If you’ve been following the Ducky’s Always Hungry, you know that I’ve been going on and on about all of the wonderful meals that I had during my two-week trip to Asia this summer covering Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand. While we were in Thailand, my husband and I were hosted by a variety of different family members all wanting to show us the best that Thailand had to offer in terms of true culinary experiences. On the last night of our trip, before heading out to the airport for our journey home, 2 of my aunts and an uncle wanted to take my husband and I out for dinner at one of my uncle’s favorite restaurants. Earlier this year, my mom and dad had actually been in Bangkok for several weeks visiting family when my aunt and uncle had taken them to this particular restaurant. Knowing that my husband and I wanted to eat really good, authentic Thai food, my mom and dad told my aunts and uncle that this would be a great restaurant for them to take my husband and I too because they figured we would really enjoy the food. And sure enough, my parents were right.
Known as Garlic, this tiny restaurant is a favorite amongst those in the know. I say in the know because you really need to know about this place to even find it. Located in some back alley, or “soi” as it’s called in Thai, Garlic isn’t located in your traditional strip mall or shopping center. Built like an old cozy lodge, the restaurant probably only seats 30-40 guests at the most in a very homey setting. We arrived as soon as the restaurant opened for dinner, so we were the first guests there. But within an hour, the place started to fill up, even though it was still really early in the evening.
My husband and I started off ordering our favorite Thai iced coffee. It’s hard to come to Thailand and not enjoy Thai iced coffee. I know that Thai iced tea is a favorite of many people, but personally, I love the sweet coffee. It’s hard to resist. On a hot and humid day in Bangkok, what’s more refreshing than an ice-cold cup of Thai iced coffee. If I lived in Thailand, I’d probably have a cup of it each day! Sweetened coffee poured over ice with cream poured over the top and stirred together is exactly what I love.
When we were waiting for the restaurant to open, we noticed on their sign outside that one of the night’s specials was the yum pla salmon sod. Literally translated this means fresh (sod) raw salmon (pla is Thai for fish) salad (yum). Basically, it was fresh pieces of raw salmon combined with ingredients such as fresh mint, Thai basil, cilantro, lemongrass, shallots, ginger and green onions tossed in a lemongrass-lime juice sauce to create a fresh salad. I’d never had anything like this and instantly fell in love. The salmon was so fresh and delicious, heightened by the flavor of the citrus-acid vinaigrette that everything was tossed in. A spoonful of salmon with the shallots and green onions and lemongrass and mint and cilantro was just so refreshing and tangy and delicious. The level of acidity was a perfect balance to the sweetness of the salmon and the combination of these tart and flavorful fresh herbs and vegetables just paired together so well.
We also ordered a dish of the deep-fried shrimp cakes. Much like my dinner at Taling Pling a couple of days earlier, the shrimp cakes were fantastic. Crispy, crunchy and golden brown on the outside, slightly sweet and hot and soft on the inside, these shrimp cakes were fantastic. In fact, I hate to admit it, but we enjoyed it so much that we actually ordered a second plate of these fantastic shrimp cakes. These have to be one of my favorite Thai appetizers.
In honor of my husband, we ordered tom yum goong, his favorite soup. The tom yum goong here was more traditional than at other places we’ve enjoyed this magical soup. With big meaty shrimp, cilantro, spices and onion, this soup had an interesting clear broth. Not something I’d seen before as tom yum goong tends to have an oily red-orange broth due to the chili oil and tamarind paste that’s added to the broth when making the soup. This soup had its own unique tom yum flavor.
Now this restaurant, apparently, is known for their omelets. But just calling it a plain-old omelet just doesn’t seem to do justice to what the dish actually is. It’s a huge crab meat-filled omelet. And not the kind of omelet that you cook in a shallow pan, throw down the filling, and then fold it over. This was like a 9-inch round omelet that also happened to be about 6 inches high, if not more. The outside was cooked to a perfect golden brown and a bit crispy and the inside was heavenly with chunks of sweet crab meat and cooked egg. I can’t even begin to contemplate how you make something like this is that the outside doesn’t get overcooked, but the inside is perfectly cooked so that the eggs aren’t runny. It was enormous! But it wasn’t just the size, but the flavor was absolutely fantastic as well. This was probably one of the most phenomenal egg dishes I’ve had in a really long time.
