Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Stranger in Bangkok's latest facelift explained

Many people have asked me why I choose not to use a beautiful family photo as the backdrop to my blog, since it is relevant to what I write and will attract more readers who are interested in family-oriented blogs.

The answer is simple. My family and I are here primarily due to my company (ie. no company, no Stranger in Bangkok). I came here in 2009 with nothing but a small luggage to start a new company, and it is only because of the small success of this company am I able to remain here happily with Li Li and Noah. Therefore I would like to retain the initial spirit of the blog by using it to chart the gradual progress of this other baby of mine.

Here's to review the banner I just removed, which was taken during my company's incentive trip in 2012, in comparison with my latest banner.

Hua Hin 2012

Suan Phueng 2013

A simple headcount will tell you that the number of staff has increased, and everybody seems even more jubilant. This is progress that fills me with a lot of pride, and explains why I continue to use my company pictures as the main backdrop for this blog.

Aside of the positive development of the company, 2013 has been a progressive year for this Stranger in Bangkok blog as well.

I became part of the Daddy Matters group in Singapore. This is something that I hold very dearly to my heart, especially after Noah came into my life. As an involved Daddy, I truly believe that Daddy Matters too, and that we might be getting too little support/understanding from those around us.

Thanks to the initiative of 11 Daddy bloggers in Singapore, the Daddy Matters Group was formed, with me being one of the foreign-based correspondents. Finally, there is a platform for Daddies to support one another when we have problems (and joys), and hopefully help others out there with the resources we share.

I have also been selected by, to be one of their currently 19 interesting blogs about Bangkok. This endorsement really came as a pleasant surprise. There are at least hundreds of blogs in relation to Bangkok, and to be the only family-oriented one to be listed in tandem with all the other outstanding blogs on the list, I am truly encouraged. It also tells me that though I feel tired and isolated typing away on my keyboard at 4am in the morning, I am not alone on this blogging journey.

Internations is an international organisation active in countless major cities in the world linking expats together with frequent fun and interactive events. I am also honoured to be recognized by them as one of their currently 10 top recommended expat blogs of Bangkok. As I have said many times, I am not an expat, just an enterpreneur who is not Thai, so I am glad that my blog can be of information or as a source of hope for any foreigners trying to settle down here!

I was featured on 3rd March 2013 on Ai Sakura's blog. Being featured is one thing, being featured on the winning family blog at the 2013 Singapore Blog Awards is another! Here's to thank Ai again for giving me the honour of appearing in your excellent online space, and hopefully this will not be the Stranger in Bangkok's final guest post on another blog.

This blogging journey has not stopped giving me unexpected rewards. It is getting more and more difficult to update it frequently due to added job responsibilities and a devotion of more time at home with my family, but it seems like there is every reason to keep it up and alive. To all my readers, this is a promise made here from me to you that no matter how many more facelifts there will be on this space, there will be an unwavering determination to uphold the true spirit of this blog, so do continue to drop by from time to time.

Last but not least, since this is such a jubilant post introducing my new banner showing me and my staff leaping with glee, this is a close up of someone who quietly stole the show in the picture, if you have not already noticed.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hidden Dining Jewels in Suburban Bangkok: Casa Pasta

Update 29/6/2019:

Casa Pasta has gone through a refurbishment!

[Wah Lau Eh! Update] @casapastath One of my original inspirations to start writing about under-the-radar restaurants, Casa Pasta, has undergone a face-lift, probably necessary due to the sprouting up of spin-off/s and old age, though I do not know whether I love the new green/white-feel more than the previous European Tavern atmosphere or not. More importantly, the team has remained. I made a trip down to try, and thankfully, their classy half-moon pizza is still the same, as are the other dishes. So, a newer, brighter Casa Pasta pushing out plates of affordable Italian food that's better than most you can find in town, with the usual slight lack of plating-finesse and service precision. The new old Casa Pasta that I love. #casapasta #casapastabangkok #ilovemyhood #italianfood #wahlauehstampofapproval #italiancuisine #strangerinbangkok #bangkokfoodies
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Best Italian in Bangkok. well at least in Eastern Bangkok

Nestled 1km into Sukhumvit 101/1, Casa Pasta IS the best-kept secret in Bangkok. As I have said in previous posts, it's incredible how many excellent dining establishments are popping up at my doorstep, and if you like Italian food (like me), this should be a restaurant you shouldn't miss, no matter where you are located in this metropolis.

To be honest, it took me too long to discover this place. I drive past it everyday, but never felt the urge to go in. Its name did not mean anything to me (there are way too many local haunts serving overcooked spaghetti stirfried with salted fish and Thai basil), neither did its appearance from the outside. Little did I know that hidden behind its wooden sliding doors lies a cosy bistro that reminds me very much of those small restaurants I adore in Europe.

The atmosphere is spot-on

I would like to give a special mention to the chefs, who are all locals and seriously know what they are doing in the kitchen. The waitresses do not speak much English, but deep in the residential areas of Bangkok, I wouldn't have expected it any other way.

To concentrate too much on other aspects other than its food would be doing the place injustice. I have been there thrice, and aside of a thick slab of pork neck which looked (at least to us) just a tad undercooked (it re-appeared tasting better than ever), I have not tasted anything less than satisfactory to date. So here's a glimpse of what we had during our latest visit.

Half-moon, the absolute star in my eyes

Updated picture: Still great 3 years later in 2016

It is very hard for me to give a thumbs up to any pizza, I'm just not that big a fan of a circular dough with assorted toppings, but this one is really fantastic. Crispy thin-crust pizza dough filled with cheese, ham and truffle oil, this has to be the perfect starter this restaurant has to offer.

Linguine with white wine marinara sauce
Their pasta dishes have always been pretty impressive. The pasta is nicely al-dente and various sauces taste classy and authentic. There is no hint of fusion here, which is good news for me.

Updated 2016: Gnocchi with lamb ragout
Ravioli with Foie Gras and Pumpkin stuffing

Here's my chef's special of the day. 5 generously-sized raviolis stuffed with fragrant Foie Gras and sweet pumpkin, topped with a shaving of truffle, 1km deep inside Sukhumvit 101/1, you gotta be kidding me! I was trying my best not to mention how affordable food here is, but in case you are interested, this dish cost me 250THB (10SGD, seriously, it's time to quit that PastaMania addiction of yours).

Desserts at Casa Pasta don't disappoint too.

Smooth and silky Panna Cotta
The always dependable Tiramisu

I apologise for my pretty one-sided review of Casa Pasta, but there's nothing much to complain about this place. I have confidence that all my dining companions here would not have much to dispute with regards to all I have written. If we have to talk about the down-sides, it's probably the location (which is not an issue to me) and the possibility that any long instruction given in English might not be fully understood.

Otherwise, this Hidden Jewel in Suburban Bangkok might really be just too good to be true.

stranger in bangkok

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