"After years of continuous eating,'A Girl has to Eat', a self-confessed food lover and eat-aholic, has been spurred on to create her own food guide & blog. Read about her fabulous (and sometimes not so fabulous) culinary adventures in her restaurant reviews. This and more!"

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – The China House

Posted on Tuesday, 4th August 2015

MANDARIN ORIENTAL BANGKOK – THE CHINA HOUSE

The China House is the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok’s in-house Cantonese Chinese restaurant. The design is inspired by Shanghai’s art deco period and is decorated in an opulent old-world style with dark wood furnishings and atmospheric low lighting. It’s a classy restaurant and features dim sum as well as a series of Cantonese dishes interpreted in a contemporary style.

On Tuesdays to Saturdays The China House offers an unlimited all you-can-eat dim sum menu (1,080THB net – £20). What was a surprise was that there was not only dim sum, but that you could choose from a buffet counter as well as order off an a la carte menu. This all-you-can eat brunch menu at The China House was fabulous and incredibly good value as well.

We headed for the buffet first and I thought the buffet dishes were excellent. We tried a selection of goodies including drunken chicken, fresh prawns, jellyfish, all of which were delicious. Also fabulous was the Chinese roast pork belly. This really was sensational, with the crackling being superbly crunchy. It was a little fatty but the fat was what made it so tasty. There was also some roast duck, but we didn’t try this as the pork looked better.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Buffet selection

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Buffet selection

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Roast pork

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Roast pork

Also from the buffet was a snow fungus, scallop and crabmeat soup which was outstanding and very authentic. This soup reminded me of the kind of soups I use to eat as a child. Rich with seafood flavour and with a hint of tanginess, the soup was thick with lots of fresh seafood. The fungus added a squidgy dimension to the soup which in Cantonese cooking is a much-loved touch.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Scallop & crabmeat soup

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Scallop & crabmeat soup

Also in the buffet selection were braised goose webs with mushrooms in a brown sauce and a trio of mushrooms with green vegetables in brown sauce. Both of these were really flavoursome, and for the comfort of the diner, there were no bones in the goose web dish.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Goose web

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Goose web

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Trio of mushrooms

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Trio of mushrooms

From the a la carte menu, the silken tofu with shredded abalone ‘mao po’ style, was yet another glorious dish. I was genuinely surprised to see abalone on an all-you-can-eat menu. Abalone is such a delicacy in Chinese cooking and very expensive. Japanese silken tofu had been used here, which in my opinion is the best type of tofu as the texture of the tofu is incredibly smooth. The sauce was luscious and rich, and this was perhaps my favourite dish of the day.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Silken tofu

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Silken tofu

Also from the a la carte menu were the stir-fried egg noodles with soy sauce and sautéed prawns (as per the menu) with shallots and garlic. The noodles were very tasty with a good firmness to them. The prawns were also delicious and we enjoyed this dish very much. As for the prawns with shallots and garlic, these had been deep-fried rather than sautéed. Nevertheless, the prawns were firm and good, but the dish needed a touch more salt.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Noodles

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Noodles

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Prawns with garlic

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Prawns with garlic

With regards to the dim sum menu, what I liked most about it were the interesting contemporary interpretations that had been incorporated into it. For instance, there was glutinous rice with foie gras, and black truffle ‘xiao long bao’, both of which we tried. I adored the hint of foie gras running through the glutinous rice, but there weren’t enough savoury meat elements in the rice and this meant it was a little bland. I again adored the aroma of truffle in the xiao long bao, but thought the broth in the dumplings could have been richer.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Glutinous rice

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Glutinous rice

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Xiao long bao

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Xiao long bao

We tried classics such as the shrimp har gow and the prawn and pork siew mai dumpings. The har gow was tasty, although with the siew mai, I would have preferred a firmer consistency with noticeable pieces of prawn running through the mixture. This would have given it not only a better prawn flavour, but a better texture as well.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Har gow

