Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit's Gym In Bangkok, Thailand


Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit's Gym In Bangkok, Thailand

Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit's Gym In Bangkok, Thailand

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There are dozens of different types of workout places in Bangkok now, much different than it was when I arrived here back in 1995, and there’s probably one to suit anyone’s preference, whatever it may be. If, for example, you want some luxury thrown in with your basic utilitarian workout equipment then the gym that’s part of the spa complex at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Hotel might be for you.

This place is rather luxurious, with a beautiful stone carving hanging over the men’s Jacuzzi, for example, and plenty of gorgeous wood and marble everywhere along with individual grooming stations in the men’s locker room. But in the workout room it’s back to basics as you won’t find any of the hi-tech equipment that is the rage at many of the upscale expensive hotel gyms in town and other workout chains. There are just a lot of Cybex machines along with some treadmills, elliptical trainers, stair machines and exercise bikes. There’s an aerobics room with mats too, which made an excellent place to do my abs crunches before I started lifting.

But everything that you need for a good workout is here and as I was scheduled for a chest and shoulders session the day I was there I located the bench press and then three machines that would provide me with the exercises that I would need. The free weights here are the nice rubber coated, brightly-colored wheel types that are easy to carry and quiet and after loading four 10-kilo weights onto the 16-kilo bar with the help of Khun Anan, the vigilant assistant working that day, I proceeded to plug my way through a good workout.

In addition to the bench press I also used a pec-deck machine, a shoulder press and a chest press machine. I could have added a lot more to the session by using the dumbbells and the open bench that were there but since I was also going to do 35 minutes on the elliptical trainer I decided that this routine would be enough. I was there during the after-work period – 5:30 to 6:30 but there weren’t too many people there, certainly not enough to slow down my workout so it seems like they haven’t oversold memberships like so many places do.

And if I had been there to do a back and biceps session there were plenty of machines for that as well including a lat pull-down and a good back press machine. I didn’t notice a roman bench for lower back but there may have been one there as well. There’s a seated bicep bench for curls too, which I think is the best for this muscle group. Also, they have a very good selection of leg machines including two different leg presses and even a seated calf machine which is a rarity in this city.

And after my 35–minute jaunt on the elliptical trainer I felt a bit tired but the Jacuzzi did a good job of reviving me, the hot-water Jacuzzi I should add since almost every other Jacuzzi in this country has room temperature water which is basically worthless. They also have both a sauna and a steam room and somebody smart put the steam room together. First, it wasn’t too hot, another common problem, and in regard to the intelligence of the design, it was fitted with cheap, white plastic benches instead of the more expensive stone seating almost every other steam room has. That means if it does get a little too hot inside, which can be okay, then you don’t end up trying to sit on an overheated stone bench, burning your buns in the process. The plastic doesn’t absorb the heat and stays nice and, relatively, cool. That’s why the designers were smart.

Overall, I really liked this place and would definitely work out here again. The combination of elegance and back to basics worked for me and when a place gets the basics right – the plastic steam room seats, lots of hair dryers, the right machines, among others – you know that whoever designed the place must have been in a lot of gyms before, like me for 32 years, and knew what was important to serious gym users.     

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

PATA Moving In Positive Direction Under New Leadership

BANGKOK, THAILAND – Greg Dufell, the new president and CEO of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), headquartered in Bangkok, described in an exclusive interview on February 25 some of his ideas on how he will go about revitalizing the organization and trying to help improve the overall performance of the travel sector in this vital region. Since part of PATA’s original mission statement reads “we enhance the sustainable growth, value and quality of travel and tourism to, from and within the region,” working to improve the travel industry in the region is one of the core tenets of the organization.

In a lengthy interview session Mr. Dufell touched on many subjects and displayed a comprehensive grasp of the travel industry which he developed over the years working within the industry in the private sector with companies such as Thomas Cook and Indochina Services Travel Group among others. He also was involved several years ago with a Silicon Valley software company startup which expanded his hi-tech knowledge base. Based on some of the ideas he expounded upon for his vision of the future of PATA, this experience will probably be as valuable to his upcoming efforts as his travel industry knowledge.

When asked what his key objective would be in his new position he unhesitatingly replied, “Engaging with our members on a much greater basis and reversing previous trends. The priority is to increase the opportunity for our members to network.” And, according to him, new initiatives by the organization will have to address two basic needs to be considered for implementation: “Will they help to retain membership and will they help us to sell something or help the members. We need to get back to basics.”

He also sees PATA’s role as being a leader in encouraging investment in the travel industry by the private sector and possibly even helping to educate the private sector in certain areas through seminars and events. What may be little known about the organization outside of the membership is the fact that PATA collects and processes tremendous amounts of raw data in regard to travel statistics among its member countries. For example, arrival and departure cards that are filled out by travelers to member countries are processed and analyzed by PATA and the information supplied back to the relevant governmental organizations such as tourist boards and tourism marketing arms such as the Tourism Authority of Thailand. And this is only a small part of their overall efforts.

This information can be extremely valuable to members who have access to it through their membership in the organization. Private operators can use it to try to predict future trends in the industry and make plans about investments and potential developments. In an economy as uncertain as the current one, in particular, this type of information can help to pinpoint where investments could be made. Additionally, the information can be used to refine marketing plans, especially in the area of trying to identify new niche markets to target, a strategy that will have to be adopted by many operators who are trying to supplement the loss of business that they have encountered during the recent global showdown.

And, as alluded to above, Mr. Dufell’s IT background will be useful in the coming months as PATA explores ways to upgrade the effectiveness of its website ( and make it more interactive for members and non-members alike. Other plans include the possibility of creating a business to business platform as an adjunct to the website that will allow members to more effectively network and do business with each other and there are other ideas on the horizon as well that could be implemented and are now in a long-range planning status.

Overall, Mr. Dufell seems to be bringing a new direction to this organization that was founded in 1952 by a group of travel industry visionaries who were interested in taking advantage of a relatively new technology of of their day – the passenger jet airliner – to develop the Asia-Pacific travel market. Mr. Dufell’s challenge will come to great degree from his ability to harness the new technology of the present day – the internet – to forge a greater opportunity for cooperation and interactivity amongst the members of PATA than has ever been seen before. Judging from the energy and passion for the travel industry that Mr. Dufell displays, along with his sterling credentials, it is likely that he is the right man in the right place at the right time.


