This was really a journey to “chill” in the sense we don’t get to do that often due to the pressures of working life. Sometimes we do dream of winning the lottery and getting onto a life of travel, occasionally returning to work life… sort of the reverse of nomads…
Anyhow, we’ve had our reunion dinner earlier with family and dispense with the red packets. So it was time to make that flight to what we dubbed the ‘city of angels’… though some of you might not agree. This story will be focused exclusively on where and what we ate though in a segway from our normal activity log that we usually share.
DAY ONE – Today we tried out Terminal 4 at Changi airport. Not a thumbs up to be honest… The SATs lounge though was pretty good from a location standpoint though.
First time in Terminal 4 and we are not impressed with the self check-in and customs/security process. Designers of the terminal were probably too optimistic about users’ proficiency… a lot of double work for the associates who were there to assist… The only consolation is that the SATs lounge overlooks the replica of pre war houses. Food’s reasonable and we spent a good 3 hours at the lounge. Now if you are here, you must make time for the short Peranakan clip that comes on every 30 minutes.
Two hours and a movie later, we arrived in the city of angels… Fortunately, our passport is allowed the special use of automated customs scanning and we sailed through speedily. The normal queue would have taken more than an hour just to get to the customs officer ! Once we grabbed our luggage, instead of arranged transport we took the taxi from the public queue. It was much more efficient and technologically advanced than we expected. Some day we might share more about that.
About 45 minutes later, we managed to get to the hotel and checked in and before long it was time for dinner. We went to nearby Central Embassy, a glitzy mall where we had dinner at a ‘high class’ food court. At Eat Thai, you don’t pay at the stalls, but simply wave the cards they issue to you when you walk in. While it does cost a lot more than other similar joints, the quality is very good and the seating is spacious. Take note there is a service charge of 5% on top of your bill. We give good ratings for this experience and think you might want to consider it too!
Oh what a day!
One moment we were in the little red dot and in a flash we were part of the ever growing traffic getting into Bangkok… Tip: consider not flying into the city in the morning and join the morning peak hours. Arriving around noon is probably best as the traffic would be tough but still manageable. Alternatively, the train is also an option if you do not have lots of luggage.
A little about our hotel. It is served by a shuttle service (run by Allson) that runs in a circular route stopping at the nearby BTS station of Phloen Chit. During peak hours, the bus service frequency is approximately every 5-6 minutes and at other times ~15 minutes’ interval. Very handy for those who wish to reduce the amount of time one walks in the hot and humid…
DAY TWO – Shopping day. Suan strategized that it is a Thursday and the crowds should be thinner. Hmm… probably back to the drawing board…
We took the BTS to National Stadium in the morning and got to MBK mall for our lunch at Ping’s Teochew restaurant located in the adjacent Pathumwan Princess hotel.
At lunch we ordered the oyster omelet and the soup such as fish maw… Yes we know we can get similar stuff in the markets for so-called much lower prices. But you will have to come to taste it for yourself. It is definitely different and much better. Hey, it’s about quality over quantity for us!
Now the day had been spent walking, and a lot too! And where else than the malls… so it seemed like a flash of time when we began to feel hungry yet again. And here we are at the Siam precinct. Everywhere there are restaurants… but where shall we eat? Ah we found little “Inter restaurant” tucked away behind Siam square.
One frequented by locals and tourists alike, it almost seemed like a fast food joint albeit one where you order and have your meal quick! And delish too not to mention it was really affordable… all that for 380 baht. Now servings aren’t too large, but just sufficient.
Across the road and at the back of Siam Square One mall is Hello Kitty café. It was not busy at all and we spent time taking photos of the place before ordering desserts and coffee/tea. This was a perfect way to end the day, though the music they played was repeating and got a little annoying after 30 minutes. Did you see the frothy kitties? They were such a pity to drink away… but at least we got to keep one of the cups. Which one did you think it was?