And what would a Thai dinner be without a fish dish? We Thai people love our fish, be it steamed or fried. This time, we chose a deep-fried whole fish. Again, cooked to perfection with a nice crispy, golden brown crust and hot, moist, flaky white meat inside. Fileted open and butterflied to show off its glory, this was quite the fish dish. There’s just something about a deep-fried whole fish and the Chinese and Thai’s do it the best, I think.
Garlic really was a delicious restaurant serving authentic Thai cuisine, just what my husband and I were looking for. This was good, old-fashioned, no frills Thai food in a quaint, atmospheric setting. It’s almost one of those hole-in-the-wall type restaurants that few people know about, and the people who know about it don’t want to tell others about it for fear that it becomes too popular and overrun. Those types of places often have the best food, and Garlic certainly qualifies in that category.
Admittedly, I have a love-hate relationship with milk. I’ve always been a huge lover of milk, I could just drink glasses and glasses of milk. But, it’s got to be whole milk. Which, I know. It’s gross. Or at least that’s what a lot of people would say. But, the richness, the creaminess, I love it all. I’m not a fan of 2%, 1% or skim milk, because for me, I feel like those other milks are just water colored white. But, that’s my personal opinion. My hatred for milk comes in the fact that I am just a teeny, tiny bit lactose intolerant, especially in the mornings on an empty stomach. So, generally, a cup of milk in the morning is out for me. And sometimes even milk and cereal are out with me. I get so frustrated with it that for long stretches I’ll just go without milk all together. But then I can’t stand it, and I need my milk. This is always a source of controversy in my household as my husband was raised on skim milk, and when we go to the grocery store looking for milk, we have the discussion about getting whole milk vs. skim milk vs. compromising on something like 1%. As it goes, most of the time we walk out of the store with 2 different kind of milk products in our cart. Oh well, I’m not one to give in.
When my husband and I were in Bangkok and exploring the huge Terminal 21 shopping mall located directly across the street from our hotel, we came across a small little stand called Hokkaido located on the mall’s ground floor just outside of their gourmet grocery store. The name of the stand was written in both English and Japanese as Hokkaido is also the name of the 2nd largest island in Japan.
The stand itself is part of a franchised business that sells milk imported from the island of Hokkaido, Japan, hence the name. The reasoning behind selling milk specifically imported from Hokkaido is that the company claims that Hokkaido produces what is known throughout the world as some of the best tasting milk. Particularly, they claim that the quality or “purity of milk” as they refer to it comes from 2 specific factors: 1) how they raise their cows, and 2) the production process of getting milk from their cows. The company’s advertisement says that Hokkaido is known worldwide for its natural beauty and bountiful and delicious food and that extends to their milk products and by-products. So, they are bringing Hokkaido milk to the masses so that people judge for themselves just how wonderful milk from Hokkaido truly is.
The stand offered many different varieties of milk all colorfully displayed in cute glass bottles lined up behind a refrigerated glass case. There was, of course, natural Hokkaido milk made using recipes from Hokkaido in something known as “Style Hokkaido” which creates a flavorful and aromatic milk. The yellow-tinted bottles of milk contained banana milk! It’s natural Hokkaido milk flavored with hints of banana. Just up my alley.
The next display case contained even more flavors of Hokkaido milk. There is Hokkaido Belgian chocolate milk with flavors of the finest Belgian chocolate. How about matcha green tea milk? I can imagine that this is quite the flavor with the popularity of green tea these days. Other flavors included Ceylon tea milk and Hokkaido coffee latte.
My husband and I each chose a bottle of flavored milk so that we could take it back to the hotel and enjoy it later. Even though it would be most logical that I would take the Hokkaido banana milk, my husband actually chose it. I chose the Hokkaido coffee latte. What would be better than coffee and milk together? I already get accused of adding way too much flavored creamer to my coffee anyways. My husband finished off his banana milk before I even finished off half of my coffee latte milk, so I’m going to venture a guess that the banana milk was pretty tasty. I will admit that the milk itself is pretty tasty, if not a bit sweet, added to that the flavoring added to it and you have a pretty sweet drink combination. I’m not sure if this is the best-tasting milk in the world, but when I see something like this, I just have to give it a try. Would I go back and buy some more? Maybe, if I am in the mood. But it’s not something where I say I absolutely have to have Hokkaido milk again. It was a fun novelty item to try though.
