Jamie’s Italian Bangkok

One epicurean highlight of me, my sisters’ and my mother’s adventure in Bangkok was the opportunity to dine at Jamie’s Italian.  It is a popular worldwide chain of Italian restaurants conceived and run by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.  Thanks to cable TV my family knows who Jamie Oliver is.

This chain of restaurants has recently been in the news in which about a dozen of its branches scattered around the world are reportedly beleaguered and will soon be closing.  It is so ironic that it has yet to open a branch in Manila, yet branches in other spots on the planet are already closing.

So before Jamie’s Italian would completely dissolve and utterly disappear from the face of earth, me, Nengkoy and my sisters took the chance to savor some of its dishes.  My family love watching cable TV cooking shows (including that of Jamie Oliver’s) and now that there is an opportunity, we will no longer forever wonder how a popular celebrity chef’s creation actually taste like.

These are what we ordered…

Soup of the Day… pumpkin soup! This surprisingly passed the palate of Nengkoy whom I consider to be an authority when it comes to pumpkin soups.

Meatball Pappadelle (free-range pork & fennel meatballs in ‘nduja tomato sauce with olives, herby breadcrumbs, rocket and parmesan) this is sooo good…

Spaghetti Alla Norma (a classic sicilian pasta dish or aubergine, chilli & basil in rich tomato sauce) it’s vegetarian yet my personal favorite! 

Truffle Shuffle (white sauce, truffled salami, fontal, balsamic onions, free-range egg & black truffle) super savory!

Epic Chocolate Brownie (with proper chocolate sauce, salted caramel ice cream and caramelised popcorn) super yummy!

And after enjoying all these savory dishes, I wonder why a significant number of Jamie’s Italian branches around the planet are in the brink of closure.  Maybe it’s because taste buds of people around the world has mutated, regressed and had a relapse that it can no longer fathom, appreciate and recognize what good food is.

Good to know that the Bangkok branch stays strong and dynamic.  This is considering the fact that Thai people seem to be one of the most discriminating in terms of flavor, taste and palatal experience.  With the luscious taste and flavors we experienced at Jamie’s Italian Bangkok located at Siam Discovery, I hope that this chain remain for a long period of time for others with discerning taste to enjoy. 

me and nengkoy… enjoyed the food so much!

Parang ako ang kasarapan!

Nengkoy’s First Bangkok Adventure

“I will because Nengkoy still”. This would be my response if I am to be asked if I would still travel abroad and around the country even if I reached eighty.
Nengkoy who will be turning 81 years old this week has actually just gone to Bangkok, Thailand. I and my dear sisters accompanied her.

nengkoy with my dear sisters

It was Nengkoy’s first time in Bangkok while it was my fifth. Bangkok still never ceases to amaze me. The people and their culture is so beautiful. Nengkoy was at awe when she saw for herself the weird reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, the elegance and style of Wat Phra Keaw and the majesty of the Grand Palace.
And I was super glad that Nengkoy was able to stand the super heat and humidity of Bangkok climate. Since Bangkok has yet to install lifts or escalators in every stairs facilities leading up and down the metro train, I was also super glad that Nengkoy at her age could still go up some high flight of stairs.

Travelling with an old lady have some unique challenges. The medicines to bring, the amount and type of food to order in a restaurant, the challenging long walks and difficult climbing, the spots and places to visit and go to, the modes of transportation to take, etc. But all these challenges were handled with ease. Thank goodness Nengkoy does not possess the grumpy, irritable and ill-tempered persona that I often possess during my travels. Hahaha!
Anyway, Nengkoy’s Bangkok adventure was simply happy, easy and noteworthy. I am the proudest that Nengkoy got to see and experience the beauty of Bangkok!

Koriya naman daw ang susunod! Kaloka!

I Must Be A Thai In The Past

If reincarnation is true, I would like to believe that I am a Thai royal in the second to the last life before the one I am in now.  I am saying this because every time I am given the time, money and god-given opportunity to travel to Bangkok, Thailand I would always grab it.

