Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Ellie's Book of Jokes Vol. 1


The wit and humour of the little one at home. Photo Credit: Ohtography

Love You One Hundred
"Daddy, I love you ONE HUNDRED!"
Me, "then what about mummy?"
"I love mummy INFINITY!"


Because I Love You
We were walking to the BTS station when Ellie asked for my to 抱抱(carry) her.
"Ellie, are you tired already?"
"No."
"Then why do you need me to carry you?"
Pulls me down and whispers in my ear, "Because I love you."

Afraid Of What?
"Ellie, are you afraid of Daddy?"
"Hah what?"
"Are you afraid of Daddy?"
"Afraid of what?"

Make You Lonely
Ellie came out of the room and closed the door behind her.
Noah opened it soon and asked, "Ellie, why did you close the door?"
"Because I want to make you lonely."

Impromptu Bedtime Poem
I slept with the kids early last night,
My wife then joined us, to my right,
Pushing Ellie further wide.
The little girl woke up and cried,
"Daddy! I'm falling down the side."
"Ellie Ellie," I clarified,
"Just lie down close by my side, 
And hold on to me real tight.
I'll make sure you'll be alright."
"Ok," she said, then she slept tight.
All the way till morning light.


Also see, the equally-hilarious Noah's Book of Jokes Volume 1 and Noah's Book of Jokes Volume 2.





Monday, June 10, 2019

Noah's Food-Discovery Journey at Gaa

During this year's Songkran holidays, I brought my family to Gaa, marking a significant milestone for my kids as they enjoyed their first meal at a Michelin-star restaurant.

Being all-inclusive and family-friendly, Gaa prepared a kids menu that revolved around a pasta with cream sauce and the crowd-favourite burnt coconut sugar soft-serve.

A couple of weeks ago, Noah suddenly told me he wanted to go back to Gaa. When I asked him what he wanted to eat, to my surprise, he said, "Beef taco and crispy leaf!" Gosh, totally unexpected, because these were not part of the kids' menu, but bits and pieces of the real deal which I let him try that evening.

A bulb lit in my head, and I moved on to plan a man's night out with my boy to lead him through a journey of food-discovery at Gaa, making sure he gets his leaf and taco with only 1 condition: "Kid's menu not allowed".

And so it begins.  A bit under-dressed for the restaurant no? Sorry for that Gaa.

Drawing his comic book while waiting for action to start.

Still happy, not knowing what's coming.

After long deliberation, he managed to drink some of the chilled guava soup, but when the duck course got served he quickly got super distracted by the crispy betel leaf, which was 1 of the 2 dishes he came for.

Playing with the duck beak after happily downing the duck tongue.

And downed the first takoyaki of his life, with the help of a lot of water to douse the mild fire in the spiced duck stuffing.
The beef taco quickly came (taco lovers look here), he ate his and most of mine in a hurry.

As Chef Garima said, "He's the first guest in Gaa who doesn't like the corn." Yes, asking him to eat the corn brought him nearly to tears. He managed a few tiny nibbles, but thankfully wiped the corn milk clean with a spoon, not all bad!

New dish! Quail breast and leg served with pickle. Delicious, but the quails are tiny! Noah ate this dish!

Looks like the pork has been re-integrated into the menu.

Didn't like the things on top but LOVED the pork.

Even though I failed to convince Noah to like corn despite bringing him to a place which serves arguably the most delicious corn dish in the city, our boy's night out turned out to be a highly-enjoyable one, and one that definitely opened his eyes to a whole new world of food.

I would hereby like to thank everyone at Gaa who were extra kind and understanding to Noah, and chef Garima for adjusting the menu slightly to make it less daunting for the little one.

Where did Noah learn how to make that little heart? 


Monday, May 20, 2019

Pasta Masterclass at Jamie's Italian Bangkok


The Masterpiece. 
I've started making my own fresh pasta at home since a couple of years ago. Results have been mixed. They are decent most of the time, but I've never achieved the kind of consistency I wanted. Having experienced Sloane's masterclass a few months ago at Jamie's Italian, I jumped at the opportunity to attend their new pasta masterclass, expecting a session with professional guidance and proper hands-on practice.

A short chat with head chef Alex Barman before class commenced. 
Masterclass set-up, covering all ground to ensure a seamless hands-on experience for participants.
Ready to go!
Staying true to what Jamie Oliver and Gennaro Contaldo have preached over the years on Food Tube, the standard recipe for fresh pasta is 100g of flour to 1 egg, but as the eggs at Jamie's Italian (free-range from Sirin Farm) were huge, we were asked to use 3 eggs to 400g of flour and balance it off with a splash of water (this will make nearly 600g of pasta, good for 5-6 servings).

