Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal @ Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

Cuisine: British
Charged Price: GBP90 per person
Visited: 21 June 2015
Food: 7/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value for money: 3/10
Services: 7/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

The celebrated and world-known restaurant "Dinner by Heston Blumenthal", headed by Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts, is definitely a big fame of Knightsbridge since its debut in 2011: gained its Michelin Stars within a year of opening. It is located within Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park with an arrangement of atmosphere in contemporary. It is quite comfortable with each table being spaced rather well. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is indeed really famous and especially after its entry in top 10 of The World's 50 Best Restaurants. At the time I was there, all seats were fully packed.

The idea of this place is to bring back British old recipe but in the culinary sense of modern day. It is not the kind of eccentric like The Fat Duck but just some touches of modern twist. In term of price tag, it is undoubtedly expensive. For a 3 courses meal, you can expect to pay around GBP80 each (including service charge of 12.5%) and more if you are into wine. The wine list is extensive but all are at hefty marked up. I would say it is around 3-4 times retail price. Even with the more expensive ones in the list, there seems to be no mercy. The style of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is in a la carte mode with no tasting menu like in other fine dining venues. However, 3-courses set lunch is available during weekdays.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal @ Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

contemporary dining room

classic sourdough

For bread, there is only one type being offered: sourdough. It was nice but not special. During the meal, we had a bottle of Esprit de Pavie 2010 (90/100) along the meal. It's a Bordeaux blend with Merlot as the key blend and addition of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The price was set back around GBP35, cannot remember the exact figure (T.T)", whilst the retail price is around GBP12. It was a nice one and enjoyable with primary character of merlot fruits.

Let's move on to the first course. I had Rice & Flesh: saffron, calf tail and red wine (9/10), c. 1390, for starter. Just to notice that each menu is given the historic date when the dish was inspired. For instance, it is approx. year 1390 for Rice & Flesh. Rice & Flesh was deliciously prepared. Risotto rice was well cooked: structure was al dente, rich on the palate, coupling with fresh aroma of saffron. The calf tail was juicy and tender. It was flavourful and paired really well with the rice. An excellent dish, it was. Just a little too salty to my liking, otherwise almost perfect.

Rice & Flesh: saffron, calf tail and red wine (GBP17.50)

Moving on to main course. I had Powdered Duck Breast: smoked confit fennel, spiced blood pudding, and umbles (8/10) c. 1670. Duck breast was nice and pink. Tender and soft on the touch. Blood pudding was nice and delicious: smooth and rich, not the kind of black pudding you might dislike. Vegetables on the side balanced out the overall flavour. To me, it was a nice dish but not amazing just yet.

Powdered Duck Breast: smoked confit fennel, spiced blood pudding, and umbles (GBP36)

Lastly, it was Tipsy Cake: spit roast pineapple (6/10) c. 1810 for dessert. I have to say that this was enjoyable but did not quite touch my heart. The sherry / brandy soaked sponge cake was wonderful. It was served along with roasted pineapple. When dining in the restaurant, you can clearly see the pineapple being slowly roasted in the kitchen. Yes, the acidity of pineapple matched naturally with the cake. Nevertheless, it was too so-so for me. It lacks the wow factor on my palate perhaps.

Personally, I find Dinner by Heston Blumenthal a restaurant with well preparation. Dishes were pleasant but some still not quite there, especially dessert range: the other dessert we had was not our type at all, we did not even finish it. As for service, staffs know what they are doing well. Well, for this price tag, I wouldn't find it attractive at all. I did not say it was not nice but the downside is value for money. Just an experience is more than enough for this fine dining venue in Knightsbridge. Additionally, as said things are well prepared with due care here but top 10 in the world as claimed by The World's 50 Best Restaurants, I do have to disagree with this point.

