Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Khao Chae Chow Wang (ข้าวแช่ชาววัง) - Authentic Thai Dish for Summer

A Set of Khao Chae
As of now, mid April, summer heat has approached the land of smile and surely this is the hottest part of the year with temperature of 35 degree Celsius almost everywhere.   Seeking for some cool and refreshing dish is indeed typical.  At this time of the year, many places in Thailand do offer a traditional summer dish called “Khao Chae (ข้าวแช่)” in addition to their ordinary menu for Summer.

Figures above show Side Dishes and Rice in Jasmine Water

So what is Khao Chae? It, at first, may sound simply just rice in cool/iced jasmine water with many different side dishes but it is more complex than we have thought.  Before going into more detail, let me briefly give you the background history of it.  Khao Chae was not originated from Thai people but Mon, at the time of their reign.  Not until the time of King Rama V, Khao Chae was hardly recognised by Thai residence.  King Rama V was passionate to Khao Chae resulting in the popularity and recognition spread out afar.  At the early year, it was regarded as “Chao Wang” dish or dish from palace; nevertheless, it is now available widely from local markets to high end restaurants.  However, Khao Chae is typically for sale during Summer time in Thailand only.

Figures above show Prik Yuak Yud Sai, and Kapi Thod & Hom Daeng Thod

Let’s us now get back to the dish itself.  Choice of side dishes does vary from place to place including Prik Yuak Yud Sai or Pork Mince Stuffed Green Pepper Wrapped with Drizzling Fried Egg (พริกหยวกยัดไส้), Kapi Thod or Fried Shrimp Paste Ball (กะปิทอด), Hom Daeng Thod or Fried Whole Red Onion (หอมแดงทอด), Moo Foi or Shredded Pork (หมูฝอย), Moo Toob or Pounded Pork (หมูทุบ), Chai Pow or Chinese Style Preserved Radish (ไช้โป๊ว), and Kai Kem Thod or Fried Salted Egg (ไข่เค็มทอด).  Most of side dishes of Khao Chao contain rather sweet flavour: Fried Shrimp Paste Ball, Shredded Pork, and Chai Pow.  The highlight of these side dishes is probably Prik Yuak Yud Sai: preparing a nice one is indeed depending on recipe but serving a beautiful one with perfect drizzling fried egg wrapping around green pepper in a mesh-like pattern is an art.  In addition, they are usually served with fresh vegetable, such as Kra Chai or Fingerroot (กระชาย), Cucumber, Raw Sliced Mango, and Spring Onion, to be eaten along side.

Moo Foi on left and Moo Toob on right

Chai Pow on left and Kai Kem Thod on right

Today, things are always in rush and hurry and the matter of return comes to play a major role, people do not tend to keep strictly to tradition anymore.  The process of preparing rice in cool jasmine water requires patient.  Unlike just putting parboiled rice in iced jasmine scented water as nowadays, rice is soaked in water with jasmine flower overnight and added the final touch of complexity by smoking with fragrant candle.

As mentioned earlier that Khao Chae can now be found in many Thai restaurants during Summer, please allow me to introduce to a few great restaurants that serve splendid Khao Chae in Bangkok.

SaNguan Sri: an old fashion restaurant on Witthayu Road that annually serves Khao Chae from Mid March to April.

Address: 59/1 Witthayu Road, Lumphini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10120
Tel: +66 (0) 2251 9378
Hours: daily during lunch

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok: the famous hotel along the Chao Phraya River does usually serve Khao Chae as one of dishes in its buffet line during lunch in April at Sala Rim Naam.  Mandarin Oriental also offers A la Carte set of Khao Chae at its shops in downtown.

Address: 48 Oriental Avenue, Charoen Krung Road, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500
Tel: +66 (0) 2437 6211
Hours: daily between 12pm and 3pm

Monday, March 12, 2012

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon @ The Landmark, Hong Kong

Cuisine: French
Visited: 7 January 2012
Price: HKD800 per person without alcohol (what I paid for)
Food: 8/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 6/10
Services: 7/10

Indeed it has been long, almost 3 months since my last review; whatever excuse I may have, busy with daily work blah blah blah, please kindly accept.  Any let's start a new episode of food adventure.

Not long after new year, I had a chance to visit Hong Kong and surely did make my way to the famous L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon which is situated on 4th floor of The Landmark.  This place is charming indeed.  The cool decor with red but lively tone in dark setting.  Bar seating is the core style of this place but if you prefer private table, it is available for you.  As you may probably know that this is a 3 Michelin Stars restaurant, we were surprised that price is kept at reasonable level.

We did try the dinner menu which is a 4-course set.  You can also go for 8-course menu if you want to taste more fabulous dishes.  What really great about this place is wine list from my perspective, there are something like 3,000 choices for you: wine from every part of the world, some even come with reasonable mark up such as Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 at HKD845 while high street price is around HKD750 or Domaine Marquis d'Angerville Volnay Champans 1er Cru 2005 for HKD1,600 a bottle vs. HKD1,100 for high street price or Leflaive Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon 2007 for HKD1,300 vs. HKD1,000 in retail shops.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon @ The Landmark, Hong Kong

The Entrance

The Unique Bar Seat Style

Before mentioning about food, I must admit that services here are pretty good.  Politeness, friendliness and great recommendation, all are there.  Perhaps, if they do not make things too hurry, it would be even better (but it is Hong Kong though).

Basket of breads here came stylishly and it was never empty.  Delicious choices of bread were all there and with good butter, I could just survive with that.  For L'Amuse Bouche, it was Foam of Parmesan, it was great and drooling.  In fact, if I recall it correctly, I had had something like this elsewhere before.  But never mind, it was nice anyway.

Never Empty Basket of Breads

L'Amuse Bouche of Parmesan Foam

The soup dish was Foie Gras Rolls with Beef Jelly on Sweet Corn Veloute (10/10). This was surely by far the best corn soup I have ever tried.  Smooth touch, creamy but light feeling in the mouth.  Foie gras did also match amazingly with the soup.  The only negative point was, there was too little T___T.

Foie Gras Rolls with Beef Jelly on Sweet Corn Veloute

The appetiser was Sea Scallops with Leeks and Salsifies, Creamy Horseradish Sauce (8/10).  Oh.....did you just say you do not like leeks, forget what you just say or think.  These sea scallops was great, light to taste and charming.  Really fresh half-cooked scallop with horseradish sauce that covered unpleasant scent of leeks that you may dislike.

Sea Scallops with Leeks and Salsifles, Creamy Horseradish Sauce

Main course was Braised Veal Cheek with Spinach Gnocchi (8/10).  Ok, I love this dish.  Tender piece of veal, oh no, it melted in the mouth.  All I can say here is, go get a glass of good red wine and just enjoy this dish.

Braised Veal Cheek with Spinach Gnocchi

Dessert was also lovely for the night.  Chestnut Mousse with Meringue and Cognac Ice-cream (8/10) was delightful.  All were lovely with creamy touch, not so sweet but maintained its elegant.  At the time of dessert and petit fours being served, I was already full.  4-course menu is surely enough for me.  Anyway, I would like to recommend this place to anyone who somehow are reading this blog.  Personally, a revisit is compulsory when I am next in Hong Kong.  Now "Bon Appetit et Au Revoir".

Chestnut Mousse with Meringue and Cognac Ice-cream

Petit Fours

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon @ The Landmark, Hong Kong
Floor 4 The Landmark
15 Queen's Road
Hong Kong

Open Hours: Daily 12:00 - 14:00 for lunch and 18:30 - 22:30 for dinner
Tel: +852 (0) 2166 9000
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