Monday, June 16, 2014

New Links

If you want to see photos from our recent adventures to Chiang Mai and to Australia you can click on the links to the right. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Tasty City

One of our absolute favorite things about living in Bangkok is the food.  Bangkok has an amazing street food scene, but also has a seemingly endless supply of Thai and international restaurants.  For the month of June we are going to make an effort to document our dining experiences.  We eat out a lot here.  Our kitchen at home is small and does not have an oven, and Bangkok's dining options are both plentiful and generally affordable.  We'll leave out some of our less exciting meals at work and school, but we'll fill you in on some of our outings around town.  We'll visit some of our favorite hangouts and try some new places as well.  Pictures will be included if we remember to take them.

June 1, Hansaah
Detail: French-Thai Guesthouse and Restaurant, 10 minute walk from our condo on Soi Sri Bamphen
Meal: Breakfast
Our food: Home made yogurt, fresh fruit, bread and jam (both made in house), fresh orange juice, actual coffee (not instant coffee which is the norm in Thailand).
Cost: $10
Review: Best breakfast in our neighborhood!  Not a huge menu, but everything we've tried has been exceptionally good.

June 1, Street Vendor
Detail: Middle Eastern kebab cart, near BTS Ratchathewi train station
Meal: Supper
Our food: Chicken kebab wraps
Cost: $4
Review: When your menu consists of only 1 item, you better do it well, and they do.

June 2, Bangkok Bagel Bakery
Detail: American bagel shop, near BTS Chitlom train station
Meal: Lunch
Our food: Bagel sandwiches and raspberry lime-aid
Cost: $17
Review: Expensive by Bangkok standards, but the food is great.  Besides excellent bagels, the house cured meats are of uniquely high quality for Thailand.  Most of the recipes were created by our friend Brock who was the chef when we live here the first time.  He's no longer in Bangkok, but his bagel legacy lives on.

June 2, Om Yim
Detail: Thai Restaurant, 10 minute walk from our condo on Soi Sri Bamphen
Meal: Supper
Our food: Ginger chicken, spicy garlic and lime pork, rice, one beer.
Cost: $10
Review:  Decent Thai food at a good price.  The tables are outside and only a few meters from a busy intersection so there is a fair bit of traffic noise and no air conditioning. The menu is large and while we haven't been blown away by the food here, everything we've tried has been fairly good.

June 3, Little Italy
Detail: Italian pizza by the slice, near BTS Asok and MRT Sukhumvit interchange station.
Meal: Supper
Our food: 2 large slices of pizza
Cost: $3
Review: This is the first time we've tried this place, and probably the last.  It tasted like really cheap pizza.

June 4, The Londonder
Detail: English pub and microbrewery near BTS Phrom Phong train staion.
Meal: Supper
Our Food: Shepherd's pie, baked macaroni and cheese, and two pints.
Cost: $27
Review: It was the first time we've been here, and we'll be back.  Good pub food and the beer was decent as well.

June 5, Everything Food and Drink
Detail: Thai restaurant, 5 minute walk from our condo on Soi Ngam Duphli
Meal: Supper
Our Food: Spicy fruit salad, coconut chicken soup (Tom Ka Gai) with rice
Cost: $8
Review: This tiny shop is on a busy side street and is easy to miss just walking by, but the food is good.  Seating is inside and you get air conditioning which is rare for a lower cost Thai restaurant.

June 6, Mali
Detail: Western / Thai pub restaurant, 10 minute walk from our condo on Sathorn Soi 1
Meal: Supper
Our Food: "Fish burger" for Mary and the "Super Burger" for Greg.  One large Chang beer and one lime smoothie.
Cost: $16
Review: Mali has a somewhat bizarre mix of Asian and western food in an eccentrically decorated pub style restaurant.  Menu options include pasta, burgers, Thai and Malaysian dishes, pancakes, and chimichangas.   This is my neighborhood go to place for a burger.  The "Super Burger" is not the best burger in town, but it is acceptable and within walking distance of our condo (I'll review the best burger in town later on).  It comes with a fried egg, cheese, and a thick slice of pineapple.  The "Michigan Potato Salad" is my preferred side dish.  They have both indoor and outdoor seating options.

June 7, Fatty's Bar and Diner
Detail: Wisconsin dive bar, 10 minute walk from MRT Rama 9 station on Thanon Din Dang
Meal: Supper
Our Food: Jalapeno poppers, Fatty's Fat Sandwich (buffalo chicken and sausage), Cream Cheese Burger, beers
Cost: $25
Review: Tastes and feels like you could actually be in Wisconsin.  For us that makes this the greatest restaurant in Bangkok.  Meeting up with other displaced Americans helps complete the atmosphere.

June 8, Sizzler
Detail: American chain restaurant, near BTS Sala Daeng
Meal: Supper
Our Food: Salad Bar and water
Cost: $13
Review: We go here for the salad bar only.  They have steak, pasta, baked potatoes, and other American food on the menu as well, although we've never tried any of these items.  A good salad bar is tough to find in Bangkok and that's what brings us into Sizzler every time.

