Walkabout, leisure time - The Food Edition
24 Feb 2019
Today was a bit of R&R. I know, a little silly to say when you are on vacation, but we needed a bit of unstructured time after travel and two days of touring. Finally adjusting to the time difference, we woke late and had tea in our room, which has become our habit.
As the heading suggests, I thought I'd do a bit of an in-depth review of our culinary adventures thus far. Breakfasts are included and is a fantastic buffet. The advantage of being in a city that is the crossroads to the world, even the hotel buffet is a cross cultural adventure. There is traditional Asian foods, such as congee and made to order noodle soups - oddly Camille's go to breakfast - and stir fries galore. There are Indian curries and European meats and cheeses, along with Western bacon, sausage - 5 different varieties - eggs, with a made to order omelette bar. A plethora of breads from white to chapatis, to dark Russian rye, waffle & pancake maker, porridge, every kind of juice and a rainbow of fruit such guava, papaya, lychee, dragon fruit, as well as bananas apples, watermelon and pineapple and a fresh fruit salad so you don't have to decide. Then there are the pastries. Think croissant, danish, pain au chocolate, sweet breads, muffins and I've fallen in love with these little Thai roasted coconut puddings with a sprinkle of chive and corn. I'm sure there is much more that I've missed but thought I'd give you a sample of our first meal of the day.
Lunches vary from a burger by the pool - Ok sometimes you just have to - to wonderful roast meats from the food stands or an authentic Pad Thai. Well, when in Thailand, or a refreshing salad.
Our first dinner, we decided to stay close to home and dinned on the terrace restaurant in the hotel. We shared an exquisite whole roasted sea bass with fresh steamed potatoes and veggies. Light, moist, delicately seasoned and just a touch of lime, to let all those wonderful flavours shine.
Our next dinner, we ventured to where the locals shop and dine. I may have mentioned the Iconsiam shopping mall across the river, that hosts the thrice evening water and laser light show. There are over 100 eateries from a reproduction street food market, where folks in tiny stalls set up woks and pot of boiling liquids and you can literately grab and go, or stay and sit at one of the many makeshift tables scattered about, to several fine dinning restaurants and a whole bunch of in between. Interestingly, different shops, tuck small coffee bars and even a Dairy Queen inside. Curious you can check it out here
We opted for a mid-range Thai restaurant on the 5th floor overlooking the waterfall and garden. We both opted for a stir-fry, where I chose a spicy seafood and Brian enjoyed a milder beef version. The freshness of the ginger, garlic and green onions where tantalizing. Afterwards, a short walk to the pier and our complimentary ferry back to the hotel dock to finish the evening with a cleansing ale.
For our final dinner, Camille had arranged for reservations at Mezzaluna at the Labua hotel on the 65th floor. Reservations only open 6 weeks in advance and book-up within 24 hrs. Since pictures are not allowed, i'll need to send you to their website to get a sense of the place.
A short taxi ride, with the cabbie singing along to, what I assumed was pop Thai music, we arrive at the hotel entrance. We weren't exactly greeted, but more mobbed as a queue of folks waiting for cabs departing from the hotel descended. Quickly entering the hotel, there was an intense sense of disappointment. The lobby was small and although attractive, was nothing exceptional. Only a concierge desk to be seen. After inquiring as to where to catch the elevator, he directed us around the corner and said a hostess could help us. I was starting to wonder what all the hype was about. Five diamond hotel, Michelin star restaurant, harrumph. Oh, well we'll make the best of it and at least we'll get a splendid view of Bangkok at night from high above.
Then, turning the corner, boys and girls, worlds changed. Opening into a very posh black and gold lobby, elegantly dressed men and women, equally in very formal black and gold attire, greet you. Upon informing them of our dinner reservation, which they confirm on the spot, you are then personally escorted to a designated elevator, passing other guests going to the bar or the observation deck, queuing up, where you ride alone with the white gloved elevator attendant. Upon arrival at the 64th floor, you are personally greeted by name by another hostess, who then escorts you to your table. Arrival on the 65th floor is via a grand staircase, where, the sparkling city of Bangkok reveals itself as you climb.
This place is one of those iconic restaurants where the locals go for their most memorable events. The view is outstanding, the quartet of three strings and a clarinet play everything from Beethoven to the Beatles and modern pop. The staff are plentiful and serve and remove dishes in unison, so there is never a gap between you and your dinning companions.
the menu is a tasting menu of seven courses and varies every night. There are a few options as well as two wine pairings. One is the standard pairing, where you start with a Perrier- Jouette champagne and it just gets better. I'm not sure my palette is refined enough to truly discern the Premium wine pairing at that point. The dishes and wines proceeded at a relaxed pace with plenty of time to savour your latest wine, prior to the next course arriving. As mentioned, this is where locals come for their special occasions. During our evening there was one birthday, with a duo of violins playing happy birthday, and a proposal, where the lady was presented with a bouquet of flowers, again serenaded by violin, while her young suitor, bent on one knee, offered the ring (with a case that shone a tiny light when opened) and the question. She gladly accepted and the restaurant patrons all applauded. A beautiful ending to an exquisite evening. Again, being escorted to your private elevator as you descend back to reality, in so many ways. As we enter the cab the driver immediately announces that the fare is going to be double of what it should be. We both loudly disagree and Brian asks that he stop the cab so that we can get out. He lowers his price, Brian offers a bit more than the true fare and the guy turns around, offers a big smile and says "Well done". OMG, what a dizzying encounter after such an elegant and posh evening.