Ok, so I know I’m traveling in Bangkok, Thailand, not Paris, France, but that doesn’t mean that when I see something that looks really good, I can’t just order it, regardless of wherever I’m located.
A crepe is a crepe, no longer where I am, right? When I was shopping at Terminal 21, the new, hip shopping mall in the Sukhumwit district of Bangkok, basically across the street from the hotel I was staying at, and saw a small little stand on the mall’s bottom floor serving up crepes, I immediately had a hankering.
And with a display case that looked like the picture above just calling out my name, I couldn’t resist. Um, hello crepe! You belong to me. With all sorts of fillings such as fresh fruit, fruit compote, chocolate sauce, ice cream, and cake slices, how could I walk away and not order something? Just a small little something, something. And hey, while 40 to 65 Thai baht might be a lot for a normal Thai person to spend getting a sweet snack (considering most Thai desserts cost about 10-25 Thai baht), to someone like me coming from US Dollars, that’s the equivalent of about $1.10 to $2.00. Where else in the States do you find a crepe that size (and that’s literally the size they when unraveled) for this kind of price? Ok, I’ve convinced myself to have one now!
I made my crepe selection and it was built for me right in front of my eyes. We start out with a crepe. A very thin pancake, so thin it’s almost see through. On one edge of the crepe, a glob of fresh whipped cream is spread out. This creates the “glue” for my crepe.
I chose a crepe with bananas, so fresh bananas were sliced on a bias and placed right on the “glue” of the fresh whipped cream. My mouth is already watering. Luckily, a made-to-order crepe doesn’t take too long to make.
The next ingredient is chocolate sauce. Squeeze out chocolate sauce and drizzle it all over the fresh-sliced bananas and fresh whipped cream.
Now fold the crepe. Since this Aino Crepe stand is in the middle of a food court without seating, it’s necessary that the crepe be portable. So, smartly, the crepe was folded into a cone shape. The cone shape also highlights the beautiful fresh ingredients inside the crepe, namely the fresh whipped cream and the sliced bananas.
And now, I have a beautiful, easy to carry banana, whipped crème and chocolate sauce crepe. Thin, sweet crepe wrapped around sweet sliced bananas and fresh creamy whipped cream and topped with decadent chocolate sauce. A beautiful take-away snack that serves as a pick me up. And as our hotel happened to right across the street from the mall, I was able to take the crepe back to my hotel and enjoy this yummy snack in the comfort of my own hotel room. If I had more time in town, I definitely would have gone back for some more crepes. Quick to make, wonderful flavor combinations and easy to snack on.
Molecular gastronomy is all the rage these days, with various restaurants and chefs using all sorts of new-agey modern techniques to create some traditional and new food favorites. My husband and I count ourselves as one of those who have fallen in to the trap of being amazed by molecular gastronomy and enjoying some of the amazing edible creations that are produced using modern technology and philosophy.
During some free time we had while we were in Bangkok, towards the tail end of our vacation, we found ourselves walking through Terminal 21. Terminal 21 is a hip, relatively new shopping mall in the Sukhumvit neighborhood. Luckily for us, it’s right across the street from our hotel, and actually connected to our hotel via elevated walkway. On the ground floor, where a gourmet grocery store, as well as many desserts/sweets stands are located, we came across a booth called Milk Solid Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream. It’s ice cream, made from liquid nitrogen using the technique of molecular gastronomy. You know we had to try it.
The set up was simple and all contained in a small little booth being manned by one person. There were 2 liquid nitrogen tanks that dominated the space. On the counter was 2 standard KitchenAid mixers, the same kind I have at home.
Off to the right, there was a dispenser holding three different fruit flavored juices. This corresponded to the ice cream flavors available on the menu.
Once you chose a flavor, the guy behind the counter would pour the appropriate flavored juice into a small measuring cup. The liquid juice was then dumped into the bowl of a KitchenAid stand mixer. Then liquid nitrogen was measured into a measuring cup.