Tipsy Cake: spit roast pineapple (GBP14.50)

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal @ Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
66 Knightsbridge
United Kingdom

Open Hours: daily from 12:00pm - 02:30pm for lunch and 06:30pm - 10:30pm for dinner

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore 2005

Date of Tasting: 6 April 2015
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot
Alcohol: 14.5%
Origin: Tuscany, Italy
Appellation: Bolgheri DOC
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR150
Chubby Appreciation: 95/100
Critics' Opinion: WA - 93/100, AG - 93/100, WS - 95/100, WE - 97/100, FS - 95/100, JS - 95/100, JR - 18.5/20, DC - 18/20, CT - 93/100

Appearance: Dark violet ruby
Aroma: Sweet violet and currant, exotic spices, black tea leaves
Palate: Velvety tannins and structure. Opulent but feminine. Dark fruits note and complexity persists lengthily.

Beautiful wine, this Ornellaia 2005 is. It is drinking wonderfully now and perhaps a decade more. If you have one, do not hesitate to pop up now and enjoy with red meat dishes. This is not the kind of big and powerful Super Tuscan bordeaux blend. On the other hand, it exhibits more of mouthwatering silky structure and finesse. Ones would enjoy it with a meal and ones would even be happy to sip it alone slowly through the night. I would be one of the later kind in the case. Salute to this beautiful craft!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ShabuKu: I'm Park Branch @ Sam Yan, Bangkok - ชาบูกู สาขาแอมพาร์ค @ สามย่าน กรุงเทพฯ

Cuisine: Shabu Shabu
Charged Price: THB300 per person without alcohol
Visited: 19 May 2015
Food: 5/10
Atmosphere: 3/10
Value for money: 7/10
Services: 3/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Shabu Shabu and buffet!!!!  Yes indeed, it's something widely popular here in Bangkok. The quality does not have to be excellent but quantity and pricing are extremely attractive. ShabuKu is another franchise that was not long ago launched its branch at I'm Park (the late Suan Luang at Sam Yan). ShabuKu at I'm Park is on the 3rd floor. It's size is just comfortable: not too small that you would feel crowded and not too big that staffs can be inefficient. Being at I'm Park, I guess its key customers would be university (Chulalongkorn University) during day time and more from office workers during after-work hour. I'm Park may be in Sam Yan which can be reached via MRT. However, it is too distance in my view to walk from MRT station especially during Summer: motorbike taxi from MRT Sam Yan station is a more appropriate choice. If you do drive, it is not a problem at all as there are plenty of parking lots, except possible traffic jam during rush hours.

ShabuKu: I'm Park Branch @ Sam Yan, Bangkok

easy and simple atmosphere

ShabuKu Soup (ซุปชาบูกู) n' Classic Shabu Soup (ซุปน้ำใส)

chili sauce and ponzu sauce

Here you get 2 choices of buffet THB279 and THB379 net. The difference between the two options is mainly the missing choices of beef and seafood for the former one. When ordering, you will also get to choose 2 choices of soup out of 4 for your hot pot. As in my case, I went for the classic shabu soup and ShabuKu Soup. Both were acceptable.

I would say that THB279 net per pax for unlimited of food is impressive. Quality of pork here was not bad at all. Many other shabu shabu buffet disappointed me pretty badly. But it is not the case here. I would say it's at standard level really. One that I would urge those you want to give ShabuKu at I'm Park a try is tender minced pork. It's really tender and flavoursome. Pork liver was fresh. Side dishes like fried chicken were also enjoyable.

Well, I wouldn't know what to say much about shabu shabu buffet really, except ShabuKu at I'm Park is worth a try. It's pricing won't break your bank definitely. I would say hanging out here with friends is another good way to spend your time wisely. In general I am not a fan of any buffet meal but this place did impress me.

P.S. Eat sensibly for the meal before one at ShabuKu. Else you might be really full. Bon appetit!!!

