When a Bangkok local makes a point of urging you towards an out-of-the-way restaurant with the delectable promise of good food, take heed: opportunity is seldom a lengthy visitor. So it was that I found myself traveling down a winding alley to the fortuitous gates of Gedhawa, a homey establishment specializing in the subtle, herb-fragranced plates of Northern Thailand. Decorated in silk lanterns, rough-hewn wooden tables, and all manner of mid-century pop culture ephemera, it could easily come off as kitschy in less skilled hands. Yet when you’re escorted to table by a kindly older woman who could easily pass as your grandmother – if your grandmother was Thai, that is – the illusion suddenly becomes clear: you’re in an idealized version of someone’s home, so get ready for home-cookin’ Thai style. The accordion-style menu proved exhaustive – and exhausting; after all, there’s only so much one can reasonably eat, despite the temptation – and eyes ten times larger than my stomach. In the end I settled on a couple of favorites, mixing in a few adventuresome unknowns: sai oua, a spicy pork sausage fragrant with lemongrass and galangal; coconut-flecked shrimp, crunchy, sweet and irresistible when dipped into a sauce of palm sugar, vinegar and chili; green papaya salad – a masochistic addiction of sweet meets heat – was practically combustible; wrap-it-yourself pork larb redolent with spices and fresh mint; pad thai, simple and elegant, with just enough unexpected fire to make it interesting. I couldn’t have planned a better meal for my  last night in Bangkok if I tried. And a good thing I didn’t.

accordion-style menu

spicy thai sausage

coconut shrimp

green papaya salad

pork laab

pad thai



live blog: shrimp saganaki

Surrounded by the lush gardens at the Sheraton Rhodes Resort, Mediterraneo showcases modern Mediterranean cuisine with a strong emphasis on seasonal local ingredients, like Memezeli salad – a traditional Greek salad of tomatoes, soft goat cheese, fresh onions, capers, barley rusks and garden basil – and Gemista, tomatoes and green peppers stuffed with aromatic rice, onions, and fresh herbs. Although I sat down to lunch craving an authentic platter of lamb gyros, I was ultimately swayed by Chef Patrick van Velzen’s take on shrimp saganaki: a dozen plump shrimp, pan-cooked with tomato, green peppers, ouzo and feta cheese. At long last I am starting to understand the appeal of shrimp!


more stars: ming court

After yesterday’s mess hall meal it was a no brainer to accept the invitation to dine at Ming Court, the Michelin two-star restaurant at Langham Place, Mongkok. I’ll be moving to Langham Place in a few days, too, so not only did it give me the chance to do a bit of neighborhood reconnaissance, but it also gave me the leisurely opportunity to sample the contemporary Cantonese menu of chef Tsang Chiu King. Sophisticated yet approachable - and very, very comfortable – it’s an engaging dining experience of traditional fresh flavors, creatively presented: a trio of dim sum; bean curd three ways – with prawns, braised with black truffle & gold leaf, and stuffed inside whole abalone with black mushroom; subtly elegant matsutake and bamboo funghi soup; stir fried giant garoupa; award-winning pan-fried chicken skin filled with chicken and black truffle, accompanied with sliced pumpkin; baked rice with chicken and cheese served in bell pepper; and a refreshing tofu bird’s nest “extravagance.” Best of all, the food doesn’t take itself too seriously. Chef Tsang is obviously – thankfully – focused on form following flavor. Which makes for happy palates – not to mention empty plates.



