Friday, October 25, 2013

Soul Food Mahanakorn

Cocktails! Rainy season feat. gin, Pernod, triple sec and lime and Sukhumvit Bitters feat. Campari, Southern Comfort, dark rum, sweet vermouth, and tangerine juice. 
Yam Som-o (salad of pomelo, prawn, shallots, lime and chili) and Som Tam (green papaya salad).
Chili-roasted seabass and plenty of cilantro.

Isaan and Chiang Mai sausages served with vegetables, pork cracklings, peanuts, and chili dip.

Soul Food Mahanakorn
56/10 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Soi Thong Lor)
Thong Lor, Bangkok

Discretely located at the beginning of the Thong Lor Soi, Soul Food Mahakana represents a little oasis of modern Thai food amidst the street kitchens, Japanese eateries and bars otherwise dominating the area. The place is very popular, particularly among foreigners, so as B and I entered at 8pm on a Friday night we were given the last seats in the bar - perfect! We started off with cocktails, both excellent, innovative and recommendable. Generally the cocktail list boasts plenty of Thai-inspired ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime and the local "whisky" Mekhong (which is in fact a rum!), providing plenty of decent pairings to the Thai food.

As to the food, Soul Food practices the concept of sharing plates so we ordered four dishes to share between the two of us. To put it shortly, the food was good, though not mind-blowing. While B wasn't too much of a fan, I very much enjoyed the very meaty Isaan and Chang Mai sausages with all the delicate condiments and crispy vegetables. The som tam was however a bit of a letdown as it was much to rustic for my taste, though it was very fine taste-wise. The two other dishes were both tasty and fiery as both had been fed a healthy dose of chili. Lovely.

All in all, we spent a really enjoyable evening at Soul Food. The prices are more than reasonable so for a casual night out for some light food and great cocktails, the place is highly recommendable.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Misc. Myanmar Eats and Drinks

Burmese meatball curry set at Too Too in Mandalay.
Fried chicken thigh set at small joint, straight across from Hotel Yadanarbon in Mandalay.
Quick and self-composed breakfast of local fruits and the classic 3-in-1 Nescafe.
Black bean pork at Hotel Yadanarbon in Mandalay.
Asian breakfast option at Amazing Bagan Resort in Nyaung-U, Bagan.
Fish curry and fermented tea leaf salad at Amazing Bagan Resort in Nyaung-U, Bagan.

Grilled prawns with cilantro sauce at Amazing Bagan Resort in Nyaung-U, Bagan.
Lunch spread at Golden Myanmar in Old Bagan. 
Lunch spread at Golden Myanmar in Old Bagan.
Beef salad at Beyond Taste in Nyaung Shwe by Inle Lake.

Grilled fish at Green Chili in Nyaung Shwe by Inle Lake.

Fermented tea leaf salad at Green Chili in Nyaung Shwe by Inle Lake.
Breakfast at Inle ViewPoint Fine Lodges & Cuisines incl. Shan style noodle soup and locally produced yogurt with mango puree.

Another breakfast set at Inle ViewPoint, the selection changes every day.
Tea and htamanei (Burmese sweet rice cake) at Inle ViewPoint.
Shan style chicken noodle soup featuing plenty of fried garlic, cilantro, peanuts and spring onions.
Shan tapas at Inle ViewPoint incl. rice cakes, fish ball on sugarcane, baby shrimp pattiers, pumpkin dumpling with pork, crispy fish fry with lemon soy sauce and peanuts.
Shan tapas at Inle ViewPoint incl. chicken and young coconut, asparagus and stoneflower mushroom salad, cucumber sesame salad, butterfly beans with spring onions. Also banana leaf baked butterfish and soon htam soup (not pictured).

Pumpkin custard with watermelon sauce at Inle ViewPoint.
Innovative minibar at Inle ViewPoint. 
"Dry-fried chicken" or just plan fried chicken fat and onions at Motherland Inn in Yangon.
Market purchases, clockwise from left: fried broad beans, fermented tea leafs, raw peanuts and assorted fried beans.

Mandalay necessities and peculiarities: sunblock, Anti-malaria herbal rum, ABC stout, Pop Soda club soda and apple/cinnamon Fisherman's Friend. 

Recommended adresses: 

Too Too
27th Street, between 74th and 75thClassic Burmese kitchen. Go to the counter and have your pick of dish, and the staff will the serve the entire set at your table. A meal and a bottle of water costs approx. 3,000 kyats (3USD).

Amazing Bagan Resort
Nyang-U, Bagan
Due to its isolated location, I had quite a few meals here. The fish curry was excellent, the laphet tea leaf salad the best during the entire trip, and the selection of food quite large. Dishes range from 3,000-12,000 kyats (3-12USD), the fish curry and salad set me back 5,000 (5USD).

