555 Villa Thai is no laughing matter

IMG_20180826_181501Imagine Suvarnabhumi Airport right next to Changi Airport? It’s not just possible with a small scale map but right smack adjacent to Changi Airport, within a stone’s throw from Changi Prison. Of course, I’m not talking about the airport in Thailand but a sign bearing its name along with many other popular places in Bangkok, such as Chatuchak and Siam Square.

The signages are part of the decor at 555 Villa Thai, an authentic Thai restaurant tucked deep into Cosford Road. I only stumbled on this jewel while taking a walk around the neighbourhood. The curator of Changi Chapel Museum asked if I had been to Johor Battery and pointed me in that direction.

After walking past the World War Two site, I spotted a few eateries, one of which is the Thai joint.

IMG_20180826_181323

I decided to bring my family for a meal here on a Sunday and we were pleasantly surprised by the crowd. Makes me wonder how these folks knew about the place.

At the entrance was a tuk tuk, a popular form of transportation in Bangkok.

We asked for a table near the stage and ordered a mookata set for four which comprised various meats, seafood, vegetables, and bak kwa!

IMG_20180826_181949

The entire set up is so Thai that one of my Thai friends on Facebook really thought that I was in his hometown. The ambience was very Thai, as were most of the staff. Best of all, the view is to-die-for with only a small gathering of trees separating us from the runway. Every now and then, we had to pause our conversation as a plane took off or landed.

Back to the food, we opted for chicken instead of tom yum soup and it didn’t disappoint. The juices from the meats and their marinades flowed down to the soup, making it simply delicious. The only catch is that the soup area is so narrow that the ladle provided could not fit. We resorted to using our metal spoons instead, which worked perfectly because it was straight from the steamboat to the mouth.

As for the meats, they were very well marinated and tasty on their own but the chilli fan in me couldn’t resist a dip in the hot sauce.

Besides tang hoon, the set also came with a packet of instant noodles which blended really nicely with everything. If you need your carbo fix, just order a bowl of white rice or other staples from the a la carte menu.

IMG_20180826_192406

Having just returned from a trip to Bangkok and a visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market, I had to try the coconut ice cream at 555 Villa Thai. The verdict: It’s just as good except for smaller amounts of toppings.

Even though we were dining in the open air, the place was nice, breezy (albeit with fans on) and the experience is great. Plus, the price is reasonable at around $15-20 per person.

Of yes, before I forget, a live band played on the stage from around 7.30pm. Their repertoire of songs in multiple languages and dialects took the already wonderful atmosphere to another level. I’m looking for another reason to have a meal here.

 

 

 

Grilled seafood platter value for money

Grilled platter.jpgNight life is alive and very vibrant in exotic Bangkok. A key element are the night markets, of which there are plenty, each with its own uniqueness and offerings.

For my recent trip, my family decided to check out Ratchada Rot Fai Night Market at 55/9 Ratchadaphisek Rd.

Easily accessible via Cultural Centre MRT Station, this night market is smaller than another that’s located a little out of the city but packed with loads of food and other stalls.

When we arrived at around 6pm, there was a steady stream of tourists walking towards the market, which closes at 1am of weekdays and Sundays and 2.10am on Saturdays.

Our first objective was to look for a place to eat. There are several rows of eateries lined up back to back. While the stallholders tried to draw our attention, we found that getting a table is not that easy — the crowds just kept coming.

Seafood was the order of the day so we picked a stall that had an available table and plonked ourselves there. It was cramped but with our hungry stomachs, we were prepared to make do.

We picked a seafood platter (see photo) that costs 590 baht. Then, the wait began. Seems that the stallholders are more interested in getting new customers than looking after those already seated. Even though there wasn’t any seat left, they continued to peddle their stuff. That was when it dawned on us that the adjoining stalls are either related or they do cross-selling.

After about half an hour of waiting and having countless people walking pass and bumping into us, we asked how much longer we had to wait.

The disinterested staff delivered our question over the walkie talkie and our platter arrived a few minutes later.

The star of the platter was the grilled fish, which is surrounded by scallops, cockles, prawns, vegetable, and a small packet of bee hoon. It was supposed to be for two to three persons but proved to be more than enough for the four of us.

I cannot vouch for the rest of the food but the fish tasted fresh and tender. The skin is a tad too salty and hard to eat but dip the meat into the chilli sauce and it’s mouth-watering.

Our neighbouring tables seem to have ordered the same platter and were equally thrilled with the fish.

For 590 baht, the grilled seafood platter offers good value for money.

I was still not satisfied and wanted to have other meats for my dinner. When I eyed barbecued chicken and pork, kebab-style, in another stall, my mind was made up.

Pity I didn’t take photos of those as I guess I was too busy enjoying them. At 20 baht per stick, the meats are so nicely done — succulent, juicy and tasty. That’s another reason to make another trip back here next time I’m in Bangkok.

 

Cool coconut dessert draws me back to Chatuchak

IMG_20180811_104620.jpgMy first trip to the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok left an impression that says, “been there, done that”. I did not even want to consider venturing again to the massive maze of more than 15,000 stalls. It was hot, humid and when it poured, the place was flooded. The cheap T-shirts were cheaper for a reason — the quality doesn’t measure up to those a little more expensive bought at MBK and other night markets.

After nearly a decade, I was persuaded to give the place a second shot earlier this year. This time, I left impressed. The market is much cleaner, better organised and the walkway no longer has potholes that gather water when it rains.

Plus, I was eager to try the much written about coconut ice cream. My daughter and I shared one that day and being an ice cream aficionado, that just wasn’t enough.

So, my family and I made our way to the market again last weekend. We shopped for pet accessories, snacks and other knick knacks. However, my top priority was to have the coconut ice cream dessert. This time, I wasn’t prepared to share it with anyone else.

There are many stalls selling the dessert and from what I’ve tasted, I think they get their stuff from the same supplier.

We bought two — one for my wife and two daughters and the other was exclusively mine.

For just 50 baht, I get two scoops of coconut ice cream plus sweet glutinous rice in a coconut and unlimited toppings — well, as much as we can add without spilling over. My toppings were nuts, corn and attap chee.

The ice cream was sheer delight in a warm morning. It was a cool refreshment that brings much joy to the mouth and soul. The toppings complement the ice cream so well — adding crunch, bite and a tinge of saltiness to a sweet dessert. I love the coconut flesh at the bottom — almost like the icing to the cake to finish a meal.

Chatuchak Weekend Market has, to me, a redeeming attraction, one that can draw me back again to jostle with the crowd and get lost in the maze because of this cool coconut dessert.