And every time my silky smooth feet would land in Bangkok, I never miss the opportunity to visit the Grand Palace complex.  It is the very palace complex where the Kings of Siam reside in the past.

super sweat with vitamin D

super sweat with vitamin D

that statue is so grand! i wan't one inside my home!

that statue is so grand! i wan’t one
inside my home!

grandest of the grand

grandest of the grand

And every time I visit, The Grand Palace never ceases to amaze me.  Aside from having so much vitamin D because of the blazing heat of the sun, I am always at awe at the beauty, grandeur and magnificence of its colorful history, intricate designs and fabulous architecture.

mind boggling!

mind boggling!

feeling at just like home...

feeling at home…

my inner being tells me, i once lived in this complex...

my inner being tells me, i once lived in this
royal complex…

I really wouldn’t mind getting back and visit this royal multiplex again.  It is because it feels like I’m simply visiting back my once luxurious past life.  Sawasdee!!!

Babalik ulet ako dyan. Por shur…

A Cute Café For Overgrown Children

It was one café in Bangkok that I promised myself to write about when I get back to Manila.  However, it has been more than a week already but the only description that I could think about this café is that it’s cute.  That’s it.

I know “cute” is not an appropriate adjective to describe a café, a restaurant or any dining place.  But that’s the persistent thought that lingers inside my crazy shell.  And ironically, nothing else would crop out of mind to further describe it.

mr. jones orhanage

mr. jones orphanage

the cute view from my seat

the cute view from my seat. i wanted to bring home those toy soldiers

though i still fit in, their cool looking seats were a little tight

though i still fit in, their cool looking seats were a little tight and narrow

creative cafe concept

The place is called Mr. Jones Orphanage, a cute café whose theme was like a toy workshop adorned with adorable stuffed toys, miniature toy soldiers, a train track and giant wooden wheel-parts of a wristwatch.

At first glance when we passed through this adorable café, I thought it was a toy store.  But when we passed through again after shopping (inside Siam Center), we were like overgrown kids who could no longer resist to settle our big asses on the available seats.

Their menu was a dessert lover’s paradise.  They have wide selection of cakes, fruit pies, milk shakes and cookies.  I ordered a slice of orange cake plus a cup of cappuccino.  The cake was okay though I tasted better versions of it.  Nevertheless the cappuccino was superb.

a slice of orange cake

a slice of orange cake

nice looking cup with a superb cappuccino

nice looking cup with a superb cappuccino

a cute message on my cup

a cute message on my cup

Overall, being at Mr. Jones Orphanage was a cute dining experience.

Di lang pambata, pang-damulag din!

All is Well and Swell at Novotel

Aside from the complimentary overnight stay and numerous discounts to various products and services, one distinct advantage of being an Accor member, for me, is that it pressures me to use it.  It compels me to book a room in one of their hotel chains located within Asia-Pacific otherwise my entitlement will be forfeited.

it was a smooth check-in

it was a smooth check-in

gone nuts with their welcome drink...

gone nuts with their welcome drink…

My being an Accor member gives me a reason to go on a holiday.  This is of course aside from my needing to de-stress from a very demanding job and my passionate craving to see and experience other culture.

This year, I decided to use my Accor entitlement in Bangkok, Thailand.  I stayed in Novotel located right at the vibrant city center and known as the laboratory site of modern Thai fashion, Siam Square.

Though Novotel Siam Square is not a new hotel, there is nothing shabby about it.  I was surprised myself that I actually loved this place.

It has an excellent location where restaurants, major shopping malls and modes of transportation are all within short walking distance.  The room with fast and efficient wifi facility was clean and was in good size.  The bathroom was just how I liked it — clean, simple and functioning.  The bed was so super comfy!!!

had difficulty waking up in that super comfy bed...

had difficulty waking up in that super comfy bed…

i love hotel toiletries...

i love hotel toiletries…

as expected... mine of course was the bigger luggage

as expected… mine of course was the bigger luggage

Though I did not dip into the pool it nevertheless looks relaxing and inviting.

view of the pool from the 14th floor

view of the pool from the 14th floor

The staffs were graciously amazing.  I will go back and stay there again in a heartbeat if given the chance.  Novotel Siam Square has definitely gives me the reason to renew my Accor membership next year.


Adoring Japan / Envying Thailand / Questioning Philippines

A lot of my friends as well as those who follow my blog know that I love Japan.  I adore their food, their weather and the strong and powerful yet charming-to-the ear language.  People know that I admire their culture, their technology, their fashion and their being so organized.  I have high regard to the people of Japan.  They are just so nice and gracious.

i even fancy japan's vendo machines. hahaha

i even fancy japan’s vendo machines. LOL!!!

fashion ba kamo? love my doc martens!!!

along dotonbori… fashion ba kamo? love my doc martens!!!

