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My Trip Report from Bangkok

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Hello to all,

Mixed feelings with the experience:

1) Som Tam Nua: A popular joint in Siam Square. Good deal and solid food !! Good place to order several dishes to share. The typical suspects very tasty: Larb Moo, Som Tam, Fried Chicken, Fish Cakes, etc, etc.

2) Bo.Lan: Not really; Went there for hype-that's all. Not worth the drive. Too much effort not needed. We did the tasting menu and some dishes were good other questionable and the price high for BKK standards.

3) Sunrise Cafe: Very close from the Royal Orchid Sheraton were i stayed; OK. Not a destination point but i enjoyed the lunch there

4) Methavalei: 5 stars; IMHO- The place to go in BKK. Solid food, good service and very authentic. Next time in BKK will go for sure.

5) Krua Apsorn: Very good and rustic. I will doubt I will return; too much effort to get there for something that can be had closer. Not that unique, despite the reports.

Summary: I found BKK to be a closter-fuck city. The traffic does will not motivate me to try anything far; not even fun. The best food is definitely in the the streets or low key rest. I went to Or Tor Kor Market and was not impressed about anything.

Overall, very dissapointed with the experience not to talk about the temperature/humidity - awful and I'm from the Caribbean for a reference.

V

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  1. Thanks for the review.

    If you have problems with Bangkok traffic - never visit Dhaka (same population size; no river transit; no freeways; no rapid transit lines -- but then.... no tourists :o). A city of this size (12 million) will of course have growing pains, but there is light at the end of the tunnel (more transit lines "planned"). It gets much worse during rainy season though -- sometimes doubling the commute time... which is why a lot of Thais don't much like rainy season......

    It is funny with Bo Lan because you get some rave reviews, and others like you who think it is over-hyped.... but any western run restaurant will typically be overhyped since it is just part of business (getting the word out; creating buzz).

    I have to admit, if I am with someone near Siam Square area -- and we are hungry.... Som Tam Nua is a good choice.... but then I am partial to Issan/Lao food.

    1. So, it's a string of hits-and-misses. Sorry to hear about some of your disappointments there. The weather in Bangkok usually gets a bit cooler & more bearable in Dec & Jan, then super-hot/humid in Mar onwards.

      I do hope you'll give Bangkok a second chance & make a return-trip there some time. For me, it's one of my fave cities, but maybe because I have a different experience with the place - I have lots of Thai friends and relatives, I get insider dining tips, get taken out most of the time and often get tipped off on the latest dining spots, what to avoid, etc.
      But then, I've also heard about how an aunt & her family who visited Bangkok from Houston last year *hated* the city, citing pretty much the same issues as you'd faced - weather, traffic, also the underlying grime and chaotic feeling. It does take a while to get used to, but once you do, you'll embrace the city in a way that makes you want to go back again & again.
      Bangkok is the most popular destination for many of us Singaporeans - to get away from our rigid, heavily-regimented & somewhat sterile cityscape, to let our hair down, so to speak, in a big, colorful city which can be pretty rough at the edges, but definitely well-worth exploring - and with great food to boot :-)

      Siam Square, besides being a popular haunt for the Bangkok younger set, has some classic dining destinations like Scala Sharksfin Restaurant (opposite the landmark Scala Theatre); also wher you can find one of the famous Coca steamboat restaurant chain's earliest outlets, and Lok Wah Hin Chinese restaurant in Novotel Hotel Siam Square, where Sam Leong, one of Singapore top Chinese chefs, learned his trade.

      16 Replies
      1. re: klyeoh

        I am guessing he won't return, but I thank him for taking the time to post a review on where he ate. I have been to 1, 2, 5 on his list and personally I think he is fair. I live a far distance from Krua Apsorn, and thereby only went there twice... but I find it well worth it going there when I am in the area. I was also a little less impressed with Bo-Lan, but others were definitely more impressed. As stated before I do like Som Tam Nua - even though it is really busy. That being said, most of the time I do eat at street level (or bring it home with me).

        Personally, Bangkok is one of my favourite large cities, but it is large and someone from a smaller city trying to get to each corner of the city would have to fight traffic. I am actually quite easy going so bad traffic does not phase me, besides I spent a few years flying around America about the same time the air traffic system was almost in shambles - so traffic jams are not that bad. I remember spending most of 3 days in the Denver airport because of delays and missed connections (crossed through that airport 3 times during that time). The way to deal with it is to pop open your computer (now iPad) and have a beer until things improve :o

        I do judge my cities more based on the food, and Thai food being my favourite cuisine.... does affect my judgement. I do find it funny that someone from the Caribbean would have more problems with the heat and humidity than a person from the Great White North. I do remember when I was younger though finding heat and humidity in Florida to be pretty oppressive. I know when I first arrived - I found it quite humid and hot but I did not find it being the same level of "oppressiveness". Now I have adjusted for the most part (I set my AC to 27/28 at home), and the last few months have generally been fairly cool in comparison (think around 26 ... sometimes 24).

