Sunday, January 31, 2016

Clos du Caillou Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve 2006

Date of Tasting: 4 September 2015
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre
Alcohol: 14.5%
Origin: Rhone, France
Appellation: Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR90
Chubby Appreciation: 94/100
Critics' Opinion: WA - 95/100, WS - 95/100, ST - 94/100, JR - 18/20, CT - 94/100

Appearance: Ruby.
Aroma: Black fruits, spice aroma, earthy, and dark tea.
Palate: Plenty of length and depth. Rich but round. Rather full on the texture. Sweet berries and chocolate.

Powerful but delicious full bodied. Such an impressive big boy. Stunning now but it shall be interesting to see how it develops. Grab a piece or pieces of delicious steak to go along and it shall be wonderful.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

ThanYing Restaurant @ Silom, Bangkok - ร้านอาหารท่านหญิง @ สีลม กรุงเทพฯ

Cuisine: Thai
Charged Price: THB350 per person without alcohol
Visited: 15 November 2015
Food: 8/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 8/10
Services: 7/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Ever thinking of where to really get the authentic Thai food and yet it's royal cuisine, here is an unrivaled one for you: ThanYing. So why I said this is a royal cuisine one. It's because recipes used in this restaurant resembled that ones once used by Princess Sulabh-Valleng Visuddhi who was the head cook in the kitchen of Sukhothai Palace. Thus, now ThanYing is run by the son of the princess, M.R. Sorut Visuddhi.

I kind of remember that this restaurant has been operated since I was a kid. Somewhat 20 years or so ago. It is located in Soi Pramuan which connect Thanon Silom to Thanon Sathon. If you do drive, it is pretty easy to reach this place and there are plenty of parking lots. However, reaching via public transport is still not a big hassle. The nearest BTS station is Surasak Station. Once walk pass the front door of this restaurant, you would feel it right there: the classic contemporary decor with elegant atmosphere. Yes, elegant atmosphere I would say. Most of the time, this place can have low level of noise. It is perhaps mandatory for most of guests to speak softly but naturally and automatically in this place.

ThanYing Restaurant @ Silom, Bangkok

beautiful dining hall

more relax corner

One of the plus plus thing for ThanYing is it serves Khao Chae all year round which is a rare case for any other restaurants. Trust me, it is one of the best in town. For today, there is a special menu which we did not hesitate to try: steamed rice cooked with coconut milk, papaya salad, salted egg, shredded pork, tamarind dip and chicken curry - ข้าวมันส้มตำ (Khao Mun Som Tum) น้ำพริกมะขาม ไข่เค็ม หมูฝอย แกงไก่ (8/10). Ever since I was a young boy, khao mun som tum has been one of my all time favourite Thai food. It is such a good combination of delicate steamed rice cooked with coconut milk, which yields flavourful and textured rice, and rich taste som tum of Nort-eastern dish. Another starter that I hardly miss for any Thai meal would be yam ma khuer yaao - ยำมะเขือยาว (7/10). This is a perfect dish to start off your meal. Tangy and mild spiciness. Soft aubergine with charcoal aroma. Love it.

steamed rice cooked with coconut milk, papaya salad, salted egg, shredded pork, tamarind dip and chicken curry (THB230)

yam ma khuer yaao (THB180)

Next was pla ga-phong sarm ros - ปลากะพงสามรส (8/10). This is another of my favourite here. It is not too spicy but rich in flavour and yet it is crisp. Good thing is the dish would be cut into pieces for you to easily eat. Delicate in detail indeed. For curry range, I would usually recommend Gaeng Nuer (beef curry, similar to green curry) at this place. Nevertheless, it was gang massaman nuer - แกงมัสมั่นเนื้อ (7/10) for this time. It is less in spiciness. But richer in texture, more nutty, and comes with unique taste of caraway. For those who may want to have mild dish gai pad ta krai - ไก่ผัดตะไคร้ (7/10) is not a bad choice at all. So rich in lemongrass aroma.

For us, every single time we dine at ThanYing, it is just memorable. Forget those super famous in modern day like BoLan or any other fusion / half-blood Thai food. Here is the real one, I promise.

pla ga-phong sarm ros (THB495)

gang massaman nuer (THB195)

zooming on beef and pineapple

gai pad ta krai (THB195)

ThanYing Restaurant @ Silom, Bangkok - ร้านอาหารท่านหญิง @ สีลม กรุงเทพฯ
10 Pramuan Road
Silom, Bang Rak
Bangkok 10500

Open Hours: daily from 11:30am - 10:00pm
Tel: +66 (0) 2236 4361

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Marqués de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Rioja Gran Reserva Especial Cosecha 2004

Date of Tasting: 19 October 2015
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 93% Tempranillo, 7% Mazuelo
Alcohol: 14%
Origin: Rioja, Spain
Appellation: Rioja DOCa
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR80
Chubby Appreciation: 93/100
Critics' Opinion: WA - 95/100, WS - 90/100, WE - 91/100, FS - 95/100, ST - 92/100, CT - 91/100

Appearance: Dark ruby.
Aroma: Ripe wild berries, plum, raisin, chocolate, mocha.
Palate: Juicy and velvety with soft tannins. Full bodied and a bit dense on the palate but somewhat fresh. Exotic dried fruits. Quite long on the finish.