Too bad I can’t just go there and spend a nice vacation every time I feel like going there.  Being a Pinoy citizen, I am required to process and undergo those tiresome procedures of applying for a visit visa.  Being a Filipino citizen, I am not allowed to simply go there and enjoy the awesome weather.  The Philippines is not one of those rich auspicious countries with visa exemption arrangements with Japan.

Well I guess, some people are fortunate enough to be born into the right nationality while others have to find their own way.  Don’t get me wrong here. I love the Philippines because if I don’t I could have hopped on a plane, gone the hell out and never return.  Or if I can’t have that access, I could have packed my bags, join a secluded monastery and never go out.

I am articulating on this because the recent news made me so envious with the Thais.  According to news, the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that effective July 1, 2013 Japan will give Thai nationals with visa exemptions that would be good for up to 15 days.

amazing thailand... i can feel that i will soon be visiting this country again...

amazing thailand… i can feel that i will soon be visiting this country again…

With this news, Thailand obviously beat and thumped the Philippines big time!  While Thais can go and visit Japan with much ease, us Pinoys will have to settle with the wearisome and mind-numbing processing of visa applications.

I just hope and pray that Japan will grant the same to the Filipinos.  But I guess Japan has their reasons.  And such reasons are actually in the hands of the Pinoys themselves.  Is it the Pinoy culture, the Pinoy urbanity, or the Pinoy civility?  While I endlessly adore Japan and start being jealous of Thailand, I guess only us Pinoys can answer this question.

Pagka-sabmit ng rekwayrments diretcho novena para humiling na bigyan ng visa. Bakit Lord?! Bakit???

I’m Now A Samsung Fan

I am bitten by a bug called Samsung.  Last week I posted on my Facebook that I want a Samsung Galaxy Note II for my upcoming birthday.  Actually, I have yet to own a Samsung gadget but nevertheless the first and only Samsung unit I purchased is actually not a gadget but a huge refrigerator as a gift for Nengkoy.  Today, after having chanced upon an adorable Thai short-film entitled “Love at First Flight“, I can officially say that I am a Samsung fan.

Love at First Flight is a 30-minute Samsung commercial-ad-cum-romantic-comedy movie.  The story, the Thai actors and the plot are sooo cute. The movie is such a bastion of pure charm.  It would be pretty hard not to purchase yourself a Samsung gadget after watching this…

No wonder Samsung is the best selling electronic gadget of our time.  And it looks like Samsung’s virtual ship has sailed and is watching how Apple gets smaller and smaller who’s standing on the shore punching its fists up in the air…

Ang kyut noh…

Visa-Free Quests for Ref Magnets

gmanetwork.com recently issued a news and clarification that Filipinos can visit 25 countries around the world without the need for a tourist visa.  This is in clarification to the starting-to-get viral Facebook post that Filipinos can go to 60 countries visa-free.  Press Link here for the clarification and list of visa-free countries which if you will actually count is 26.

I have been a believer of my country’s awesomeness but I love being a tourist and I fancy travelling out of the country.  Nengkoy (my mom) in her exasperated demeanor would often tell me that I don’t have kayamanan (investments, wealth and assets) because according to her my kayamanan are the experiences I gained out from my travels out of the country. So when I checked on the list, there have been six countries that I have already personally visited out of the 26 countries listed.

In each of the destinations I go to, may it be out of the country or within, I always make it a point to bring home with me a memento.  A “delicious” budget traveler like me cannot afford to buy exorbitant souvenirs like paintings, crystals or even silver spoons so I would settle for the cheapest.  That would be a ref magnet!  So, without further pomp and circumstance, here’s a look at the treasures of my adventures:

malaysia "truly asia"

morocco "land of the setting sun"

"amazing" thailand

vietnam "timeless charm"

"your" singapore

hongkong "best place, best taste"

Availability of ref magnets in tourist destinations bearing the name of the city or country as a simple memento is an indication that such place or destination is a tourist hub.

Anyway, referring back to the list, I still have a long way to go in covering all these countries.  I still have 20 more countries to go to visa-free.  However, I noticed that Macau is not included in the list.  It’s also visa-free…

macau "a world of difference"

I do not have investments and Nengkoy is correct. I may have zero assets, humongous liabilities and mediocre net worth but the experiences and wisdoms I gained out from these travels are priceless.