One of the things we’ve learned this time is that the BTS system in the central part of the city has walkways constructed underneath the rail line. So one can theoretically walk along the BTS line from the National Stadium station all the way to Siam Paragon and down to Chit Lom. Certainly better than taking the BTS for such short distances of just 1-2 stops. Note though this walkway is only open 6am till midnight aligned to the operating hours of the BTS.
And this is what we did.
We took the BTS to National stadium (MBK mall) and then made the return trip with a walk stopping at Paragon shopping center before arriving at Central world. The connected walkways would lead us to Platinum mall.
Hard work this all were and soon it was time for yet another relaxing night in the hotel…
DAY THREE – TGIF! And we determined to stay in the hotel for the day, most of it anyway until we had to “sneak” out for dinner.
We had a Sushi buffet today at the hotel’s Japanese restaurant (KiSara). Only available during the weekdays, from 1130-1400hrs the buffet runs for 1300 baht++ per person. While there is a menu, one can ask the chefs to prepare a variety of specials or customized your likes. We enjoyed the scallop with cheese (mayonnaise) seared over it… had avocado straight and lots of sashimi.
Recommend that one do not order too much sushi (with the rice) and focus on the sashimi… definitely value for money. We also had the Japanese omelet without the rice… sooo flexible. They had this fried salmon skin in a wrap or sushi. The wrap is better in our opinion. Sashimi of salmon and tuna was part of the free flow, though we preferred the salmon. Because it is the lunar new year, a lion dance troupe came in to bless the restaurant and its guests, and some folks fed it with packets of money for good luck. We just carry on eating. It was already good luck to have this beautiful buffet.
The other guests stayed on till 2pm while we left at 1pm. We were stuffed already!
Yes, we know that dining in a hotel is not exactly the epitome of budget traveling. In our defense, we want to share our views about the state of Japanese food in Thailand. Some of you might have heard about it. Some of you might have experienced it. Many folks we spoke with told us how nice and affordable the Japanese food was in Bangkok. They were referring to the outlets in the malls and standalone restaurants.
Last year we tried it out. Verdict = it could be much better.
We will not dive into the details. Essentially the core of a Japanese meal is in its ingredients (including and especially the rice they use). So we determined to verify if the slightly classier joints are indeed worthy bets. What did we really think? From an affordability index, it is not low in ranking. But from a qualitative (ie deliciousness index) it scored very well. So we award it an 8.5 out of a scale of 10. We will confirm it tomorrow evening…
After an afternoon of reading and relaxing, we walked out for dinner at Coffee Bean by Tao. As a chain outlet we did not have high expectations. It was rather busy with locals having family dinners though our wait for a table for not too long. The food was very good and service too. Ticked off the boxes in all the right places… Recommend the beef noodle in broth. And we think the chicken wings beat that of Greyhounds.
This outlet we ate at is just around the corner from the hotel, so an easy 2 minute walk. Not cheap by Thai standards, this one ticked another one on the long list of restaurants to try out. Mel really relished the beef noodle in broth… and the Otah is something we’d really recommend. Pity it was sooo small though.
DAY Four – Today we “sneaked” out for lunch instead, only returning when Mel pulled Suan away from the shops…
As usual, we took the regular bus shuttle to the BTS station. And then onwards to Phrom Phong BTS and EM Quartier for the shopping. After lunch at Nara Thai (where the god of prosperity visited heheh), we continued shopping at the Emporium.
You know, we’ve been disappointed last year at Nara Thai. And in a feeling of deja vu, at lunch time too this year! Seems we might never get an opportunity to suss out how their beef noodles in broth would taste like… either because it is not on the menu (Central world branch), or they ran out (EM Quartier branch). You can imagine we took to having lunch instead of dinner in case they ran out… but they seem to… even at lunch! Sigh. Tails between the legs, we slithered back to the hotel to get back to our regular programme of just lazing about the pool.