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kendall-Jackson And Dusit Thani Bangkok Team Up For Great Dinner

Kendall-Jackson wines were the star attraction at a recent wine dinner held at the Dusit Thani Bangkok’s Il Cielo Italian restaurant in February, one of the hotel’s seven top-quality dining outlets. Jeff Cook, General Manager of Jackson Wine Estates International for Asia and Japan represented Kendall-Jackson and presided over the event which was attended by over 70 people. Mr. Cook made the effort to visit all of the tables of attendees and imparted a great deal of knowledge about the operations of Kendall-Jackson, as well as wine-making in general, to an interested audience.

The five course dinner featured five Kendall-Jackson wines, all from the Vintner’s Reserve label of the winery, and included a 2007 sauvignon blanc, a 2006 chardonnay – the best selling chardonnay in the United States for the last 16 years—a 2006 pinot noir, a 2005 zinfandel and a 2004 meritage. Each of the wines has received very high rankings from a number of respected wine writers and have won a number of awards between them.

The dinner started with a marinated red tuna tartare that was made with avocado aioli and 10-year balsamico along with other ingredients and was paired with the sauvignon blanc whose varying fruit flavors, from fig to lemon and others was a perfect accompaniment. Indeed, all of the wines this evening were well-matched to the dishes showing a high degree of preparation for this dinner. The chardonnay was the next wine to be showcased and its companion dish was a lobster tortellini with Nori caviar and a frothy green pea broth. The chardonnay’s varied flavors were well-suited also to this dish that included the saltiness of the caviar and the delicate sweetness of the lobster.

One characteristic of each of the Vintner’s Reserve wines that were served at this dinner is that they were all made from grapes that come from different vineyards in the Kendall-Jackson holdings. Some of the grapes are from Sonoma, some from Mendocino, some from Santa Barbara and several other regions and therefore each of the different grapes contribute their own flavors to the wines giving them such varied tastes and nuances.

The pinot noir that came next with the pork tenderloin course, which was smoked and slow-cooked, had just a dash of the syrah grape added to it which affected the mid-palate taste of the wine and complemented the smoky taste of the meat. And the lamb course which followed – a roasted lamb saddle with plums and line nuts served on a light blue cheese risotto – had two wines poured with it. The zinfandel and the meritage both graced this dish and it was hard to say which was the better of the two as far as compatibility with the lamb. Blackberry and cherry are the two flavors most mentioned when describing the zinfandel and the meritage also has these flavors along with slight traces of cassis and coffee. The contrasts of these fruit flavors, especially with the slight saltiness of the risotto, made for an excellent contrast in tastes.

This dinner was one of several that the Dusit Thani Bangkok presents every year and it is one of the few hotels in the city that both makes the effort to do so and is also successful at attracting enough food and wine lovers to make the events such as this viable on a regular basis. Part of the success is due to picking good wine partners, as Kendall-Jackson has certainly proven to be, and the rest is due to great chefs, careful planning and the attention to detail that marks all top-notch food and beverage operations.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Sala Rim Naam at the Oriental Hotel -- Bangkok, Thailand

Upon entering the Oriental Hotel's Sala Rim Naam Thai restaurant in Bangkok, you are confronted with a unique dining interior: traditional Thai tables with bench seating and in the center of the long, rectangular room, raised stage for the dancing to be held later. It's an atmosphere which lends itself to the food and entertainment that follows. The Sala Rim Naam is reached after taking a boat ride across the Chao Phraya River from the hotel. You get a great view of the hotel across the water as the boat slowly makes its way across the crowded river. The hotel bought this land several years ago and it houses the Sala Rim Naam and the Oriental Spa. The intention here is to give the guests a true look at traditional Thai culture, including architecture, food, clothing and dance. It's so authentic, in fact, that you must remove your shoes before entering the dining room.

Upon entering and seating yourself in the comfortable benches, you'll be struck by the beautiful wood and carved detail of the interior. And, unless you're in a larger group than two people, you'll be seated at close proximity to another couple, so the opportunity to meet and talk to someone from another country (or perhaps even your own) is presented. The seating is also another reminder of traditional Thai meals only here each person is served individually. The meal consists of a set menu with 10 different dishes or courses. Mixed appetizers and rounds of mixed pork in silk threads started us off and each were delicately flavored and lightly spiced. There is a misconception among many that traditional Thai food is too spicy for Western palates, but that is not the case. A traditional Thai dish is predominantly hot but there must be harmony in the dish as well. The sharpness of the chilis and the spices in a curry dish, for example are toned down by the sweetness of the coconut cream, which also enhances the flavors and tastes of other delicate ingredients and herbs. Thai meals are served pretty much all at once so that you end up having a number of dishes in front of you at once, giving you the opportunity to take a mouthful of this and that as you prefer.

The next dishes served were deep-fried taro with herbed crabmeat, an herbed pomelo salad with prawns and chicken, sweet and sour soup with sliced fish, red curry with roast duckling, deep-fried honey chicken, stir-fried vegetables a, of course, white rice. Dessert followed later. There was obviously plenty of food to taste and the combination of tastes made for a very interesting meal.

As we were finishing, the entertainment began, consisting of a number of traditional Thai dances with musical accompaniment that depict folk and fairy tales and other aspects of historical Thailand. The costumes are superb and the dances themselves, if somewhat hard to completely understand, are at the same time, very enjoyable to watch. The combination of food, dance, and overall ambiance gives you a true idea of the nature of traditional Thai culture as mysterious as it may seem to Westerners. The Oriental has done a good job of preserving the authenticity yet making it accessible to visitors from any country.

See for info on Bangkok restaurants.

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World Gourmet Festival At The Four Seasons Hotel In Bangkok

The ninth annual World Gourmet festival swept into Bangkok’s Four Seasons Hotel this past September 22nd and entertained food enthusiasts for a week with dinners, afternoon teas, cooking classes and a brunch. Seven guest chefs from as far away as the U.S., Russia and Iceland displayed their culinary talents for an appreciative audience that was treated to great food with fine wines to complement the chefs’ inventive creations.

This year’s festival was a bit smaller than preceding years as two late and unavoidable cancellations by chefs trimmed the field from the original nine down to seven. But there was still plenty of talent present and enough events to satisfy the demand from guests. The festival was deemed a success by the hotel’s management and plans were being made throughout the festival week for next year’s 10th anniversary celebratory event.

Since journalists were given easy access to the chefs throughout the week there was ample opportunity learn about the chefs’ backgrounds and influences and what brought them to their current level of culinary prominence. And make no mistake; this group has been awarded its share of honors over the years from various international food organizations and top travel and food publications, attesting to their level of skill and dedication to their craft. This year’s chefs were Jeffrey Jake from The Carneros Inn in Napa Valley, California; Michael Ginor from Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York; Maurizio Quaranta from Locanda del Pilone in Alba, Italy; Glen Ballis from Nedal’nij Vostok in Moscow; Siggi Hall from Siggi Hall Restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland; Celina Tio from the American Restaurant in Kansas City and Michael Laiskonis from Le Bernardin in New York City.

