Monday, 2 May 2016

Blackbox Cafe & Bar, Bangkok

The variety of food on offer in Bangkok is mind-blowing. To mix things up a bit, we went to Blackbox Cafe for some western style breakfast. There is an abundance of cafes and restaurants along Soi Sukhumvit 55 that boasts great reviews, but I quite liked Blackbox when I came here a few months back.

Mama Chan had an invigorating Lychee Mojito and I went for a Lady Lychee that combined the syrupy lychee with lemongrass essence. Papa Chan enjoyed his Singha beer served in a chilled glass, too. The menu has changed slightly since my last visit; there is more flexibility on the Thai menu while the western cafe grub was more or less the same.

Duck & Waffle
Mama Chan was hoping something similar to what she had at the 40th floor of Heron Tower in London. Sadly not. The waffle was weak - soggy, pale and undercooked with a doughy centre; duck leg confit was bland and its deep-fried skin had lost its crispiness; the custardy goodness of the egg was lost from overcooking; the odd salad leaves scattered around the waffle was purposeless. The only redemption was the wholegrain mustard syrup that had the right balance of sweet and savoury – we asked for a refill.

There was no chemistry on the plate. It’s not duck & waffle as we know it.

Benedict with Smoked Salmon and Grilled Tomato
The eggs benedict wasn’t served on toasted muffins, or even on the toast, instead they sat on the smoked salmon parcels. So the toasts served on the side were left dry as opposed to soaking up the hollandaise sauce and the runny egg yolk. It was still delicious, just somewhat fiddly to eat.

Grandmom’s Phad Thai
Papa Chan was more keen on the Thai items on the menu. The stir-fried rice noodle was good, flavoursome with plenty of tamarind aroma and fresh, bouncy prawns. That said, it was a very ‘clean’ phad thai, nothing like hot and dirty ones  on the streets, which were so much better. Papa Chan was also slightly baffled by the sprigs of spring onions sticking out of the noodles.

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Last November, I thought the food was good and the ambience was chilled, not to mention reliable wifi. We chose a couple of dishes from the Thai menu, washed down with an iced milk tea and a mango smoothie.

Pad Tom Yum Haeng 

The tom yum broth had a pleasing tartness from the lime juice, and I was happy with the mild spiciness. They have definitely toned it down for foreigners. The prawns were plump and bouncy, as were the noodles, which had a good bite to them.

Pad Krapow seafood
There was a lot of seafood on the plate, deep-fried then stir-fried with plenty of Thai basils and garlic. I genuinely can’t remember what this was like, must have been good though.

There are plenty of cafés serving western brunches that are incredibly good value. Considering an eggs royale would set me back S$20 in Singapore, or at least a tenner in London, these are coming in at half price. The same goes to all the waffles and cakes and desserts… I suppose the only catch is that I’m forgoing an authentic Thai meal for something I could get back home...

888 / 8-9 Ploenchit Road
Pathumwan District 10330
Bangkok
Tel: +66 2 651 5188

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Supanniga Eating Room, Bangkok

Been 10+ years since Mama and Papa Chan had been to Bangkok. There was a lot to cover in one weekend: BTS, new shopping malls, night markets and of course, all kinds of great eats. After catching up with phad thai, som tum and mango sticky rice, we headed for something slightly different.

Supanniga Eating Room serves dishes rooted in Isaan and Northern Thailand. Just a brisk 10min walk from Thong Lor BTS station, the 3-storey dining room was chic and modern with raw earthly exposed walls and contrasting vibrant yellow seats. With a mixture of foreigner and young local clientele, the ambience was laid-back and youthful. We started with a beer each and chose recommended dishes from each section of the menu.

Ma Hor, Mieng Yong, Khao Tung Nam Prik Pao Kak Moo

The trio of appetiser was an excellent sample platter. The sugary sweet juice from the tangerine slice mingled well with the savoury garlicky mince and neutralised the sharp kick from the chilli. The cha plu leaf parcel was my favourite, with pork floss, sweet roasted coconut shreds and crunchy peanuts. The dip served with rice cakes looked viciously hot, but it started sweet with aroma from dried shrimps and pork crackling, the heat crept in slowly and lingered as an aftermath. 

Yum Nue Lai 
The marbling of the beef more tendons than fat, so some slices was quite springy, while others with a lot of tendons were sinewy and inedible. The dressing was a good balance of savoury, sweet, sour and spicy, provided we scrape all the chilli seeds from the meat.

Larb Mushroom 
Larb is a salad mixed with lime juice, fish sauce, crispy toasted rice, chillies and peppermint, served with an assortment of vegetables. It was a juicy dish with plump mushrooms and a tangy, fragrant minty dressing, the chilli was relatively gentle (or my tongue had been rendered senseless by now). The vegetarian version is undoubtedly less flavoursome than the minced pork larb though.

Gaeng Pa “Sparrow on Chopping Board” (Trust this is also known as jungle curry)
This seemingly innocent broth started with a refreshingly citrus tone, then the force of chilli tsunami suddenly hits. This wasn't a regular spicy dish; it was eye-watering, head-scratchingly hot. The heat just wouldn't disappear, it continued to poke and assault my tastebuds long after the chunks of minced fish meat had been washed down with Singha beer. The fish and Thai aubergine had thoroughly absorbed the chilli essence, leaving a burning sensation in my throat. It reminded me of the iconic Sichuan water-cooked fish - but hotter, much much hotter. I may have a low-moderate spice tolerance, so this could simply be a gentle tingle on the tongue to others.

Pa Nang Nue Lai
By contrast the red curry beef was much milder. The curry was not as sweet as some of the other red curries I have had before, but it was still flavoursome and packed with coconut fragrance. Despite the relatively dainty portions, there was plenty of beef shank. The pieces with meat with more tendons were softer after the slow cooking, leaner bits were slightly coarse and chewy, but it was quite good overall. 

Pad Hed Hom Ka Prow Krob
Baby kailan with mushroom was probably Mama Chan's favourite, and it was a welcomed change with good old oyster sauce and Thai basil after our mouths had been attacked left right and centre by all kinds of spices and chillies. The veg was fresh, young and crunchy; mushroom sponged up the sauce and worked wonders putting out the fires in our mouths - just wished there was more...

Fried Rice - Crabmeat
The fried rice was decent, crab meat wasn’t noticeable

We enjoyed our dinner at Supanniga Eating Room, despite the potential of some permanent damage to my oesophagus. It was a nice change from the street eats we usually have. Yes that jungle curry was off-the-scale spicy, but all other dishes were a blend of smooth and powerful flavours with careful balance. It’s definitely a spot worth checking out for delightful dishes that are less common elsewhere in the capital.

160/11 Soi 55 Sukhumvit
Bangkok 
Thailand

Tel: +02 714 7508