Monday, October 12, 2015

Ping's Hotpot: The Best Hotpot/Steamboat Restaurant in Bangkok for Soup Lovers

I used to live for 2 years right opposite Seacon Square along Srinakarin Road. Before Centralworld appeared, Seacon Square was the largest mall by floor area in Bangkok, and is patronized by locals from all walks of life in eastern Bangkok. Aside of its sheer size, one other aspect of the mall stunned me. Last I counted, there were no less than 11 hotpot/bbq buffet restaurants its top floor, with more than half of them completely full half the time. I later found out that the famous MK Restaurant has a whopping 422 branches across Thailand, which is more than double that of the number of outlets McDonald's currently has(!!).

We finally found a hotpot that we truly love.
Even though Thailand is well and truly a hotpot-crazy nation, with well-established brands locally (MK, Sukishi, Shabu-shi etc.) and internationally (Coca), I personally have found it difficult to eat at any of the big names, because a soup-lover like me cannot bring myself to enjoy steamboats with starting soup-bases which are almost as bland as water. Some are better than others, but on the whole, the focus of the local consumers seem to be their dips and the familiarity of the highly-advertised local brand images.

However, after 6 years, I am happy to say that I have finally found a restaurant that serves hotpot like it should be. Ping's Hotpot is located right beside Ping's Thai Teochew Seafood Restaurant in Pathumwan Princess Hotel, which I earlier reviewed on my blog to serve arguably the most delicious fish maw soup in Bangkok. I was told that the original soup base used for the hotpot is the exact one used to make their famous fish maw soup, so that's a good starting point. Ping's serves 4 other soups, the Teochew Herbal, Mongolian Spicy Herbal and 2 versions of Tom Yum, clear and milky. If you ask me, if you are here for the first time, you absolutely have to go for the original soup base, and probably the Tom Yum with coconut milk, just because you are in Thailand.

The original soup base on the left, and milky tom yum on the right, bubbling away.

Like its sister restaurant, Ping's Hotpot focuses on bringing out the best in quality ingredients. I especially enjoyed their assorted meatballs made in-house, as well as their seafood set, which included premium fish like salmon, cod and 2 incredibly sweet and succulent scallops.

My wife and I finished all these!

Wide range of sauces available, together with minced scallions, chilli padi and garlic. If you are not sure, just ask the helpful wait-staff to help you make a standard dip, which is what I usually do.

If what you just read is not tempting enough, let the Stranger in Bangkok tell you a secret that's not on the menu. If you have finished all your food but still have some soup left, there is actually a way to conveniently finish every last drop.

Order the boiled rice/ khaotom set!

In fact, I am almost embarrassed to admit this is my favourite part of the entire meal. With the remaining soup (preferably the original soup base), the meticulous waiter will require a few minutes to incorporate the ingredients above and turn it into the tastiest porridge you would have eaten in a long time.

A shot of the shimmering egg yolk before it's carefully beaten into the porridge.

Tadaa... the perfect ending to a satisfying meal. The porridge set costs 140THB and gives you 4 rice bowls of porridge.

I think I will need to end here. It has been an utter mistake writing this in the middle of an afternoon in which I do not have the time and resources to have a proper lunch. Time to grab a bite.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Parenting Poem Month: Love is...愛. 是.

Before we become parents, ideally we would have fallen head over heels in love with someone. One who makes our hearts beat faster every time we hold his/her hand, one whom we would like to grow old with. 

But the real challenge comes AFTER the initial flutter of our hearts. How do we love our spouse more each day, so that we can walk through life's challenges hand in hand? My Parenting Poem Month ends off aptly by a poem, written in 2 languages, by a respected sister in Christ, Ann, who casually spells out her little definitions of love. 

Love is...every day's compliments and heartfelt "I love you"
Love is...every day's hugs and kisses.

Love is...taking care of the 6 a.m cries.
Love is...taking responsibility over the family's finances.

Love is...asking "is there more?" after complaints.
Love is...making me the priority everyday.

Love is...the well planned getaway for two.
Love also is...the chat over sunset on the couch.

Love is..."I'll get take out" during one of those days.
Love is..."thank you for dinner" for the simplest of meals.

Love is...finding out four hours flew  by.
Love is...bringing up a new topic even after lights out.

Love is...sharing the Spirit's promptings.
Love is...baring the soul's condition.

Love is...over the top passions.
Love also is...sweet ordinaries.

Love is...praying together every night.
Love is...celebrating every year.

Love is...after 12 years of marriage
Still feeling...Yeah...I do like you.

Writer of the poem Ann, and her lovely hubby Tim












Parenting Poem Month is not about parents writing for the sake of writing. Such emotions cannot be faked, and you will not be able to write phrases like these without experiencing them yourselves.

If you missed our other pieces, here's where to catch them:

Friday, September 25, 2015

Birthday Letters from Daddy - Ellie turns 1

Our little celebration at home on the actual day
Dear Ellie

Before you, there was only Noah. Your korkor had Mummy and Daddy exclusively to himself, every moment, everyday. Looking back at the past year, the overwhelming emotion I have is a lot of apologies.