Golden Myanmar
Nyaung Rd., Bagan
Classic Burmese. You will be served your own little "buffet", which will be refilled, featuring many of Myanmar's traditional dishes. A meal and a bottle of water costs 3,500 kyats (3.5USD).

Beyond Taste
No.10,Phaung Daw Pyan Street, Nyaung Shwe
Burmese and "continental" food. Service was excellent and wifi is free. My beef salad was tasty and cheap (2,500 kyats aka 2.5USD) and to my delight they even had Diet Coke, which is a rarity in Myanmar.

Green ChiliHospital Rd, Nyaung Shwe
Burmese and Thai food. While the food I had here was fine, I was slightly disturbed by being served a glass of "wine", which tasted like water but smelled like sewer, though even more so as the staff did not acknowledge that it wasn't wine until after a 10 min. discussion and a talk to the manager. Stick to the beer, and you will be fine. Dishes range from 2,000-10,000 kyats (2-10USD), and the place is furthermore a popular tourist hang-out.

Inle ViewPoint - Lodge & Fine Cuisines
Near Talk Nan Bridge and Canal, Nyaung Shwe
I stayed at Inle ViewPoint, which not only is one of the most lovely hotels I have stayed at, but also one of the best eating options in the area. The breakfast spread is impressive and changes daily. The restaurant serves "tapas" inspired by the Shan cuisine, which was both challenging and tasty. A three course serving and half a bottle of wine set me back only 30,000 (30USD). Finally, the hotel is a Taittinger ambassador, and a glass of champagne will set you back a mere 12,000 kyats (12USD). Highly recommended.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery

Entry to the wine estate.
View from the tasting room.
A shot from the vineyard.

Overview of the winemaking process for dummies.

Tasting set. From left: sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, Rosé d'Inlé made from shiraz, shiraz/tempranillo blend and Late Harvest made from muscat and sauvignon blanc.

Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery
Taung Chay Village Group, Nyaungshwe Township,
Southern Shan State, Myanmar

During my research prior to my vacation to Myanmar, I had stumbled across several blogposts on the locally produced wine, which was fairly well-praised. I however remained sceptic as prior successful experiences with wines from Southern Asia have been few, particularly with Indian wines. Once I had arrived in Myanmar it however became evident that local wines are intensively distributed, particularly those from the Red Mountain and Aythaya estates. My first taste of the local produce was the sauvignon blanc, which I quite honestly was very impressed with - it could had fooled my for a wine from New Zealand. Once I arrived at Lake Inle it thus seemed like a fun activity to go see the vineyards and visit the estate.

The estate is located very close to the Nyuang Shwe township, approximately 20 minutes by bike. The buildings are beautifully set atop a hill from where you have a gorgeous view of the lake (as well as a good indicator of when to leave again if you, like me, were coming by bike during rainy season sans umbrella). It is possible to have a tour of the facilities, though little information is provided by the staff, though printed marketing material is readily available. 

As to the wines, the estate's has a tasting room, where most people opt for the tasting set, which will set you back a mere 3,000 kyats (3 USD), including the wines imaged above. I chose to add the 2010 chardonnay, which apparently won a bronze medal in the World's Best Chardonnay competition in 2013. If that is a large accomplishment I remain unsure, but it surely was a pleasant drinking experience carrying many of the characteristics that an oak-aged chardonnay typically does. My favorite however remained the sauvignon blanc and the pinot noir, which turned out to be a earthy, spicy variety. No need to say, I had to bring both bottles back. All in all, Red Mountain left a great impression, and makes for a lovely activity if you're in the Lake Inle area. And do make sure to visit at sunset - the view is breathtaking! Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

The Strand Hotel

Pegu Club.
Cocktail menu.

Strand Sour.
92 Strand Road

The bar at Strand Hotel is pretty much the perfect escape from bustle of Yangon's streets. Situated in the epicenter of the city's colonial architectural area, the hotel itself is a prime example hereof being categorized as one of South East Asia's grand heritage hotels, alongside Raffles in Singapore and The Metropole in Hanoi. The bar itself is classy decorated with dark wood, marble floor and high ceilings. And the cocktail menu is equally classic. Due to the Pegu Club's Yangon roots it was an obvious choice, which turned out to also be a good choice, as it was  fresh and well-balanced (though I was puzzled how it was served over ice). So was my other cocktail, though also intended to; the Strand Sour is made with Myanmar rum as the main character, which provided a smooth backdrop to a comforting and refreshing cocktail. Including taxes a cocktail will set you back 8 USD, and while it will buy you many delicious meals in the alleys of Yangon, it is also a relatively low-cost alternative if you, like me, wanted a quiet and cosy escape for postcard writing. Highly recommended.