Each of the chefs cooked dinner two nights in one of the hotel’s restaurants with the exception of Michael Laiskonis who is the Executive Pastry Chef at Le Bernardin. He, instead, prepared pastries for three afternoon teas. And all seven of the chefs collaborated on the seven-course Friday night Gala Dinner which also featured live entertainment and an auction with a portion of the proceeds going to HRH Princess Soamsawali’s “Save A Child’s Life From AIDS Project.” Also, the contributions of some of the hotel’s chefs can’t be overlooked. Without a lot of coordination and overseeing from the hotel’s Executive Chef, Nicholas Schneller, Shintaro Chef Satoshi Sawada and Biscotti chef Danilo Aiassa, the event could not be staged.

To give you an idea of what the dinners are actually like, here’s the menu from Siggi Hall’s Monday and Tuesday night dinners that were held in the hotel’s Shintaro Japanese restaurant. The starter was a variety of traditional Icelandic treats made up of herring with horseradish sauce, cured salmon and a langoustine tail. The next course was a piece of Arctic charr, a whitefish, with langoustine sauce served on a bed of julienned green leeks. The seafood theme continued with the next offering which was a baked cod with an almond crust. Next was another traditional Icelandic ingredient but from the land this time in the form of lamb fillet that was accompanied by a lamb sausage. A blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream finished off the meal. Also included in the 4,800++ price were five different wines and coffee.

It may sound a little pricey but if you love good food and wine you would be hard pressed to find better value for money in many restaurants in Bangkok, not to mention Singapore or Hong Kong, especially when you take into account what wine prices are like in this country. Another fact to consider is that most of the ingredients for the various dinners were brought in by the chefs themselves (often in their luggage) so that they could produce their dishes as authentically as they do in their own restaurants at home.

The other chefs presented menus that were equally ambitious and equally representative of their culinary pedigrees. Celine Tio’s menu featured a slow-cooked pork belly dish to emphasize her American roots-based style of cooking. Australian Glen Ballis’ dinner highlighted his combinations of top-quality international ingredients that also utilized some Russian influences. Jeffrey Jake's offerings underscored the influence of the abundance of fresh produce that he uses in his native Napa Valley.

Michael Ginor, whose Hudson Valley foie gras farm produces some of the best foie gras in the world, used that delicious ingredient in all of his dishes to great effect, creating what was probably the richest and most expensive (5900 baht++) menu of the festival . Michael has also been involved with the festival since its inception and has been instrumental in recruiting chefs for the festivals throughout the years. Maurizio Quaranta, the recipient of a Michelin star for the restaurant Locand del Pilone in his native Piedmont area of Italy, displayed how his native Italian cooking style has been influenced  by his interactions with, among others, top-quality Spanish chefs. And Michael Laiskonis’ elegant and light desserts added just the right touch to the Gala Dinner and the high teas that featured his award-winning work.   

In the final analysis, the World Gourmet Festival is quite an achievement, especially for a hotel staff that continues to run a large five-star hotel at the same time that it is producing 23 special food events in the course of one week. And that doesn’t include all of the preliminary planning, the marketing and promotional efforts, the logistics of transporting the guest chefs and their assistants and all of the other myriad details that are involved. This one-of-a-kind event in Bangkok is the result of lots of hard work and inspiration from many people and it is hoped that next year at this time food and wine lovers here will be talking about what a great success the 2009 version of the festival was. The city certainly needs all of the first class events it can get to help promote itself as a serious dining destination in Asia and the World Gourmet Festival is leading the way.

See for info on Bangkok restaurants. 

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Centara Grand's Lifestyles on 26 Fitness Club --Bangkok, Thailand

Lifestyles on 26 is the name of the Centara Grand Hotel’s fitness and spa complex and it is, indeed, on the 26th floor of the hotel. When you are working out here you are thus afforded a great view of Bangkok’s skyline to the west, south and east.

The view inside the fitness area isn’t quite as inspiring unless you’re serious about working out and keeping in top shape and if that’s the case then there’s plenty to get excited about. The first thing to know about the club is that at this writing (Oct. 2, 2008) it is only a couple of months old and has hardly been used. Every piece of equipment is shiny and new looking and the whole space is immaculate.

Next, the whole gym is outfitted with Technogym weight machines and it also boasts a Kinesis wall system that is one of the most high-tech and versatile workout systems now available. These weight machines are all top quality with smooth action and well-designed motion for maximum effect. It’s really a pleasure working out on great machines and these certainly are. We would have liked to see a couple more pieces of equipment – a Roman bench for lower back, a pec deck and a seated calf machine, for example, since we’re still a bit old-fashioned – but the machines that are there provide suitable alternatives and the knowledgeable staff members can help you with anything you need.

Back to the Kinesis machine, though, since this system is really an interesting way to work out. As you can see from the photo, this is a cable system and there are many ways that you can use this machine. You can work one muscle group at a time or multiple groups. You can work through more than one plane of motion to give your muscles a different workout. And you can also do specific exercises that are helpful for people who play golf or other sports. Another nice thing about Kinesis is that you can really compress your workout time so if you’re on a tight schedule this can make a big difference. You can still get a full-body workout where otherwise you may not be able to.

If you still like the old methods of working out there are free weights, including a bench press machine and plenty of dumbbells as well as curling bars for biceps and triceps. There’s also an elliptical trainer, several stair machines and plenty of treadmills.

The locker room facilities include both a large sauna and steam bath and a Jacuzzi that, unfortunately, is room temperature and not heated. There’s also a cool down room with four comfortable beds to relax on.

This is a top-quality club that will probably provide you with everything that you’ll need for your workouts while you’re staying in Bangkok

See for info on hotels in Thailand.

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Alila Resort in Cha-Am -- Bangkok, Thailand

Alila Hotels and Resorts opened Alila Cha-Am in February, 2008. This is Alila’s first property in Thailand and the first modern luxury beachside resort to be built in Cha-Am. Relaxation in contemporary style and sophistication is the hallmark of Alila Cha-Am, designed by Duangrit Bunnag, one of Thailand’s leading architects and interior designers.

