Thai Treats in Bangkok

On our recent holiday, we also visited Bangkok & Koh Samui. I’ll be honest in that I’m not the biggest fan of Thai food with any I’ve had in the UK being either too lemony or having too much coconut. Given that, I was a big apprehensive going to Thailand as I thought the food would be of a similar taste. How wrong was I?! The food in Thailand is much much better, with lots of different flavours & nowhere near as much overpowering flavours as what is passed as Thai food in the UK.

We only really had 2 nights in Bangkok as we arrived after midnight on our first time. We were unfortunately caught up in the Thai Coup which meant we could only stay out til 10pm at night so it was a bit restrictive as to where we could go at night. The first night, we went to Issaya Siamese Club which had been recommended to me. The menu takes a twist on Thai food but with keeping traditional Thai flavours & cooking methods at heart. We picked a selection of dishes including tender beef, papaya salad, soft shell crab yellow curry & soft spicy chicken summer roll. The food was fabulous, full of flavour & also really well presented. My favourites were the tender beef which was served cold but was quite spicy & the soft shell crab yellow curry. There was so much crab on the plate & the yellow curry was a more creamier curry than the red or green but not too creamy that it was a heavy curry.

Tender BeefSoft Shell Crab Yellow CurrySoft Spicy Chicken Soft Roll

Whilst in Bangkok, we also sampled some tropical fruits & street food. On a riverboat cruise we were on, there was a fresh fruit platter with loads of fruits I hadn’t come across such as sour fruit, queen fruit, lychee, guava & pomello. There was also mango & sticky rice which is a popular traditional Thai dessert. The rice is cooked with coconut milk to make it sticky but not too coconutty & it just so moreish!! Some of the fruit, such as dragon fruit & guava, I found to be quite tasteless but others such as the sour fruit, were delicious!

Fruit BuffetSour Fruit

The next day, we went to Bangkok’s biggest market & I had hoped to try some weird street food (including insects). I was a bit disappointed to find that the food area didn’t offer anything from the norm. We decided to sit down & have some food & opted for pad thai (when in Rome & that) & a shrimp fried rice. Both dishes were full of flavour & the one thing I like about the Pad Thai was that the peanuts & chillies with it are optional, you have to mix it in. Another thing I love about Thai restaurants/eateries, is the condiments. As standard, you get 4 pots, 1 with dried chillies, 1 with chilli fish sauce & 1 with chilli vinegar (my favourite). The fourth is either empty or filled with a soy/fish sauce.

Pad ThaiShrimp Fried Rice

On our last night, we opted to dine at the street food stalls we had seen at the end of the street where our hotel was. There were a couple of stands with some tables & chairs along with a couple of mini kitchens. We ordered a few different dishes including sweetened grilled pork, spicy hot beef curry & spicy hot pork soup. I honestly do not think I’ll taste pork nicer than the sweetened grilled pork! It was so tender, sweet but not sickly sweet & just so moreish. There was a mixup with the order as both the pork & the beef tasted the same so I think they gave us the hot & spicy soup for both. The soup was the type of food I had been dreading. Yes it was spicy but it was also full of lemongrass. So much so, that’s all I could taste  & I couldn’t really eat any of it.

Sweetened Grilled PorkHot & Spicy Pork Soup

Bangkok was a good starter for an indication of what authentic Thai food is but when we went to Koh Samui, that’s when we tasted some really good dishes. Blog to follow shortly!!

Hong Kong Delights

We recently visited Hong Kong & Thailand on our (very belated) Honeymoon & Asia was the foodie delight I’d hoped for! Our first stop was Hong Kong where we spent 3 nights & 4 days, staying on Hong Kong Island. When I stayed in America, I totally fell in love with Dim Sum so knew I had to seek some out when we arrived.

On our first night, we got to know our surroundings & ended up a Times Square (not a patch on NY). We’d passed lots of restaurants on the way but at Time Square there is a massive shopping centre with 3 floors dedicated to food outlets. As it was our first night, and first time in Asia, we thought we would play it safe & eat there.

We ended up in a restaurant Shanghai Min which had a bustling but civilised tea room feel to it. Traditional tea rooms involve a fight for your food at trolleys whereas this restaurant had table service. The menu was extensive with dishes from shark fin soup to stir fry to dim sum (yay!). We ordered a selection of dishes between us – Dan Dan Noodles, two types of Pork dim sum, spicy chilli chicken & beef spare ribs.