        With 12 million people, I am surprised Bangkok works as well as it does .... although they do need to finish those 5 or so planned rapid transit lines.....

        1. re: cacruden

          Numbers 4 and 5 are about 150 meters apart. I guess ambiance goes a long way when hunting down "good food"!

          1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

            Did not know that. Just figured he did not want to travel far for food. I know grumpiness can affect ones taste :o

            How would you rate the "food" at Methavalei?

            1. re: cacruden

              I've never been to Methavalei Sorndaeng. This is the first mention of it.

              1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                I had not heard about it either, but just watched a youtube recording from the restaurant. Looks like a restaurant that you are expected to dress-up for.... I will dress up for business, but not for the sake of going to a restaurant (only) :o. I think I would prefer the atmosphere of the German Brewery if I wanted entertainment at dinner..... I don't have to dress up.... I know I can get good food without having to do so :o

                1. re: cacruden

                  Quite a bit of Chinese-influenced dishes, eh? - stir-fried water spinach with garlic, steamed fish with soy dressing & scallions, stir-fried broccoli with shrimps, fried rice:
                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpcHV2...

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    Funny, did not notice. Looked at the decor of the restaurant and new it was not going to be high on my list.... no matter how good the food was. After you reposted the link I looked at it and there does not seem to be any chilis in any of the dishes. The fish looks steamed with soy sauce, spring onions, ginger..... so your right it is likely a Chinese flavour profile.... Of course I have not seen the menu so maybe it is just what this group ordered.

                    1. re: cacruden

                      The atmosphere, to me, did look like somewhere one would take Grandma to reminisce. And, I agree, the offerings appeared heavily Chinese influenced. Many Thais prefer to be Chinese.

                      Then there is "entertainment". When dining, the food is the only entertainment I want. God forbid it was karaoke!

                      1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                        I know many want to be lighter skinned, and make alterations to their nose (silicon) which I actually think is funny because my friend (Canadian Born Chinese) living in Singapore complains about the poor quality of the gene pool of Singaporean Chinese (not to mention not being as fashionable as their Thai counterpart). He was at the Platinum Plaza and was looking around and his wife pointed out two that were not as attractive and less fashionable... my friend replied that they were Singaporean..... She replied you cannot tell that from looking, so they moved closer and heard them speaking.... and yep, they were Singaporean.... :o

                        1. re: cacruden

                          Are they comparing the Singapore-Chinese to the Thai-Chinese? But we *are* from the same gene pool - Taechew (Teochew), Hokkien, Hainanese, Cantonese, Hakka Chinese, with some native Thai admixture.

                          But Singaporeans do tend to dress more casually than the middle-class Thais when going out.

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            I think he is comparing Singaporean Chinese gene pool mix to Thais (generally speaking - not specifically Chinese). Even casual dressed Thais tend to dress more alluring than Singaporeans in general. I think once he compared it like the difference between the dress of people in Montreal to Toronto (yes there is a gene difference as well that helps alot). Casual Montrealers dress better (8/10 vs 3/10). Basically Thais are more fashionable.

                            I am not sure what his ethnic heritage is but I believe his parents spoke Cantonese, and he mentioned once he has a smidgen of Vietnamese in his blood line.

                        2. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                          My grandma would absolutely LOVE this place actually!

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            I would think that the upper and upper middle class Thai people would not need to be "seen" in a posh restaurant, since I would think they would be able to afford a house staff and actually just invite people over.... Of course I don't know any Thais in those classes (basing it on other countries in the region).

                      2. re: klyeoh

                        Found this one review on a blog (in Thai). From the pictures, in combination with the video it looks as if the food is partially Chinese influenced, but also has more Thai food as well. I believe the posting indicated that it was a Chinese influenced restaurant (but my Thai is not that great).

                        http://bumres.blogspot.com/2012/08/me...

                        Taste 3.5/5
                        Ambiance 4/5
                        Service 1/5
                        Value 2/5

                        1. re: cacruden

                          Thanks, the food pictures do look salivatingly good though :-D

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            Yes, the person taking the pictures seems to be an accomplished food photographer.

          2. Domenexx,

            Currious; What dishes did you order at Methavalei?

