Wednesday, June 28, 2017

2017 Half-term Report: Same same but different

Gosh, it's already the end of June, I thought 2017 had just started, and I guess it's fair to say that it seems to be nearing its end!

Wow, this year has been such a whirl for me. No, don't get me wrong, my life is still the same. Same country, same company, same job, same family (duh!), same blog, same Thai Government and same economy going through the same extended lull.

It doesn't sound very exciting at all, but it is. This year is the year I decided that sitting back hoping for things to change around me to happen is no longer good enough. Change comes from within. It's simply because everything is still the same, that I can concentrate on bringing positive change to my life.

I have the same 2 beautiful kids and the ever-lovely wife, but the kids are growing. My daughter is already in a nursery and will start her first school term in August (more dates with the wife finally!). They are slipping through my fingers and Daddy's expenditure will inevitably be ramped up significantly as this happens. Time to work harder without sacrificing precious family time. More little special family occasions, staycations, trips and nicer pictures will hopefully create priceless memories for us to cherish.

Work-wise, pro-active is the key word. Active diversification of our product lines and the commitment to provide the best service to our customers will hopefully mean an up-turn to our stagnating business. The poor economy is no longer going to be a convenient reason to explain a year with little or no breakthrough. Even if we can't beat the trends, we are not going down without a fight. In fact, we are in the process of finalizing a move to a brand new operating facility and creating the most exciting online marketing plan this industry has ever seen. Stay tuned.

Online, please be prepared folks, to see more and more of me. 2016 proved to be my least-prolific blogging year. but it's also the year that I started to see wider horizons for myself on this social media wave. I have started to create content for multiple platforms (will create a page to list them out soon) and plan to capitalise on this positive momentum. Therefore, you probably can't run away from the Stranger in Bangkok, be it here or somewhere else you least expected.

So there you go, thanks for bearing with me as I felt necessary to give a simple update of my boring life. Life might be the same, but embracing and creating change is actually a mindset. Having an idea in your head is great, but ultimately it's a big fat zero if you do nothing about it. Think, create, execute.

One of my favourite recent pictures.

I firmly believe that every good action will bring about a positive effect sooner or later, so rock on guys, let's fight the fight together, and may the rest of 2017 be an even better one for you.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Singapore Food in Bangkok: The Ultimate List

It's been 2 years since I started my "Singapore Food in Bangkok" series, and I believe it has helped dwellers in Bangkok satisfy their Singapore food cravings to no end. Honestly, it's a challenge making Singapore food sexy in Bangkok. No matter how authentic the food is, the really great restaurants I know serving Singapore food have all had to overcome a lot of obstacles in the last couple of years to get to where they are now.

Therefore, I feel it's appropriate for me, someone who spent 28 years in Singapore then 7 more in Bangkok, to consolidate all these worthy places in 1 post, for the convenience of everyone interested.

1. Chuan Kitchen

Chuan Kitchen's story is one of trials and tribulation. It even had to close before being taken over by a local family, but now, wow, it's bigger and better than it has ever been.

Stranger in Bangkok's thoughts:

This is one of the success stories of Singapore food. It's located far away from the city, near IMPACT Muang Thong Thani, and is patronized mostly by Thai families. Its mix of Singapore food, affordable and high-quality dimsum, chinese-style sharing dishes and now, good coffee from a designated barista corner ensures everyone in the family gets a good meal, oh, and a good photo too. It's run by a Thai family as we speak, but I can confirm that the food remains the same, if not better.

Stranger in Bangkok's favourites at Chuan Kitchen:

- Bak Kut Teh, soup and dry (Malaysia herbal style)
- Hokkien Mee
- Laksa (Katong style)

2. 8 on Eleven/Champion's Sports Bar

Owned by the same group that runs Ping's group of restaurants, Tatsumi and Champion's Sports Bar, their excellent Singapore food is currently served at 8 on Eleven and Champion's Sports Bar.

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Stranger in Bangkok's thoughts:

It might be a peculiar place to eat Singapore food when you enter 8 on Eleven, but remember that the kitchen is the same one that churns out the popular Singapore food buffet at Champion's Sports Bar, as well as frequently caters for major National Day Events for the Singapore-Thai Chamber of Commerce, Singapore Club of Thailand and Singapore Embassy. Nothing much can go wrong if the food can pass the taste buds of the Singaporean community here.

Stranger in Bangkok's favourites at 8 on Eleven/Champion's Sports Bar:

- Hokkien Mee
- Curry Puff
- Chicken Curry

3. Sambalacha

Sambalacha completely embodies the spirit of true-blue Peranakan, Uncle William Pang, who is the owner, marketer, chef and face of the restaurant. He opened the restaurant wanting to keep the recipes of his mum alive, and boy has he done that. His sambal is an ultimate x-factor and he knows it. It's an absolute masterstroke that he makes use of this sambal to enhance almost every single one of his dishes.

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Stranger in Bangkok's thoughts:

I love it that he has random specials, especially on weekends. You can even order special dishes from him, cooked specially for you. You just need to speak to him to know what's possible and what's not.

Stranger in Bangkok's favourites at Sambalacha:

- Laksa (Nyonya Curry style)
- Beef Rendang
- Anything that goes with that Sambal (even the cucumber)

4. Hawker Chan 

Forget the Michelin star, I haven't even eaten it before in Singapore, so I will simply judge Hawker Chan Thailand on its own merits, without any expectations.

The "world-famous" Michelin star soy sauce chicken 

The meats were all pretty impressive and substantial, that include the famous soy sauce chicken and pork roasts. The noodles were just ok, but can be elevated with their decent sambal, and the serving portion was really good. I almost could not finish the food on my plate.

Stranger in Bangkok's thoughts:

For the price (100/110THB), location (Terminal 21, Asoke BTS/Sukhumvit MRT, right by the food court), generous serving size and comfort, Hawker Chan is definitely a legitimate choice for a taste of home, especially when you do not have to queue.

Honorable Mention: Boon Tong Kee

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This household name for chicken rice in Singapore is already an established chain restaurant in Thailand. It has a ridiculously-huge menu and you could go 10 meals with no dish repetition without even touching their chicken rice.

Go for their chicken rice I say, because so far, it is the only dish that is convincing from their menu. It's as authentic as it gets, with the soy sauce and all, though the chilli sauce is a little too sweet. If you have a Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice craving, Boon Tong Kee could be your best bet.

So here's my list after 2 years of tasting and research. I would not say it is a conclusive list, so please let me know in the comments if I missed out on any gems!

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