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Thursday, October 6, 2011

WHY ITALIAN IN BANGKOK?

My only two dinners in Bangkok were Italian.  Why?  First, I like Italian food.  Second, the signature restaurants of the Sheraton Grande Sukhamvit and St. Regis are Italian.  Third, I don't like Thai food.

I've been here at least 25 times and could not for the first few years figure out what I did not like about it.  I finally realized that there was something about the smell of Thai dishes.  Inquiring further, I learned that a good number of them featured a splash, or more of a sauce.



Thai fish sauce, Nam Plan, supposedly a good one above, Golden boy, starts with small (2-5 inches) fish like anchovies, placed in a large earthenware jar with salt and water, and left covered in a sunny spot for nine to eighteen months.  Almost like kim chee.  Basically, the mixture slowly rots!  The final product is supposed to be clear and the color of whiskey, with an odor of the sea and not fishy nor overly salty.  Sure!   This all reminds me of durian, but this smell is of stinky socks and is banned from many hotels, especially in Singapore.  Spraying lime juice over these Thai dishes is supposedly one way to minimize the malodorousness of it all.  Does not work for me.

Thus, in Thailand, I go to Plan B, non-Thai food.  First, though, this fabulous illustrated international (Thai, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, American) brunch at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit:

I finished with some litchee, pineapple, passion fruit, mangosteen and rambutan.  For dinner on night one, Rossini's:


My meal started with a Chilean Chardonnay at the Library, followed by a Chilean Cabernet, which I walked into Rossini's because it was free.  I added a Zardetto Prosecco Brut and enjoyed (above) the olives, curly something or other, parmesan/pistachio deep fried stick, olives and mozzarella/tomatoes/pesto cup, all gratis.  My entre combined a Caesar's salad (not on menu--if I asked for spaghetti Bolognese, they would have fixed it), Fagato grosso con lomponi (seared foie gras with raspberry), and Rissoto zafferano e midollo di bye (safron al dente rice and bone marrow).  This certainly would fall in the top three of all Italian dinners I've had.  Not quite up to the white truffle rissoto in Rome, but, I'm awaiting what beholds at the St. Regis tonight, as I move to that hotel in the afternoon and an Italian restaurant is their best.

The new (April of this year) St. Regis has two excellent places to eat, Jojo, Italian, and Viu, cosmopolitan.  Jojo was highly recommended.

The evening began in Decanter, where Platinum members have free everything.  I had a Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, Siam Mary (the Thai version of Bloody Mary) and a South African Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, with some Italian ham and walnuts.


Then down to Jojo's.  I had a Duca Di Castelmonte Prosecco and Chianti Superiore from Tuscany with Caesar Salad (I wanted to compare, but they had to order this from another restaurant in the building), Pasta e Fagioli, and Veal Ossobuco with safron rice cream.  The soup was tepid while the OB had no bone.  They scrapped everything off the bone and I couldn't tell if there was any marrow.  Very disappointing.


If I gave Rossini's an 8.5, Jojo's would get a 6.5.  However, the service was fine and ambience okay.They're still learning.  Clearly, Rossini's is more elegant and polished.

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Four developing ocean storms suddenly popped out in the East Pacific.  I've never seen that before, but I suspect all will peter out.

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