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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cabbages & Condoms Restaurant in Bangkok

This has got to be one of the better-known restaurants in the capital of the Land of Smiles. I believe it has been around for a few years at least, and if the size of the crowd on the Friday evening we were there is anything to go by, the place is still pretty popular among tourists.

My CEB loves Tom Yam soup so this is what we had in a hotpot. The restaurant offers a choice between soup or curry being served in a hotpot which is more expensive, or in a bowl. Since we had pretty high expectations, we decided to go for the hotpot which meant a larger portion too. The Slog Reviews: 7/10. Soooo.....sooooo. Period. Not anything that would take one's breath away in a hurry. I suppose it is almost impossible to eat in a Thai restaurant and not try Tom Yam Goong so I would moderate my expectations if I were to order this dish from C&C.

Now, ever since our trip to Krabi last year where he had Tom Kha Gai for the first time at one of the more famous restaurants, my CEB has been hooked to this rich coconut curry dish which comes with pieces of chicken, pork or prawns. We didn't order this in a hotpot so here is how the dish looked served in a claypot bowl. The Slog Reviews: 6/10. If you like the rich sweet creamy sort of curry, don't order this dish at C&C. The curry was thin, watery and spicy to my CEB's tremendous disappointment.

1 of the restaurant's specialties was soft shell crab in curry. It came on a hotplate and some yellow curry sauce. The Slog Reviews: 6/10. I ended up eating almost all of this dish on my own as my CEB flatly refused to partake more than 1 mouthful of the crabs. It wasn't that it was awful but the crab wasn't fried to crispy perfection but more like a soggy half-cooked mess with gills. Do not waste any Baht on this!

Oh yes, I know it's quite a lot we ordered (now you who know me well can explain the weight gain), but we did have one last dish of green curry with pork. The Slog Reviews: 8/10. My CEB and I agreed easily that this was the best dish of the lot.

The restaurant has outdoor seating and indoor seating but the weather dictated that we have a table inside. Here is a pic of the decor, most of which is about...condoms or the popularity of the restaurant.

When we were walking out, I took a picture of this most innovative costume - there are multi-colored condoms pasted on the mannequins' cap, shirt and pants.

And while I marveling over the creativity of the designer, I saw this. Unrolled condoms for the skirt! How smart is that!

And while we were on the way out....and no, I haven't seen the inside of the condom packet that my CEB picked up. I wouldn't count on the quality of the contents though, especially if not having a kid just yet is high on one's priority list.

There was a shop just next to the restaurant (within the same compound) that was selling all types of C&C souvenirs - my CEB grabbed a couple of key-chains with condoms in them for his male buddies. Men will always be boys.

I wouldn't go so far as to call C&C a tourist trap but if your intent is to have really nice Thai food, this wouldn't be the place to go. And if you are minded to go for the experience, just do remember to make reservations. There was quite a queue on our way out about 9pm.

The month of February 2012

February is the shortest month of the year but it just flew by for me this year. And since today is a day that only comes around once every 4 years, I should write a quick entry of sorts.

We celebrated our 9th Monthiversary of marriage this month...and despite the downs of marriage life (oh trust me, there were a couple of really bad quarrels this month), I have decided that I still love my CEB as much as the day I married him. I love him kissing me in the morning when I am half awake before he leaves for work. I enjoy the moments with him lolling around on our bed. And he always melts my heart when he comes home greeting me with "Love you love you" or saying "Love you love you" to me for no rhyme or reason other than that he feels like it.

At the start of the month, we were in Thailand (as per my earlier posts) - me for work, my husband for fun and food. :)

And in the middle of the month, we gave in to custom and celebrated V Day...at home, but with the obligatory bunch of flowers from him. I've never received purple roses before and this year's bouquet of 6 large fresh blooming purple roses with glitter around the edges of the petals made me a most happy girl.

And near the end of the month, we went on a short holiday to Hong Kong. I believe this is the first proper holiday (other than to Malaysia) that I've taken with my CEB since our last holiday in 2011 October to BKK. My CEB said he really enjoyed the HK trip but alas, I did not come away feeling the same way. I suspect it is to do with the fact that we went there at a time when there wasn't any sale!