You did not wake up in the morning with Daddy on one side and Mummy on the other.

You did not listen to Daddy sing softly into your ear to coax you to sleep.

You hardly ate food specially planned and cooked for you by Daddy.

You hardly enjoyed any showers given to you by Daddy.

You hardly spent any actual time with Daddy since Day 1.

Being the little one in our house, you have been forced to share right from the start -- Daddy and Mummy's time, the clothes you wear, the books you read, the toys you play with.

Luckily, we are blessed that you have a big heart. You beam at me with love in your eyes even if I didn't do much for you. The cheeky, feisty streak that you are developing is also a welcome addition to the house formerly completely owned by your possessive brother.

You are such a precious little lady, and that's why, on the week leading up to your 1st birthday, Daddy and Mummy planned a whole week of activities to make sure your special moment is properly celebrated. Every single guest at your birthday party was hand-picked by Daddy and Mummy. They represent completely, the people who have showered you with love and welcomes into their houses in the past year, plus Daddy's special friend from Singapore who made it a special effort to be present.

What a cheeky pose from you, at Uncle Romans' house before going for your birthday photoshoot

Your birthday party at Champions Restaurant!

Your emotions swung from the highest
To the lowest 
You had what could be the most incredible-looking nyonya kueh cake for a 1-year old in recent history

All our lovely guests

Daddy promises you that from now onwards, I will make up for lost time. You will see more of me and do more things with me. I also hope that you will grow into a toddler bursting with positive energy, surrounded every moment by the boundless love showered on you by Daddy, Mummy and korkor.

Happy Birthday Ellie.


PS. Special thanks to Jacqueline for making the party such a great one, and Romans for the beautiful pictures.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Itim Lamoon: Traditional Thai flavours frozen in Premium Ice Cream

Slightly less than 2 weeks ago, during my weekly visit to Mega Bang Na, I chanced upon an ice cream stall like no other. It looked rustic, playful and vintage all at the same time, and after tasting their concoctions, a wave of excitement rushed through my brain, as it's been a while since a F&B concept in Bangkok grabbed my attention in such a manner.

Itim Lamoon's shop front at Mega Bang Na
Think of Thai sweets and you can come up with a few names. Mango Sticky Rice, Thai Durian, Coconut and the ever-reliable Thai iced tea. But having lived here for almost 6 years, there is much, much more. Take Yakult for example. Back in Singapore, we are used to Yakult being sold everywhere in assorted flavours, but here in Thailand, Yakult cannot be found anywhere readily. There is only 1 flavour, the original, in a tiny bottle, which can only be purchased when the Yakult lady appears in your neighbourhood. I reckon if I were a little boy in Bangkok, I will be waiting eagerly for this particular lady to appear at my doorstep everyday to have my favourite drink.

Yesterday, I spoke to Danupon (more affectionately known as Moo), the owner of Itim Lamoon, and was suitably satisfied to understand that his concept is to weave together the childhood memories of local adults and present them in the form of premium ice cream. His first signatures were coconut cream, Thai tea and Milo, and he slowly came up with more and more flavours, most of which carry a distinctive Thai soul. Some interesting ones will be the Thai coffee (Oliang), Taro coconut, Sala(a red syrup carrying a similar identity to rose syrup in Singapore but tastes different) cider with Lime, Rum and Raisin (which uses locally-famous Sangsom Thai rum) and even a Red Bull sorbet.

Even his toppings have a vintage feel about them, from crispy dough fritters to mug bean to rainbow sugar

Moo shared with me that his biggest challenge was to convince the Thai locals that local Thai flavours are not always cheap, as even though he tries to emulate traditional tastes, he uses imported raw material to ensure his ice cream are as good as the premium home-made ice cream we can find in other more internationally-established dessert shops. As a foreigner, however, I feel that spending 49THB on a scoop of good quality ice-cream (with a free topping, no less) that tastes uniquely Thai is more than worth it.

The ice-cream shop is designed to look like a vintage playground. Kids are encouraged to play with all their toys.

Aside of selling ice cream by the scoop, Itim Lamoon also comes up with their own vintage sundaes and drinks, all of which carry a Thai traditional flair as well.

Can you recognize this character from Kamen Riders?

One of their specialties really surprised me. I bet most of you understand Affogato as an Italian dessert that involves pouring richly aromatic espresso over some gooey vanilla Gelato. What if I told you the Lamoon Affogato is pouring rich Thai kopi-O called O-liang over their signature creamy coconut ice-cream?

Lamoon Affogato looks and tastes charming

The main reason why I have such a strong feeling over Itim Lamoon is because After You and Mr Jones Orphanage have been hogging the Thai dessert headlines for far too long. Both have legitimate reasons for success, with Mr Jones Orphanage depending more on their atmosphere than cakes to attract customers. However, both these big names have earned their reputation recommending foreign-style desserts to the public. Finally, Itim Lamoon has a concept that brings local traditional desserts to the next level, packaging it in a attractive way, yet versatile enough to refresh their flavours as frequently as they wish.

