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My Travel & Culinary Adventures



Last Build Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2018 08:57:49 +0000

 



Bangkok 2017 - Em Quartier

Mon, 01 Jan 2018 22:00:00 +0000

Lifestyle Malls are the rage in Bangkok and they are cropping up everywhere in the City. Bangkok is now without a doubt the Mall Capital in Asia. One of the most posh is Em Quartier - a development by The Mall Group - one of Thailand's largest mall operators. This project is really quite amazing as it is a multi-storey mall filled top to bottom with F&B outlets. The building looks very striking from the outside - but the inside is even more breath-taking, especially when you go past the sky garden on the 5th floor and enter into the exclusive dining zone - the Helix Quartier. From there a spiral ramp takes you through from floor to floor - like a winding street around a central atrium that is lined with restaurants and eateries. Hanging from the roof of the atrium is a huge spiral sculpture covered with green plants - it really is quite striking and extremely impressive.[...]



Bangkok Food Hunt 2017 - Food Truck Corner at Platinum Mall

Fri, 29 Dec 2017 22:00:00 +0000

The food truck phenomenon is slowly sweeping across Asia, and like everything else Bangkok is usually the first to catch on to hot new trends. You can see food trucks all across the City, but there is one place where a large number of them congregate - the corner of Platinum Mall. It is easy to see why they choose this location as the foot traffic is simply phenomenal - Platinum Mall is such a tourist magnet.There are quite a large variety of food on offer - from Thai to Japanese, Korean, American, Italian, etc. The trucks are cute and full of character, and great effort has been made to make everything look colourful and attractive. The carnival atmosphere, great variety and cheap prices makes it more fun to eat here then even a proper restaurant. Things change really fast in Bangkok, and as I write this I am not even sure that this food truck corner still exists. Get there before it disappears ![...]



Bangkok Food Hunt 2017 - Krua Apsorn

Tue, 26 Dec 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Krua Apsorn is a Thai restaurant on Dinso Road near the Democracy Monument that is very popular with locals in the know - but probably not so well known among the tourists. The food here is very traditional and it is even said that some of the dishes are favoured by the Thai Royal Family. The restaurant itself is quite simply decorated - in fact the main dining area feels like a school canteen. However we were there because of the food. As we were a bit late - the lunch crowd had already dissipated.Some of the popular dishes here are the Fish Balls in Green Curry, the Tom Yam Kung and the Tod Mun Pla.I really liked the Laab with minced chicken and mushrooms which had a nice kick from the spices and herbs. Make sure you order their Crab Omelette - a perfectly cooked omelette in a ball shape with chunks of crab meat inside - so good we had to order a second one. Krua Apsorn has 2 branches in Bangkok Old Town - Samsen Road and Dinso Road. If you like traditional Thai food - you should head over to one of the branches now ![...]



Bangkok Food Hunt 2017 - On Lok Yun Coffee Shop

Sat, 23 Dec 2017 22:00:00 +0000

One of the most popular breakfast places in Bangkok is On Lok Yun - which has been around for over 80 years. The shop itself is not unlike the old school kopitiams in Malaysia - which are fast disappearing and giving way to their modern replacements. It is good to see this place still going strong and holding on to its heritage. The furniture and decor looked liked they have been there and unchanged since it opened. The shop is now run by the third generation and still serve the same breakfast fares such as kaya toasts, soft-boiled eggs and American breakfast. Their signature is the kaya toast - thick-cut soft and pillowy bread  which you dip into a plate of kaya with evaporated milk served on a separate plate. Simple but so good. Another popular item is the French Toast - but this is not your regular French Toast. It is bread dipped in butter and egg -  and fried until golden and crispy. Artery clogging but very good. Also very good is the bread with butter and condensed milk - a popular Asian concoction that can be found all over Singapore, Malaysia and of course - Thailand.For a taste of old school breakfast in a charming part of Bangkok - you should not miss On Lok Yun.[...]