Once the right amount of liquid nitrogen found its way into the measuring cup, the liquid nitrogen and all of its icy cold smoke was poured directly into the stand mixer. The mixer was turned on and the liquid nitrogen was incorporated and whipped into the flavored fruit juice.
After a few minutes of mixing, the product inside the stand mixer was tested to see if it had solidified into ice cream. If it wasn’t quite cold enough, a little bit more liquid nitrogen was added into the stand mixer and the mixer was set on high again.
From start to finish, the whole process takes less than five minutes. Liquid fruit juice, mixed with liquid nitrogen that is seriously cold causes the fruit juice to turn into ice cream in a matter of minutes. The ice cream is scooped into a cup and served to the customer.
Don’t call this an icy, this is more than just liquid turned into solid ice cream. This really was creamy, delicious, smooth ice cream. We were so impressed with this liquid nitrogen ice cream that after our first cup on our first day in Bangkok, we had had to go back the second day and get another cup!
We loved the concept of this liquid nitrogen ice cream. It was fun to watch them make it. To think that you could go from a liquid fruit juice add some freezing cold liquid nitrogen, mix it all together in a standard KitchenAid stand mixer and the next thing you know, you have ice cream. It’s like magic! I absolutely loved it. Sometimes this molecular gastronomy thing is so neat.
At the beginning of our 2 week trip to Asia, I was blown away by the beautiful breakfast and setting of the Oyster & Wine Bar at the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers, then I was amazed at the bounty of food at the St. Regis Singapore, but nothing prepared me for what would be the most amazing breakfast experience we had on this trip. For that matter, this might be one of the best breakfast experiences I’ve had a hotel, period. It was truly amazing, not only in terms of the sheer size and the variety of the items I could find, but also the quality and tastiness of the food itself.
During our 2 nights in Bangkok, we stayed at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, located in the heart of touristy Bangkok, Thailand. Included in our stay at the Sheraton Grande was the daily breakfast buffet located at the hotel’s Orchid Café. The Café is located on the hotel’s 2nd floor, though this is considered the main floor of the hotel, and where the hotel lobby is located. The Café has a wall of big windows that looks out onto busy Sukhumwit street and the pedestrian traffic of the overhead walkways that lead directly to a skytrain station. The dining room is set up in a bit of a round, with the seating set on the outside in a circular fashion and the center being a large buffet station.
If I thought that the St. Regis Singapore offered an large selection of breakfast items in their breakfast buffet, then the Orchid Café offered an ungodly amount of breakfast options. I’ve never seen a larger hotel breakfast buffet, except perhaps the mega buffets in Las Vegas! After being seated at a table we were offered drinks. Being a caffeine-addict, I ordered a café latte for breakfast. Oh yum, I could go for one of these now! Just the right amount of coffee to milk with an extra foamy top!
My husband, who isn’t much of a coffee drinker actually found in the buffet a selection of fresh fruit juices that he opted for. Here is the beautiful watermelon juice in a wine glass. Classy! Beautiful, fresh-squeezed watermelon provides for a mild, slightly sweet, and refreshing breakfast juice. I think between that and the orange juice he loves, he was a pretty happy camper.
The abundance of food offerings at the Orchid Café was just astounding. Let’s start with the pastries. Look at all these baskets of fresh-baked pastries. A kiwi Danish, various fruit muffins, donuts, bagels and banana bread.
What about croissants, cheese Danishes, rolls, cookies, and soft pretzels! The pastry and bread options were just phenomenal. I could have just pigged out on all of these yummy looking pastries without having moved to any other station. But of course, there was so much other food and it was all calling my name.
There was traditional Western breakfast favorites such as pancakes, bacon, sausage, waffles and French toast with the appropriate toppings of brown sugar, maple syrup and powdered sugar. The Western favorites were a favorite among Easterners looking for a Western staple, or by Westerners looking for a small slice of home in this foreign country.
In addition to the Western staples, there were also a few other Western dishes. Minute steak, sautéed and roasted vegetables, baked beans. These may not be traditional Western breakfast staples, but are more regional staples found in certain parts of the United States. But what I loved about this buffet was that there was so much food that there was something there for everyone to enjoy, no matter where you were from. But the Orchid Café wasn’t just about having a large variety of food, but it was more about making good quality, tasty food that a wide variety of people could enjoy.