Arrival at the resort offers a prelude to the experience within, as one walks up the grand entrance stairway to be greeted by a view stretching across the rooftop reflection pool towards the sea. Gardens, courtyards and terraces balance privacy and connection with the tropical surroundings, seamlessly interconnecting one experience to the next. Frederic Simon, Managing Director and COO of Alila Hotels and Resorts said recently, “We are excited to bring the Alila experience to Thailand. Alila Cha-Am is a modern and ultra-luxury resort that will offer a convergence of Alila’s innovations in accommodation, spa and cuisine, combined with the culture and the traditional Thai hospitality. The result promises to be a rewarding and memorable experience for the hotel guest.”

The resort features 79 signature rooms and villas, conceived as personal retreats - spacious, elegant and fully connected. Deluxe Rooms and Deluxe Terrace Rooms are designed in various configurations to enhance in-room comforts with openness to the outdoors. The Private Pool Villas are the ultimate retreats, exceptional in every sense, offering 297 square meters of luxurious space, each with its very own landscaped garden, private pool and terrace. All accommodation is furnished with a personal home theatre system, personalized Apple TV and complimentary wi-fi Internet access. Senses will be especially heightened by the spacious bathroom offering guests a 600 x 480 mm true rain shower experience.

As Duangrit Bunnag elaborates, “The design of the project is not just about being ‘contemporary’ or it just being a resort. The notion of its design is not just about space, light, flow through and styles but about how we connect it with our emotions and promote well-being, stimulate culture, work, play, rest and even eat. One of the intimate needs we have taken care of is the especial rain shower bathroom experience in each room. The rain showers are branded by Ceramiche from Germany. The function of the project is honest and straightforward. We are lucky to have a visionary client and an operator such as Alila that takes this further with its lifestyle concepts.”

Guests will enjoy relaxation and wellness on many levels at Alila Cha-Am. Spa Alila soothes with a natural touch in its private treatment and massage suites built around a thermal mineral pool. The wellness experience goes chic at one of the resort’s most distinctive features — the Chill Pool and Red Bar — a meeting point for ultra-cool relaxation and play. Guests can go from sipping healthy cocktails while lounging by day, to indulging in spa treatments beneath the night sky or partying in candlelit intimacy. Dining is one of the highlights of the Alila experience, brought to life at the resort’s two signature restaurants — poolside dining at Motion, and on the rooftop alongside the reflection pool at the Zen-style Clouds Loft.

See for info on hotels in Thailand.

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Residence 305 at the Grand Hyatt Erawan -- Bangkok, Thailand

It’s difficult to stay one step ahead of the competition in any industry but maybe even more so in the fast-moving hospitality business. However, one Bangkok hotel has made a habit of blazing a food and beverage trail that has left its competitors behind.

The Grand Hyatt Erawan recently opened a multi-functional event facility that has taken the concept of customized entertaining to a whole new level. Residence 305, 250 meters of beautifully decorated space that offers guests a huge variety of entertainment options, is just the latest in a progression of facilities that are unique in Bangkok.

The story of residence 305 really started over three years ago when the Grand Hyatt opened its residence space occupying 950 square meters of space on the hotel’s mezzanine level. Residence spaces one through four comprised this facility, offering guests reception spaces, dining spaces and a great open kitchen area where chefs cook while guests can mingle around house party style. This concept was ahead of its time in the city and offered guests a whole new way to entertain clients, friends or just themselves.

The initial phase of the residence proved to be such a success that when Executive Chef Lucas Glanville and his team approached the hotel owners with plans for an even more upscale space adjoining the original residence, the reception they received was a positive one, although they did take a bit of convincing when the saw the multi-million baht bill – for just the open kitchen.

That would be an exclusive German-designed Bulthaup show kitchen with Gaggenau appliances, by the way, and is certainly not your run-of-the-mill setup. It occupies about half the total space along with a lounging area and patio room while the other half is taken up with a dining area that can also be used for meetings and a whisky room at the entrance to the room.

Decorated to look like a stylish residential dining room, the main space is lined on two sides with bookshelves containing objects and suitable books as well as a hidden cabinet containing a 65-inch TV for video presentations or just plain TV viewing as one group recently did, taking in the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. The overall decorating scheme is somewhat understated, though elegant, in keeping with the overall residence ambience.

It’s not all about the space, however, as impressive as it may be. Chef Glanville and his team make good use of their expensive kitchen, turning out a variety of set menus for any type of an event from coffee breaks to full dinners. You can also customize your own menu with the residence team and the size of your group can be as small as 10 people for anything you’d like to use the space for. And, if you ask really nicely, the chefs will let you don your own apron and help them prepare the fare to be served.

A sampling of the food at residence 305, which has its own dedicated chef, confirmed that the cuisine here is as stylish as the surroundings. Brie and truffle appetizers, along with proscuitto-wrapped tuna chunks were simple in concept yet quite delicious, for example (addicting, actually). A roasted kingfish with a crab and coriander crust that included a hint of parmesan on a bed of wok-fried greens also included a seared Japanese scallop and was complemented by a second dish of roasted duck breast on a bed of lentils with seared foie gras. The second dish, according to Chef Glanville, is a traditional, and simple, preparation but perfect execution and fresh ingredients, sourced by the chef from all over, made it as tantalizing as the kingfish.

The food and beverage team at the Grand Hyatt is not, as the chef noted, resting on its laurels, either. A new meeting facility is in the works in the lower level of the hotel which will break yet more ground in the city’s culinary and event space frontier. This will keep the Grand Hyatt at least a step or two ahead of its competition in Bangkok which is good news for those interested in fine food and cutting edge concepts.

See for info on hotels in Thailand.

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Siam Bayshore Resort in Pattaya -- Bangkok, Thailand

Our latest resort visit in Pattaya had us staying at the Siam Bayshore Resort, one of three hotels in a sport of mini-chain, the others being the Siam Bayview Hotel, also in Pattaya, and the Siam City Hotel in Bangkok. The Bayshore would probably be considered the flagship of the chain, with its beautiful 20 acres of gardens containing 272 rooms and suites right on Pattaya Bay.

Our visit gave us a chance to experience firsthand the many amenities that this beautiful resort has to offer. As with the other resorts we've visited in Pattaya, the Bayshore offers its guests the opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and completely relax for a much-needed rest.

The size of the grounds themselves guarantees that you'll be far away from any of the noise associated with the center of downtown Pattaya. Also, being at the end of the Walking Street, at the front entrance of the hotel, means that there is very little traffic in the area anyway. The back entrance to the property is on Second Road and it's a good 200 meter walk to reach the hotel from there.

The grounds are carefully landscaped and manicured with many trees for shade and open, grassy spaces all around. There are quiet areas for sitting and relaxing and recreation areas as well that contain the property's two swimming pools and four tennis courts that are lit for night play. A children's pool and slide area and also a jacuzzi are available in addition to the two large pools.

