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My Choice Restaurant in Bangkok

Michael Babcock, Monday, January 1st, 2018

(Click images to see larger version.)
(All the dishes mentioned can be seen in the slideshow at the end of the blog.)

My Choice sign

My Choice Restaurant Sign

My Choice Restaurant, on Sukhumvit Soi 36 (Soi Napasap) in Bangkok, has been one of our (Kasma’s and my) favorite restaurants for over 2 decades, dating back to their original location on Sukhumvit Soi 24 and then at earlier location on Soi 36.

They are located on Sukhumvit Soi 36 about 450 meters (a quarter mile) in from Sukhumvit Road. (Note: I think the address found on the web of 19 Sukhumvit Soi 36 is their old location: you need to go further into the soi to reach the restaurant.)

My Choice Interior

My Choice Interior

They serve delectable Thai food in a comfortable, elegant setting. At lunch time the dining area is filled with light. Any dish is liable to be a “wow” experience, where you wish you had more space in your stomach or less people at the table so you could eat more and more of it. In a 2001 review, The Nation called it “one of the city’s better Thai restaurants.”

One of the hallmarks of My Choice comes from the extremely fresh ingredients. I remember one occasion when we came for lunch and ordered the Spicy Grilled Eggplant Salad (something I am always tempted to order here). It took a little longer to arrive than the other dishes; when it came, the eggplant was still hot from the grill. Talk about fresh!

Everything we’ve ever had here has been good. I’d recommend that when you eat here, don’t simply order things that you’re familiar with: use this restaurant to expand your Thai culinary horizons by taking a chance on a dish you’ve never heard of before.

Yum Salads

Eggplant salad

Spicy Grilled Eggplant Salad

One of the things that My Choice does especially well are the type of salads known by the Thai word yum. This type of salad emphasizes sour (from lime juice) and spicy (from Thai chillies, prik kee noo).

Kasma always brings her small-group trips to My Choice, often for two meals during the trips, and she always includes at least one yum salad. My personal favorite is Spicy Eggplant Salad (Yum Makeua Yao) made with roasted eggplant. The long eggplants used in much of Thailand (My Choice, too) are a green variety that roast up with a delicious smokey flavor. (There is a green variety in the U.S. that doesn’t compare.)

If you want to try a different flavor, give the Spicy Crispy Fish Salad (Yum Pla Grob) a try. The smoky fish flavor blends in wonderfully with the hot/sour dressing.

Other favorites are Spicy Winged Bean Salad (Yum Tua Phoo) (smothered in crispy, fried shallots), Spicy Water Mimosa Salad (Yum Pak Krachehd),, Spicy Banana Blossom Salad (Yum Hua Plee) and, for people who like bitter melon, Spicy Bitter Gourd salad (Yum Mara). If you like mackerel, there’s the Spicy Minced Pork Mackerel Salad (Lahb Moo Pla Too) (also available with minced beef or chicken) – this one is actually a “larb” (pronounced “lahb.”)

Curries

Panaeng Beef Curry

Panaeng Beef Curry

My Choice also excels with curry dishes of all kinds. The curry we order most consistently is Panaeng Beef Curry (Kaeng Panaeng Neua), which is a rich, coconut-milk based curry.

At a recent visit we ate two fabulous red curries. The first one was King Prawn in Red Curry with Eggplants (Kaeng Gung Yai Makeua Yao). Wow. I just wanted to eat all the fabulous curry sauce made from fresh coconut milk – it was so rich and flavorful. As a plus, the prawns were whole, head and all. The second dish was a “Choo Chee” (red) curry, listed on the menu as Fried Fish/Shrimp with Curry Paste (Pla/Gung Pad Kreung Choo Chee): also rich and flavorful. You couldn’t go wrong, either, with the Red Curry with Roast Duck (Kaeng Phed Ped Yang).

Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry in Southern Style

The best green curry I’ve ever had was one time at My Choice; and I’ve been eating delicious Thai food that Kasma makes plus at restaurants all over Thailand since 1992. On the menu it is Green Chicken Curry (Kaeng Khiow Wahn Gai); you can also get it with pork or beef. When you taste it, it is immediately obvious that it is made with fresh coconut milk. It is always a wonderful dish, always excellent and typically served with delicious, flakey roti.