First, make a well in 400g of flour and crack in 3 large eggs, which was sufficient for my case.
Use a fork to gently work the eggs and flour together. When you get  something like this, it's time to use your hands.
Working the dough, adjusting with more water/flour along the way if necessary.

The perfect dough is supposed to be smooth and do not stick to your hands. Mine wasn't great.

While the dough rested (usually for at least half an hour), we were shown the different ways to turn the dough into pasta. I especially appreciated the presence of both sous-chef Gone, and head-chef Alex, which ensured information was communicated effectively in both English and Thai.

Sous-chef Gone.

Alex showing his stuff.
And soon we were back to work. Start with the thickest setting on the pasta machine. It is recommended to fold the dough a few times and run it through the same thick setting to ensure a smooth silky pasta.
This is what 100g of dough can give you.
Once desired smoothness/thinness are achieved, cut the dough into reasonable lengths before making the pasta!
Carefully removing my freshly-cut pasta.

Coiling the finished product like a smart aleck.

What I appreciate most about the Jamie's Italian masterclasses I attended, was that they were proper hands-on sessions and not merely observations. In both occasions, we were required to do every single step personally from scratch. Equipment and ingredients were meticulously prepared as well, ensuring no time was wasted looking for missing stuff in the process. I went home both times equipped with a useful new skill to take my home-cooking to a new level.

Pasta master Eddie.
After all the hard work, there was only 1 thing left to do....

Dig in! 


Credits: All pictures in this blogpost were taken by my wife, 'cept for the last one.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Thailand Winter Getaway Series 2018: Eat and Drink in Udon Thani

Udon Thani is one of the 4 major cities in the Isaan (Northeastern Thailand), with impressive city development as well as an increasingly-vibrant food scene. Though it's an almost 600km drive from Bangkok (and 55km away from the Laos border), an internal flight will only take an hour from the capital.

In previous years, I've recommended Ayuthaya, Khao Yai, Chiang Rai and LopBuri as viable winter getaway destinations in Thailand, this year's going to be something different, as the foodie in me takes over to recommend Udon Thani as THE place (listen up, Michelin) for food lovers to visit during the cool winter months.

1. Samuay and Sons: MUST-VISIT for foodies!

The bustling kitchen at Samuay and Sons
In recent years, numerous local chefs have taken it upon themselves to demonstrate the depth and diversity of Thai food culture. In the realms of Isaan, Chef Num of Samuay and Sons, I dare say, might be the best in the craft, sparing no detail in his attempt to share the 'knowledge of the earth' to his diners.




[First Impressions] @samuay_n_sons This was a meal that got me thinking. As I went through the tasting menu, I pondered, whether my parents, or even my wife, would truly enjoy the food. Chef Num is a passionate man with a mission to preserve the food wisdom buried deep in the heartlands of Isaan. He forages, works with farmers and local ceramic artists, digs into North-Eastern Thai cultures and presents dishes with deep roots, sprinkled with his modern techniques and creativity. Food-wise, if there is one word I can find to describe it, it's "earthy". Chef Num does not hold back. Any dish could easily be put together using 30 different herbs and spices, and the Larb Nuea was so spicy my Thai companions emptied their glasses in a hurry. Personally, I enjoyed it very much, especially the seafood curry mousse and the Plaa Yawn dish. I do wonder how the dishes can be balanced (authenticity vs mainstream) more to suit a wider audience, but for Thai traditional cooking wisdom to continue (and even possibly thrive), we need chefs like Num, to persevere and not waver. Susu! #strangerinudon #samuayandsons #isaancuisine #thaiwisdom #authentic #thaicuisine #thaifood #strangerfirstimpression
A post shared by Eddie Yii (@strangerinbangkok) on


2. Beyond Cafe: Great vibe, good ambience, decent desserts.

Helmed by Chef Ning, winning challenger on Iron Chef Thailand, we naturally had high hopes for  Beyond Cafe.

Huge place.

One of the many different sections of the cafe.



It proved to be one of the largest cafes we've seen in Thailand, and one with great ambiance. The 2 desserts we ordered were acceptable but unspectacular. Definitely a place worth checking out!


3. Dose Espresso/ Dose Factory: Probably the best coffee in Udon Thani.

Recommended by friends in the food industry, these 2 establishments completely won us over with their excellent coffee.

Look out for this when you are looking for Dose Espresso.



Dose Espresso is a typical small cafe serving mainly drinks with simple snacks and desserts. Dose Factory, on the other hand, is a more substantial project, providing a full food menu that impressed us tremendously. I dare say Dose Factory will be a commercial success even in Bangkok.