Delicious Rioja. It is a powerful one but not broodingly masculine. Rather elegant in fact. I like the way ripe fruits character showed up smoothly and brightly. Ones would definitely enjoy this Gran Reserva with food more than on its own. Grilled or rich dishes will be excellent companion. Pretty lovely now.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Tempura Yokota (天冨良よこ田) @ Roppongi, Tokyo

Cuisine: Tempura
Charged Price: JPY10,800 per person without alcohol
Visited: 10 November 2015
Food: 9/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 8/10
Services: 10/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Ever thought of tempura as just another deep-fried dish, try one master class tempura joint in Japan and your thought will never be the same. For this trip, we did pop by Tempura Yokota (天冨良よこ田) in Roppongi area and we were not disappointed. The place is located on the 3rd floor of a small building which is within a few minutes walk from Azabujuban Station. There is no lunch service at Yokota.

At Yokota, there are 2 tempura counters which can accommodate around 10 pax max at the same time: one run by Chef Tsuneo Yokota and the other one run by his son, I believe. The style of tempura is kind of elegant in my humble opinion: light batter, crisp but not crack, and aromatic with combination with different type of oil. To compliment tempura, sauce also plays an important part. There are 3 types of sauce given here: salt, curry powder, and sauce with grated daikon. Indeed a piece of lemon wedge was also given to add another dimension. In term of service, all of them were fabulously friendly and helpful. Very limited English but enough to go along the course.

Tempura Yokota (天冨良よこ田) @ Roppongi, Tokyo

Chef Tsuneo Yokota performing

simple but beautiful tableware

different type of sauce

classic salad with sesame dressing

The first to arrive was Prawn Head (8/10). Very nice and crisp. There were 2 pieces. One dipped into lemon juice and the other one to go with curry powder. Then the Prawn (8/10) was followed. At first, we expected it to be super crisp like in other places. But it turned to be crisp but soft. This is to be dipped with all sauce biting bit by bit to find out your preference. Next was Squid (10/10). Top of the class indeed. So tender and tasty. A bit of lemon to go along and it was like heaven. Moving on to milder range of ingredients. Baby Corn (9/10) was the next service. Sweet and fresh. This was the one for curry powder. Contrasting pretty nicely. In a short while, Lotus Roots (9/10) were served. This was another sweet and crisp thing but not as complex as baby corn. Both lemon + salt and sauce + daikon seemed to pair wonderfully.

Prawn Head



Baby Corn

Lotus Roots

Next was my favourite kind of tempura: Silver Whiting (10/10). Mild in flavour. Smooth and tender texture. Super fresh and perfect with lemon or salt. Asparagus (9/10) was too delicious. I love the fact that batter was used very lightly with this one but crisp. It did not overshadow the unique character of asparagus. Then it came the Scallop or Hotate (10/10) which is one of the crowd's favourite. It sure did not disappoint us. Perfect doneness with excellent quality. Big in size and fresh in mouth. Sweet. Firm but tender texture. A light touch of salt was more than enough for this piece. Love it. Ginkgo and Green Pepper (9/10) was the next combination. This one was best with salt or curry. In my view, it is all about whether ginkgo and green pepper are your kind of ingredients. If so, it is delicious, I promise. As for Shiitake (8/10), it was all about aroma. It was cut in halves. The first half was meant for non-dipping. I believe this way you get to sense the uniqueness of shiitake. Then the second part can be dipped into any favourite choice of yours. There were also minced prawn filling inside shiitake.

Silver Whiting



Ginkgo and Green Pepper


For the next one, it was some kind of fish (10/10) that I was not able to get name of ingredient correctly. What I know is it was a holy one. The fillet was denser than silver whiting. Texture wise, it was more like red snapper for me. The tail part was super crisp too. It was so nice with curry. Anago (10/10) was also great. So crisp on the batter layer. But so soft and smooth inside. Juicily sweet too. Either sauce with daikon or curry are the recommendation partner. Then the 2nd shrimp was served. This time it was meant for going with any favourite dipping as experienced previously. To finish the course, I opted for Ten-Cha (10/10). This is boiled rice served with green team and prawn tempura. It was so refreshing. There was a small piece of wasabi to go with ten-cha too. It was served along with a small portion of condiments. This lovely dish just washed away those confusing thing in the mouth we had tasted before Pear Sherbet (9/10) completely completed its task as dessert.