Dim SumDim SumDan Dan Noodles

It was a bit hit & miss the dishes. The dan dan noodles & dim sum were fantastic! The noodles were really spicy yet full of flavour from the pork & sauce. The dim sum were not slimy, you could taste the pork & had really nice traditional style Chinese dipping sauces with them. The beef spare ribs appeared but it was more like deep fried bits of meat that didn’t have much flavour to them. I actually think it was pork we were given, not beef. And the chicken, well that was an experience. There were 2 types of chicken, what looked like breast then smaller bits. The “breast” was actually really fatty bits of chicken & the smaller bits were mainly bone. It was pretty much inedible.

Beef or Pork?Spicy Chicken

One thing that did disappoint me about Hong Kong was the lack of street food. I was expecting to see stalls lined up & down the streets bit this wasn’t the case. We did find one stall near the hotel & it served some weird items but the chicken & squid we got were pretty tasty. It turns out that street food in HK is in fact small restaurants dotted down lanes off the main drag. On our second night, we found such a place & it was so good we ate there both nights.

Street Food Menu

The staff only spoke minimal English so it was a case of pointing at the menu & using sign language. These places contained some of your traditional black bean & salt/pepper type sauces as well as some unusual cuts of meat (tongue & different types of fish we don’t get). Some of the dishes we tasted were prawns with cashew nuts & squid & cuttlefish black bean sauce. The food was cooked to order so was really fresh & there’s something quite cool about sitting amongst the locals at their normal eatery that most tourists wouldn’t know about.

Chicken black beanSquid & Cuttlefish Black Bean

In Hong Kong, breakfast isn’t usually served at hotels so we were staying room only. On our first morning, I had a quick Google for breakfast places & found an American style diner-esque place that was opened 24 hours. It was famed for its breakfast so we ventured there. I opted for an omlette filled with various green veg & you got to choose 2 sides (at breakfast?!) as well as toast & fruit juice. It was a lot of food for breakfast but definitely kept us going all day!

Omlette

The other breakfast we had, we went to a chain restaurant around the corner from the hotel & they have a self service option, serving more traditional Chinese dishes such as fish, noodles & chicken dishes. I opted for the haddock with scrambled eggs which cost around £2 and tasted really good!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

On our last day, we took the ferry to another island, Sok Kwu Wan, to go to the Rainbow Seafood Restaurant I had read about. The restaurant has many tanks filled with all different types of food from lobster to grippa to clams. As it’s on an island, if you book with them for an evening meal, they have a free ferry service from Hong Kong Island & Kowloon which saves a bit of money. As it was our last day & we had money to burn, we had a bit of a feast. We opted for garlic prawns, clams with glass noodles & garlic, special fried rice and salt & pepper shrippa (I think that’s what they’re called but I can’t find them on the internet). All of the food was exceptionally cooked & the portions were fantastic. We got 10 prawns, halved & filled with garlic for under a fiver. A dish like that would cost a fortune in the UK, especially for so many prawns! The shrippas (or whatever they’re called) were pretty tasteless though, especially as they were the priciest dish we received!

Garlic PrawnscClams Special Fried RiceShrippa

I wish we had had more time in Hong Kong as I’m sure there are 100 other restaurants that are worth trying but given our few days, I’m glad we experience the restaurants we did. I also doubt I’m going to find dim sum better anywhere else!!

Street Food Pop-up

I first came across the concept of street food when I stayed in New York briefly a few years ago. It generally involves a restaurant, a truck & some good food in a smaller than normal portion for a reasonable price. My particular favourite was a Korean food truck that sold pork & kimchi tortillas for $6 near my apartment – they were to die for!

When I heard that Scoop Events & Smoak Food had teamed up to bring a pop-up street food restaurant, I grabbed a ticket straight away. Scoop are renown caterers within the Glasgow & central Scotland region. Smoak, on the other hand, have a guest residence within The Variety bar where they served typical American BBQ food such as Beef Brisket, Pulled Pork and anything else that can be smoked.