There were just as many Eastern favorites as Western favorites to be found at the Orchid Café. There was Japanese soba noodles and traditional Asian congee with traditional congee toppings. There was warm ginger broth to pour over spoonfuls of cold tofu and topped with crispy sweet bread, a traditional Chinese favorite. These items were a hit with the Eastern crowd at the café.
When have you ever seen a hotel breakfast buffet that served traditional dim sum favorites like shu mai and har gow? At this point, I was so impressed. I’d never see anything like this before.
There was also Korean favorites such as kimchi. Not what I’d think of for breakfast, but it was certainly impressive that they even had it. And of course, there was sushi for Japanese food lovers as well as steamed white rice that could be served with nori or with the abundance of other Asian favorites.
Here’s something my husband really loved the smoked salmon and lox as well as the cold cuts and fixings for a salad in the morning. Whatever you want for breakfast, the Orchid Café has it.
Then there was the made-to-order cook station. Behind this display which featured fresh-baked croissants and rolls was an open kitchen with cooks ready to make eggs benedict, eggs-to-order and a few other unique made-to-order items that I had never seen before.
Namely, what really caught my eye was grilled-to-order chicken satay. Um, yes please! I loved it so much that I ended up order 2 orders of the chicken satay. I’ve never seen a buffet before where they had chicken satay ready to grill for you. Drizzle a bit of traditional peanut sauce over the chicken satay and you have a unique breakfast food.
There’s also a cold section with some Eastern dessert favorites. Lots of fruits in syrup that you combine together in a bowl with shaved or crushed ice and enjoy as a cold, sweet dessert.
Or you could go with a more traditional Western option with milk, various types of cereals or muesli or warm oatmeal with the traditional toppings of dried fruits or brown sugar.
Finally, at the end of the meal, what about some fresh-carved tropical fruits. There was a section of the buffet set up specifically for fruit. But it wasn’t just fruit laid out on platters for guests to devour, there was actually a person standing behind the display peeling and cutting up all this beautiful fruit. Lots of tropical fruits – red and yellow watermelon, dragon fruit, sweet, juicy mango, guava, papaya and rambutan. It was incredible. Having all of this fresh fruit was one of my most favorite parts of breakfast at the Orchid Café.
I was thoroughly impressed with the wide array and selection of breakfast options at the Orchid Café. There literally was so much food that you just couldn’t possibly try it all. I found some terrific options such as dim sum and grilled-to-order chicken satay. And I absolutely loved the fresh fruit station. I think I could come back here again and again just to enjoy their morning breakfast buffet.
After 3 days glorious days in Singapore, it was time for my husband and I to hit the road one final time for the last stop on our 2 week Asian sojourn. This time, we were flying from Singapore to Bangkok. I have tons of relatives from both sides of my family that live in Bangkok, so we thought that stopping off in Bangkok for a couple of days before our return to Los Angeles made the most sense. It prolongs our vacation by a couple of days, and gives me an opportunity to catch up with some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. One of my cousins was nice enough to come to the airport to pick my husband and I up when we arrived into town. The plan was for us to catch up over dinner and do a little sightseeing with her before she dropped us off at our hotel for the evening. One thing you need to know about Bangkok, if you don’t ever learn anything else, is that the city is notorious for TERRIBLE traffic. And unfortunately, the hotel that we chose for our brief 2-night stay was right in the heart of the city where some of the worst traffic can be found. After getting picked up from the airport, we were going to stop by the hotel briefly, check-in, drop off our bags, maybe freshen up a bit and then head out to dinner where we’d meet up with other cousins. Well, after 80 minutes in the car and still being more than an hour away from reaching our hotel (due to nothing more than traffic – because later that night we made the same drive through the same section with no traffic in about 15 minutes), we decided we needed to change plans. We were just going to go straight to dinner and come back to the hotel later. Even with the change in plans, it took almost another 60 minutes before we reached the restaurant for dinner. By that time, I couldn’t wait to get out of the car, and the thought of some good Thai food had my stomach growling.
My cousin, knowing that my husband and I wanted Thai food, chose a chain restaurant called Taling Pling. The location we went to is in the trendy and popular tourist neighborhood of Silom. Serving authentic Thai cuisine, this particular branch of Taling Pling is set in a 2 story “colonial Thai-house”. You walk into an inviting and friendly atmosphere of teak tables and chairs with divided “rooms” that make it feel like you’re stepping into someone’s house for dinner. Being in Silom, the location gets lots of tourists and ex-pats who come here for a business meal, or just a place to unwind for the day while enjoying some terrific Thai food.