getting interactive at inamo

Virtual menus navigated via table top projections are only half the fun at Inamo, an innovative new pan-Asian restaurant and bar on Wardour Street in London’s Soho. Hi-tech diners can dial-up the Chef Cam – a live-feed into the kitchen – and play Battleship with the person sitting opposite, too. Along with navigating food and drink options via the touch-sensitive panel, choosy customers can pick from a range of animated appearances to create a virtual tablecloth. If you think all this fun comes at the expense of a creative kitchen, think again. Chef Alexander Ziverts’ pedigree has allowed him to develop an expertise in Asian-fusion flavors, drawing inspiration from Japan, Thailand and China. Put into dishes like soft-shell crab maki rolls, Hamachi in a soy truffle emulsion, cinnamon chicken, and Berkshire pork in an unexpectedly spicy chocolate sauce, it’s a flavorful reminder of what first made Asian-fusion such a revelation to Western palates. Amusingly, this first London restaurant venture from Danny Potter and Noel Hunwick was born from the pair’s frustration at trying to hail down a waiter to request the bill. “We wanted to create a dining experience that would adapt around the customer’s preference,” said Potter, “and at the same time reflect the technological advancements of today’s modern living.” Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. At Inamo it also hails what might very well be the future.


jerk & juice

Jerk is Jamaica’s claim to culinary fame. A fiery spice blend of allspice, cloves, garlic, and Scotch bonnet peppers, jerk spice, as it’s commonly called, is dry-rubbed into various meats before smoking over a slow-burning mix of hardwood and charcoal. Jamaicans boast of being able to jerk anything – yes, the ubiquity of jerk means it can function as both noun and verb – from pork and tofu to shellfish and sausage, each augmented in its own particular way by a healthy rub of jerk. Yet for me, nothing quite measures up to how the spice permeates - and in the process tenderizes – the meat of a chicken. The capsicum in the pepper breaks down the muscle fibers, turning even the toughest old bird into something sublime and juicy – with a satisfying spice kick, too.  Makeshift jerk shacks are found all over the country, but along an empty stretch of road between Ocho Rios and Port Antonio I came upon Buccaneers Jerk & Juice, a substantially less provisional establishment with both a garden and bar. Half a succulent chicken with a side of festival, lightly sweetened fried dumplings that are tailor-made for mopping up the addictive mix of drippings and hot sauce which puddles on the plate, set me back all of eight bucks. That’s what I call finger-lickin’ good.


sense and sensibility

Chiva-Som is a beachfront health resort in the royal Thai city of Hua Hin and often described as  one of the world’s best destination spas. Focusing on greater well being and vitality, the Green Globe certified resort offers wide-ranging facilities blending Eastern philosophies, Western diagnostic skills, and lavish accommodations nestled within lush tropical gardens.

And then there’s the food.

Dishing up healthy food is a relatively easy, if entirely boring, enterprise for the most part.  Scintillating the senses with so many flavors you never notice it’s good for you is an art – one that’s been perfected under the guidance of Executive Chef Paisarn Cheewinsiriwat.  (Which explains why the resort has won a number of international awards for its spa cuisine.)

Replicating the experience at home, however, is usually just a bit too daunting for most amateur chefs.  Yet the recently published Chiva-Som’s Thai Spa Cuisine Cookbook makes it uncomplicated; featuring some 50 lavishly illustrated and simple-to-follow recipes that will invigorate you quicker than you can say อันนี้เป็นเรื่องที่ง่าย. (Go on, guess!)

Here’s one sterling example, courtesy of the chef: Yam Hua Plee, or banana blossom salad. (Banana blossom is loaded with nutrients like vitamin B and calcium, not to mention a great source of iron.)  Oh and you can purchase the cookbook directly from the resort at [email protected]

2 ½ T lime juice
2 T soy sauce
1 ½ T honey
1 T roasted chili paste
2 bird’s eye chilies, finely chopped
4 ½ oz banana blossom, peeled
4 ½ oz. chicken breast, boiled and shredded
3 T ground roasted almond, coarsely chopped
2 T sliced shallots
2 T chopped spring onions
1 T finely diagonally sliced lemongrass
4 T roasted coconut flakes, to garnish

To prepare the dressing, whisk lime juice, soy sauce, honey, chili paste, and chilies in a large bowl. Set aside. To prepare salad, gently toss all remaining ingredients with all of the dressing in a mixing bowl until evenly mixed. Sprinkle with coconut flakes and serve.


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