All said and done, at this moment, Itim Lamoon is certainly not the finished product yet. The ice cream is still a wee bit too sweet for my non-Thai palate, and I do wish they eventually come up with a proper ice-cream shop that allows customers to enjoy their pretty desserts like the Lamoon Affogato in a more comfortable space with their whole family. I also think they should start considering opening stalls in places where tourists have more access to.

If you do manage to see it though, please give it a shot, as it might transport you back to your long-lost childhood. The Stranger in Bangkok's favourite flavours are Thai Tea and Yakult Jelly.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Parenting Poem Week: The Singlish aka SG50 chapter

Parenting is not a bed of roses, for every beautiful moment that tugs our heartstrings, there might be more than one contrasting moment of complete frustration, which I believe, will be quickly forgotten, or not.

So here's my rendition of one such instance, spoken silently in my brain, now also silently on cyberspace, in a language that best suits the occasion:

The day is great the sun is high
Finally the clothes can dry

Then someone nudged me on my thigh
"Daddy Daddy, I just bang sai."

Wife look at me, I say chin chye*
But deep inside, I want to cry

Ripped off diaper, he said “Wa!”
Ohhhh that smell
Really can die

“Poopoo mountain, I so lihai!”
Wah lau eh, sibey kana sai

Nuff said. Photo Credit: Busy Chris


Parenting Poem Month is not about parents writing for the sake of writing. Such emotions cannot be faked, and you will not be able to write phrases like these without experiencing them yourselves.

If you missed our other pieces, here's where to catch them:

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Parenting Poem Month: The Emotional Chapter

I might regret not putting in 20 more hours a week in the office.

I might regret not visiting my customers more often. 

I might regret not going out enough with my friends, who deserve more of my attention. 

I might regret not going to more networking events to know more business associates. 

I might regret not putting in all my time to try push my career to its ultimate limit.

I might regret not trying harder to earn more money.

I will regret not spending more time with my parents.

But what I will definitely not regret, is to have spent as much time as I could, with my growing kids.

Daddies and mummies out there, take a deep breath and devour every heart-felt emotion in this beautiful poem written by my friend Constance last night. If you have walked the path of parenthood, like me and her, I am sure you will be touched by every word, and every phrase:

One day you will no longer be little
You may be so busy that you might forget to doodle

The tiny notes we write for each other
May become fewer but still none the sweeter

My little ones chasing butterflies
Will one day grow, with wings bigger than mine

The endless hours we spend doing everything and nothing
May become rare, all the more precious, these moments fleeting

But for now you are still little
And not so big that I can no longer cradle

Though your big voices are demanding your rights
Your small bodies still want hugs real tight

While you now do so much with your friends or alone
My time is still something that you wish to own

There is no one parent who looks back and lament
"I spent too much time on my kids."

For there will surely be some regret,
if you don't, while you can.


Parenting Poem Month is not about parents writing for the sake of writing. Such emotions cannot be faked, and you will not be able to write phrases like these without experiencing them yourselves.

So thank you my friend Constance, for inspiring me, and inspiring all parents reading this beautiful poem of yours.

*wipes tears*

Monday, August 31, 2015

Singapore Food in Bangkok: Champions Restaurant and Sports Bar

In the most unlikeliest of places, probably the most authentic-tasting Singaporean food in downtown Bangkok has been found. Previously Bangkok's Manchester United Cafe, Champions Restaurant and Sports Bar looks like the place to be with your pals who want to down some draught beer while watching their favourite football match. You could do that, but what if you could also have some Singapore Laksa or Char Kway Teow while doing so, 24 hours a day, everyday?

How it looks in the day

Yesterday, with my family and a few Singaporean friends, we hopped down to Champions Restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 11 just in time for their popiah party (this either needs to be ordered in advance or you need to get REALLY lucky, like us). What I loved about the popiah party was that they let us wrap the rolls ourselves so we could do it to our personal preferences.They also have a Singapore food brunch buffet every Sunday so we got to enjoy a plethora of different dishes.

Popiah party!
Probably the dish I enjoyed the most on a day I had to eat with Noah sitting on me the whole time
New dish on the block, Mee Siam, tasty and tangy
They have a good chicken rice as well

Char Kway Teow with huge fresh cockles which are not too raw when served
Prawn noodles, with a clear robust broth and noodles nicely al dente (very important for me)

If you are a Singaporean/Malaysian living in Bangkok, and have been craving for some authentic flavours from home, please trust me that at Champions Restaurant, every dish you get will be better than the average plate you order in the hawker centres in Singapore. Aside of the dishes I ate yesterday, they have other Singaporean favourites like Laksa, Nasi Lemak and Chicken Curry too. I would loved to have tried them all, but God only gave me one tummy, shall save them for my next visit!

So now to my absolute favourite dish from Champions. Even though I have never been a really big fan of curry puff, I frequently eat it when I was in Singapore. Thus, it shocked me when a recent taste-test conducted from the Straits Times yielded Polar to have the best curry puffs in Singapore. I certainly feel that the ones from Champions are more enjoyable!

Soft flavourful curry chicken and potato with a quarter of a hard-boiled egg, yummy!

Are you tempted yet?

stranger in bangkok

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...