Other recreational facilities include table tennis, billiards, darts, an exercise room and a football lawn. There's also a private beach club across the street in front of the hotel. As for other water sports, there are plenty nearby and they can be arranged for you by the hotel, including water skiing, fishing, scuba diving and parasailing. And, of course, as any Bangkok resident knows, there are many quality golf courses around if that's your sports interest.

However, with the number of activities available on the property, there's really no need to leave, anyway. And, the biggest attraction of all may be non-activity - lying on a chaise lounge by the pool and reading a book is certainly one of our favorite ways to spend some time and is guaranteed to leave you in a peaceful frame of mind when you're done.

That's fine for the day, but what about the night. Since the nighttime entertainment possibilities at the hotel are somewhat limited, you'll probably want to venture into Pattaya for a trip to your favorite nightspot. Fortunately, the hotel is located very conveniently at the end of Walking Street, as mentioned above, which means that a short stroll will bring you to any number of places to have some fun.

There are live music venues, live seafood restaurants and just plain lively scenes all up and down this colorful street so you won't be without plenty of possibilities for fun and entertainment. Or, you can walk out the back entrance of the hotel to Second Road for a short baht bus ride to anywhere downtown. You're not far from the places on the way to Jomtien Beach either and a climb up the hill between Pattaya and Jomtien provides some nice views of the whole bay.

If you decide to stay on the property for dining you'll have several choices for a pleasant dinner. If you'd like to dine by the ocean, you can try either the Bali-Hai Chinese restaurant or the Beachside BBQ, both of which are across the street from the hotel and right on the sandy beach. There's an inside, air-conditioned area for when the weather is hot but this time of year you'll want to sit outside and enjoy the refreshing ocean breezes. Fresh, barbecued seafood is the specialty of the Beachside while a variety of Chinese food including Szechuan, Cantonese and Shanghainese is available at Bali-Hai.

There are other choices too, as you can opt for Italian and European cuisine in the Camillo restaurant or Thai and international cuisine ion the Bird of Paradise restaurant. The Bird of Paradise is also the scene for the morning breakfast buffet which features a wide variety of both western and Asian dishes as well as some excellent freshly made omelettes. The Camillo is a quiet, intimate type of place where you may want to go for a romantic dinner while the Bird of Paradise is more open and looks out over the water.

In terms of the basics, the rooms are well appointed with all of the features you'd expect from a five-star destination as well as some you wouldn't. How about reasonable prices in the minibar for a change? Instead of trying to gouge you on the prices, the Bayshore provides a wide variety of drinks at normal prices which are actually less than you'd pay in many bars. It's a small detail perhaps, but one that shows that the hotel has some consideration for its guests unlike many places that take advantage whenever they can.

One other thing that struck us about the hotel is the level of service. When our morning paper was mislaid somehow, the guest relations person, Khun Kwan, somehow found us another in a few minutes and had it delivered to our door. It's small touches like these that make you want to return to a hotel again and again, and we're sure that that will be the case for us and the Siam Bayshore Resort.

See for info on hotels in Bangkok and all over Thailand.


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Le Normandie French Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand


Le Normandie French Restaurant In Bangkok, Thailand

Le Normandie French Restaurant In Bangkok, Thailand

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In Bangkok the Oriental Hotel's Le Normandie restaurant on the fifth floor of the hotel's author's wing was conceived and designed to provide diners with an experience that would be more associated with a French three-star Michelin restaurant. They've succeeded with a winning combination of Thai hospitality, a Swiss-Italian Executive Chef, a touch of Gallic dash and an English-influenced serving style.

It's an unlikely combination perhaps, but one that has kept Le Normandie at the pinnacle of great service and food for some years now. An extensive alteration in 1993 added a new look to the room and more highly trained Thai chefs to prepare the food. The three Thai chefs trained in France at one of the world's best known Michelin three-star restaurants, L' Oasis, near Cannes in the south of France and their teacher was the celebrated Louis Outhier.

The chefs now work under the expert leadership of Executive Chef Norbert Kostner, the man in charge of all of the Oriental's food operations. All of the training the chefs received and the ongoing work with Chef Kostner have obviously paid off because the quality of food at Le Normandie is up to the lofty standards the chefs' teacher always strove to maintain. And the high level of service comes from the efforts of Assistant Food & Beverage Manager Andrew Jordan, the English influence in the mix and formerly the restaurant's maitre'd for a number of years.

Put these components together with the lovely decor and the ambience created by scenic views of the river on one side of the long narrow room, and the city on the other, and you have a winning formula.

A recent lunch at the restaurant gave us our first opportunity to experience the work of these highly trained professionals and the result was an extremely enjoyable experience that would be welcome again any time.

The lunch menu is small and to the point with three appetizers, five entrees and three desserts. Beef, seafood and chicken were represented in the entree section and seafood dominated the appetizers. Our starting point was a heart of palm salad with avoc­ado that came as a puree in three little mounds with a grilled shrimp on top of each one. It was certainly not your average salad and was an interesting melange of flavors.

A glass of red French house wine accompanied the meal and was dry and eminently drinkable, although the name was never ascertained. Just ask for the house red.

The main course was based simplicity and carried off by superlative execution. A beautiful piece of red snapper was grilled and placed atop a heap of thin green beans cooked with what appeared to be pancetta and various herbs. Although it was very straightforward, the freshness of the fish and the fact that it was not overpowered by its accompaniments gave the dish its special elan.

Dessert was a warm apple tart with a delightful green apple sorbet that was light and refreshing yet satisfyingly sweet enough.

We lingered after eating, watching the Chao Praya river sweep lazily to the sea as the constant river traffic plied its surface. Leaving was not something we looked forward to, but it had to be done as we reflected on the dining experience we had just sat through. Wouldn't it be great, we thought, to be able to eat lunch at Le Normandie every day? Considering the wonderful combination of influences that together provide this type of experience, the answer could only be yes.

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Thiptara Thai Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand

Many restaurants promise authentic experiences of one sort or another so it’s always nice when some place delivers on their promise. The Thiptara Thai restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel is one that does just that.

It’s not just the food here that is authentic but also the décor and the location right on the Chao Phraya River flowing through the middle of Bangkok. For any real Thai, dining next to water is always preferred over any other location and Thiptara’s tables command an up-close look at the muddy river that hosts so much traffic. It’s especially interesting at dusk as the lights slowly come on in the many commuter boats gliding up and down.