Bangkok Food Hunt 2017 - Nai Uan Yentafo

Wed, 20 Dec 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Yentafo is a soup noodle dish that is very popular in Bangkok. What distinguishes it from the other noodle soups is its distinctive pink colour - which comes from the fermented soy bean paste - imparting a slightly sweet and tangy flavour to the soup. One of the most popular Yentafo shops is Nai Uan on Soi Nawa in Old Town - not far from Sao Ching Cha - The giant Swing.

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The family that runs this restaurant has been doing it for many years. In fact the matriarch who runs the place still personally supervise the whole operation.

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There are many toppings that goes with the soup - fish balls, fried tofu, pork, morning glory, sliced squid, and even coagulated pig's blood which is seldom seen nowadays. The bowl is always topped with a big piece of crispy fried tofu. It is simple yet delicious.

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Bangkok Food Hunt 2017 - Pork Soup on Maha Chai Road

Sun, 17 Dec 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Maha Chai Road is a treasure trove for street food and if you are hungry any time of the day this is the place to go. We came across this simple pork soup stall and was tempted by the display of crispy pork on the stall window, and decided to have supper there.


The soup is very simple but tasty - no doubt laced with lots of MSG - but it also had natural umami from pork bones and a strong kick of peppery spiciness. The star of the dish is no doubt the crispy pork pork - which has been deep fried and not roasted in the normal way so is dry but extra crispy - perfect when dunked in the soup.

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Bangkok Food Hunt 2017 - Thip Samai Pad Thai

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Ask any Bangkokian where to get the best Pad Thai and chances are you will be pointed to Thip Samai. Having heard about it for quite some time - I have putting off a visit until now. I hate to be let down especially when a place is so hyped up as "The Best", so there is a lot riding on a simple plate of fried noodles. Thip Samai is in the Old Town - along the famous Maha Chai Road where you will find many other popular eateries. When we arrived in the eary evening - there was already a long queue at the front. Good thing is the queue ,oved quite fast - and were had to wait only around 20 min before we got our table. At the front of the shop you can see several stations where the chefs are cooking up the Pad Thai is super quick time. Plates of the noodles are literally flying off the woks. The set up at Thip Samai is quite simple yet efficient. The small tables allowed them to squeeze as many people as possible. Ordering is simple as there is only Pad thia on the menu - albeit there are several variations - original Pad thai, Superb Pad thai which comes wrapped in an egg omelette, or Pad thai without the noodles - go figure !The Pad Thai is no doubt expertly cooked and looks great. The noodles are very tasty and nicely seasoned with the head oil from the prawns. As good as it was - it couldn't beat the Pad thai I had at Chote Chitre which came with a jumbo prawn and tasted sublime. Sadly based on more recent reviews - Chote Chitre is now a shadow of its former glory.[...]



Kuching Street Art - Part III

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Another group of street art can be found on the long retaining wall along Jalan Taman Budaya. Though these are not as striking as the ones on Carpenter Street - they are still worth checking out.Two of the latest murals in Kuching can be found on the Singgahsana Building on Temple Street. Done as a part of the 1st ever WAK (What About Kuching) Festival - the striking works by local artist Leonard Siaw are sure to become popular icons in Kuching.[...]



Kuching Street Art - Part II

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 22:00:00 +0000

You know street art has gone mainstream when even the big corporations get in on the act. Under the Petronas #tanahairku street art project - a number of large wall murals were commissioned. You can find these on Wayang Street and Carpenter Street. There is even a helpful map to help you locate the artworks. This map is featured beside the "Hornbill, Hibiscus and Harmony" mural by Dewi Mio and Mohd Nor Shaddiq Mohamad Hamsah.The most prominent among the group of murals is "Children" by  Mohd Afiruddin (Dean R) and Amey Sheikh Ali, on the side of the Wayang Street Shop House. The most beautiful work to me is "Leaping Feline" by local artists Sonia Luhong and Amy Amin. Its a beautiful painting of a cat wearing an Iban feather head dress.Far from being considered a nuisance like in the old days, savvy businessmen are using street to attract attention and draw people to their outlets. Check out this striking mural on the side of a cafe on Jalan Padungan.[...]



