Sunday, September 29, 2013

Buccella Merlot 2007

Date of Tasting: 12 August 2013
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 96% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol: 14.7%
Origin: California, USA
Appellation: Napa Valley
Expect to Pay: ~ THB3,500 - 5,000 (retail price in Thailand)
Chubby Score: 96/100
Value for money: 9/10
Professional Rating: CT - 95/100

Appearance: deep crimson red
Aroma: fruity, coffee, and smoky
Palate: so dense, so thick, and so concentrated that coat pretty nice on the palate. offering core dark velvety fruits, yet oaky. tobacco, mocha, and spices are all around. tannins are sweet, smooth but chewy. so long and luscious on the finish

This is big and bold texture with fruity taste wine. While it can be beautifully consumed at this point in time, it would also be enjoyable during the next decade. It is balanced wonderfully with such elegant acidity. I just want more of this merlot. Cheers!!!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Si Fang Cai (Hong Kong Home Cuisine) @ Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra 24 (Sathu Pradit 19), Bangkok

Cuisine: Chinese
Price: THB500 per person without alcohol (what we paid for)
Visited: 16 August 2013
Food: 5/10
Atmosphere: 5/10
Value for money: 4/10
Services: 4/10

By its name, this restaurant "Si Fang Cai or Hong Kong Home Cuisine" has already told us what it specialises in. Si Fang Cai is located within Soi Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra 24 or Soi Sathu Pradit 19 or locally known as Soi Wat Pho Man at Nara Place. It of course offers decent Cantonese style Chinese food. When I say decent, I mean it is enjoyable but not that great. It is a restaurant that can be enjoyable for any day but not the one to be looking forward to.

Si Fang Cai store front


hidden toilette

The place is not big, just a block of commercial building. There are probably around 10 tables. Typically I do not expect much on the service side from local Chinese restaurants, however, this one is better than expected. The decoration is kept in Chinese style. What surprise me was the way they hide toilettes; it looks like a panel of drawers but it actually is toilette.

random picture

cutlery in Chinese style

cup of tea....yeah

We had ordered 2 kinds of tofu dishes. The first one was cold bean curd with century egg - เต้าหู้ไข่เยี่ยวม้า (6/10).  The other one was tofu in Sze Chuan style - เต้าหู้ผัดสไตล์เสฉวน (5/10). Both were ok. Cold bean curd with century egg was basic but still delightful. Tofu in Sze Chuan style was not so hot but still maintained richness of taste.

cold bean curd with century egg (THB99)

tofu in Sze Chuan style (THB120)

To have Cantonese food, how could I miss roast dishes. This time we had half roasted goose - ห่านย่างครึ่งตัว (5/10) and crispy roasted pork - หมูกรอบ (7/10). I did enjoy the crispy roasted pork a lot: so crisp on the skin and soft inside. Roasted goose was not that amazing but still yummy. If it could be more tender, this would be a highlight dish as the overall taste was good already except texture.

half roasted goose (THB950)

crispy roasted pork (THB260)

We were recommended by a staff to try steamed egg white with tiger prawn - กุ้งนึ่งไข่ขาวกับมันปู (4/10). Indeed, I did not hesitate to order so. However, it was not so great as expected. It was just a basic steamed egg white topped fatty crab sauce and 4 small tiger prawns. Anyway, at least it was not that bad.

I then spotted on an advertised card on the table that they also do serve egg yolk bun - ซาลาเปาไส้ไหล (4/10). So, why not. Egg yolk bun has been so famous in Bangkok during the past year, especially, the one at Chef Man @ Eastin Hotel. Well, this one was ok to eat and to enjoy but not up to standard of Chef Man. It was too sweet to my liking in fact. Anyway, there is not 3 months queue here. (^.^)

steamed egg white with tiger prawn (THB245)

egg yolk bun (THB120)

runny filling

Si Fang Cai (Hong Kong Home Cuisine) @ Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra 24 (Sathu Pradit 19), Bangkok
Nara Place
297/439 Soi Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra 24 (Sathu Pradit 19)
Chong Nonsri, Yannawa
Bangkok 10120

Open Hours11:00am - 10:00pm daily
Tel: +66 (0) 2674 1414, +66 (0) 85 088 3835

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Donnhoff Kreuznacher Krotenpfuhl Riesling Kabinett 2011

Date of Tasting: 10 August 2013
Wine Type: White
Grape Varieties: 100% Riesling
Alcohol: 10.0%
Origin: Nahe, Germany
Appellation: Kabinett
Expect to Pay: ~ THB1,000 - 1,500 (retail price in Thailand)
Chubby Score: 90/100
Value for money: 7/10
Professional Rating: WA - 90/100, WS - 90/100, JR - 17/20, CT - 90/100