It's a feast!!!

pork shoulder (หมูสันคอ) n' pork sirloin (หมูสันนอก)

pork belly (หมูสามชั้น)

marinated pork (หมูกูหมักในตำนาน)

tender minced pork (หมูกูเด้งในตำนาน)

mixed vegetable (ผักรวม)

tofu (เต้าหู้ปลา)

fish dumpling (เกี๊ยวปลา)

pork liver (ตับหมู)

it's simply egg

garlic fried rice (ข้าวผัดกระเทียม)

fried chicken (ไก่ทอดคาราเกะ)

wakame salad (ยำสาหร่าย)

taro ice-cream (ไอศครีมเผือก)

ShabuKu: I'm Park Branch @ Sam Yan, Bangkok - ชาบูกู สาขาแอมพาร์ค @ สามย่าน กรุงเทพฯ
Floor 3 I'm Park
353 Soi Chulalongkorn 5
Wang Mai, Pathum Wan
Bangkok 10330

Open Hours: daily from 12:00pm - 10:00pm
Tel: +66 (0) 2214 4524

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Conterno Fantino Barolo Mosconi 2008

Date of Tasting: 23 March 2015
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 100% Nebbiolo
Alcohol: 15%
Origin: Piedmont, Italy
Appellation: Barolo DOCG
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR60
Chubby Appreciation: 93/100
Professional Rating: WA - 94/100, AG - 94/100, WS - 95/100, FS - 94/100, JS - 93/100, ST - 93/100, CT - 92/100

Appearance: Rich garnet
Aroma: Cherry, raspberry, earth, mushroom
Palate: Rich and full with dense tannins. Expression of sweet and sour raspberry and red fruits. Dry and powerful. Outgoing characters. Fine length on the finish.

It starts to reveal its characters and is accessible. However, still somewhat reduction on the nose. Give it a little bit more time to sleep and it should be more fantastic. This is not the elegant and sleek kind of Barolo but more on the energy and power type. Modern kind, it is, but lovely. Salute!!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

KiSara @ Conrad Bangkok Hotel - คิซาระ @ โรงแรมคอนราด กรุงเทพฯ

Cuisine: Japanese (sushi)
Charged Price: THB1,250 per person without alcohol
Visited: 17 April 2015
Food: 5/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value for money: 4/10
Services: 6/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Here is a brief visit to one more Japanese restaurant in a hotel in Bangkok. It's KiSara at Conrad Bangkok Hotel. It was my first time here really since its reborn from the previous Drinking Tea Eating Rice. The place is still and almost the same in term of atmosphere with kind of contemporary Japanese concept. There is a teppanyaki counter right in the middle of the large dining hall which can accommodate around 10+ guests. Adjacent to teppanyaki counter, but enclosed with glass screen, there is a sushi counter as well.

What I like about this place is the spacious and private surrounding. Each table is separated from the others. Forget about being overheard on your conversation here. Nevertheless, feeling more like business privacy talk, requesting for a private room is also available.

KiSara at Conrad Bangkok Hotel

spacious and comfortable dining hall

sushi counter

As in typical Japanese restaurant in hotels, the menu comprises of variety of dishes: from sushi to hot pot to noodle and etc. This time we opted to US Angus Beef Shabu Shabu (7/10) which was nice indeed. The quality of beef was good, though not the very top class. We at least enjoyed it a lot. The set of shabu shabu came along with mixed vegetables. The dipping sauces are the standard sesame sauce, which was delightful and savoury, and ponzu based sauce. While waiting for shabu shabu, we also had Salmon Skin Roll (5/10). There is nothing spetacular about this one. But just crunchy texture roll with standard satisfaction. Again, I am not a fan of modern sushi but I would not say I don't like this dish. It's ok.

I would say that this place offers decent food and service. Atmosphere is great too. It is in general more suitable for business type of meal. However, family is also ok. But I would not say it is the one for romantic type of meal. In term of pricing, it is not cheap but not ridiculously expensive. Would I return to this place? Um.....why not, if it's from time to time.