So, even though this was a Thai restaurant, surprisingly neither my husband nor I ordered a Thai iced coffee (which we both love) for dinner. Instead, I went with blended mango drink. When I’m in Thailand, I can’t resist getting these blended fruit drinks. It’s basically fresh fruit blended with a little bit of simple syrup. You can find them all over Thailand using a variety of different tropical fruits – mango, watermelon, honeydew, lychee, pineapple, etc. It’s so simple, and delicious and irresistible. And being that mango is one of my favorite fruits, I couldn’t resist ordering this blended mango drink instead of a Thai iced coffee. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Smooth and refreshing this drink hit the spot perfectly.
My husband, in keeping with this love of ginger went with a drink called the ginger garden. Made with a bit of carbonated syrup and ginger and topped with a refreshing cucumber slice and fresh mint, this drink was absolutely perfect. It was a great blend of sweet from the syrup and spicy from the hint of ginger. It was cool and refreshing, and the perfect thirst quencher for the hot and humid Thai weather.
At a Thai restaurant, food is generally served family style. You order a couple of dishes, some rice, and everything is brought out to the table as it is cooked and everyone digs in. This ensures that everyone has the opportunity to sample a little bit of everything that is ordered. My cousins, who we were dining with, asked my husband and I to go ahead and pick out what we wanted to order. But being put on the spot like that, it was hard to know what was good and what wasn’t since we’d never eaten here before. And my husband is easy, order it and he’ll eat it. So, we compromised, my husband and I each picked out a dish (from a picture menu) that we thought looked good, and then my cousins picked out dishes they thought we’d like we’d roll the dice and see what came to the table.
After looking through the menu, my husband saw a lettuce wrap dish that he thought would be good. It didn’t hurt that the filling for the lettuce wrap was made with lemongrass, something my husband adores. Big huge leafs of iceberg lettuce was presented along side a bowl of filling which was made with stir fried lemongrass, shallots, lime juice, cashews, green onions and spices. No one at the table had ever had this dish before, and everyone was thrilled with how tasty it was. The lemongrass was fragrant and bright and fresh and was a great compliment to the lime juice. The cashews gave the dish great texture and crunch. This was easily one of the most enjoyed dishes at the table.
One item that my husband and I both agreed we wanted to try was the fried shrimp cake served with sweet Thai chili sauce. Traditionally, this dish is made with fish paste, curry spices and green onions that are deep-fried. However, the more modern twist on this traditional Thai dish is to take minced shrimp meat, form it into a patty bread it with panko and deep fry it to make a fried shrimp cake. This is something that my husband and I both enjoy eating at Thai restaurants so we were eager to try the version being served at Taling Pling. The deep-fried shrimp cake here didn’t disappoint at all. The flavor of the shrimp cake was fantastic, perfectly cooked and tender on the inside and wonderfully crisp and crunchy on the inside. I think this may have been the first dish that we finished that night.
For a rice dish, I requested that we order the crab fried rice. Traditional Thai fried rice with rice, soy sauce, chopped green onions and egg is always a crowd pleaser, but top it with chunks of crab meat, and how could you go wrong? If you’re going to have some starch in your diet, this is certainly the way to go. I think I must have enjoyed this dish more than anyone else. But then again, I’m a rice lover, I grew up eating rice every day of my life. This was perfectly cooked, and tasted wonderful. The dish wasn’t too heavy, and the subtle sweetness of the crab meat matched well with the fried rice.
Knowing that my husband is a huge fan of tom yum goong, a traditional Thai shrimp soup, we ordered a pot of this spicy, lemony, wonderful soup. You can see the size of the prawn in this huge bowl of soup we got to share at the table. The broth for tom yum goong is traditionally made with kaffir leaves, lemon grass, cilantro, mushrooms, galangal or ginger, green onions, red chilies, tamarind paste, sugar, lime juice and fish sauce. The galangal/ginger, lime juice, lemon grass and kaffir leaves really add that tangy flavor to the broth. The cilantro and mushrooms help to add an earthy undertone. The shrimp adds some sweetness along with the sugar and tamarind paste which is both sweet and sour and the red chilies really add the heat. There are a million and one ways to make tom yum goong, by adding and subtracting various ingredients, but this particular version of this famous Thai soup was delicious. It was a bit spicy but went down smooth. The flavor profile was fantastic. And, like I said, the prawns were huge. This tom yum goong didn’t disappoint at all.