Appearance: lemony yellow
Aroma: floral floor, soft citrus, green fruits, and pineapple
Palate: off-dry with mild touch of sweetness of lemon scent, luscious pear and pineapple with bee-wax-like character on the palate, fine mineral and crisp acidity, medium on the body and rich finish

Delicious and delicate bottle of reputed German riesling from Nahe region. It offers explosive aromas one after one over times. 2011 for Nahe is one of the great vintages. Ones should not really miss. I personally love this bottle a lot. It can even be drunk as aperitif. However, it should match perfectly with soft tone dishes like chicken or sushi and light dessert such as eclair. Yet, Asian food like Chinese or Thai curry would do its work too. Store it up and enjoy now until the end of decade.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Water Library @ Chamchuri Square, Bangkok, Thailand

Cuisine: French
Price: THB1,600 per person (what we paid for)
Visited: 31 August 2013
Food: 8/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value for money: 9/10
Services: 9/10

With Water Library @ Chamchuri Square, this is my second review of the restaurant after the splendid experience with Juan Amador at Water Library back in late March. Water Library has been maintaining its delicacy and top class service. Staffs were really attentive, polite, and knowledgeable. At this occasion, we were at Water Library Chamchuri for lunch in which lunch menu is served daily. You can have choices of 2 courses at THB890 or 3 courses at THB950. Both come with a selection of coffee or tea to end the meal.

To pair with the food, I also let Mr. Manop, the restaurant manager, chose a glass of wine to go along each course and he did not disappoint me at all. Unfortunate, I enjoyed too much such that I forgot to jot down the wine choices. (T.T)" Before the meal started, we of course were serviced with two choices of classic bread at Water Library: French croissant and manitoba. Absolutely delicious. Good bread and butter can already bring me to heaven.

Water Library Chamchuri Square

French Croissant

Manitoba with Truffle Butter

My choice of starter was home made tofu with foie gras - shiitake emulsion, bonito and leek (8/10). A gorgeous hors-d'oeuvre with the character of East meets West it was. What a match between smooth and tender tofu with tasty creamy foie gras sauce. The on top shiitake, bonito and leek gave the third dimension of aromas. I want more of this. This menu paired really well with lightly sweet touch of Kabinett riesling from Germany.

home made tofu with foie gras - shiitake emulsion, bonito and leek

For main course, tenderloin of Yarra Valley lamb with eggplant, roasted nuts and lamb jus (7/10) was an excellent compliment with a glass of cabernet sauvignon. The lamb tenderloin was tender and well cooked. Lamb jus was tasty and flavourful. Roasted nuts did not just bring out aroma and scent, also a more complex dimension of texture. The sweet apple puree (I think ~.~) balanced the whole picture. If lamb could be more tender (though already so tender), this could be one fine fine dish.

tenderloin of Yarra Valley lamb with eggplant, roasted nuts and lamb jus

Fine selection of French cheese (7/10) before dessert is sure my pleasure. I love the condiments that matched really nicely with these soft cheeses. The plus point is condiments were not overly sweet and when paired along with a glass of port, the magic did its trick. The best one was honey from personal perspective. Honey smoothen and soften the strong and thick cheese. Perfect.

For dessert, I had apple tart tatin with vanilla bean ice cream (8/10). What a simply delicious classic dessert it was. Silky smooth vanilla ice cream to balance the caramelised thick chuck of soft apple. Puff pastry was fluffy with beautiful touch. Just another glass of dessert wine did its job perfectly. A must order classic apple tart indeed.

fine French cheese selection

apple tart tatin with vanilla bean ice cream

Ending the course with a good cup of coffee latte was delightful. It was a satisfy Saturday lunch meal for us. If one would ask a place for good French food in Bangkok, Water Library Chamchuri Square is one for you to try. For me, I should just find more free time to visit this place more often. Bon Appetit!!!!

fine coffee latte

Water Library @ Chamchuri Square, Bangkok, Thailand
2nd Floor Chamchuri Square
Rama 4 Road
Bangkok 10330

Open Hours11:30am - 02:00pm for lunch and 06:00pm - 10:30pm for dinner daily 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Beaux Freres Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2008

Date of Tasting: 29 August 2013
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 100% Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 14.0%
Origin: Oregon, USA
Appellation: Willamette Valley
Expect to Pay: ~ THB2,000 - 3,500 (retail price in Thailand)
Chubby Score: 94/100
Value for money: 8/10
Professional Rating: WS - 93/100, ST - 91/100, CT - 91/100

Appearance: medium red in ruby shade
Aroma: so much of aromas and fragrances: red berries, spices, and floral
Palate: silky smooth with complex spices, red berries note as well as plum, lingering, fresh, purity, long finish, mid tone acidity that is gorgeously balance with complexity