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Har gow

The dessert selection from the buffet contained a variety of fruit, sticky rice and items such as green tea and osmanthus flower jelly, avocado mousse with chocolate sauce and a mango pudding. Other than the sticky rice, we didn’t enjoy any of the desserts we tried. For example, the jelly was bland, and the mango pudding had not set.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Fruit & sticky rice selection

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Fruit & sticky rice selection

The all-you-can-eat brunch at The China House was an incredibly delightful experience, and a very good value one at that. I loved the buffet and a la carte items that we tried, and I really couldn’t find fault with any of these. The dim sum was good, but the a la carte selection and the buffet were even better. As for dessert, I would only stick with the sticky rice and the fruit. But in conclusion, The China House gets a big YES from me. I would happily eat off the buffet and a la carte menu again and again. The service was very good too.

Summary Information:
Likes:

1. The a la carte selection and the buffet selection in the all-you-can-eat brunch. The food was delicious and authentic.
2. The snow fungus, scallop and crab soup, and the tofu and abalone dish were my favourites.
3. The all-you-can-eat brunch is great value for money.

Dislikes:
1. Other than the sticky rice, the desserts.

Ratings:
The a la carte menu and the buffet in the all-you-can-eat brunch:
4.75/5
The dim sum in the all-you-can-eat brunch: 3.75/5
The dessert in the all-you-can-eat brunch: 3/5
Service rating: 4/5
Overall brunch rating: 4.5/5

Prices:
All-you-can-eat dim sum brunch is 1,080THB net (about £20), and with free flowing wine is 1,400THB (about £26).

Website: http://www.mandarinoriental.com/bangkok/the-china-house/

The Siam Hotel, Bangkok – Chon Thai Restaurant

Posted on Sunday, 2nd August 2015

THE SIAM HOTEL, BANGKOK – CHON THAI RESTAURANT

During our visit to Bangkok we had dinner at the Chon Thai Restaurant at The Siam Hotel one night, a luxurious, super-stylish, uber-romantic riverside retreat located right on the Chao Phraya River. It had been our intention to take the free shuttle boats provided by the hotel to get to The Siam Hotel. What a way that would have been to arrive! Sadly and despite the fact we were in a taxi, we weren’t able to make the pier on time to catch the shuttle. Bangkok traffic is notorious for being horrific during peak hours and we managed to experience this first hand.

So we took a taxi directly to the hotel instead. But if the downside was missing the shuttle, the upside was that we arrived at the front entrance of the hotel instead. This allowed us the opportunity of walking our way through the incredibly glamorous Siam Hotel, gaping at all the elegant antiques and artworks, before finally making our way to the Chon Restaurant which is located on the pier at the back of the hotel. The Siam Hotel is one classy oasis, sumptuously decorated in a jazzy art deco style. It oozes with refinement and makes for a seductive escape from the craziness that is Bangkok. If I wanted a place to stay for a romantic getaway, The Siam Hotel would be it.

We began our evening sitting on the pier, looking out onto the river as the sunset. Here we enjoyed a glass of champagne and some lovely small bites from the bar menu such as salt and pepper squid (330THB – £6), satay chicken (350TBH – £3.50) and minced pork fritters (300THB – £5.50). All were delicious with the squid being tender and with a light crunchy batter. The chicken came with a scrumptious peanut sauce and the pork fritters were flavoursome, with a squeeze of lime providing the right touch of acidity.

The Siam Hotel - London Food Blog - River views

The Siam Hotel – River views

Moving into the restaurant, we started with a tom yum goong soup (450TBH – £8.40) which was delicious with a sweet intoxicating flavour. The soup was well balanced, with just the right amount of heat and spice. It was also sweet, but not too sweet, and simply put, was perfectly done.

The Siam Hotel – London Food Blog - Tom yum goong

The Siam Hotel – Tom yum goong

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Penang Top Eats – Penang Road Famous Cendol & Sisters Curry Mee

Posted on Friday, 31st July 2015

PENANG TOP EATS

Being the foodie capital of Malaysia, Penang resonates with many special signature dishes such as char kway teow, wok fried noodles with prawns; hokkien mee, a prawn noodle dish in a prawn broth; and assam laksa, a tangy and spicy fish broth noodle soup, but to name a few.