We also decided to order another traditional Thai dish, shrimp pad Thai. This is probably the most well-known Thai dish served in Thai restaurants in the United States. Traditionally, in Thailand, it’s made with all manner of seafood, and shrimp is particularly popular. Rice noodles are stir fried with green onions, bean sprouts, shrimp, fish sauce, garlic, sugar and vinegar and generally served alongside cilantro, fresh bean sprouts, a wedge of lime and crushed peanuts. This dish at Taling Pling was a very traditional version of classic shrimp pad Thai. It had wonderful flavor to it, sweet, salty, sour and savory. Look at that grilled piece of lemongrass served alongside the dish! This too was too yummy to pass up and was quickly devoured by all of us at the table.
One of my cousins decided to order a dish I’d never seen before, but ended up loving. It was a stir fry of fish skins with shallots and lemongrass. Pla salit is a very popular and commonly found flat fish in Thailand. It is sometimes called a snakeskin gourami or Siamese gourami for the coloring of the scales on its body. To preserve the fish, a popular preparation in Thailand is to take the fish skin and dry it, once dried, it is then deep-fried. It’s very similar in consistency to deep-fried pork rinds. In this case, the fried pla salit is prepared simply in a salad with finely sliced shallots, lemongrass, lime juice, cilantro, fresh mint, fish sauce, star fruit and cashews. This was a terrific, refreshing and palate pleasing salad with the crunchiness from the fish skin, the sour of the lemongrass and lime juice, the saltiness of the fish sauce and the sweetness from the star fruit. It was something different and something I probably would not have thought to order. But I’m certainly glad my cousin did order it as it gave me something new to try.
Finally, the last dish we ordered for the night was a deep-fried fish dish. I love ordering deep-fried fish when we got to a Thai restaurant. You get such a wonderful presentation of the whole fish brought right out to your table. Waste not, want not. In this case, the fish was fully fileted open, soaked in fish sauce, and then deep-fried to a golden brown. It was crispy on the outside but tender, flaky and moist on the inside. The fish sauce helps the meat of the fish retain its moisture through the deep-frying process as well as add a bit of saltiness and a hit of sweetness to the fish. How could you not want to eat that? Looking at that picture makes me want to eat it right now.
As if we hadn’t already ordered enough to eat, we just couldn’t leave the restaurant without ordering some dessert. And what kind of dessert do you order when you go to a Thai restaurant? Mango with stick rice of course! This might have been my most favorite dish of the night. I loved the presentation of the two halves of the mango sliced inside the peel and then turned out to create this wonderful texture, though admittedly, since the meat of the mango was still attached to the peel, it was a bit impractical to eat. Then on top of a banana leaf was sticky rice with coconut milk and toasted sesame seeds. The mango was perfectly ripe and sweet and contrasted nicely with the sticky rice and sweet coconut milk. This is heaven in terms of Thai desserts and a terrific end to the meal.
My cousin made a terrific choice of restaurants when I told her that my husband and I were just looking for good Thai food. We wanted good, authentic Thai cuisine and Taling Pling didn’t disappoint. I liked that the restaurant tried to use some modern flavor profiles with these traditional Thai dishes. The atmosphere was cozy and comfortable, like we walked into someone’s house for dinner. The presentation of the food was gorgeous, and the food itself was delicious. And the company of my cousins to catch up with and chat with over dinner was fantastic. I’d gladly go back to Taling Pling again for dinner any night. This meal really hit the spot after a day of traveling from Singapore to Bangkok, not to mention the additional 2 hours in the car we spent just to get to the restaurant. In the end, it was all worth it for good food and good company.
The morning of our last day in Singapore, we awoke to an overcast sky that was threatening to open up and fill the streets with rain. As we really only had half a day in town, due to the fact that we had a 1 pm flight from Singapore to Bangkok, we decided to head downstairs to the hotel’s main restaurant to check out the breakfast buffet. Fill up with a lot of yummy fuel before we headed out towards the airport and said goodbye to Singapore.