The event took place in SWG3, which is a warehouse near the railway line at Yorkhill. If you don’t know the area it is slightly out of the way but staying nearby, it did not take us long to find it. On arrival, there was a big sign directing us into the restaurant area & the setup was amazing! The first thing that you could see was the food trucks, one for each company, stationed at the back of the room. There were long tables for people to sit & enjoy their meal, whilst to the right there was a bar area if you wanted to hang about after your meal.

Pup-up Set up

As part of the ticket price (£5), there was a drink on arrival – beer or cocktail. As I’m not a beer fan, I went for the cocktail which was vodka, ginger beer & elderflower. I wasn’t too sure about the sound of it but it was really refreshing & came in a brown paper bag! The menus were on the table & the advice was to pick 3 dishes each out of the 8 tapas style dishes that were listed. We asked the waitress if she thought this was enough & she advised us to go for 2 each as that would be enough.

Vodka, Elderflower & Ginger Beer Cocktail           Menu

Depending upon which dish you chose, it would be cooked by either the Sccop or the Smoak team so they would come at different times. We had a 50/50 split of dishes from each team. Our Scoop dishes arrived first – Ox Cheek Tacos & Monkfish BLT. As they were tapas style dishes, the portions did not look that big but they definitely made up for it in flavour! Having never had Ox Cheek before, I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the rich taste of the meat which was accompanied by a spicy sauce. I couldn’t quite place my finger on what was in it but it made the taco totally unique from any similar dish I’ve tasted before. However, as the dishes were marketed for sharing, it didn’t make sense as to why there were 3 served per portion. The monkfish blt’s were also tasty & much to our delight, instead of tomatoes, it came with a smoked tomato ketchup (we’re not fans of raw tomato). The monkfish pieces themselves were pretty small but as they were tapas, you can forgive that.

Monkfish BLT       Ox Cheek Tacos

Our Smoak dishes followed not long after the Scoop ones. From Smoak, we ordered the Smoaked Chicken & confit Sliders & the Smoaked Trout salad. The sliders were amazing! The brioche bun was really fluffy & the chicken was full of flavour. It was accompanied by a spicy bourbon sauce to dip the sliders into. I’ll be honest in that I didn’t really find any flavour from the dip but Al said he really liked it. The trout salad was Smoak’s take on a caesar salad with crispy anchovies & a creamy dressing. It was again full of flavour & I loved the anchovies as they were similar to crispy onions but only a bit saltier.

Trout Salad     Chicken Sliders

Surprisingly the dishes were really filling & I was glad we took the waitress’ advice & only ordered 4 between us. I did decide to order a dessert as they sounded too good to turn down. The choice was between a white chocolate cheesecake & a peanut butter parfait with jam sorbet. Being a peanut butter fan, I went for the parfait. It arrived in a star shaped wafer dish with a lump of sorbet on the top. The sorbet was a strong berry flavour which I was not expecting. As it only stated jam, I had got it into my head it would’ve been strawberry flavoured. However, it did go well with the sorbet, offsetting the peanut butter flavour. The parfait itself was not as strong a flavour as I would’ve liked. If you have tried Reese’s peanut butter cups, you’ll know that is a strong & distinct peanut butter flavour. That was the type of flavour I was expecting but it was more of a subtle peanut butter hint to it. Saying that, it was a really nice dessert & a good end to a lovely meal.

Peanut Butter Parfait

We decided to sit & have a drink afterwards & soak up the atmosphere. There was a DJ playing laidback funk-style tunes & with the large gas heater & candles, it was nice & toasty in the warehouse. One of the drinks that had taken my eye was the tapioca tequila. This was a shot of tequila accompanied by a shot with pineapple juice, chilli, lime & coriander. We had one each & it was really refreshing. The tequila was of such good quality it would’ve been a good post-dinner drink on its own but with the additional shot, it made for a really nice palate cleanser.

Tapioca Tequila

Overall, I really enjoyed the pop-up experience & the quality of food from both companies was top-notch! One drawback was the cost of the dishes, with each being either £6 or £7 each. That meant a bill of almost £40 for both of us for 4 dishes, a dessert & another drink each, not to mention the £5 each for the ticket to the event. Despite that, it was a good night & I hope to see other pop-up nights soon. Keep an eye out for Smoak’s food truck hitting the streets of Glasgow soon!