The Charm of Juanita

Juanita – this name has always fascinated me. Apart from the fact that it reminds me of Desperate Housewives :), it is also, to me, a name that represents a strong woman, someone who is determined in achieving her goals, yet does so in an elegant and gracious manner. How will that translate when Juanita is named for a cafe then? I will never know, but my dinner at Cafe Juanita Pasig, in Manila, is one hell of an experience that I will remember for a long time to come.

Cafe Juanita

The Manila traffic jam during a rainy day

Situated at the end of a row of shop houses, customers may have difficulty finding the entrance, as it is located to the side of the restaurant, through a small door. But once we’re in, lo and behold, we were swept away by the elaborate decoration in the charming restaurant. Plenty of chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling, soft dim lights and colourful lamps and lamp stands all around the restaurant. It almost seemed mystical not to mention eclectic.

Cafe Juanita

Filipino-Spanish inspired decor of Cafe Juanita

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 Plenty of chandeliers

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Some of the hanging lamps

We were there for our final dinner in Manila before returning to Malaysia the next morning. Our gracious friend wouldn’t let us leave before trying out authentic Filipino dishes, how could we?

Cafe Juanita

Table setting at Cafe Juanita

I was recommended to order the Atis Juice, apparently a nice and sweet tropical fruit in Philippines. Truth be told, I had no idea what Atis was, and our friend’s description didn’t ring any bell. I thought I was taking a risk by ordering it, but when it came and I took a sip, I instantly knew what it was – Sugar Apple! Wait, perhaps I should have added more exclamation marks to that sentence, because I absolutely adore sugar apple! It’s a fruit that my grandma used to by for me when I was little, and I loved to suck on the sweet and creamy flesh before spitting out the black seed. Now, I don’t have to worry about the seeds since all the flesh was extracted out into a glass of juice – what’s not to love? Extremely delicious and refreshing too especially when it’s served cold.

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Atis Juice / Sugar-Apple – very good!

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Atis / Sugar Apple fruit (source)

Our first dish was Crispy Lapu-Lapu, also known as red grouper fish. It’s the first time we had grouper fish fried this way, with all the parts chopped up into pieces, including the fish head. I am very particular when it comes to deep-fried food, because I’d worry if the batter is too thick. Thankfully, they didn’t not overdose on the batter here. Each piece was lightly coated with flour and fried to perfection, while maintaining the moist fish fillet within. Best of all, it was also not overly oily – a bonus point for being somewhat health conscious. :)

Cafe Juanita

Crispy Lapu-Lapu / Red Grouper Fish

The next dish was my favourite of the night, hands down. What appeared to me as Pork Knuckle was known as Crispy Pata over there, which essentially meant the same thing. Regardless of what it’s called, this dish had the most amazing crispy skin that I’d ever tasted before. Each bite was accompanied with a loud crunch first, then followed by juicy and tender meat within. I really wonder how they do it – the meat inside was so tender until it fell off the bone effortlessly, yet the skin was so crispy. I don’t know about you but most of the time when I encountered crispy skin, it would also mean that the meat within had a tendency to be dry and rough due to the excessive frying. But this, this proved me wrong. Very well done!

Cafe Juanita

Crispy Pata / Pork Knuckle

Kare-Kare was the only dish with vegetables that we ordered, apparently also a specialty of Filipino cuisine. It was actually Oxtail and Vegetables in Peanut Sauce and it turned out to be pretty delicious. The sauce resembled very much to our own Satay peanut sauce, except that it was more milky. The oxtail was extremely tender, while the generous amount of vegetables within made this a rather wholesome dish. Very good with white rice too!

Cafe Juanita

Kare Kare ni Juanita / Oxtail and Vegetables in Peanut Sauce

Last but not least, our friend recommended for us to try the Special Cassava Cake, a local dessert in Philippines. Since it came with the tag of ‘Special’, how could we resist? The cassava cake was served with cheese on top and drizzled with caramelized sugar on the side. The texture of the cake was very similar to the Tapioca kuih bingka that we have in Malaysia, except that it’s a little softer and a lot more sweeter due to the addition of caramel on the side. This portion was good enough to be shared by 3 persons since it was quite rich and could be rather cloying if we had too much.

Cafe Juanita

Special Cassava Cake

Cafe Juanita

Staircase to the Mezzanine floor

Needless to say, our final dinner in Philippines was far from disappointing. It was, in fact, very memorable in a good way, plus we could not stop ourselves from being in awe with all the chandeliers decorating the place. The ambience was simply romantic and peaceful, it makes one want to stay on for a nice long chat over a good cup of coffee after dinner. If we ever return to Manila, we’ll definitely be back!