June 9, Sun Moon House
Detail: Chinese restaurant, 5 minute walk from our condo on Soi Ngam Duphli
Meal: Supper
Our Food: Pork dumplings, garlic brazed green beans, stuffed peppers, iced green tea
Cost: $13
Review: This is one of those places you walk by and based on the look of the place would probably never stop.  The dingy tile floor, wobbly utilitarian tables, and bare fluorescent lights don't create much of an atmosphere.  Go inside and you find a staff that often seems unhappy to see you.  Yet, this place is always packed!  And with good reason, the food here is famously delicious.  Their dumplings in particular make this tiny hole in the wall restaurant one of Bangkok's top dining destinations.  It's convenient that it's just a few minutes from where we live, so we only stop when there's no wait for a table (which doesn't happen very often).

June 10, Home
Detail: Yes we can still cook, we just don't do it very often
Meal: Supper
Our Food: Home made chicken and avocado wraps, sweet potato fries, milk
Cost: Ingredient cost of about $12
Review: Delicious and slightly cheaper than going out for western food.  Comes with a great view.

June 11, Lido
Detail: Italian restaurant, 10 minute walk from our condo
Meal: Supper
Our Food: Pizza, baked spinach with mozzarella, 1 cantaloupe shake, 1 Chang beer
Cost: $18
Review: One of the better Italian restaurants in Bangkok.  The location on a quiet dead end ally makes it a little hard to find, but they have a large and loyal customer base that has been built by providing great Italian food for many years.  Their prices are quite reasonable compared to many other Italian places in Bangkok.  We like their pizza, but they have many great pasta dishes as well.

June 12, Tacos and Salsa
Detail: Mexican restaurant, Sukhumvit Soi 18, 10 minute walk from Asok BTS Station
Meal: Supper, just Mary with school friends.
Mary's Food: Tortilla soup, lemonade
Cost: $8
Review: Probably our favorite Mexican restaurant in Bangkok.  We visit regularly.  Mary met for dinner and a book club with some other teacher friends.

June 13, Beirut delivery
Detail: Lebanese restaurant, delivered by motorbike
Meal: Supper for Greg at home
Greg's Food: Shawarma chicken sandwich
Cost: $6
Review: Delicious and convenient.  Mary had an end of the school year buffet lunch and wasn't hungry for supper.  I was busy finishing up some things for work, so delivery sounded like a good idea.  Beirut has a whole menu full of delicious Lebanese food and we enjoy going in person, but it's nice to live in a city where delivery services are cheap and abundant when you need it.

June 14, Firehouse Pub and Restaurant
Detail: American restaurant, Sukhumvit Soi 11, 10 minute walk from Nana BTS Station
Meal: Lunch
Greg's Food: California Burger (cheese, tomato, onion, avocado), potato wedges, chicken wings, 1 beer, 1 soda water
Cost: $26
Review: The Firehouse has the best burger in town.  Hands down, if you want an amazing burger in Bangkok, this is the place to go.  The prices reflect their premium product, but it's worth the cost once in a while.  We met up with some US co-workers for lunch.  Everyone seemed quite satisfied with their meals.

We'll add more updates as June progresses.  For now, I'll end with a map of the places we've visited so far this month.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Coup Update

A week ago I made fun of the poorly informed news coverage from Vancouver on the recent military coup in Thailand (no, there was not a coup in Taiwan).  While I do love a good opportunity to poke fun at Canada, the U.S. really isn't much better.  The L.A. Times got the headline okay, but the caption under the picture in the article below gave me a good laugh.  The picture of the supposedly empty Bangkok airport was not taken at the airport at all, but rather at the Terminal 21 Mall in central Bangkok.  And yes, the mall was closed at the time of the photo (malls do close at night, even in Bangkok).

On a side note, if you ever visit Bangkok and need to go to a mall, Terminal 21 is a cool one.  Every floor is designed to represent a different international city, with the escalators in between the floors designed to be airport gates.  My favorite floor is Istanbul where all the shops are done like Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, although I do also enjoy stopping for a bathroom break in Tokyo, or catching a movie in Hollywood.

Getting back on topic, the military has been in control of Thailand for a week and a half now. Recent statements from the military leaders indicate elections could be 15 months away, so it is quite possibly we will live out the rest of our time here under military rule.  Initially the 10 PM curfew felt a little bit like I was back in high school, but now that the curfew has been relaxed to midnight I can return to my self imposed 9PM bed time.

The military has stopped much of the political protesting, although some isolated anti-coup protests have popped up.  Some have involved gatherings of hundreds of people, but most have been very small.  Any public gathering of 5 or more people is technically banned right now.  So is saying anything negative against the military.  Gatherings of 4 people, silently reading books in public locations are how Thais have taken to expressing their sentiment.

Small gatherings like the one above have not drawn much response from the military, but larger gatherings have drawn a strong military response.  The Victory Monument area in Bangkok has been the focus of a number of demonstrations followed up by the military making arrests.  When news of a demonstration hits social media the military is usually not far behind.

For us, life is still continuing as normal.  There have been no protests in our neighborhood, and the military is busy elsewhere in the city.  The army bunker that was stationed outside our condo gate for months is now gone, and I haven't seen any military in our neighborhood in a few weeks now.