Indian Food in Bangkok

This is going to sound super silly but, the best Indian food (outside of India) is probably in Bangkok. Note: I heard Qatar has the most delicious Indian outside of India but I’ve never been — if anyone has, do please drop a comment!

Anyway. Tonight I had this dish called Murgh Tandoori which is basically tandoori chicken in this marinade that was so delicious, I asked the restaurant for the recipe. Loosely, it’s yogurt, vinegar, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, yellow chilies, turmeric powder, and garam masala.

I’m 100% sure replicating the dish would be impossible (their grilling technique is next level) but I need to document this somewhere before I forget the name of the dish.

The restaurant is Charcoal in Bangkok. The website is here.

Photo is swiped from the restaurant’s IG since my photo was terrible.

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Japanese Whiskey Update

I’m so often asked about Japanese whiskey, it’s about damn time I update here too.

Tokyo has hundreds of phenomenal whiskey bars with jaw-dropping collections of whiskeys that are near extinct. Over the years, I’ve found my go-to bars and through frequenting these bars, I’ve learned so much from the bartenders. These bartenders (or masters, as they are called in Japan) are spirit shokunin, masters of their trade. The amount of knowledge they have is unreal. And the best part is every one of the barmasters are extremely generous with sharing their knowledge.

The only problem is, these dudes only speak Japanese and if you don’t speak Japanese you’re, well, SOL. Or shit outta luck.

Enter this piece. So on Twitter, I connected with a bartender-slash-writer who wrote an exceptional, most relevant piece on Japanese whiskey (as of 2018).

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He touches upon an up and coming obscure brand called Ichiro (like the baseball player) that I was introduced to in Tokyo a few years back. One of my obsessions was whiskey ‘slept in’ Mizunara barrels for a while. I say slept in because it is the literal translation from Japanese — nekaseru ねかせる — meaning resting, sleeping, etc.

I first stumbled upon Mizunara wood at Gen-san’s, as his bar counter is made from Mizunara. Then I tried Yamazaki Mizunara at the Aman a few years back Then I discovered Hibiki also has a Mizunara blend (but still expensive and hard to find). And then, Ichiro has two types. One solely aged in Mizunara and another, a blend. Personally I prefer the latter vs the former. It has more depth.

Since I shared this knowledge on Twitter, thought I should post on here too. Afterall, Tweets just … disappear into the Internet blackhole.

You’re welcome.
You can read Dan’s GQ piece here.

Threes

They say deaths come in threes and boy has the culinary world in 2018 suffered the effects of that urban legend. First Anthony Bourdain. Then Jonathan Gold. And now, Joël Robuchon.

My first experience at a Robuchon establishment was in Tokyo, where he owns this strange mansion-esque building that houses three Robuchon restaurants and one bar. I’ve eaten at all three, even had drinks at the bar.

Living in Asia, it’s easy to travel around the region and in every cosmopolitan city of this part of the world, there is at least one L’Atelier that is starred by Michelin. And that is the extent I know about him: A decorated chef with a lot of stars around the globe.

Reading tributes, I now have a better understanding of the man and the impact he had on global fine dining. Pete Wells’ NYTimes piece basically sums it up perfectly.

I don’t really have much to contribute but I did come across a mashed potato recipe of his I’ve cooked several times. They are French style mashed potatoes, creamier and richer than the mashed potatoes Americans are used to, perfect for when you want to control mashed potato intake because honestly I can eat an entire pot of American style mashed potatoes. Oops!

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Jonathan Gold

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Jonathan Gold passed away.

My tribute is late and I don’t have anything profound to add to all the eloquent tributes except he taught America so much and his presence will be missed.

The number one thing we learned, is to appreciate food and cultures in our own backyards and how food isn’t about Michelin stars or lists, but more so, food is a universal language that bonds and the simplest way of showing love towards others.

He also taught me a lot about tacos and burritos

Following the news about Anthony Bourdain, 2018 is one of the worst years in the culinary world.

Rest in light to two legends.

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Ferran Adrìa and Daniel Boulud

I get it. I do. We all cut corners.

Ina Garten uses store bought marinara (Rao’s) as does Giada de Larentiis. Rick Bayless uses Tamazula hot sauce. Andrew Zimmern (4x James Beard winner) uses Sam’s BBQ Sauce and Trader Joe’s brand harissa (wtf), on and on, if you do Google searches, there are loads of information of ready made products chef use.

Almost all of the store-bought products top chefs rely on make sense. Why bother wasting time and energy making something if store bought ones taste better? Personally, I veer from house-made / homemade ketchup and mayo — Heinz still makes the best ketchup, Hellman’s and Kewpie for mayo.

However, there are two unforgivable offenses I just can not get over.

  1. (points below)

and 2. (points below)

In no means am I a purist but these are three star Michelin chefs!!!!!! Preserved lemons are just salt and water. Variations may have added spices and lemon juice but come on! What is so difficult about tossing some spices or squeezing juice? Not to mention, he is a master chef and restauranteur who owns chains and employs thousands of people. He can easily have minions make preserved lemons. Buying pre-made is just lazy.

Ferran Adrìa is the genius behind elBulli, the now defunct mothership that bred countless of world-class chefs dazzling Europe. And he uses dashi powder? WTF. Dashi powder is the equivalent to bouillon cubes of Japanese cooking: FLAVORLESS SALT BOMBS.

I am strangely disappointed, extremely offended, and most of all sad, since I no longer trust these chefs.. If Chef Daniel Boulud can’t even prepare his own preserved lemons, what else does he cut corners on? Makes me never, ever, want to step foot into Daniel or any Boulud restaurant ever again.

Oh, well.

The French Laundry #throwback

One of the greatest things about Twitter is how bits of information are shared, which is probably due to how anyone can post whatever they feel like quickly. The 280 character limit and knowing the information will most likely pass through a vortex of information and disappear into the Internet blackhole relieves pressures of thinking too much … which is beneficial for the masses as we can see deeper into our favorite people/brands/businesses that are normally out of reach. (Usually — as I am obviously taking politics out of the equation.)

The other day a friend alerted me to The French Laundry’s Tweet, sharing their opening night menu in 1979 (!!!)

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Fast forward to 1994, Thomas Keller bought the building and in 2018, TK is arguably still one of the top 5 chefs in North America, and TFL is one of the greatest restaurants in America.

The original handwritten menu on opening night, though, beautifully sums up the state of food in America in the 70’s and up until the late-00’s (perhaps early 2010) when the American public finally started caring about food.

Take a look:

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“Fresh asparagus” and “rice” are on the menu — wow.

America, you have come a long way! And thank you, Chef Keller, for being on the forefront of the food revolution in the U.S. Much love and respect.