And the restaurant itself, although it’s outdoors with a few covered spaces, is decorated in rustic Thai style with weathered wood and traditional architecture. It’s a nice effect right down to the wooden gate at the entrance to the restaurant and the artifacts on the walls.

The food isn’t rustic, however, but is meticulously prepared and presented. The recipes are supposed to be basic Thai home-style cuisine and that may be so but the taste is definitely five-star all the way. From the perfectly cooked crispy soft-shelled crab to the spicy eggplant salad the flavors are all spot on.

Or try the deep-fried snowfish with a spicy sweet and sour sauce as well as the river prawns in a creamy curry-like sauce. Equally good is the white prawn appetizer with crispy morning glory which balances the textures of the two ingredients nicely. You’ll also find a number of curries, plenty of meat and poultry dishes – with the tenderloin beef imported from Australia – and even vegetarian selections.

Considering the overall result at Thiptara, it’s obvious that the restaurant’s creators have skillfully combined the ingredients needed to create an authentic Thai dining experience right on the banks of the Chao Phraya in Bangkok.

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See Q Bar in Bangkok, Thailand


Q Bar in Bangkok, Thailand-Photo-04

Q Bar in Bangkok, Thailand-Photo-04

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Since its inception almost nine years ago Q Bar has been populated by some of the hippest people in Bangkok. Personalities such as Mick Jagger, Matt Dillon, Oliver Stone, Eric Cantona, Michelle Yeoh, Steven Segal, Collin Farrell, Jackie Chan, Rick Yune, Michael Rapaport, Jay Sean, the Black Eyed Peas, the G-Unit, and the Backstreet Boys, have lounged about while soaking up the resident DJ's mix of chill-out and club tunes. Billed as the first New York style cocktail bar in the Thai capital, Q Bar attracts an edgy, cosmopolitan crowd.

Beautiful people and a variety of music along with what has always been Bangkok's best-stocked bar are what keeps people coming back so if that's your scene this is probably still the best place to go in Bangkok. it's not a large palce and is set on the site of an old Thai house that was converted into this two-story club. It looks a bit like what you might picture a S&M bar to look like from the outside -- dark and forbidding -- and the inside is slick and hi-tech looking. Regular DJs and occassionally special guest DJs spin tunes a variety of tunes depending on the night. The special attractions each night are as follows; Friday Night Fix w/Kimball Collins playing Freestyle House; Saturday Bangers & Mashups w/DJ Octo playing Remixes & Mashups of Hip-Hop, House, Rock and everything in between; Beat Therapy Sundays w/DJ's Tul and Tech-12 playing R&B & Hip-hop; Mondays - Fredrick Funk; Tuesdays - Fourplay w/Joeki playing Afro, Latin, and Percussive House; Block Party Wednesdays w/Sum-1 and Octo playing Hip-Hop Old 2 the New; Thursdays - Electro.

When we mentioned well-stocked bar we meant it, too. Check out the following list to get an idea of what you can find here: Q Bar has the most extensive stock of spirits and cocktails in Bangkok. Some highlights include: A Full page of Long Island Iced Teas including variations such as the "Paris Iced Tea" (substituting Chambord for Cola) and the Q Bar original "Bangkok Iced Tea" (substituting Red Bull for Cola).

Q Bar Features over 60 different Vodkas from around the world in their famous Vodka freezer where they are chilled to -19C;  Beside the rather pedestrian tequilas found everywhere in Bangkok, Q Bar offers its tequila connoisseurs a rare treat of over 20 fine Tequilas; Rum - Bacardi Limon. Bacard "O", Havana Club 7 Year Old, Bundaberg, Myers's Dark, Captain Morgan Spice Rum, and others. Recommended cocktail: MOJITO. Scotch Whiskey - Besides a fine array of deluxe and premium blended scotch whiskeys, Q Bar has an excellent selection of Single Malt Scotch Whiskeys; Bourbons - Jack and Jim, but where else are you going to find Blantons, Booker's, Basil Hayden's, Four Roses, Wild Turkey 12 yr. Old, Knob Creek and more; Liqueurs - You'll find a full range of Liqueurs including, Godiva, Goldschalger, Limoncello, Ramazzotti, Jagermeister, sherry and port, grappas, Chambord, Frangelico and many, many more.The bar also features one of the largest selections of liquors in any freestanding bar in all of South East Asia and pours a full New York standard 1.5 oz (45ml) in each standard drink (50% larger than the Bangkok standard). Q Bar also features special liquors not found elsewhere such as Absinthe.

And if you get hungry you can go early and eat on the Balcony (where you can also smoke) and enjoy local, western and fusion dishes. 


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Senor Pico's in the Rembrandt Hotel -- Bangkok, Thailand

Mexican restaurants in Bangkok are not as plentiful as some cuisine categories but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some quality Mexican food here. One of the oldest Mexican restaurants in Bangkok is Senor Pico’s which is located in the Rembrandt Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 18 and it offers diners a wide variety of casual Mexican food, Some Tex-Mex specialties and more formal Mexican dishes.

It is styled on the original Senor Pico's restaurant opened in San Francisco at Ghirardelli Square in 1965. This restaurant was created by Victor Jules Bergeron (Trader Vic) the world renowned restaurateur who created the Trader Vic’s chain, while Senor Pico's Bangkok opened its doors in October 1993 with the same commitment as its founder – to provide the best food, drinks and service in the Mexican tradition.

The drinks list naturally contains frozen Margueritas as well as imported Mexican beers, and you are served red and green salsas with nachos to munch on while you make your choices from the extensive menu. Amongst the Appetizers (Aperitivos) highlights include Quesadilla Zacatecas, a grilled Mexican cheese pizza topped with guacamole and sour cream and an inventive dish, Chile Con Queso, a spicy cheese and chili Mexican style fondue served with tostadas to dip in the warm cheese sauce. According to anonymous sources the secret recipe to this Mexican fondue is garlic, butter, cheese, wine and jalapeno peppers, making a very tasty combination.

As mentioned above Senor Pico’s has a wide variety of dishes and they fall into two basic categories: there are the more casual , and familiar, Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes like burritos, enchiladas, tacos and fajitas and there are the more formal main dishes like beef, chicken, pork and seafood main courses.  
From this section you can choose between dishes like imported sirloin steak, roast pork, sauteed prawns in their shells or two dishes that I tried which were the red snapper with a rich tomato-based sauce and the halibut with rice and a pineapple chutney. I also ordered the nachos, a classic Tex-Mex dish, along with the tasty tortilla soup, another classic dish, and the prawns with chipotle mayonnaise dip.