            4 Replies
            1. re: cacruden

              To cacruden and Curt the Soi Hound,

              Thanks for your replies !! It is interesting to see peoples reactions to my post and how emotional someone can get. Remember, these are only based on my experience and personal opinions only at that specific moment. They are intended to be used to help others in the same circumstances if they can relate to them. If not, ignoring them is a logical next step. At least, that's whay I do when I do research. Now, let's clarify a couple of facts first. I was in BKK on the last leg of a business trip that started in Hong Kong (my favorite city) followed by Shanghai and then BKK. As you might assume, my time is limited due to long hours during the day and my choices sometimes influenced by group decisions (unless I always manage to execute against my agenda). This situation motivate me to do research and prepare my self prior to any business trip (and I do this a lot: Paris, Istanbul, Rio, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Dubai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Milan, etc,etc). This will probably explained my "grumpy" tone in the original post. After a +12 hours business day it's difficult for me to sit in traffic for 45-60 min. I prefer to hang around at the hotel bar with a Chang beer in a frosty mug.

              To Curt: I went to the Krua Apson in Samsem road near the National Library. Not to the one you are referring which is located in Thanon Dinsor, so is not 150 m away from Methavalei Sorndaeng. To get there, I took the ferry near the Royal Orchid stop #3 all the way to stop #15. Almost 40 min. so imagine how much it would take by taxi. I choose this location on recommendations I gathered on-line. Again, I really enjoued the food, trythe crab omelet, the crab in curry sauce and the green curry. All good, however, in the future i will try something else due to the effort needs to reach that destination.

              To Curt and Cacruden: Methavalei Sorndaeng has been on business since 1957. It does have a retro atmosphere with a client based mostly made up of well dressed older Thais with not too many tourist. I pick this place based on the consistent and positive reviews I got from different sources. I did not find any chinese influence in the food. We were 6 in the table so we order around 10 different dishes. In the table, they were Thais, Singaporean, Indonesian, Chinese, Americans. Everyone enjoyed the dinner, specifically the Thai. No need to dress up and the atmosphere is very laid back. Only the Thais were smartly dressed with the ladies showing us their jewerly. We paid $126 US for 6 of us with plenty of food and beer. Not a bad deal after all.

              I do have issues with the heat/humidity. Even in my house in Atlanta my AC needs to be on or the heat at a low temp. I did found that these two elements were unbearable in BKK. Specially when I went to the Grand Palace and walking to some of the rest. Yes I know that BKK is a big city and as such traffic could be an issue. However, I found the trafiic problem more difficult to deal than in over big cities with 10MM more in population. No, I'm not planning in going to Dhaka any time soon. To finalize, yes I will return to BKK and other places in Thailand with my family since the country has a lot to offer, the people are very nice, the prices and value you get excellent and iverall a very cool place to be.

              Thanks to all for your feedback and I hope this clarifies my previous post.

              V

              1. re: domenexx

                Bangkok's true population is closer to 20 million or more. There are millions who are registered in other provinces and districts, but reside in this city. Fortunately, most of those ride motorcycles, not cars.

                To the unfamiliar, Bangkok transportation logistics can be a nightmare.

                A 505 or 16 bus, from downtown, usually gets to the Samsen location in 30~40 minutes. They drop you off about 100 feet away. A taxi would take less time. Once out of "downtown", except during the peak of rush hour, traffic is no big deal. We use these buses often when traveling from home, in the far northern reaches, to downtown. I hate driving around downtown! Krua Apsorn would be about halfway to our home.

                Personally, I haven't visited the Dinsor branch. I have been told, by a few, that the food is identical. I'll have to visit it one day. For me, that area is a traffic pain.

                Next visit, you might investigate Baan Phuengchom. It's a short walk from the Ari BTS station, no traffic to battle. It offers good traditional Thai dishes, along with some of their own specialities. If heading over during lunch or dinner, do make reservations. Otherwise, you will be dining outside, in the heat and humidity.

                You missed out at express boat pier #15. One of Bangkok's more unique eateries, Cook Chom's, is right there. This former 5* hotel chef brings "fine dining" to the streets. He serves up some tasty plates, from his open kitchen, at street food prices.

                http://tinyurl.com/cookchom

                1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                  Thanks Curt ! I will re-connect with you next time in BKK!

                  Best Regards,

                  V

                  1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                    Most visitors stay pretty centrally and the train system is cheap, fast and reliable. It's how I travel and Bangkok has never really seemed that tricky (even before the rail system opened).

                    I always think Thai food needs to be assessed on multiple levels, and thus comparing places like Bo Lan to Krua Apson is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison. I like them both, they are at different price points and their styles are quite different. Certainly Bo Lan is expensive for Bangkok but still relatively cheap compared to elsewhere, thus I am not certain price is really valid criticism.

                    I wonder if the OP's assessment of meals was framed by the transport hassle? Certainly to describe Bangkok as a cluster-fuck seems a little hasty.