Sa Mars at Jupiter kaya may rep-magnet? 

Sing Lek Lek Thee Riak Wa Ruk

Though all movies shown in the Philippines for the last two weeks of 2010 are all Filipino-made (due to the Metro Manila Film Festival) and every citizen has flocked the movie houses, I have yet to watch one.

And since I seem to belong to the odd segment of humanity that always made me wonder what parallel in the universe am I in, the last film that I was able to watch last year was neither a Filipino nor a Hollywood movie. It’s Thai! The movie is entitled Sing Lek Lek Thee Riak Wa Ruk starring Mario Maurer and Pimchanok Luewisedpaibon.

It’s a feel good comedy film about a schoolgirl’s undying crush towards a campus heartthrob.  The characters were so effective and the mesmerizing “kilig” (giddy fuzzy feeling) factor was so pure.  They were loads of endearing charm and cuteness presented in multiple solid laughs.  But what made it so wacky was because of the supporting role played by Sudarat “Tukky” Butprom.  Tukky as the English Teacher was so hilarious.  I wanted her to be always on the screen as the story progress for she was a BLAST!

The movie also deals about genuine friendship, youth’s struggle to look good and feel good, youthful fun and life’s simplicity. It’s pure entertainment full of unadulterated charm that is hard to resist.  It will make you truly realize that sometimes the simple unfussy entertainment is the one that comes off best.

In a more serious note, it is about life’s struggle to be better anchored on undying love and (pronouncing like how Tukky pronounced it in the movie…) INSPIRATION.

If I only have enough bucks and have the right connections, I am all but willing to produce the Philippine release of this movie.  I will not remake it to be played by Pinoy thespians but release it like it is.  I’m sure it will be a big hit!

Imadyin, tong tanda kong ‘to.  Kinikilig pa pala.  Mwahahaha! *evil laugh*

World Cup for Pinas is Bland

In the midst of all the brouhaha about the NBA Finals Game 7, the citizens of the Philippines do not care and do not know that there is an estimated 380,000 foreign fans who travelled and will travel to South Africa to watch the World Cup; there are already 2.9 million tickets sold for its various matches this year; an estimated 3.2 billion US dollars earned by FIFA in media and marketing revenues; and, 60 million estimated number of viewers who will watch the World Cup finals on television.

However, in the Philippines we seem to not belong in the above stated statistics.  It is because majority of us find soccer as a boring low scoring game.  It is because we do not know the names of the players (David Beckham is more of a husband of Posh Spice and more of an underwear model than a soccer player to us).  It is because we do not know its history or the game’s tactics.  We just essentially see 22 men running up and down a huge field chasing and kicking a ball. 

But it is a totally different scenario in Bangkok, Thailand.  I was almost bitten by the World Cup bug during my short stay in Bangkok last weekend.  The international sports all I was exposed to was nothing but World Cup.  It’s everywhere in Bangkok!  You can really feel the South African World Cup fever. 

My first night, I was amazed by the young Caucasian-race foreigners crowding at almost all bars along Khaosan Road watching and cheering on the games flashed on TV screens and digital projectors.  The stores in Siam Square are decorated by massive billboards promoting the games.  The streets are full of promotional materials bearing the various superstar players of the game.  Magazines, newspapers and even restaurant bar’s bulletin boards are headlining the highlights and schedules of the games.  Even at the airport, the travelers waiting for their boarding time are all stuck on the TV screen watching the games. 

I do not understand the underlying excitement that has the world captivated about this sport.  Some even believe that fans riot out of boredom but I totally disagree because if boring sports like soccer lead to aggressive spectators, we must surely witness a lot of blood during a chess match.  I believe that in soccer, it’s just so hard to score that is why tension and excitement builds up which leads to full blast celebration when one player makes a goal.

Filipinos have yet to be mystified by the sport maybe it’s also because it’s like some food from other countries which we think is gross and some things we eat is gross to them.  It’s the way we are raised and what we have grown accustomed to.  We love NBA because we are so American!  I still find soccer to be absolutely boring yet I am mystified as to why it’s so damned intense in other parts of the world like Thailand.

Kung boring sa atin, eh bakit “sipa” ang pambansang laro?