After an afternoon of reading, time to get back to KiSara for our teppanyaki dinner. Both courses we chose (~2500 baht++ each) came with sashimi. Great start in our opinion having sampled the buffet just yesterday. The tuna sashimi was definitely better than the ones served at the buffet yesterday.
The seafood set had cod and salmon as part of the serving and was expertly cooked by a chef from Japan. And the Angus beef was cooked to perfection right in front of us. We truly enjoyed the dinner talking and eating through it.
The soup they served came in a teapot. Ingredients were all inside and we ate them all Aside from prawns, we also had scallops. All served up with zucchini and asparagus. We chose the tenderloin (100g) which was served before fried rice. It had a lot of ‘wok hei’ since it was cooked on the hot plate!
Time to settle down for some green tea ice cream before we headed back to the room for a well deserved rest and beer to close out the day. This meal cost us 5628 baht after a 10% discount for hHonors members. Definitely not low on the cost index, but absolutely top of the chart for deliciousness!
Dinner was more than consolation for the not-so-great lunch. For although we chose the ‘cheaper’ sets, our Japanese chef concocted such a delectable outcome for us that we could not bear to leave the restaurant… so our conclusion, the score of 8.5 holds.
DAY FIVE – Today we head out to a new area for shopping. Union Mall is easily accessible by MRT and we had to get out off the BTS system to the MRT system. The two systems are not linked at all interchanges, so one need to buy separate tickets.
Took the BTS to Mohit station and walked over to the Chatuchak park MRT for a one station journey to Union Mall. The mall is open from 11am and a throng was already waiting to get in when we got there. Thought there was some event going on…heheh. Nope, that was the normal crowd. The mall is like Platinum, with a lot of local fashion stalls.
Since most of these stalls would only open later in the morning, we decided to have an early lunch first at Kin Tiew Kan. For 192 baht it was surely a value for money meal! The concept of really small bowls of cheap noodles (of different types and flavors) was novel to us. It really intrigued us to mix and match them on our own liking! Literally like dining at street (prices) but in the comforts of an air conditioned shopping mall. Portions are small since prices commensurate with that (14 baht per bowl). Order all 7 types of noodles and some side dishes!
That was before we started off on a shopping spree. And after a whole afternoon shopping in Union mall (and with Suan making a killing), we made our way to Ratchathewi BTS station for a relaxing time at B Story café.
We had considered nearby Caterday café with the cats, but decided that food and animals do not mix. A 279 baht all-you-can eat chicken place was also out since we intend to “indulge” later. So here we go. Desserts. All downed with healthy Kale smoothies… heheh. Did we compensate? You tell us!
Then it was off to Terminal 21 mall. First, Suan had to inspect the gourmet floor (basement) and then the shops before we eventually settled at the food court for our night of dinner in Thailand. It is lunar new year and there are numerous stalls in the malls and tented ones outside. Pork rinds… that’s what we bought as snacks. Lots of them too.
This was our final stop. You might recall that we were frequently in this mall for our meals last year. Well, it is sort of our “favourite” place whenever we are in Bangkok and we could not resist being there before our journey home. Omelet rice, duck rice, Mango with sticky rice… lots of rice dishes… and the fish maw soup is not pictured. Guess it was too much carbo… and for less than 300 baht it was like a feast.
This was really our final day of culinary exploration.
Eschewing the open air markets, we touched a new abode of shopping which we did not share much about above. Union mall is actually not far from Chatuchak market, merely one MRT station away though a little distance to walk. You might want to check it out too if you are in the vicinity. We think it is a pretty good alternative to the hot zinc roofed open market… but that’s our opinion only.
Just how affordable is Thailand for culinary pleasures? If one assumes the exchange rate of S$1 = 24 baht (US$1 = 32 baht), then even dining in the supposedly higher end such as hotels could seem to be reasonable compared back home. Alright that, that depends on where home is.
Enjoyed the culinary tour we shared? Inspired to go inspect the eating places of your own listing?
We enjoyed yet another journey to this city in February 2018