Pretty much in love with this Pinot Noir in New World style from Oregon. I once had tried it last year and really like it. This time, it did not disappoint me too. The style is different from Belle Glos I reviewed last week: lighter, fresher, and more complex. This beautiful bottle would last at least another 5 years and should go supremely well with fatty fish like salmon and cod. It can be delightful on its own too. Go grab some if you like medium body style Pinot Noir. Big Cheers!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bo.lan (โบ.ลาน) @ Sukhumvit 26, Bangkok, Thailand

Cuisine: Thai
Price: THB1,100 per person without alcohol (what we paid for)
Visited: 24 August 2013
Food: 5/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 2/10
Services: 3/10

"Bo.lan" or "โบ.ลาน", anyone travelling to Thailand at this moment would at least have heard more or less about it: "must try", "the new era of Thai cuisine", "a restaurant for Thai food connoisseurs", and etc. We, too, have been eager to try one of the World's most famous Thai fine dining.

The word Bo.lan comes from the names of the two co-owners: Duangporn "Bo" Songvisava, a popular celebrity chef from TV programme "Eat, Am, Are" in Thailand, and Dylan "Lan" Jones. Bo.lan as in "โบราณ" not "โบ.ลาน" also means ancient or antique in Thai. Not sure whether this is an intention or just an accident.

Bo.lan - โบ.ลาน

garden atmosphere

front reception

Once a month, we would get to hang up with the gang and this time we decided to go for Thai food and Bo.lan was agreed to be the choice. We did give a ring immediately to book a table. At first, we asked for a table for 8 people to be reserved at 06:30pm and we were immediately denied but got offered 07:30pm instead: ok, not a big problem. The staff then came with another surprise of requesting THB500 deposit per person and there were 2 choices of doing so: either come in person and pay by cash or give credit card detail over the phone insecurely. I have to say that paying deposit for booking in Thailand is really abnormal, not a standard practice really here even with restaurants in 5 stars hotels.

Upon arrival, there came another surprise. There is no parking space available and no warning from the restaurant upon booking at all. This is really not the standard of such fine dining. However, there is parking valet service available. If you do normally drive and do not like the unreliable parking valet service in Thailand, I do recommend you to take a taxi else you just have to find a parking space along the street which is really limited.

The place of Bo.lan is an old house converted into restaurant. It is decorated easily but still resemble Thai atmosphere of the modern era. There are seats both indoor and outdoor. I guess the outdoor seats would be really good during the cooler time of the year: i.e. towards December and January. The overall atmosphere is rather relax and chill.

outdoor seats

just board decoration

Menu comes in 2 parts: a la carte and set menu. If you are not a local born, I would recommend the set menu such that variety of flavours can be tasted. We of course went for a la carte. For wine list, the marked up price is steep and the range is not wide. For examples Moet & Chandon Brut NV at the price of THB5,999 while street price is around THB3,500 and Crane Lake Sangiovese 2010 at the price of THB1,780 compared to street price of THB530.

The first dish to arrive on the table was egg wrapped sour and spicy squid - ก้อยปลาหมึกห่อไข่ (3/10), which is a complimentary amuse bouche. Funnily, when I asked the staff to repeat what the dish was, he said "complimentary from chef". Oh well, never mind. He seemed to speak English more fluently than Thai. In brief, the dish was kind of sour and spicy boiled squid that was wrapped with net of drizzling fried egg (just like egg that wraps Prik Yuak Yad Sai of Khao Chae). Thing was I could not feel the tiny bit of squid at all and the strong sour and spicy taste just overwhelmed the other aroma.

Relish of salty duck egg simmered in coconut cream and minced prawn served with grilled squid - หลนไข่เค็มใส่กุ้งสับแนมกับปลาหมึกย่าง (7/10) was a good dish that I could not say it was awful. It was smooth, creamy, and balance with sweetness of coconut milk leading. Side vegetables were fresh. However, the texture was too watery. This dish should have a little firmer texture, I suppose. Yet, the price of THB480 was sure too dearly.  Next was grilled pork in corn husk - หมูย่างบนเปลือกข้าวโพด (4/10). Ok, I did enjoy the dish but it did not really take me to "finale". At least, the positive point is the dish did give good corn aroma at each bit. Nevertheless, I am sure those grilled pork along footpath can be even better and THB380 for 2 portions of grilled pork, you must me kidding me.

egg wrapped sour and spicy squid (Goi) - amuse bouche

relish of salty duck egg simmered in coconut cream and minced prawn served with grilled squid (THB480)

grilled pork in corn husk (THB380)

closer look to grilled pork

Moving on to more serious dishes. Salad of grilled pork and deboned rambutan tossed in Thai herbs and red chilli dressing - ยำคอหมูย่างใส่เงาะคว้าน (6/10) was a typical Thai sour salad (Yum). A touch of sour from lime and spiciness from chilli. Bo.lan used the sweetness of rambutan to balance the whole picture which was a good idea. Stir-fried pork tender with santol - หมูผัดกระท้อน (5/10) was next. It tasted like stir-fried pork with shrimp paste (กะปิ). It was again just an enjoyable Thai dish with leading flavour of spiciness and sour from santol.