Salmon Skin Roll (THB320)

US Angus Beef Shabu Shabu (THB1,600)

dipping moment!!!!

decent quality of US beef

vegetable for good health (^.^)

KiSara @ Conrad Bangkok Hotel - คิซาระ @ โรงแรมคอนราด กรุงเทพฯ
87 Witthayu Road
Lumphini, Pathum Wan
Bangkok 10330

Open Hours: daily from 11:30am - 02:30pm for lunch and 06:00pm - 10:30pm for dinner

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Walter Hansel Pinot Noir Cuvee Alyce 2012

Date of Tasting: 9 March 2015
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 100% Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 14.2%
Origin: California, USA
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR45
Chubby Appreciation: 92/100
Professional Rating: WA - 97/100, AG - 93/100, ST - 92/100, CT - 92/100

Appearance: Dark red
Aroma: Ripe black cherry. Spices with mild forest floor.
Palate: Full on the body. Outgoing characters with fruit forward. Cherry and raspberry notes with vanilla tone on the palate.

Beautiful wine at decent price that can be nicely consumed at its young state and should live well to 2020. Not the kind of overly jammy / oaky as in typical Californian pinot noir but hybrid of European characters. I, personally, even enjoy it alone but it should be great with red meat dishes. Cheers!!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Podere Forte Wine Dinner @ Enoteca Italiana Bangkok

Cuisine: Italian
Charged Price: THB3,500 per person
Visited: 21 April 2015
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value for money: 5/10
Services: 6/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

It's another night of wine dinner and again at Enoteca Italiana Bangkok. It had been Valdicava wine dinner back in November 2014 and this time was Podere Forte wine dinner. The night started with Champagne from Larmandier-Bernier as aperitif, followed by Petruccino, Petrucci, and finished with vertical of Guardiavigna 2008 - 2010. They were all fantastic and delightful. Here are brief notes:

Champagne Larmandier-Bernier Latitude NV (91/100): Excellent champagne with good qpr. At the price around EUR30 a bottle, it's awesome. This is Blanc de Blancs aka chardonnay. Larmandier-Bernier Latitude is an example of pure and elegant style. It is creamy and it is full. But yet complexity and smoothness lie within. Aroma of pear, anise, and orchard. Full on the palate with minerality, lemon, and stone. Mild honey and almond. Lovely aperitif to enjoy within a few years of release. (~ EUR30)

Podere Forte Petruccino 2012 (90/100): This is a lovely sangiovese-merlot blend (70:30). It is drinking beautifully now. Exhibit cherry and raspberry flavour. Mild spices and mint on the secondary note. Attractive aroma of red fruits and floral. Fine finish. Medium-full structure. Modern. (~ EUR30)

Podere Forte Petrucci 2010 (95/100): It's WOTN for me. Still a little young but accessible. Sexy bouquet of cherry and raspberry jumped out aggressively followed by flowers and spices. Savoury sangiovese fruits on the palate. Medium bodied and fine tannins. Outstanding texture and acidity integrated well. Gentleman of the night, it was. 100% Sangiovese. (~ EUR100)

Podere Forte Guardiavigna 2008 (93/100), 2009 (92/100), 2010 (94/100): Guardiavigna is bordeaux blend with cabernet franc and merlot as the key grapes and petit verdot as the final touch. Three of them were nice but presented totally different characters. In common, they showed bouquet of cassis, black currants, eucalyptus, spices, and hint of tobacco and earth. All of them have full structure with oakiness especially 2009 vintage which was broodingly chewy too. To me, 2010 vintage is more of finesse and elegant, whilst 2009 vintage is about power and muscle. As for 2008 vintage, it might not be as as beauty as vintage 2010 but the opulent style of 2008 clicked with my sense more. These are fine wines but they come with some price tag as well. (~ EUR80)