Much like the rest of the hotel, the dining room was spacious and opulent. Set on one end of the property, the dining room had a back wall that was filled with floor to ceiling windows, adjacent to a beautiful pool area belonging to the spa next door, providing for a gorgeous view. The dining room was set up buffet-style with various stations for guests to grab made-to-order food and prepared foods, hot and cold.
You could start with the traditional American fare of milk and cereal.
Or how about yogurt and berries, or fresh fruit parfaits?
What about muesli, berry compote, make-your-own parfait, and oatmeal. You could certainly find every traditional Western breakfast favorite.
Fruit salad isn’t your thing? What about fresh sliced watermelon and cantaloupe? What about the more exotic black and white dragon fruit?
Looking for hot food instead of cold food? How about potatoes gratin and crispy bacon? Baked beans are a very popular European breakfast item. There was also a made-to-order omelet and egg station with all of the omelet filling you could want; ham, baby shrimp, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and more.
What a lighter breakfast fare? There’s a large assortment of cheeses, along with crackers, honey, grapes and walnuts.
Don’t forget the cold cuts. Salami, prosciutto, ham, and deli sliced roast turkey. My husband was a huge fan of the smoked salmon and lox. There was also the makings for salad with various vegetables and salad dressings.
Now here’s something you don’t see all the time at a breakfast buffet, a full assortment of sushi and sashimi. Wow, that looks delectable. You seriously could just gorge on sushi for breakfast and never be hungry the rest of the day. But why stop there when there’s so much else to enjoy.
Being in Singapore after all, there were also plenty of Asian options for breakfast. How can something called sugarcane prawns be a bad thing? And fried rice, congee (rice porridge), and scallion pancakes to name a few other Asian dishes. They all make my mouth water.
Oh, this is one of the things I absolutely loved, look at the selection of fresh jams and syrups in the bread section. Passion mango jam, how delightful! I loved the selection and variety of different things you could choose from.
As if this wasn’t enough food, in addition to breakfast being a buffet, there were also hot plates that you could order from the kitchen. This is where you could get made-to-order specialty breakfast items that weren’t available at the prepared buffet. Included in these hot plates were both Western and Eastern breakfast favorites.
My husband and I both had to take advantage of the breakfast entrees and order something off the menu. My husband immediately went for Benedict Le Saveur (what a surprise!). The menu describes it as a gently poached egg on a toasted English muffin served with Hollandaise sauce, green asparagus and parma ham. My husband would describe it as heaven. As long as there are eggs benedict on the breakfast menu, he’s a happy camper. He was pleased with this eggs benedict, especially the Hollandaise sauce, which is a lot coming from a guy who doesn’t like sauce on anything at all. He also liked the saltiness from the parma ham.
For my breakfast entrée, I chose the brioche French toast. Served with banana compote, French butter, honey and cinnamon, this dish was divine. It truly completed the breakfast experience for me at the St. Regis Singapore. Served on a beautiful square plate with each item having its own little compartment, I almost felt like an artist who could create and compose my own dish. A bit of French toast with some French butter and maple syrup. Or another bite of French toast with some French butter and banana compote. Or what about a slice of French toast just dipped into the little cup of maple syrup? Yummy! The brioche bread in the honey and cinnamon batter was perfectly grilled, flavorful and delicious.
And if this wasn’t all enough for you, what about finishing off your morning breakfast with a bite of something sweet? Yeah, they had that here too! There was a variety of different yummy cake bites and various bakery items.
What a delightful breakfast we had at the St. Regis Singapore. The food quality and taste was first-rate. There were so many choices that it was overwhelming! Do we go with the Eastern options or the Western options? Maybe both! And do we order something delectable off the menu or just go with what’s being served at the buffet? There was definitely something here to please every palate and taste bud out there. The elegant and relaxing setting in the ground floor dining room overlooking a beautiful pool and spa and the spacious and well-appointed interior decorations, along with the terrific food made for a terrific last morning in Singapore for us. I’d definitely come back and stay at the St. Regis Singapore again. It may be one of my all-time favorite hotels!