Another outstanding curry, this one made without coconut milk, is Chicken Curry In Southern Style (Kaeng Gai Khua Pak Tai) (see above left). Be warned: this dish is spicy! A dry curry, it’s made with Thai eggplants, long beans, often with baby corn, chicken and a very spicy indeed red sauce. If chillies indeed release endorphins, thus improving your mood, this dish can put you into a state of bliss. (For more information on Southern food see Kasma’s article Southern Cooking – Thai Style.)

Other Favorite Dishes

Stir-Fried Ivy Gourd Greens with Pork

I’ll only mention a few of our other favorites, things that we order time and time again, whether or not we are with trip members. The advantage to coming with a group is that we can order more dishes; the disadvantage is that we have to share favorites!

One favorite is Roasted Duck with Gourd Leaves (Ped Ob Tam Leung). It consists of succulent Thai duck (much better than duck that I’ve had in the United States) with a type of gourd leaf all served in a brown sauce. This is a good non-spicy dish to throw into the mix. Thai people usually serve a variety of flavors and spice levels in their meals. We also order Stir-fried Ivy Gourd Greens with Pork (Moo Sap Tam Leung) – photo above right.

Grilled pork neck

Charcoal Grilled Pork’s Neck

We absolutely love the Charcoal Grilled Pork’s Neck (Ka Moo Yang). I always want to eat the whole plate myself.

A new favorite, after a recent lunch, is the Spicy Deep Fried Catfish Fillet Pla Deuk Tod Krob Pad Ped. Spicy from a red curry sauce it is particularly tasty, with lovely, fresh winged beans as part of the mix. As always at My Choice, the flavors were balanced beautifully.

A terrific spicy dish is Stir-Fried Squid in Chili Sauce (Pad Chah Pla Meuk). This is a very spicy dish that receives added flavor from fresh green peppercorns and a root called krachai in Thai (often known as “rhizome” here in the U.S.).

One dish we enjoy – though be warned: it’s not for everyone – is Stir Fried Preserved Egg with Sweet Basil Leaves (Kai Yiow Ma Pad Bai Khaprow). The eggs preserved in a mixture that typically includes clay, ash and salt (with other things) up to several months turning the egg dark, almost black, in color and some people find the taste too strong. We find it delicious.

One-dish Meals

My best recommendation for My Choice is to go with as many friends as you can so you can order a wide variety of dishes. Nonetheless, you may find yourself there alone at a lunch hour and just want something simple. They do have a number of noodle and one-dish rice dishes under the category “Hot Dishes.”

Rice plate

Coconut Rice served with Papaya Salad

We like the Coconut Rice served with Papaya Salad (Khao Man Som Tam) (found under “Recommended”), which comes with a piece of fried chicken. It’s a fun and tasty combination.

Then there are noodle dishes found all over Thailand. They do a very good version of Pad Thai with Shrimp (Pad Thai Gung Sohd) and their Rahd Na, on the menu as Fried Noodle with Pork/Chicken/Shrimp/Fish in Gravy Sauce (Kuay Tiow Rad Na Moo/Gai/Gung/Pla), is good as well. Another favorite is the Black Olive Fried Rice (Kao Pad Nam Liap). If you really like black olives, you can order Stir Fried Black Olive with Pork (Nam Liap Pad Moo Sap) as a separate dish.

Dessert

We recommend you finish up with a nice bowl of ice cream. My favorite is the plain Coconut Ice Cream (Ait Cream Kati), though I also like the Taro Ice Cream (Ait Cream Peuak) and the Lemon Basil Seeds Ice Cream (Ait Cream Med Maeng Lak). These coconut-based ice creams (they appear to be dairy-free) are a good way to cool down a mouth that has just eaten some spicy dishes.

Author eating

The author enjoys a meal

Getting There

Map

Map to My Choice, Click for larger

Sukhumvit Soi 36 (Soi Napasap)
Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Telephone: 02-258-6174
Website: My Choice Facebook page

The restaurant is located about 450 meters (1/4 mile) in on Sukhumvit Soi 36. You can take the skytrain to the Thong Lo stop and walk into Soi 36 but it’s a narrow soi so you may want to have a cab take you into the restaurant.