So that pretty much sums up the month of February for me. It is March now and I look forward to receiving the Variable Bonus mid month! I'm working so hard that I not only have no time to post here but I also had a dream where I thought I was dreaming. See, when I wake up every morning, I check my Blackberry on the drawer next to me because there are always emails from the US side (Time difference right?) and in this dream, I woke up, checked my blackberry and for once there wasn't the icon showing emails received, and in this dream, I thought I was dreaming because it couldn't be that there were no mails at all.

And then I woke up.

First thing I did was to check my blackberry. And yes, there was the icon showing I had 25 work-related emails received while I was sleeping. Welcome to The Slog's world.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Rossini's at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Hotel

It was just after lunch time when I checked in and it was pouring outside so I was minded to find some grub in the hotel. I'd read about the award-winning restaurant Rossini's which just happened to be in this hotel so I decided to check out the place.

To my delight, there was a signboard outside the restaurant advertising its Power Lunch, which looked really affordable at 690 (2 courses)/780 Baht (3 courses)(excluding taxes of course). Getting a seat for lunch on a wet Thursday afternoon did not pose much of a problem and the staff were attentive and spoke good English.

After I'd placed my order, the complimentary bread of basket arrived with some olives. No butter. I wonder why (but in any case I asked for some). And they also served a trio of flat lollipop-looking biscuits with nuts stuck on them. Forget the bread - that was nothing extraordinary but those biscuits things, they were just the right mix of sweet and crunchiness, the kind that leaves no cloying sweet aftertaste in your mouth, and not hard enough to hurt your teeth.

The waitress followed up with a complimentary beetroot mousse. Now, I hate beetroot but since this was free...well, it proved to be pretty alright with little bits of potato at the end.

I ordered the Seafood Salad for my appetizer and it came with all of 1 scallop, 1 squid, 1 mussel and 1 prawn. Fresh, presented well but...I would try some other starter if I'd the chance to go back. Even knowing that this was Rossini's did not raise this dish in my humble esteem.

I ordered the veal pansotti with parmesan cheese sauce as my main. It was a toss up between the veal and the snapper with black truffle sauce and it was only because the server strongly recommended the veal that I decided against the snapper (Which I will have the next time I go back to BKK).

Well, the dish looked like this when served - 3 lumps of yellow, green and brown. I'll give this dish a really low score for presentation. Just because it is a set lunch menu doesn't mean that you can depart with the aesthetics altogether, ya know?

But presentation aside, the whipped potato and the spinach heaps melted delightfully in the mouth and the veal was just awesome. Juicy, succulent, tender and done in a way such that each bite of the veal meant a mini-explosion of flavor in the mouth.

Dessert was the orange and pistachio cake. It was blah. Nothing to crow about - the cake was not too moist or too dry but it lacked the richness of a really delicious cake. I would not order this again.

Based on my experiences of having set lunches at better restaurants (even the celebrity restaurants in Singapore's MBS), I wouldn't be quite so quick to belittle my experience at Rossini's. However, I think that one should order from the ala carte menu to be able to truly judge the quality of the dishes of a restaurant.

And the power lunch (not very much food, was it?) cost a total of 918 Baht (about SGD 36?) after taxes. The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10 for this experience, and hoping to have a better experience at Rossini's the next time.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Hotel

Having stayed at Sheraton HCM and Sheraton Hanoi the last business trip, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that my co booked a room at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit for my Thailand work trip.

But it was a surprise, because the 3 SPG hotels (Sheraton, Westin and 4 Points) are located within 5-8mins walking distance of each other and I'd thought that the most expensive option wouldn't be their first choice. I had thought it would be 4 Points, and if I was lucky, Westin.

But as it turned out, not only was I going to be staying in Sheraton for 2 nights (The Sheraton was rated #4 of all the hotels in BKK on tripadvisor ), but there was also an upgrade to the grand deluxe room which came with a host of benefits such as the butler service, free laundry (2 pcs) per day and free high-speed internet in the room. More on that later.