Kuching Street Art - Part I

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Ernest Zacharevic can be credited for starting the street art phenomenon in Malaysia when he painted a series of street art murals for the George Town Festival in 2012. Since then the street art craze has spread all over the country, and has finally landed in Sarawak. In fact Ernest himself painted a few murals in Kuching a couple of years back - but there is no lack of home grown talent who are dazzling Kuchingites with their amazing works.A lot of the street murals are clustered around Carpenter Street. Head over to Bishop's Gate Street (the narrow lane where Drunk Monkey Bar is located) and walk toward the Gate. Cross the gate and you end up in a small back lane with a retaining wall along Lebuh Wayang. This is Kuching's own graffiti lane with lots of great works to admire.Some of the works are strange, some are beautiful - most are strangely beautiful. One of my favourites is this portrait which cleverly made great use of the texture and patina on the wall. [...]



Kuching Hidden Gems - Mount Singai

Sat, 02 Dec 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Located in the Bau District, Mount Singai has an almost flat plateau which gives it a distinctive shape when viewed from afar. The mountain is reachable by road from Kuching with a 40 min drive. It makes for a great weekend outing.Originally inhabited by the Bidayuhs of the area - the mountain is now mainly known for its Catholic Memorial and Pilgrimage Centre which is located half way to the summit. Belian steps had been installed so access is quite convenient for the reasonably fit.The walkways are very well maintained, and the lush greenery along the way made the climb less arduous.At the foot of the mountain is a gateway which marks the entrance to the Pilgramage Centre. Entry is free, but visitors are encouraged to help carry bags of sand, pebbles and bricks for the construction works up in the mountain. The Pilgrimage Centre now consists of quite a number of buildings including accommodation blocks. The most distinctive building is the new Chapel in the shape of a Bidayuh Baruk.View points along the way provide nice views of the surrounding country side. [...]



Kuching Hidden Gems - Kai Joo Lane Street Market (closed)

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Kai Joo Lane is one of the old narrow alleys branching off India Street in the historic heart of Kuching. The common street name was "Sali Hung" - refering to "sali" or tin roofs which used to cover the shophouses. Last year the local community decided to start a street market to reactivate the street life - probably inspired by the great success of Siniawan Old Street. As there were not many local food business along the lane - outside operators were called in. The local committee became the curators for the stalls and ended up with an interesting collection of traditional as well as new food offerings.We visited on the 2nd weekend of the opening. Like Siniawan - the street market was open from Friday to Sunday evenings. Flanked by the old shophouses - the street had great atmosphere and the smell of delicious food filled the air. There is always something magical about dining on the street - under the sky.Sadly my post has come a bit too late. The street market has since ceased operation and this great community project is no more. Still I decided to put up this post as a tribute to this great initiative and hope that it will be revived soon. [...]



Kuching Hidden Gems - Siniawan Street Market

Sun, 26 Nov 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Siniawan is an old street lined with wooden shophouses about 20km from Kuching City. To get there you drive along the Old Bau Road - which used to be quite a narrow and winding road but has since been upgraded to a much more comfortable proper road. In 2010 a group of local residents and some enthusiastic NGOs decided to revitalize the old street - and the Siniawan Street Market was born. This modest community project has since become a big success.The street market is open on Friday to Sunday evenings - starting from late afternoon. As it is quite a small town - there are not a lot of parking spaces and due to its popularity the place can seemed overwhelmed by the big crowd. However a bit of patience will work wonders and after you find your parking spot you will soon be enjoying the unique charm of the wooden shophouses and the bewildering variety of street food.To avoid the really big crowds - go in the earlier part of the evening. There are lots of tasty local food to try such as rice cooked in pitcher plants and bamboo chicken,  as well as some non-local offerings like teriyaki and burgers. [...]