Further Reading

See also: Black Olive Rice at My Choice Restaurant (blog entry)

Read the article by Bangkok Restaurant Guide, review and food critic – My Choice Restaurant review on Sukhumvit 36 (2008). This review is still accurate about the food; however, it is out-of-date on the atmosphere, which is much more elegant and subdued at this new location.


 

My Choice Slideshow

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.


My Choice sign
Map
My Choice Menu
My Choice Interior
Eggplant salad
Crispy Fish Salad
my-choice-25
Water Mimosa Salad
Mackerel Salad
Panaeng Beef Curry
Red Curry with Prawns
Choo Chee Fish
Green Curry
Green Curry
Chicken Curry
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my-choice-5
Roast Duck
my-choice-22
Grilled Pork
Spicy catfish dish
Winged beans in dish
Squid dish
Preserved Eggs
Rice plate
Pad Thai
Rahd Nah
Ice Cream
Author eating

My Choice Restaurant Sign

Map to My Choice on Sukhumvit Soi 36

My Choice Menu

The elegant interior of My Choice Restauarnt

Spicy Grilled Eggplant Salad (Yum Makeua Yao)

Spicy Crispy Fish Salad (Yum Pla Grob)

Spicy Winged Bean Salad (Yum Thua Poo)

Spicy Water Mimosa Salad (Yum Pak Krachehd),

Spicy Minced Pork Mackerel Salad (Lahb Moo Pla Too)

Panaeng Beef Curry (Kaeng Panaeng Neua)

King Prawn in Red Curry with Eggplants (Kaeng Gung Yai Makeau Yao)

"Choo Chee" Fried Fish with Curry Paste (Kaeng Pad Kreung Choo Chee)

Green Chicken Curry (Kaeng Khiow Wan Gai)

Green Chicken Curry (Kaeng Khiow Wan Gai)

Chicken Curry in Southern Style (Kaeng Gai Khua Pak Tai)

Massaman Curry with Chicken (Kaeng Massaman Gai)

Stir-Fried Tamleung (Ivy Gourd) Greens with Chopped Pork and Fried Garlic (Moo Sap Tamleung)

Roasted Duck with Gourd Leaves (Ped Ob Tam Leung)

Charcoal Grilled Pork's Neck (Ka Moo Yang)

Charcoal-Grilled Lemon Grass Pork with Chilli Dipping Sauce (Moo Yang Takhrai)

Spicy Deep Fried Catfish Fillet (Pla Deuk Tod Krob Pad Ped)

Winged beans in the Spicy Deep Fried Catfish Fillet (Pla Doog Tawd Krob Pad Ped)

Stir-fried Squid in Chilli Sauce (Pad Cha Pla Meuk)

Stir Fried Preserved Egg with Sweet Basil Leaves (Kai Yiow Ma Pad Bai Khaprow)

Coconut Rice served with Papaya Salad (Khao Man Som Tam)

Pad Thai with Shrimp (Pad Thai Gung Sohd)

Fried Noodle with Chicken in Gravy Sauce (Kuay Tiow Rad Na Gai)

Lemon Basil Seed Ice Cream (Ait Cream Med Maeng Lak)

The author enjoys a meal at My Choice

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Written by Michael Babcock, January 2018

Coffee in Thailand, Part 5 (2017)

Michael Babcock, Monday, December 25th, 2017

Cappuccino 1

Cappuccino at Ban Khun Chang Khian

In the past I’ve blogged a number of times on coffee in Thailand. (Links included at the end of the article.) As Kasma and I traveled around the north this past month – up to Doi Ang Khang and to several out-of-the-way places in Chiang Mai province as well as Chiang Mai itself – I couldn’t help but notice the changing coffee scene.

This is by no means a comprehensive review. Like my other blogs it contains my impressions and observations about the changing scene here in Thailand as I observed them.
 

(Click images to see larger version.)

On a recent trip to Thailand (Kasma leads small group, off-the-beaten track trips to Thailand) a trip member who works in the coffee industry told Kasma that virtually all of the coffee grown in Thailand is consumed in Thailand, unlike many other countries where most coffee is exported. When you drink coffee in Thailand, it is likely to have been grown there.,

Coffee Everywhere!

Isolated Coffee Shop

Roadside coffee shop


Each year there are more coffee shops in Thailand. More and more locations with shops or market stalls of any kind seem to have one selling fresh coffee.