 If you still have room for more there is an extensive dessert menu with items such as the mouthwatering Kahlua and chocolate pie or rum ice cream with meringue chunks, sprinkled with nuts and covered in chocolate sauce. The best way of topping all this off and ensuring that you still have the will to move after your meal is Senor Pico's distinctive coffee mixed with chocolate and brandy and topped with whipped cream. This is served with a cinnamon stick to stir giving it just a little spice and helps it to act as the perfect digestive. On the menu you also find an extensive list of salads and vegetarian food for the health conscious and some great tasting nonalcoholic drinks.
You can take time out between courses to enjoy the unusual but excellent live music performed by a Cuban band "Fascination."  Their style is similar to the famous Mexican mariachi bands but they also combine salsa (the dance) with their guitar and drum sound encouraging people to get up and dance the night away as well. Wednesday nights are “Muchachas Nights” with 50% off all Margarita cocktails for ladies from 9 PM onwards.

Senor Pico’s will satisfy any cravings you may have for Mexican food while you’re here as well a whole lot more so give it a try when you’re in Bangkok.

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Giorgio's Italian Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand

Although the concept of "innovative" cuisine may be an overused one in some applications, the style of Italian cooking that has emerged from the nouvelle-Ital­Cal kitchens of California and elsewhere has influenced a whole generation of chefs and spread the word about the possibilities of cooking Italian-style dishes with the best fresh, local ingredients available to the chef. This is the concept that is currently in practice at Giorgio's, the Italian restaurant at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel in Bangkok.

This style of cooking has evolved gradually from the nouvelle beginnings of the late 70s to become the dominant cuisine in some areas, most notably Southern California. Although it was French cuisine that first took on nouvelle characteristics, hence the word "nouvelle" to describe it, Italian food slowly but surely stole the spotlight from the French. It's hard to say why, surely, but the result has been an explosion of restaurants serving what they describe as either 'trendy" or" sophisticated" Italian food. And it's no flash in the pan fad either, no pun intended.

In fact, many of the chefs we've interviewed here in Bangkok name Italian as their favorite cuisine to cook, so the phenomenon of innovative Italian cooking will probably be with us for quite some time. It's a good thing, too, because when it's done right, it's a fabulous way to prepare food and one that guarantees a never­-ending variety of tasty dishes.

At Giorgio's, the menu ranges from the tried and true traditional dishes with a few little twists to completely new offerings that depend totally on the creativity of the chef.

Seafood and fowl, beef and pork are all covered here as well as separate sections for pizza and pasta specialties. The wine list is all Italian, fittingly, and we chose a 1993 Pighri cabernet to accompany our dinner, which proved to be a very nice selection, full-bodied and fruity.

Anytime carpaccio is on the menu we feel compelled to order it as our starter to see if the chef has respected this traditional dish or mutilated it in some way in a quest for an individual statement on the nature of carpaccio in general. Fortunately, the former was the case her, and our plate contained nothing but lean beef and veal, parmesan, olive oil and a little basil. It was close to perfection.

Although we liked the looks of many of the meat dishes on the menu such as a gratinated grilled New Zealand beef, pan-fried veal medallions with asparagus and a roasted pork fillet, we opted for a seafood evening, ordering gratinated scallops, risotto with lobster and asparagus and grilled seafood. By doing so we also missed out on trying such pasta dishes as pappardelle with salmon and crabmeat sauce, pumpkin gnocchi and penne with spicy tomato sauce and clams but they would have to wait for another time.

The grilled seafood with broiled spinach was delicious, tender and moist seafood without any overpowering flavors to mask the taste. The gratinated scallops were also quite well done, not overcooked as many places serve them, preserving the succulent taste and texture. The risotto was a little less successful, owing to a little dryness, but the flavors of the asparagus and lobster were strong and well defined, not getting lost in the rice.

It was a nice experience and, surprisingly, our cabernet complemented all of the seafood well. The strolling minstrel adds a bit of atmosphere to the comfortable room which features tiled floors and beamed ceilings with comfortable leather chairs and banquettes.

Giorgio's is one of those Italian restaurants that could lay claim to the descriptive word "innovative," being not on the cutting edge but certainly not at the center of traditional Italian cooking and also able to offer a few surprises anytime you visit.

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Vivaldi Italian Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand


Vivaldi Italian Restaurant -- Bangkok, Thailand-Photo-02

Vivaldi Italian Restaurant -- Bangkok, Thailand-Photo-02

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The Amari Atrium Hotel's Vivaldi Italian restaurant in Bangkok has been open for about 12 years and in that time it has assumed classical proportions. Not the food itself necessarily, which is more on the trattoria side but the whole concept of dining Italian-style: beautifully prepared food, a relaxing decor, great wines and a special ambience. 
That Vivaldi has managed to successfully combine all of these elements says something about the preparations that must have been made prior to the opening of the restaurant and the continuing attention to details over the years.
The mixture of classic and modern architectural features gives the room the relaxing feeling mentioned above. Stone pillars and modern sculptures coexist harmoniously with the soft lighting and rattan chairs in muted tones. The charcoal stone oven creates a striking showpiece as well as providing delicious pizzas.
On a quiet holiday afternoon the room was peaceful and serene, offering plenty of time to reflect on the restaurant's skillfully prepared food. The large menu contains sections from soup and pasta, appetizers and salads and seafood and meat. Desserts and Italian coffee are also included. The house red wine is dry and light and very drinkable with a wide variety of foods as we were to prove.
Before any of the ordered items were brought, a small portion of polenta with a mushroom preparation was brought as a complimentary pre­appetizer and gave an indication as to what to expect from the rest of the meal. Polenta, a simple cornmeal bread, was the cornerstone of a meteoric rise of Italian trattoria-style restaurants in the USA several years ago and its inclusion on any menu signifies a nod to the trendy way of cooking Italian food that became so popular in that country.

It was certainly the case here as the carpaccio appetizer indicated. Beautifully presented, the dish eschewed many of the nouveau pretensions that many chefs needlessly add to prove their powers of innovation. Some dishes should be left alone and this one was except for the small heap of sauteed mushrooms in the center of the plate. The raw tenderloin, virgin olive oil and shaved parmesan cheese shone on their own the way they are supposed to and provided a delicious and welcome start to the meal.
The cream of seasonal greens soup that was brought next contained tasty, little bits of seafood and had a pizza dough crust baked over it with little bits of sun-dried tomato in it. It was light and smooth and quite refreshing in its simplicity.
Equally refreshing was the wonderful warm seafood salad (Insalata Vivaldi) which followed and included spinach, pancetta, artichoke hearts and tiger prawns and may well have been the best dish of the day. Everything came together perfectly in this salad and the presentation was simply beautiful. If this is a signature dish of the restaurant, then it is definitely on the right track.
The veal medallion entree was almost a letdown after the brilliant salad that preceded it. Topped with asparagus and more shaved parmesan, the medallions were tender and juicy and themselves sat on a bed of risotto­type rice in a light white parmesan sauce. Again, the presentation was very striking and appetite inducing.
Also sampled was a bit of the grilled steak which was a sirloin covers with sauteed forest mushrooms and capers and herbs and was outstanding as well.