Budapest 2016 - Baraka Restaurant

Thu, 23 Nov 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Search for the best restaurant in Budapest and your are bound to come across Baraka. This restaurant on Dorottya Street has moved a couple of times before settling down at its present location just off   Vorosmarty Square. The interior is very modern and stylish, and the food is modern European cuisine with Asian influences.We went for the set lunch which came with 3 courses. A house made bread was served before the courses - it was a raisin and nut bread that was so good we could not stop eating it. An Amuse Bouche was presented before the first course - it was a refreshing small spoonful of marinated salmon cubes.The Appetizer was a Roasted Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese and Passion Vinaigrette. It was packed with flavours.Main Course was a Sake-Mirin Marinated Duck with Crispy Brick Roll. The duck was very tender, and the Brick Roll was like crispy spring rolls filled with goodies inside.Dessert was Granny Smith Apple, Celery, Roasted White Chocolate and Walnut Mouse. It was delicious. Baraka is a very good fine-dining restaurant with impeccable service that deserves to be on the top of the list if you are looking for a great dining experience in Budapest.Don't be surprised if it gets on the Michelin list soon. [...]



Budapest 2016 - New York Cafe

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Budapest has many beautiful cafes but probably the most beautiful would be the New York Cafe. Accordingly to A View on Cities - cafes were very popular in Budapest at the end of 19th Century and at one point there were more then 500 of them in the City. Paris Cafe is in the New York Palace - a building built in late 18th Century for the New York Insurance Company.

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The cafe occupies 2 floors at the corner of the building. It has a lavish interior that is richly decorated with spiral columns and chandeliers and beautiful ornamental wall panels.

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Budapest 2016 - Fovam Ter and Szent Gellert Ter Subway Stations

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Who would have thought that some of Budapest's architectural highlights can be found underground. The new M4 Subway line opened in 2014 and connects the Buda to Pest side of the city. It currently has 10 stations. 2 of the Subway Stations - Fovam Ter and Szent Gellert Ter just across the Danube River - were designed by Hungarian firm Spora Architects and they are absolute architectural gems. The highlight is the escalator void descending into the subway platforms. A series of criss-crossing concrete beams form a dramatic architectural gesture which makes the usually boring transit into a visual delight. At the platforms - the curved walls are covered in thousands of tiny mosaics - forming a beautiful and mesmerizing spiral pattern. [...]



Budapest 2016 - Budapest Bistro

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 22:00:00 +0000

I came across Budapest Bistro while walking around District V looking for a place for lunch. District V is the inner city and close to the Parliament House. There are lots of nice restaurants in the area but I chose Budapest Bistro because it looked very inviting - and they also featured lots of traditional Hungarian dishes on the menu. The interior is very modern and stylish.Nice crusty bread was served before the meal, but the stand out was the spread that came with the bread. It looked like pork fat flavoured with herbs and spices - and was absolutely delicious. I settled on the Gulyas Soup (Goulash) and a Pork Loin. The Gulyas came with a small jar of chili to adjust the spiciness to your liking. Overall the food was beautifully presented and very flavourful. This is definitely  a great dining option in Budapest and worth seeking out. [...]



Budapest 2016 - Parliament Building

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 22:00:00 +0000

The Hungarian Parliament Building is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary. It is a very impressive Gothic Revival building sitting on the bank of the Danube River. The symmetrical building is crowned by a large dome that is Renaissance Revival in style. The building was completed in 1904.

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One of the interesting sights here is that the guards walk around in circle around the gigantic flag post at the front of the building.

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Budapest 2016 - The Whale (Balna)

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 22:00:00 +0000

One of the newest attractions in Budapest is The Whale - a multi-purpose complex built among a group of old warehouses on the Western bank of the Danube. The architecture is quite unusual - a long curvi-linear building covered with faceted glass and metal panels - the shape somewhat reminiscent of a whale - hence the name. Inside is a collection of multi-function spaces and a shopping mall. The shops are mostly fashion, art and design-oriented. There is quite a space which exhibits contemporary European furniture and home furnishing which I found well worth a visit.