Driving through the countryside on the way from Doi Ang Khang to Chiang Dao, we stopped at a viewpoint with a number of shops and, sure enough, one of them was a coffee place (pictured to the left). In addition to pretty good coffee, it offered some beautiful views of the mountains.

We often saw the signs for กาแฟสด (ka-fay sot – fresh coffee) at roadside stops and on random streets in various towns. Typically, the coffee is ground to order and then made using an espresso machine. You don’t really get drip coffee here in Thailand; if you order a black coffee you get what is essentially an Americano – basically an espresso with water added to make it about the same strength as a brewed or drip coffee.

Barista and stall

The roadside barista

Drinking Coffee

The author enjoys a cappuccino

I’ve noticed that more and more of the baristas are making better quality drinks. I almost alway order a cappuccino. When correctly made a cappuccino is espresso with just milk foam on top and no added milk. In the past, about half the time you’d get what was essentially a caffe latte, with straight steamed milk and not so much milk foam. Only once this year did that happen. More and more I’m starting to see foam art on the drinks as well.

Another change is that fewer places serve a small glass of tea with your coffee. In past days nearly every coffee shop would serve you a small glass of tea along with your coffee, to clear out the bitterness. Even the Amazon at Imperial World used to do this and didn’t this year. We were served that tea maybe twice this year.

A Proliferation of Coffee Growers

Coffee Brand

Ban Khun Chang Khian coffee

There are coffee beans available from many more growers these days. We drove up to the Hmong village of Ban Khun Chang Khiang above Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai and had a very good cappuccino at a coffee shop advertising “local coffee.” In fact, the shop grew their own coffee beans. Later on, as we walked through the town, we stopped to buy strawberries at a stand and I noticed that they had ground coffee beans for sale. I bought a bag and it’s pretty good coffee. They had both medium and dark roast available. They, also, grew the beans they were selling.

The Royal Projects now offer coffee beans for sale, both ground and as whole beans. I picked up a bag at the Royal Projects Fair this December in Chiang Mai.

Coffee label

Royal Project coffee

The encouragement and support given by the Royal Projects explains much of the proliferation as hill tribes and rural areas are encouraged to grow coffee beans for economic gain. They are also taught how to roast and market their own beans so they can control the whole process from growing to selling. The community of Doi Tung was one of the first to do this. There are also a number of Doi Tung Coffee Shops, both at Doi Tung and also in Bangkok, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. (Here’s a list of their branches and here’s my recent blog on Doi Tung.) Doi Chaang is another hill tribe community that has grown coffee for at least 10 years and they, too, have their own cafes.

In the supermarkets associated with the malls here in Bangkok, I often see a half dozen or more different types of ground coffee beans available – typically in 200 gram bags. Many supermarkets also have a brand of beans that you grind at the market, one way to insure fresher coffee.

Pour Over (Drip) Coffee

Drip coffee box

Doi Tung drip coffee

Speaking of drip coffee . . .

A couple of years back the only place I know that was making pour over coffee – where you get a quantity of ground coffee in a little apparatus that you can place over a cup and then pour hot water through to get a drip coffee – was Doi Tung. Then last year I found it at Black Canyon. This year the big chain of Amazon started selling it – it appeared to be pretty popular as many of the Amazon cafes we stopped at had empty shelves because they had sold out. Then at the Royal Project Fair in Chiang Mai, I found Royal Project pour over coffee.

Doi Tung charges 150 baht for 6 packets; the other three charge 120 for 5.

Of course there are disadvantages – the freshness of the coffee depends on how long ago the beans were roasted and ground. You are also dependent on how much coffee is in an individual package (it varied from 10 to 15 grams) for the strength.

Coffee set-up

Set-up for drip coffee

Nonetheless, I always travel with some now. Many hotels offer buffet breakfasts but they very seldom have brewed coffee – and when they do, it can range from OK to awful. Usually what’s available is instant Nescafe, which isn’t terrible and also doesn’t have the taste of brewed coffee. There’s almost always hot water available, so I just bring my pour over and make myself a cup. Usually the first cup is about the strength I like. I’ll do a second pour over, sometimes a third, just for the taste of real coffee.