Dose Factory's extravagant front door.

Warehouse-style restaurant, reminds me of Jam Factory in Bangkok.

One of the 2 inventive but delicious pastas we ordered, the spicy carbonara, which had a large dose of paprika.

Tacos, which made my companion David very happy indeed!


4. Le Bonheur: Unexpected hidden sanctuary.

It took us a while to find Le Bonheur, which is technically a European-style cottage in a little soi, surrounded by low-cost houses.

The signs are not exactly obvious.

Definitely has the hidden-garden-by-the-Koi-pond feel.

Le Bonheur is a French pastry shop. Swiping through immaculate pictures on an iPad, the chef's mum painstakingly went through the entire menu in detail before leaving us to make our decisions.

The desserts we ordered arrived equally picturesque.

What a beauty.
Green tea soft cookie.
Taste-wise, I can only say I've had better soft cookies and French pastry in Thailand, but considering they are in Udon Thani, the whole Le Bonheur package is extremely commendable. This is probably my pick-of-the-bunch to spend your afternoon-tea hours in the city.

So there you go, my simple eat-and-drink guide in Udon, summarized for you after a deliberate 2D1N food trip during winter 2018. As always, I will continue to update this guide if I find more spots during subsequent visits.

Till next winter!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Bun Meat and Cheese by Homeburg: #thekawayiis Experiment

Everyone has their own favourite burger.

Some like the messy, greasy decadence, some like it dripping with melted cheese, some like the presence of vegetables to make the burger feel healthy.

Then comes Taiki, the young man absolutely obsessed with burgers, whose claim to fame was his determination to engineer a burger to his own perfection, to the point he could only make up to 4 a night, resulting in a queue that could drag for months.

Taiki and me.
Just over a week ago, Taiki finally opened his burger stand, simply called Bun Meat and Cheese, aiming to satisfy more burger fans by making 100 burgers accessible 6 days a week (except Monday).

Due to the marketing momentum Homeburg has built over the last year, expectations are high. I have thus brought my family, my 7 and 4 year-old included, down to 72 Courtyard last Saturday (likely the busiest day of the week) to 'test the system'.

Look out for this sign, right outside Beam club, on the 2nd floor of 72 Courtyard.

We arrived on the dot, at 4.59pm (actually a minute before they officially open), to find ourselves with queue numbers 45 to 47 (!!). So, the first step is to get a number (1 for each burger) and be told when to be back to place your order. We were told to return at 6pm.

My daughter enjoying the interesting journey to the burger.
The sun was setting, and the open area on the 2nd floor of 72 Courtyard would inevitably become more comfortable soon, but at a couple of weeks before Songkran, the searing temperature in the late afternoon was just too much for us to wait for an hour. We spent the next hour having some drinks at the nearby Mellow Thong Lor.

Still finding it interesting.
So we grabbed our seats near the burger joint at 6pm sharp, and were summoned to make our orders slightly before 6.10pm.

Patiently waiting.
At 6.28pm (18 minutes after ordering), our 3 burgers were ready. Please note that for ease of consumption, your burgers will be cut into half, and vegetables are on free-flow at the side of the counter, should you require any.

Vegetables, available as a self-service option.


Taiki dissecting our burger.

I shall not go into the specifics of the burger, you can easily find out through many online sources if you are interested. After trying 2 variants at Bun Meat and Cheese, I feel that for the first-timer, a good choice will be to go straight for the Homeburg Prototype #1 (380THB), as the bacon, gherkins and jalapeno will give more taste dimension to every bite.

The Homeburg Prototype #1.
Execution-wise, I feel that it falls slightly short of what I had at Homeburg (maybe 85%).

But wait, making 4 burgers a night (with a possible monthly turnover of 0 baht) through pure passion is a completely different animal to running a burger stand selling 100 burgers (potentially turning over more than a million baht/month) on a nightly basis.

No one said it would be exactly the same. Producing the same quality will be infinitely more challenging.

What I love about Taiki is his single-minded focus to perfectly-engineer 1 product, therefore I have no doubt he will be attempting to improve everyday, or die trying.

Our burger exercise ended at around 7pm (took us 2 hours on a Saturday evening), with my 7-year-old son nearly finishing his entire burger. My wife and I both agree that Bun Meat and Cheese already provides one of the best burger-eating experiences in the city, despite having room to further improve.

If I can do it on a Saturday evening in the middle of the hottest-ever summer in Bangkok, with kids in tow, it's time for you to make the burger trip.

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