In short, Tempura Yokota is one of the top tempura restaurant in Tokyo and it is one of its kind. Excellent quality of ingredient, unrivaled skill, and lovely service. Thank god, we found you.

some kind of fish????


another prawn

Ten Cha

finish with green tea

Pear Sherbet

Tempura Yokota (天冨良よこ田) @ Roppongi, Tokyo
Floor 3
3-11-3 Motoazabu
Tokyo 〒106-0046

Open Hours: daily except Wednesday from 05:30am - 08:00pm (last order) for dinner
Tel: +81 (0) 3 3408 4238

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux Clos du Bourg Premiere Trie 2006

Date of Tasting: 19 August 2015
Wine Type: Sweet White
Grape Varieties: 100% Chenin Blanc
Alcohol: 12.5%
Origin: Vouvray, France
Appellation: Vouvray AOC
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR40
Chubby Appreciation: 95/100
Critics' Opinion: WA - 93/100, WE - 95/100, CT - 91/100

Appearance: Golden yellow.
Aroma: Fresh exotic ripe fruits, mango, pineapple, pear. Blossom and honeysuckle. Toasty.
Palate: Creme brulee perhaps as ones may say. Spices like ginger. Rich on the palate. Sweet but fresh and bright with vibrant acidity. Long on the finish.

It boomed with marvelous expression. Everything so far during the meal was wiped out of mind at the very first sip of this luscious beauty. When I was thinking about just a small to go along with dessert, this moelleux completely changed my mind: this whole bottle must be done among us. The beauty came power and class. Yes, the deep mouth-feel and the structure were there but freshness balanced out well. Did not feel that heavy despite 12.5% alcohol at all. In fact, a small plate of foie gras will be nice, otherwise, aperitif will do just fine. Sadly, it was the only bottle I had. Wish I could grab much more back to stock up. It should be at its drinking window now. Just grab them if you like sweet wine.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ban Pak Chok Aree Restaurant @ Pran Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan - ร้านอาหารบ้านพักโชคอารีย์ @ ปราณบุรี ประจวบคีรีขันธ์

Cuisine: Thai
Charged Price: THB200 per person without alcohol
Visited: 29 October 2015
Food: 7/10
Atmosphere: 5/10
Value for money: 9/10
Services: 5/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

One last destination during my short vacation in Pran Buri was at Ban Pak Chok Aree. This is a new find for us. It is located at the very north end of Pak Nam Pran. I doubt any non-local would drive all the way here to find its existence unless they have been there before. This is another gem for us really. The atmosphere is still local like. The size of the restaurant is not big but should be able to accommodate up to 30 guests comfortably. The place does not just offer fresh seafood but it is an inn too. Hence, looking for cheap local stay with nice food, here is one for you.

Ban Pak Chok Aree Restaurant @ Pran Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan

not big but not small

very local ambient

fresh seafood

Needless to say much about how delicious food here is. I would like to draw attention more on its quantity to begin with. Ok, pricing wise may look somewhat 20% to 30% lower than other places around. But when each dish turned up, I was just hooooo. They were big, I promise, especially Stir-fried Squid with Curry Powder - ปลาหมึกผัดผงกระหรี่ (6/10) which was delicious with nice taste of curry and soft squid. At the price of THB200 comparing to THB250 for fried squid with salty egg at Krua Jaew but almost double in size. This is one hell of bargain. We also had Stir-fried Pako Fern with Oyster Sauce - ผัดผักกรูดน้ำมันหอย (7/10). Pako Fern, sound odd, right? It was odd to me too. But it was a nice stir-fry vegetable dish. It also came with a lot of fried chopped garlic. Nice indeed.

Stir-fried Pako Fern with Oyster Sauce - ผัดผักกรูดน้ำมันหอย (THB100)

Stir-fried Squid with Curry Powder - ปลาหมึกผัดผงกระหรี่ (THB200)

Let's just skip Omelette with Oyster - ไข่เจียวหอยนางรม (5/10). Ordinary one. No need to mention about it. The highlight was instead Deep-fried Sea Bass with Lemongrass Sauce - ประกะพงทอดยำตะไคร้ (8/10). God......the fish was big and fresh. Very good frying skill too. Sea bass was crisp. The aroma of herbs and especially lemongrass was beautiful. Cashew nut did give another dimension to the structure too. I promise this was delicious. When we ordered, we did ask for no chili as one of us cannot take much spiciness. The friendly lady chef did come out to serve this dish herself and talked jokingly to us that no-chili in this dish was in fact an offensive, LOL.