Amazon Expands

Cafe Amazon at a gas station

There are a number of chains in Thailand – Black Canyon was the first and started out in 1993. It’s also the most international with a presence in Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines and Myanmar. On the Black Canyon website they say they are “first Thai-owned specialty coffee retail business.” There’s the Cafe Rabika. Coffee World is another one. There are the smaller chains of Doi Tung and Doi Chaang. Certainly, the most widespread chain is Cafe Amazon, which was founded in 2002.

At first we saw Amazon mostly at the occasional BP gas station. Now, it is unusual to find a BP station that doesn’t have a Cafe Amazon. They are also expanding elsewhere in a big way. Two years ago one showed up in the trendy Thong Lo neighborhood (on Sukhumvit Soi 55) and last year one opened near the Bearing BTS station close to where we live when in Thailand. It is more and more common to find one at the malls. There is even an Amazon at the Royal Park Rajapruek in Chiang Mai. They seem to be everywhere.

When traveling we will get Amazon coffee quite often because they are so conveniently located at the BP stations. One thing I appreciate is that the price is consistent at all their cafes – a cappuccino is 45 baht, whether in a trendy neighborhood or a gas station. As a side note, 45 baht is a fairly standard price for a cappuccino in Thailand. Some smaller shops charge 30 baht and I’ve paid 70 baht at Black Canyon (albeit for a larger size); Starbucks is the most expensive of all.

Last year Amazon started offering “Premium” coffee at some of their cafes – a premium cappuccino costs 70 baht, a 55% price increase. I tried it once and didn’t feel it was worth the extra cost.

One change we’ve seen this year is the increase in Amazon labelled convenience food – cookies, chips, cakes and the like. Also, as noted above, they’ve added their own brand of pour over coffee.

Coffee drink

A specialty drink

Twice this year we’ve come across a much larger and fancier Cafe Amazon. Kasma’s comment was that they are trying to be more like Starbucks. As part of this, they’ve started offering more specialty drinks, such as the Popcorn Coffee Frappe. These specialty drinks seem to be every bit as unhealthy as their Starbucks counterparts, including enough sugar to hurry you on the road to diabetes.

Speaking of Starbucks, I avoid them. On a couple of occasions (someone wanted to meet at a conveniently located one; I needed to use a bathroom desperately) I’ve gotten coffee at a Starbucks in Thailand and it just is not very good coffee. And it’s more expensive than anyplace else: the prices are pretty much equivalent to what you would pay in the United States.

This year the quality of the product at Amazon seemed less consistent than in the past. The coffee at our other local Amazon, at Imperial World Shopping Center in Samrong, seemed weak and muddy the time I tried it. There seems to be more of a variation as to what I can expect when I get my cappuccino from a Cafe Amazon these day. When possible I’ve begun to search out local alternatives.

Previous Blogs on Coffee

Cappuccino 2

Cappuccino at the hilltribe village of Mon Jaem


Written by Michael Babcock, December 2017

Kasma’s 30-year Anniversary Message

Kasma Loha-unchit, Monday, May 25th, 2015

This June marks the end of 30 years that I have taught Thai cooking classes in my kitchen. Up until six months ago, I was entertaining thoughts about throwing a big anniversary celebration (much like the 20th anniversary party many of you attended), but thoughts of the stresses and strains of planning, preparing for and cleaning up after such a big bash have more than changed my mind. I would like to, however, send a big thank you to all of you who have enthusiastically taken my classes over the past three decades for all the support and the wonderful times shared cooking delicious meals in my kitchen.

In about a week, I will be turning 65 and joining the ranks of Medicare. Over the past few months, I have been seriously mulling over when I would retire, especially when I see that many of my friends (and many of you) have retired and are enjoying the newfound time to pursue myriad interests awaiting them. As much as I enjoy teaching and taking people traveling around Thailand, and I know I will miss doing these things and all of you when I retire, the prospect of not having to run around to shop for classes, to push myself in the tedious and never-ending tasks of cleaning up before and after classes, and to deal with problematic students and trip members (and there have been more than a few each year) who drain me both physically and emotionally, makes retirement more and more appealing every day.

At this point, I am thinking that I will retire possibly within the next five years. So, those of you who have friends or co-workers interested in taking my cooking classes should let them know very soon. I will probably retire from beginning classes in two to three years. For those of you who wish to take all my advanced classes, I will try to cycle you through most of them before I retire. It’s possible I may add one last series (Advanced J) before I retire to give you some of my mother’s treasured recipes so that they are forever preserved for posterity. There’s no need to bury any secrets.