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While I did not find the exterior of the building particularly interesting - the interior is very nice with a generous atrium space and an abundance of daylight from the glass facade.

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Budapest 2016 - Spiler at Gozsdu Udvar

Sun, 05 Nov 2017 22:00:00 +0000

The beautifully restored Gozsdu Udvar has now become one of the trendiest lifestyle hubs in Budapest, packed with restaurants, pubs, bars and trendy shops. I came across some of the most stylish pubs here - most notably Spiler - a gastropub that is very popular with the locals. This is actually a cluster of 3 venues - Spiler Original, Spiler Shanghai and Spiler Biergarten. The interior decor is outstanding and maintains an impressive standard throughout.

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Budapest 2016 - Gozsdu Udvar Antique Market

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 22:00:00 +0000

While wandering around District VII I bumped into an antique market at the Gozsdu Udvar Complex. This is an old apartment complex which has been restored in recent years. The buildings surround several open courtyards that are interlinked with covered arcades. The arcades connect 3 main streets in the district - Kiraly Utca, Dob Utca and Hollo Utca.  The antique market occupies the entire covered arcade from Kiraly Utca to Dob Utca. There were lots of collectibles to marvel at. I bought a few vintage cameras there. [...]



Budapest 2016 - Street Food Karavan Budapest

Mon, 30 Oct 2017 22:00:00 +0000

After your pub crawl in the Jewish Quarter, you may get a little hungry. There are no lack of options for a nice meal here - as all the pubs also serve decent to great food, but for something a little bit different head over to a nice street food park called Street Food Karavan Budapest which is conveniently located on the same street as Szimpla Kert. It is essentially a collection of food trucks gathered in one vacant city lot. A cleverly designed entrance archway lead in to the main compound inside.

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The pricing is a bit more then you would expect from a normal food truck - but the quality of the food is good.
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Budapest 2016 - Farmer's Market at Szimpla Kert

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 22:00:00 +0000

The owners of Szimple Kert are really enterprising and clever in coming up with ideas for drawing people to their establishment. Not content with just running a pub - they also organize concerts, exhibitions, urban events and also a Farmers' Market every Sunday. Piqued with curiosity, I decided to check it out - and was really glad I did. There was an exciting carnival atmosphere in the venue - which was filled with lots of stalls featuring mouth-watering artisanal goodies for sale. The most enticing were the cheese and sausage stalls - but there were also jams and preserves, bread, pastries, strudels, soups and coffee.The Szimpla Kert people really know how to run a party - and this was one of the most fun events I visited in Budapest.  [...]



Budapest 2016 - Szimpla Kert Ruin Pub

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Szimpla Kert was the original "Ruin Pub" which started the whole trend. They have moved several times and finally settled down at Kazinczy Utca. At Szimpla Kert they have pretty much left the original structure as it is - crumbling walls and all.    Inside the building is a large courtyard which serves as the main anchor space. Surrounding the courtyard are a series of smaller rooms which serve as bars, dining areas, and coffee lounges. The whole place is like a maze and full of little nooks and crannies. That is probably part of the appeal as everyone can find their own secret hideouts.   Going upstairs - you discover even more spaces to hang out. It is really cool. The whole place has a totally Bohemian and relaxed vibe - and it is not difficult to understand its attraction especially to the young and hipster crowd.[...]



Budapest 2016 - Mazel Tov

Sat, 21 Oct 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Mazel Tov is the new breed of ruin pubs that focuses not so much on the ruins but more on the food and service. Opened in 2014 - this pub and restaurant is in the Jewish Quarter of District VII. The building looks a bit run down on the outside but inside is quite cleaned up and stylish in a retro sort of way.

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A large glass skylight covers over the main dining space in the centre, where other smaller dining rooms are off to the side. At the back is another large al fresco space where live performances are held regularly. The atmosphere at Maxel Tov is busy and lively - filled with the buzz of a succesful and popular F&B haunt.

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