Champagne Larmandier-Bernier Latitude NV

Podere Forte Petruccino 2012

Podere Forte Petrucci 2010

Podere Forte Guardiavigna 2008

Podere Forte Guardiavigna 2009

Podere Forte Guardiavigna 2010

Podere Forte Wine Dinner @ Enoteca Italiana Bangkok
39 Soi Sukhumvit 27
Sukhumvit Road
Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: daily from 06:00pm - midnight

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Benjamin Leroux Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Baudines 2012

Date of Tasting: 5 March 2015
Wine Type: White
Grape Varieties: 100% Chardonnay
Alcohol: 13%
Origin: Burgundy, France
Appellation: Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru AOC
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR80
Chubby Appreciation: 92/100
Professional Rating: WA - 93/100, BH - 92/100

Appearance: Bright yellow
Aroma: Pure and fresh pear with floral floor and limestone
Palate: Rich structure with primary minerality. Vibrant acidity and tanginess. Citrus and peach notes. Dry and clean.

It is a fine and elegant Chassagne-Montrachet for me. However, at the moment its bouquet is still understated and tightly knitted. It would need a few years of good sleep before the real show of complexity will reveal. Keep it safe for the mean while.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Nippon Kai Market @ 9:53 Community Mall, Bangkok - นิปปอน ไกด์ มาร์เก็ต @ 9:53 Community Mall กรุงเทพฯ

Cuisine: Japanese (sushi)
Charged Price: THB700 per person
Visited: 19 April 2015
Food: 5/10
Atmosphere: 5/10
Value for money: 4/10
Services: 4/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Nippon Kai has been around for years with mostly in the form of small food stall in front of supermarkets. Here is another form of Nippon Kai chain, "Nippon Kai Market". It is located in 9:53 Community Mall which is in Soi Sukhumvit 53 and is right at the corner where Soi Sukhumvit 53 intersect Soi Thonglor 9. Basically, it is good to drive here with valet parking service available. However, BTS Thonglor station is not so far away: motorbike taxi from the station will do the job but walking is a little too far especially during very hot season. The place is just comfortably large with around 15 tables on the upper floor. On the lower floor, it is like a mini seafood stall where you can see and choose your favourite ingredients, and there is a sushi counter which can accommodate around 8 guests. In brief, you can do like a mini seafood shopping before stating how you'd like your dishes to be prepared.

Nippon Kai Market @ 9:53 Community Mall, Bangkok

sushi counter bar

seafood market style restaurant

I believe this sushi kind of Japanese restaurant is no different from other places in term of pricing. They are not priced steeply nor cheaply. But using marketing scheme of discounting occasionally probably does its job nicely in attracting customers.

What I had during the visit started with Salmon Sashimi (5/10) which was at standard quality. It was followed by Spicy Tuna Roll (6/10). They are quite generous with ingredients here. We kind of like the crunchy batters that came along with. In general, I am not a fan of modern sushi rolls but this spicy roll was enjoyable with balance between spicy touch and creamy mayonnaise. Tai Nigiri (5/10) or sea bream was another standard quality but rather fresh on the day. Lastly, it was Ama Ebi Nigiri (3/10) or sweet shrimp. I was disappointed with this one. Not really fresh in brief.

The point I would like to make about this place is that if possible, do ask for sushi counter seats especially on a busy day. There are only a few sushi chefs and your order can take a long while when the place is crowded. Anyway, service might not be so great here but be patient (^.^).

Salmon Sashimi (THB159 per 100 grams)

Spicy Tuna Roll (THB280)

Tai Nigiri (THB135)

Ama Ebi Nigiri (THB90)

Nippon Kai Market @ 9:53 Community Mall, Bangkok - นิปปอน ไกด์ มาร์เก็ต @ 9:53 Community Mall กรุงเทพฯ
124 Soi Sukhumvit 53
Sukhumvit Road
Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: daily from 11:00am - 11:00pm
Tel: +66 (0) 2662 5683
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