As for the Thailand travel trips, I will probably retire from doing them in five years or possibly sooner if Sun, my trusted helper and driver of my van, decides to quit to pursue other interests and there is a strong possibility that this can happen any time. I do not wish to train anyone new to replace him. So, if you have ever entertained thoughts of joining one of my off-the-beaten-path trips in which you will see, taste and experience things you will never have the chance to do traveling on your own, do start planning now as I will not always be around.

All said, I am actually sad to be writing this message, but I would like you to know the approximate time frame so that you can take advantage of what’s left of what I have to offer over the next few years. There’s no one I can train to take my place as what I do I learned over a lifetime of experience starting when I was five years old in my mother’s kitchen.

Thank you again to all of you for all the good times nourishing one another and sharing a sliver of your lives in my home.

Kasma


Written by Kasma Loha-unchit, May 2015

Coffee in Thailand, Part 4

Michael Babcock, Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

As part of my ongoing series of blogs on coffee in Thailand, I wanted to just touch briefly on something that I’m seeing more and more here in the Kingdom: upscale coffee shops with western-style pastries. I’m seeing these fancy coffee houses more often both in malls and as stand-alone shops. I’ll look at just a couple of them, which can serve as examples.

(Click images to see larger version.)

The Missing Piece Cafe

2 Coffees

Coffee at The Missing Piece

The Missing Piece is part of a complex that includes the Moon Glass Social Bar and an excellent restaurant, Baan Khanita at 53 (Sukhumvit 53). They are located on Sukhumvit Soi 53, the soi just before Thong Lo (Sukhumvit Soi 55); the upscaleness of Thong Lo is spreading!

The Missing Piece is a small cafe (just a few tables). When you go in, you can see a selection of western-style desserts, including several types of cake and the passion fruit tartlet, which we ordered (see photo below left).

It’s a pleasant, clean shop; the barista was dressed in a uniform of sorts, which seems to be the norm in these more upscale places. Another characteristic of these shops is that the baristas all seem to actually know how to make the drinks correctly. At some of the smaller, individual stands, you never quite know what you’ll be getting. At one stand in Khao Yai National Park, for example, the latte consisted of an Americano to which the barista added some condensed milk. Here, I ordered a cappuccino and my wife ordered a caffe latte – you can see the results in the picture above.

The drinks were perfectly fine: good coffee, nothing extraordinary. The tartlet was pretty tasty: not bad at all. We had a slice of chocolate cake on another occasion and it was delicious.

Passion Fruit Tartlet

Passion fruit tartlet

Storefront

Front of The Missing Piece

Another characteristic of these shops is that you’ll pay a bit more for coffee. In smaller one-off stands or shops, you expect around 35 to 40 baht per cappuccino or latte. In the chains (such as Amazon, or Doi Inthanon) you’ll pay a bit more: 50 to 60 baht, and our local Amazon Cafe (in the Imperial World mall in Samrong) charges 70 baht for a cappuccino. To be sure, in some places such as airports, the prices are already higher. Here the price was 70 baht plus another 70 for the tartlet (the cakes were 110 baht). With VAT and service charge, we paid 243 baht for our two drinks and the small pastry. Definitely upscale pricing for Thailand. This is the only coffee shop where I have ever been charged VAT and a service charge.

I should note that the chains have gotten on the western dessert bandwagon. I had a cheesecake at our local Doi Inthanon and the local Amazon Cafe has cheesecake plus other cakes as well.

As a side note, Starbucks is among the most expensive coffee places – drinks seem to cost what they do in the states, which is high for Thailand, and even higher than at these (much nicer) individual, upscale coffee places. My advice is to avoid Starbucks; besides, the coffee is just not that good there.

Ease Café at Impact

My second example is Ease Café at the Impact Muong Thong Thani Center. We attended the annual December pre-Christmas OTOP City here. Side note: if you are ever in Thailand before Christmas you must go to OTOP City. OTOP, of course, means “One Tambon, One Product” and cities and regions all over Thailand participate in making handicrafts and products of anything you can think of. At OTOP City you get to see the best that the provinces of Thailand have to offer, all in one place. A fabulous event with (a guess) around 1,500+ booths.