Well, this is the new secret heaven for us which is now not so secret as you are reading. Nice people too. Will sure return for many more times. Just wish it won't get overly crowded in the future.

Deep-fried Sea Bass with Lemongrass Sauce - ประกะพงทอดยำตะไคร้ (THB300)

Omelette with Oyster - ไข่เจียวหอยนางรม (THB100)

Ban Pak Chok Aree Restaurant @ Pran Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan - ร้านอาหารบ้านพักโชคอารีย์ @ ปราณบุรี ประจวบคีรีขันธ์
181/77  Moo 2
Pak Nam Pran, Pran Buri
Prachuap Khiri Khan

Open Hours: daily from 10:00am - 09:00pm
Tel: +66 (0) 32 631 461

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2010

Date of Tasting: 15 August 2015
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 100% Sangiovese
Alcohol: 14.5%
Origin: Tuscany, Italy
Appellation: Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR40
Chubby Appreciation: 94/100
Critics' Opinion: WA - 96/100, JS - 96/100, CT - 92/100

Appearance: Bright deep red.
Aroma: Excellent nose of cherry and dried fruits. Saline. Rosemary. A bit of earth.
Palate: Bright acid with indicated red cherry and raspberry. Layers of spices. Rather full texture but fine tannins. Some of mineral. Velvety and long lasting.

Not as big and the Tenuta Nuova range but consist of elegance and finesse instead. Beautiful, vibrant, and lingering. Not so modern but still somewhat in between. Oak, yes a bit. Chocolate, umm....traceable. A few years more and it may be at its drinking window range. Not a bad idea at all to stock up this beauty. Sante!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Aikawa Unagi (愛川鰻) @ Takadanobaba, Tokyo

Cuisine: Unagi / Fresh Water Eel
Charged Price: JPY3,500 per person without alcohol
Visited: 11 November 2015
Food: 9/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Value for money: 9/10
Services: 9/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Let's keep this one short. If you are looking for a fabulous unagi in Tokyo, Aikawa Unagi at Takadanobaba is the one to go for surely. This tiny specialised unagi restaurant is tucked in a small street in the area of Takadanobaba and is within a few minutes walk from the station. The place is really small and very local. There are only 4 tables which means max 16 seats at once. So be sure to make reservation before visiting. Aikawa is run by only a few people in which, I believe, are family owners. They are pretty friendly and wonderful. With little English only, they, however, did try their best to make the very best of our lunch.

Aikawa Unagi (愛川鰻) @ Takadanobaba, Tokyo

very local ambient

The menu consists of mainly grilled unagi which would cost you around JPY3,000 a head plus or minus. It is just the matter of size you would like to go for. The variation you may alter is how hard you want your unagi to be. They do surely look alike. The different is steaming. The crispier unagi is the one without steaming. Personally, I did enjoy the softer choice more. However, the one without steam presented more unique aroma of burnt coal. Except the tender, textured, and flavourful unagi, the overall picture of this meal, in my humble opinion, was of high quality: fabulous rice, delicious pickles, and tasty condiments. Well, well, well!!! The next trip I return to Tokyo, I will once again pay a visit to this little place. Thank God, I have found you.

Grilled Unagi Lunch

Softer Version of Grilled Unagi Lunch

Aikawa Unagi (愛川鰻) @ Takadanobaba, Tokyo
1-17-22 Takadanobaba
Tokyo 〒169-0075

Open Hours: Tue-Sun lunch from 11:30am - 01:30pm and Sun dinner from 05:00pm - 07:00pm
Tel: +81 (0) 3 3200 3717

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007

Date of Tasting: 10 July 2015
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot
Alcohol: 15.9%
Origin: California, USA
Appellation: Napa Valley
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR110
Chubby Appreciation: 95/100
Critics' Opinion: WA - 95/100, WS - 95/100, WE - 95/100, ST - 94/100, JS - 91/100, DC - 16/20, CT - 93/100

Appearance: Dark crimson.
Aroma: Ripe currants, cassis, oak, smoke and herbs.
Palate: So big. So full. Monster. Yet it was dry and balance. Notes of black fruits. Very tannic definitely. Long lasting finish.

When my palate is seeking for softer kind of wine day by day, the big and broodingly bold Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon seems to be overwhelming. I wouldn't say I dislike this one. Of course, it is fabulously great. But it is just not my style. It is like a huge monster attacking. In fact, it is so powerful and almost like port. One would definitely need a good compliment dish to go along. It yields long aftertaste flavours. Still at least 10 more years to go for this Hulk.

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