You need months to try the best that Penang has to offer, but if there are two things everyone must try at a minimum, then in my opinion these are the following:

1.Penang Road Famous Cendol

This cendol is legendary in Penang. All my research pointed to this being the best in Penang and every local I spoke to also agreed it was the best. Made with coconut milk, pandan jelly noodles, shaved ice, palm sugar and red beans, this was a deliciously refreshing, creamy and not too sweet. It was so delicious I kept going back for more. At MYR2.50 (about £0.42), I also thought it was great value (by Western standards).

Penang Road Famous Cendol - London Food Blog

Penang Road Famous Cendol

Penang Road Famous Cendol - London Food Blog - Cendol

Penang Road Famous Cendol – Cendol

Note that there is another cendol stall across Penang Road Famous Cendol, but just head to the one with the queues. You really can’t miss it.

Penang Road Famous Cendol - London Food Blog - The queues

Penang Road Famous Cendol – The queues

Penang Road Famous Cendol - London Food Blog - Locals eating cendol

Penang Road Famous Cendol – Locals eating cendol

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Lone Pine Hotel – Penang, Malaysia

Posted on Wednesday, 29th July 2015

LONE PINE HOTEL

After our stay at The Eastern & Oriental Hotel we ventured up to the beaches at Batu Ferringhi, which is located on the northern coastline of Penang Island and about a half an hour drive from George Town. There, we stayed at The Lone Pine Hotel, the sister hotel to The Eastern & Oriental Hotel. The hotel first opened in 1948 and was the first hotel to be established on the beaches of Batu Ferringhi. Lone Pine is a beach resort boasting of a quintessential seaside character and is very comfortable with a relaxed, laid-back energy. It caters well for those looking for a well-equipped four-star standard beachside hotel versus high-end luxury. The hotel boasts of a full range of contemporary comforts with a swimming pool, a wellness spa, a fully-equipped gymnasium, a business centre as well as meeting rooms. There is also a games room, two restaurants and a bar. There is complimentary wifi throughout the hotel, although this worked better in the lobby and not so well in our room.

Lone Pine Hotel - London food blog

Lone Pine Hotel

Lone Pine Hotel - London Food Blog

Lone Pine Hotel

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Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang, Malaysia

Posted on Monday, 27th July 2015

EASTERN & ORIENTAL HOTEL, PENANG

Penang is known as both the foodie capital of Malaysia and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So it was with much anticipation that we visited this vibrant island, to both sample its food diversity and relish its many cultural and historical offerings. In Penang we first stayed at the luxurious Eastern & Oriental Hotel. Located in Penang’s old town, George Town, the hotel is minutes away from Penang’s food and shopping strips, the financial district and all of Penang’s main cultural destinations.

In its early days when Penang served as an outpost of the East India Company, the island drew in a variety of travellers ranging from merchants to missionaries that made the arduous route from London to Singapore, a journey that generally took about four long months. But it was not until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 that travel to Asia took on another dimension, with writers, actors and the rich from Europe and America all making the trip to Asia to see what the oriental world had to offer. And with this new breed of affluent travellers, the demand for luxury hotels flourished.

And so The Eastern & Oriental Hotel was founded in 1885 by the Sarkies Brothers, the same brothers who were also instrumental in the construction of the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The Eastern & Oriental is a tale of two halves. There are two wings to the hotel, first, the traditional Heritage Wing, and the second, the ultra modern Victoria Annex. The Heritage Wing evokes a sense of tradition, one that is filled with old, colonial charm. The Heritage Wing maintains many of its original features such as the spacious domed lobby and a grand marbled floor corridor. It’s where many old time traditions have been kept such as the doorman in khaki shorts, knee-high socks and pith-helmets, and the gentlemen at reception with their bow ties and slicked back hair. The Eastern & Oriental Hotel is a popular spot for weddings, and the Heritage Wing truly makes for the perfect backdrop for that all-important wedding photo.