Coffee & Cake

Cake and coffee

Fancy Cake

Fancy cake

Ease Café includes nicely made coffee drinks with beautiful western-style desserts. Above left is the caffe latte Kasma ordered along with the multi-layer cake we sampled. Both were quite good.

Ease Café

Ease Café

Chairs

Sitting area

The trend of higher prices continues here. The latte and cappuccino came in 3 sizes at 70, 80 or 90 baht. The cake was only 65 baht. There was no VAT or service charge here, so our two drinks and piece of cake came to 210 baht.

Offering different sizes for drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes is also somewhat new in Thailand (except for western chains): in the past (and at most shops today) there was just one size offered. The first place I saw multiple sizes at a Thai cafe was at Café Doi Tung last year.

Above left you can see the cafe as it is situated inside the Impact event center. Also, true to form, the interior is quite clean and somewhat fancy, as you can see with the photo (above right) of the sitting area. All of it is très moderne. The baristas were all dressed in uniform, another continuing trend. It’s a comfortable quiet place, a good option for taking some time out from the event you are attending.


Ending Thoughts

Coffee Sign

Fresh coffee sign

Watching the coffee culture grow in Thailand is interesting and fun. I see the กาแฟสด (kafae sot) – fresh coffee – sign in more and more places, sometimes in a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere or in some back alley in Bangkok.

In addition to the upscale cafes, I’m seeing more chains, some of which I’ve never seen before and others (Doi Inthanon, Amazon, Black Canyon ) that seem to be increasing in number. There has been a veritable explosion of places to drink coffee all over Thailand, especially during this past year. More restaurants have their own espresso machines. I see more Thai people drinking coffee; they are the main clientele for most coffee shops.

One thing I seldom see is drip coffee – it’s nearly all expressed (espresso, Americano). Also, very few places have decaffeinated coffee (one exception being the overpriced Starbucks). I guess the Thais wonder what the point of decaf is.

Previous Blogs on Coffee in Thailand


Written by Michael Babcock, January 2015

Thong Lo Duck Noodles – Lee’s Noodles

Michael Babcock, Saturday, December 20th, 2014

I recently found a very good duck noodle shop in Thong Lo (Sukuhmvit Soi 55, pronounced “Tawng Law”). This noodle shop is part of a chain; in Thai it is called บะหมี่คนแซ่ลี, which can be translated as Khon Sae Lee Noodles or just Lee’s Noodles. It’s found on Sukhumvit Road just past the start of the Soi (Sukhumvit 55, Thong Lo) itself.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Assembling Noodles

Assembling noodles

Noodle Set-up

Noodle set-up

Walking up Sukhumvit, crossing Thong Lo (Soi 55) after exiting the skytrain (BTS) I saw this sign and the young woman obviously assembling a bowl of noodles. The picture on the right shows the area where she assembles the noodles and also a bit of the noodle shop itself, which is pretty much your basic Thai shop-front food shop.

The sign indicates what kind of noodles are sold here: บะหมี่ – ba mee – which are egg noodles made with wheat. This shop claims home-made noodles. The food hanging in the front of the shop (see below) lets you know that they make duck and pork noodles.

Duck Noodles

Duck and Wonton Noodles

At duck noodle shops I usually order บะหมี่เป็ดแห้ง – Ba Mee Ped Haeng – which literally means dry duck noodles. You have a choice of getting the noodles dry or as a soup: บะหมี่เป็ดน้ำ – Ba Mee Ped Nahm. I always get the dry noodles.

The dish I ordered here, shown to the left, included shrimp and pork wonton, which you can see to the right of the rest of the ingredients in the bowl. In addition the dish contains the noodles, slices of roast duck and blanched green vegetables. I’m not sure what the Thai name would be (with the wontons); the restaurant does have menus in English, complete with pictures.

In Thailand, dishes such as this are meant to have their flavors adjusted to your taste preference using the ubiquitous Thai Condiment Set. I added a healthy dose of dried red chillies (as you can see below right), followed it up with several (small) spoonfuls of a vinegar/green chilli mixture (for sour), some fish sauce (for salty) and just a touch of sugar to help meld the flavors. After a couple tastes and a couple of small adjustments, the noodles could be mixed up and eaten.