The Sheraton is connected to Asoke Station by a sheltered bridge and it takes all of 5 mins to get from the lobby to 1 of the largest newest malls in BKK, Terminal 21. Westin is right opposite Terminal 21 but one has to cross a small road to get there and it was raining when I arrived. So in terms of access to the BTS and the mall, the Sheraton beats Westin hands-down.

Anyway, when I arrived, for once, the staff at the reception escorted me right up to the room after the checkin process. She also arranged for tea (there was ice lemon tea, coffee or hot tea) to be brought up to the room before we entered the room, and for the bags to be brought up later. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the tea came with 2 biscuits in a nice little tray.

Below is a picture of the grande deluxe room. It reminded me a lot of the club suite I'd stayed in at the Sheraton Imperial in KL. The room was spacious of course but the design was far from modern and sleek as you can probably tell from the picture below.

In addition to the iced tea, there was a complimentary platter of fruits consisting of 2 bananas and 2 mangosteens next to the hot drinks facility. I have to say that the selection of complimentary tea and coffee bags was pretty good.

A picture of the room next to the toilet which is some sort of a walk in wardrobe. It came complete with a safe, and pretty fluffy complimentary bedroom slippers.

Here is a picture of the toilet. The bathtub was clean enough so I had a good soak in it. The shower on the hand needs to be improved - there isn't the right mix of hot and cold water - it is either a touch too much of either.

I'd read that the pool at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit was something pretty amazing and my room on the 2*th floor had a view of the pool if I looked straight down from the window. It did seem rather pretty with the lush greenery and the dark blue tiling. If one wanted, one could have breakfast by the pool (But the selection of food would be smaller)

The more distant view from my room was of the river. In 1 of the mags I read, I learnt that the river flowing through BKK was the heart of the city. Which was something new to me because all my trips to Thailand consisted of well, shopping, eating and massages at malls and little nooks and crannies.

When my CEB finally joined me late in the night (almost midnight), the 24hr butler service promptly provided more iced tea for the 2 of us and biscuits. That was when I really started digging the butler service.

Because I had to leave the hotel at 8am for work and I didn't want to wake up early to have a buffet breakfast that I wouldn't be able to enjoy, I ordered from the butler service, a cup of hot tea and some biscuits. It was delivered in all of 5 mins and this was how I left my CEB to enjoy his day of a nice buffet breakfast, free in the room broadband AND WIFI, and easy access to the shopping mall. While I went to work. To say my CEB was happy is an understatement.

Talking about the buffet breakfast, I'd read on the internet that the spread was something awesome but my CEB had told me it wasn't. I was to find out the next day when we went for breakfast together before checking out.

I didn't think the spread was that limited - of course, there are better breakfast buffets we've had but still, it was decent enough. My CEB groused that there wasn't anyone to cook noodles on the spot for guests (unlike 4 Points) and eyed the noodles I'd ordered for breakfast from the ala-carte menu. I think the bowl of noodles cost about SGD13 but it wasn't expensive when one comes to think of it. At least in comparison to the breakfast buffet which cost SGD40.

Now, here is the reason why one should book the Grande Deluxe Room at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit. Other than the perks of the butler service, the room comes with unlimited drinks at The Living Room (the lounge for Sheraton).

I missed drinks the first night because I was out shopping. However, the second night found us at The Living Room enjoying the complimentary snacks AND the complimentary drinks between 6 to 8pm. Did I mention that the cocktails, mocktails, beers and even wine (red, sparkling, white) on the menu were ALL free?

So we drank quite a fair bit. My CEB going straight for the sparking wine of course, and me, pussy-footing around with the mocktails (literally) and then progressing to the cocktails.

The Slog Reviews: 9/10. I have to say that the amount for the grande deluxe room at the Sheraton is worth every penny. A fabulous experience all in all. And when we got back, the first thing we did was to book air tickets to go back to BKK in August.