasting: 21 September 2013
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 100% Syrah
Alcohol: 14%
Origin: Tuscany, Italy
Appellation: IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica)
Expect to Pay: ~ THB1,900 - 2,500 (retail price in Thailand)
Web: n.a.
Chubby Score: 91/100
Value for money: 6/10
Professional Rating: WA - 91/100, WS - 92/100, ST - 89/100, FS - 91/100, CT - 93/100

Appearance: thick ruby
Aroma: floral and herbal which followed by red fruits
Palate: fresh and bright with dark fruits on the palate, spicy and peppery, earthy and tar, smoky and meaty, fabulous integrity and well balanced, big big body with smooth tannins, long and lingering

Upon popping the bottle, sulphur suddenly hit on my nose and I was not well impressed. However, as time went by it developed the aromatic and complex perfume up quickly. This bottle of syrah is indeed a big and powerful guy. It can be a little tight at an early stage of drinking at this point in time. Let it breathe some air before serving would be a nice consideration. Anyway, enjoy it over a decade. Gorgeous indeed. I personally would like to see how it develops. Salute!!!!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Shinji by Kanesaka @ Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Cuisine: Japanese (Sushi)
Price: SGD260 per person without alcohol (what we paid for)
Visited: 21 October 2013
Food: 7/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 1/10
Services: 9/10

Shinji by Kanesaka @ Raffles Hotel in Singapore is an extension of Sushi Kanesaka at Ginza, Tokyo which is highly reputed with its prestigious 2-Michelin stars. This branch outside Japan also tries to follow the integrity without compromising. Such that the restaurant claims to have fresh seafood fly all the way from Japan to Singapore 4 times a week. As for services, I felt very comfortable upon entering the venue. Chefs and staffs are nice and helpful. They pay attention to minor details. I even got offer to have a combination of sashimi and sushi instead of purely sushi by Chef Takihiro Ishizawa to suit my diet (chef Ishizawa was confident that I am not a type of guy who eat a lot in which his guess was precise). Only if they could slow down the meal a little, that would have been a perfect service: one after one immediately was a little rush for my liking.

The interior of Shinji by Kanesaka is similar to other famous sushi bars that it is kept in traditional Japanese style of simplicity. There are approx 15 seats at sushi counter. However, there are private rooms in different size if privacy is a request. Oh oh....before I forget, there is also another branch of Shinji by Kanesaka at OUE Tower in Singapore.

Shinji by Kanesaka @ Raffles Hotel, Singapore

sushi counter

Chef Ishizawa with uni

For the meal, I chose to go for Sushi Edomae set which comprises of 15 sushi but instead I got offered to have some sashimi mixed with sushi. The price of this course was SGD220 and with tax and service charge it came around to SGD260. Pretty much expensive, wasn't it. This price set is actually in the same range as those famous sushi bars in Tokyo.

The first to arrive was ikura or salmon roe (7/10). Very nice indeed: firm but delicate texture and fresh. Only if the flavour could be heavier and sweeter, that would be a high end ikura. Next to be mentioned was shima aji (7/10). I again could not deny of its quality which was firm and tender on the texture, and mildly sweet on the palate. Fattiness was balance. Yet, it was not the best of its nature. I could say that a good day of this type of fish at Honmono in Thailand would do the same job.

This was then followed by a set of sashimi which comprised of aburi flounder (6/10), aburi flounder with ponsu (5/10), and deep-fried sawagani crab (9/10). It also came with grilled ginko. The sawagani crab was really fine. The cracked and crispy texture were in every single molecules of the crab. It was lightly salted which was enough. However, flounder range did not meet the expectation. I would say without aburi it would surely be tastier whilst ponsu sauce did not contribute much and actually destroyed the natural taste of fish.


shima aji

set of sashimi

aburi flounder with ponsu

deep fried sawagani crab, aburi flounder, and ginko

Moving on to more sashimi dishes, I was served with light and fine vegetable as in the way to wash the palate along.

Sanma sashimi or mackeral pike (8/10) was a fine choice. It was lightly grilled to exhibit natural aroma and taste. Ponsu sauce, if I was correct, was tagged along. The sour scent combined well with strong flavour of sanma. This one was delicious. On the other hand, smoked bonito (7/10) was similar in the way of preparation. It was smoked to reveal the aroma. However, the fillet was firmer and fattier. Red kind of meat in fact. The sauce was ginger base and it was stuffed with fine condiments. This was again wonderful but I felt that freshness and texture could have been better chosen.

mixed boiled vegetable


smoked bonito

fresh sweet corn and tomato

Here come the sushi part. First of all, I and by all means, you all perhaps, have to admit that the size of sushi bite here is small. I don't personally like having too big size of sushi which makes it complicate when eating. However, these were just too small, tiny in fact. Putting such matter aside, the quality of rice was fabulous on the other hand: tasty, firm, and not soaky except the sour taste of rice from vinegar that perhaps was not quite balance with some kind of fish.

Spanish Mackerel or Sawara (6/10): Tagged along with condiment of sour plum, light flavour and soft.

Ika or Squid (7/10): Prepared with salt and lime, tender texture. But sour lime overcome the whole picture.

Chu Toro (7/10) and O Toro (7/10): These 2 were at par, soft and almost melt in the mouth. However, I prefered chu toro more as I could felt unpleasant aroma from o toro, though it was just tiny bit.

Aji or Jack Mackerel (6/10): Lovely chewy texture with sour condiment. It was nice to have but the overall flavour did not quite match along.

Marinated Akami (7/10): Being subordinated to chu toro and o toro, the tasty flavour was comparable in contrast. Only if the rice could be less sour, this bite would have been more enjoyable.

Uni or Sea Urchin (8/10): The best among sushi bite tonight. Fresh and creamy. Sweet scent. Natural aroma spreaded through the palate. Problem is it was too small (T.T)" Anyway, it was lovely but I had had better ones before though.

Kuruma Ebi or Tiger Prawn (3/10): I don't call this kuruma ebi. It was a disappointment. This should not be served in a place high end like this. It was not fresh. The texture was below standard: just muddy soft. I wish I was not served with the prawn.

Anago or Sea Eel: It came in 2 parts: one with salt (6/10) and the other with tare sauce (7/10). The texture was fine. But the flavour of the salted one was a little exaggerated when combined with sour from rice. I preferred the sweet taste of tare sauce which balanced out the whole flavour.

Tamago (6/10): Not too sweet. Soft and custard like. But too gelatine-like. 

The course ended with condiment with grated yuzu and Japanese fruits (melon and pear). The condiment was pretty but fruits were overripe.

All in all, I would not go back to this place unless there are improvements. I do not say it was not nice. But at the price of SGD260, I had far better sushi meal at Saito and Mizutani in Tokyo. Shinji by Kanesaka is still far from being world class from my view. Nice to enjoy it but value for money is a big big question.

Spanish Mackerel or Sawara (if I am not wrong)

Ika or Squid

Chu Toro

O Toro

Aji or Jack Mackerel

Marinated Akami (red tuna meat)

Uni or Sea Urchin

Kuruma Ebi or Tiger Prawn

Anago or Sea Eel

Anago with tare sauce

Anago with salt

condiment (radish with grated yuzu)

tamago or sweet omelette

melon and pear

Shinji by Kanesaka @ Raffles Hotel, Singapore
#02-20 Raffles Hotel Arcade
1 Beach Road
Singapore 189673

Open Hours: Mon - Sat 12:00am - 03:00pm for lunch and 06:00pm - 10:30pm for dinner
Tel: +66 65 6338 6131
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