Eastern & Oriental Hotel - London Food Blog

Eastern & Oriental Hotel

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Four Seasons Langkawi, Malaysia

Posted on Friday, 24th July 2015

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL LANGKAWI

Four Seasons Langkawi - London Food Blog - Welcome drink

Four Seasons Langkawi – Welcome drink

During my recent trip to Langkawi, I also visited The Four Seasons Langkawi, one of the most preeminent luxury resorts on the island. The Four Seasons is located on one of Langkawi’s most spectacular beaches in the North Eastern corner, right on the Andaman Sea, and is a breathtaking study in nature. The resort is set within a rainforest and is surrounded by lush greenery and cliffs that give it a wonderful eco tropical island feel. The Four Seasons Langkawi integrates beautifully with its natural surroundings by making use of features such as reflecting ponds and secluded thatched-roof pavilions. The resort also stays true to its Malay origins as it follows the layout of a traditional Malay village. To get around the resort you can use the bikes supplied by the resort, walk or call for a buggy.

Four Seasons Langkawi - London Food Blog - Greeting area

Four Seasons Langkawi – Greeting area

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The Danna – Planter’s Restaurant, Langkawi

Posted on Wednesday, 22nd July 2015

THE DANNA – PLANTER’S RESTAURANT

The Danna is a luxury 5-star hotel in Langkawi, a grand colonial hotel that is classically beautiful and effortlessly elegant with high ceilings and an impressive presence. Perched on a lovely stretch of beach, it has the marina on one side and lush tropical lands on the other.

We went to one of the restaurants at The Danna for dinner, Planter’s, which is recognised as one of the best restaurants on Langkawi. Located towards the rear of the hotel, you get to Planter’s from the impressive hotel lobby by walking along the corridor, past the seductive Verandah Bar. Upon reaching Planter’s, one is presented with an impressive sight, not only because the restaurant is beautifully romantic, but also because it looks out onto the hotel’s infinity pool and beach. The perspective is mesmerising, and particularly lovely if you chose to dine al fresco on the restaurant’s outside porch. The Planter’s menu makes for an interesting read by serving an eclectic collection of Western, Thai, Indian and Malay dishes. It’s a very comprehensive menu and easily caters to a variety of tastes. We visited on a Friday night which is buffet night, although the al la carte was also available. Tempting as the ‘all-you-can-eat’ option was, we elected to order off the a la carte menu, preferring our food to be cooked to order.

We started with a Thai seafood broth (MYR40 – £6.80) with king prawns, calamari, mussels and fish. This was deliciously light, with the stock having been prepared using kaffir lime, lemongrass, galangal, coriander and a seafood base. The result was a stock that was crystal clear with a distinct and delicate flavour. A classically trained French chef would have been proud had they produced a consommé of such clarity. Each of the seafood elements was also nicely cooked to round off a lovely starter.

Danna Langkawi - London Food Blog - Thai seafood broth

Danna Langkawi – Thai seafood broth

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Temple Tree Resort, Langkawi, Malaysia

Posted on Friday, 17th July 2015

Temple Tree Resort - London Food Blog

Temple Tree Resort

On our recent trip to the beautiful Malaysian island of Langkawi, we spent two nights at the special and very unique Temple Tree Resort. The resort is unique because it consists of eight antique houses of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian origin, all ranging from 70 to 110 years old. Narelle, the owner of Temple Tree spent many years scouring Malaysia in search of these buildings, each of which are original. The houses were then dismantled and transported from their location of origin piece-by-piece and rebuilt. Some were derelict, but each house was lovingly restored to its former glory, keeping true to its original layout. Each house was then decorated in a style that reflected the period in which they were once lived in. Temple Tree Resort is like an antique treasure trove, with each building having it’s own special story to tell.

Temple Tree Resort - London Food Blog

Temple Tree Resort

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