Duck and Wonton Noodles 2

Duck and Wonton Noodles, with dried chillies

The price for the duck and wonton noodles was 60 baht; for noodles with just duck (no wonton) the price is 50 baht.

The verdict: it’s a very good bowl of noodles. The noodles themselves are tasty with a good texture. The roast duck is succulent and moist. The pork and shrimp wonton are very, very tasty; they are seasoned very well. All in all, it will do as a replacement for the other Thong Lo Duck Noodle Shop that I patronized for so many years (now, sadly, closed). I would say, though, that I preferred the noodles, which were a bit wider, at the old shop; also, they had a better source of sour – vinegar with crushed red chillies. Still, this new shop definitely satisfies the craving.

Shop Front

Front of the shop

Shop Front Detail

Close-up of shop front

Lee’s Noodles serves more than duck, as you can see from these pictures of the front of the shop. They have crispy roasted pork, roasted red pork (shown here) and also crab. You can get the egg noodles served with each of those or you can have your meat of preference served over rice. You can also combine meats in any combination.

I will certainly return here. I may have to eschew my beloved duck noodles in favor of the “everything” combo (for 80 baht), which has: duck, crispy roasted pork, roasted red pork and crab as well as the pork and shrimp wonton.

By the way, all the time we were there eating there was a steady stream of customers, both in the shop and getting noodles to go. What with customers eating there and the to go orders, the woman assembling the noodles never stopped the entire time we were there.


Assembling Noodles

Assembling noodles

Location

บะหมี่คนแซ่ลี
Ba Mee Khon Sae Lee (Thonglor Branch)
1081 In front of soi Thonglor, Sukhumvit 55-57
Sukhumvit Road
Klongton Nua, Wattana,
Bangkok, 10110
Phone: 02-381-8180
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (unconfirmed)
Facebook Page
Google Map of Lee’s Noodles Thong Lor


Written by Michael Babcock, December 2014

Auntie Nim’s Dessert Shop – ร้านของหวานป้านิ่ม – in Nan

Michael Babcock, Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Visiting in Nan earlier this year, we made several trips to Auntie Nim’s Dessert Shop – ร้านของหวานป้านิ่ม (Raan Kong Wan Pa Nim) – in order to satisfy the sweet tooth. Located across from Wat Sri Pan Ton near the intersection of Chao Fa Road & Suriyapong Road, it serves Thai kanom wan – sweet kanom and ice cream. It’s a great place to satisfy a craving after a good dinner.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Shop, Sign

Sign for Auntie Nim’s

Shop at Night

Here’s Auntie Nim’s at night

I’m including a couple pictures out the outside – the one showing the street sign during the day and the second showing how I first saw the shop: all lit up at night and (as we saw when we approached) bustling with people, nearly all Thais.

Server

Serving kanom

Serving Snacks

Serving the kanom

The main attractions here are the traditional Thai kanom served in a sweet coconut sauce. As you walk up to the counter, you see a number of large bowls with various sweet things in them. Many of them are served by putting them into a bowl and adding sweet coconut cream to them.

Kanom Bua Loi

Kanom Bua Loi

Kanom Pa Kim Khai Tao

Kanom Pa Kim Khai Tao

These two popular items will give you an idea of the desserts here. On the left is Kanom Bua Loi – dumplings in a sweet coconut soup. The dumplings have a soft, interesting texture. To the right is Kanom Pa Kim Khai Tao. A couple of different kinds of noodles provide the texture to this dish.

Thai Dessert

Job’s tears with coconut sauce

Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Ice Cream

Above left is another sweet coconut milk-based dish, this one with job’s tears. Like the two dishes above, the filling (Job’s tears, in this case) in the coconut soup provides texture and contrast to the sweet coconut milk. To the right we see their chocolate ice cream: it’s worth a try as well.


Location & Map

ร้านของหวานป้านิ่ม – Raan Kong Wan Pa Nim
95/2, ถนนเจ้าฟ้า, ตำบลในเวียง อำเภอเมืองน่าน จังหวัดน่าน, 55000
95/2, Wat Sri Pan Ton Intersection, Chao Fa Road, Nai Wiang Subdistrict, Mueang Nan District., Nan, Thailand
085-036-6108
11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., closed Wednesdays
Google map of location


See Also:


Written by Michael Babcock, November 2014