Here is the nightmare of the meal, stir-fried local greens both cultivated and wild - ผัดผัก ผักผัด (3/10). This dish was just a bad joke for us. It was plain and, yeah, plain. THB380 for stir-fried vegetable that my mother's one is far better, I must be insane to pay for this dish and yes, I did order it. (T__T) The annoying point is we asked a staff what it was and the reply was "local greens". For goodness sake, could you just at least explain what types of vegetable were in the dish. (~.~)" Ok, at least it was a healthy dish.

salad of grilled pork and deboned rambutan tossed in Thai herbs and red chilli dressing (THB420)

stir-fried pork tender with santol (THB520)

stir-fried local greens both cultivated and wild (THB380)

Here are soup and curry dishes. The first one was Northern style hot and sour soup of banana blossom and herbal fed chicken - ต้มยำไก่บ้านแบบเหนือใส่หัวปลี (5/10). It was Tom Yum indeed. Sour and lingering spiciness. This dish reminded me of Gai Super (ไก่ซุปเปอร์) or hot and sour chicken soup which is a famous dish for streetfood, especially to those teenagers and university students.

Next was the dish we like the most from Bo.lan: "Mon" style Khi Lek curry with daily ocean fish - แกงขี้เหล็กปลาทะเลกับยำผักกาดดอง (8/10). Khi Lek was a kind of local herbal ingredient that can be used both leaves and blossom. I love the balance of the taste: a touch of sweetness and a touch of spiciness. Strong but not intense. Fish was cooked to perfection: smooth and tender. The alongside preserved vegetable paired well with the curry. The last dish of this meal was spicy curry of chicken and yam bean - แกงเผ็ดเกล็ดแก้ว (6/10). In other restaurants, you may widely see spicy curry of duck. It was a typical pleasant spicy curry: tender chicken, herbal aroma, thick, and creamy from coconut milk.

Northern style hot and sour soup of banana blossom and herbal fed chicken (THB240)

chicken on the bone from tom yum

"Mon" style Khi Lek curry with daily ocean fish (THB780)

white fish from Khi Lek curry

spicy curry of chicken and yam bean (THB540)

chicken on the bone from spicy curry

All in all, we do think it was a good meal in term of overall taste. However, taking into account of not up to standard services, I am not so sure why this restaurant from Thailand gets into Asia's 50 Best Restaurants whilst there are so many other splendid restaurants out there.  Bo.lan should really improve its service, including knowledge of staffs as well as proper international standard practice if they really want to classify themselves as luxury dining. As a local borne, I am sure many other Thai restaurants (authentic) in Bangkok do offer better taste and services (carving out the fancy technique and creative ingredients). To go back to this place???  Probably not, but at least it was a good experience.

Bo.lan (โบ.ลาน) @ Sukhumvit 26, Bangkok, Thailand
42 Soi Pichai Ronnarong Songkram
Sukhumvit 26 Road
Khlong Toey
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: Tue - Sun 06:00pm - 01:00am

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Belle Glos Pinot Noir Clark and Telephone 2011

Date of Tasting: 14 July 2013
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 100% Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 14.4%
Origin: California, USA
Appellation: Santa Maria Valley
Expect to Pay: ~ THB1,800 - 2,500 (retail price in Thailand)
Chubby Score: 91/100
Value for money: 7/10
Professional Rating: WS - 92/100

Appearance: dark and opaque scarletty red
Aroma: floral and dark berries, cinnamon, nutmegs, and more spices
Palate: so dark, dense, and intense for both taste and structure, well balance and persistent long finish, tannins are so smooth, texture is a little chewy and jammy, so many scent of berries follow ones after ones: blackberry, blackcurrant, raspberry, cherry, and even plum.

This bottle of Pinot Noir is very big indeed for smooth and fruity variety: big and bold in fact. There is a big potential during this decade for Clark and Telephone 2011. I personally would let it lay down for a few years to soften a little more. I shall then enjoy it with sushi, especially those fatty type fish, or lobster. Should you see some, grab them into your cellar: really good value for money. Looking forward to opening the next bottle.

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