After a feast such as that dessert was unfortunately out of the question but the home-made gelati, marscapone cheese mousse and apple tart, among others were very inviting.

In retrospect, it was probably the finest Italian meal we've encountered in six months of relentlessly haunting the dining rooms of the best hotels and restaurants in Thailand. Should Vivaldi continue on its present course, Bangkok will have a top quality Italian dining room that combines all of the elements needed for a great meal in the tradition of classic and not-so-classic Italian cuisine. Here, the trendy and the traditional mix to give the diner a superb dining experience and, ultimately, that's what it’s all about, isn't it?

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Felice Trattoria Italian Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand

The many forms that Italian cooking can take are one reason that makes it one of the most popular cuisines worldwide. There's always variety in an Italian restaurant and that variety can take many forms. It can be a variety of different regional cuisines from the many provinces of Italy, which all possess their own specialties and methods of preparation. It can be the different ingredients that are used. And it can also come from the differences in older, classical Italian cooking and more modern, updated versions of the same food.

Such is the case with Felice Trattoria at the Felix-Arnoma Hotel in Bangkok. The trattoria name would usually indicate that the food served inside was of a basic, everyday type that most people would eat on a regular basis, sort of an upgraded Italian diner.

The food and furnishings found at Felice Trattoria are a bit different from fhe typical trattoria, however. Chef Giovanni Chessoni, originally from Sicily, has assembled a menu that bears only some resemblance to most trattoria food. The positive aspect to this is that the food happens to be good. Some things better than others ascend to the rating of excellent, but overall the quality is very high.

On two different visits, a number of items were sampled and all were marked by an inventiveness and presentation that was very modern and even innovative. It was, curiously enough, the appetizers that held our attention the most, and future visits would include sampling as many more of them as possible. The first visit included trying the asparagi arlecchino which consisted of gratinated asparagus spears topped with a light cream sauce and smoked salmon. It looked delicious on the menu and was in actual fact. the cheese didn't overpower the asparagus, a common mistake, and the sauce didn't overpower either.

Another must-try on the appetizer list was the fried calamari. The calamari itself was tender and not rubbery, the sign of freshness, but the coating was not as crisp as preferred. However, the chili mayonnaise made up for any other short-comings by being absolutely perfect -- just spicy enough and very tasty.

The third appetizer tried was the tonnino al rafano, marinated tuna fish with horseradish sauce and that also proved to be a winner, with the horseradish adding a powerful accompaniment to the marinade. Other selections that went untried included sauteed fresh clams in olive oil and prawns in paprika and asparagus vinaigrette.

The leek and potato soup that came next was a refreshing interlude before tackling the main courses, the favorite of which was the deep fried soft shelled crabs. They were tender and sweet and cooked to perfection in a crayfish butter sauce.

The other entrees included an assortment of grilled seafood served with alight balsamic sauce and sauteed tiger prawns in a creamy sambuca sauce with garlic and assorted herbs. Bith were good, solid dishes that were very nicely presented.

Dessert was impossible to include either visit so no comment can be made but considering the quality of the rest of the menu, it is probably worth exploring.

Presenting an interesting look at modern Italian cuisine is another form that successful Italian cooking can take and it works at Felice Trattoria.

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Ambassador's AM Cafe Has A Lot Of Choices In Bangkok, Thailand


Ambassador's AM Cafe Has A Lot Of Choices -- Bangkok, Thailand

Ambassador's AM Cafe Has A Lot Of Choices -- Bangkok, Thailand

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Pretty much every hotel has one: an all-day restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and usually offers buffets and ala carte items. At the Ambassador Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 11 in Bangkok, the restaurant is the AM Café and it does indeed serve buffets and ala carte items and also has a few surprises for its guests.

It’s not open 24 hours like some restaurants in this category but almost; it opens at 5 am and closes at 1 am. So you can get a very early breakfast or a late-night supper after a night out. I’ve eaten quite a number of times at AM Café’s lunch buffet and I must say that I’ve never sampled the ala carte dishes although I suspect that some of them must be featured on the buffet at times. And although the price here is rather modest, 399 baht++ at lunch and 495++ at dinner, the selection is good with some live cooking stations.

 This is a trend that has been going on for some time now as hotels try to make their buffets more appealing to guests. Gone are the days, in most places anyway, where the only hot selections are in chafing dishes slowly drying out unless there is a very large volume of diners in the restaurant. Now you’ll find chefs in open kitchens and at cooking stations s preparing everything from pastas to grilled meats to stir-fried items and other things. The AM Café offers a pasta cooking station and a sushi/sashimi chef preparing fresh Japanese delicacies along with all of the other varieties of food on offer here.

There are plenty of fresh salad ingredients and a good selection of prepared salads, both western and Thai. I always head to the Japanese section and get some sushi rolls and wasabi to start things off along with the soup of the day. Then it’s salad time and after that the main dishes. You’ll find a dozen or so main dishes each day for lunch and they change all the time. Standard western-type dishes based on beef, pork and chicken dominate but there are also some Thai dishes and the occasional Indian curry pops up. And if you’re in the mood for something different, like a sandwich or burger, for example, then you can always skip the buffet and order from the ala carte menu.

Or if you’re just not a big eater then the ala carte menu makes sense. You can get a good-sized hamburger here for only 190 baht++ so it’s easy on your wallet as well as your waistline if you don’t want to hit the buffet line. There are many other reasonably priced western items on the menu as well a large selection of even lower priced Thai dishes that are quite good. So when you come to the AM Café make sure you check both options — buffet or ala carte – before you make your choice. One or the other is bound to satisfy you.

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Ambassador's AM Cafe Has A Lot Of Choices -- Bangkok, Thailand Ambassador's AM Cafe Has A Lot Of Choices -- Bangkok, Thailand Ambassador's AM Cafe Has A Lot Of Choices -- Bangkok, Thailand Ambassador's AM Cafe Has A Lot Of Choices -- Bangkok, Thailand Ambassador's AM Cafe Has A Lot Of Choices -- Bangkok, Thailand Ambassador's AM Cafe Has A Lot Of Choices -- Bangkok, Thailand

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