Cafe Juanita

Cafe Juanita

Cafe Juanita in Pasig
#19 West Capitol Drive,
Barrio Kapitolyo,
Pasig City, Metro Manila,
Philippines

Tel. No.: +632-632 0357

Antonio’s Garden Restaurant – Top 5 Restaurant in Asia

Whenever I mentioned to friends that I went to Manila, one of the most asked questions was “Did you try balut?” and my answer was a disappointing “No”. It’s not because I did not dare to do it, mind you, but our schedule was really packed that I only had the final day to look for balut, to no avail. :( On the bright side though, I managed to dine in the Top 5 Best restaurant in Asia (according to the Miele Guide) at Antonio’s Garden Restaurant, Tagaytay.

Antonio's

Entrance to Antonio’s

It was right after we witnessed the amazing Taal Volcano from Tagaytay that we were told that we would have French cuisine for dinner. The route to Antonio’s passed through a long and narrow road lined with houses upon houses, so much so that we kept slowing down and wondering if we had missed a turning along the way. It didn’t help that it was dark at night, with the rain just subsided earlier on. We continued driving anyway and looked for the occasional signboard that showed us the direction to Antonio’s. And then we saw it. Hidden in the midst of houses and what appeared to be a mini jungle, was a huge bungalow with a tall iron gate, closed. It was only after we mentioned that we had a reservation that the gate was opened to let us drive in. Yes, apparently they do not let you in unless you’ve made prior reservation.

Antonio's

Huge dining area of Antonio’s

Parking was complimentary, just at the compound of the bungalow. We walked to the majestic colonial building with high ceilings and were shown to a table just by the garden. Best of all, being located at a higher altitude, the place was cool and breezy, naturally. The temperature was perfect even without a fan or air-conditioner. We enjoyed the complimentary bread and butter first, served warm with hard crust and soft bread.

Antonio's

Complimentary bread and butter

Antonio's

Lemon-infused water

The menu was only one page, and we were told that only set menu was available that night. The set came with a House Salad, Soup of the Day, a choice of Entree, Dessert and Coffee/Tea. The price of the set was determined by the choice of entree. What made Antonio’s unique was that they try to use fresh produce as much as possible. The House Salad, for example, used vegetables grown in their own farm in the garden. We could taste the crispy freshness of the green leaves, the sweetness of cranberries and the sprinkling of glazed walnuts, giving this such a wholesome combination. I never thought salad could be this good.

Antonio's

House Salad – farm fresh mesclun

The Soup of the Day was carrot soup with a nice foamy top, sprinkled with chunky croutons. It was exceptionally smooth and sweet, with a nice velvety touch due to the addition of foam on top. The chunky and crispy croutons were just that – chunky and crispy, even after being soaked in the soup for a while. Lovely.

Antonio's

Soup of the day

Antonio's

Creamy and smooth

Antonio's

What are these for?

Of course, the main star of the night was our entree, Grilled Certified Angus Prime Rib eye Steak rubbed with Cardamom and served Antonio’s Steak Sauce. Just look at the 700g piece of gorgeous meat! It was definitely more than enough for 2 persons, not to mention we got to choose 2 side dishes as well. The piece of glorious meat was done medium, with the insides still pink and juicy but not entirely bloody. What was even more lovely was the charred exterior of the steak that gave out an irresistible aroma – literally salivating! When you cut inside, the contrast of the bright pink meat was such a welcoming sight that one could not resist biting into it right away.

Antonio's

Grilled Certified Angus Prime Rib eye Steak rubbed with Cardamom

Antonio's

Side dish: Antonio’s Black and Green Olive Rice

The outer layer of the rib eye was lined with a thin layer of fat that melted in my mouth, blending together with the tender meat to give it a sort of juicy bite. I’d never had steak this tender nor juicy before, and the taste of cardamom was distinctive but not overpowering, bringing the steak to soar new heights. Both Saucer and I agreed, it was the best steak we’d tasted in our lives! And both of us polished the 700g slab of meat clean, wishing there was room for more. :)

Antonio's

Medium cut rib eye steak

The huge piece of steak had both of us filled to the brim, but as they say, there’s always room for dessert! While waiting for desserts, we all had our choices of coffee or tea. I chose tea since I’m the type of person who can’t sleep after coffee at night.

Antonio's

Hot tea

Our dessert started with the Dark Chocolate Souffle with Cardamom Creme Anglaise. Served hot and sprinkled with icing sugar on top, the aroma of this dessert was the strongest of all, making us hungry all over again. The souffle was light, chocolatey and not overly sweet. Coupled with the rich and smooth creme anglaise, the combination was just heavenly. Fluffy, moist and simply decadent – we agreed that this was our favourite dessert that night.

Antonio's

Dark Chocolate Souffle

Antonio's

Creme Anglaise on chocolate souffle

My choice of dessert fell short comparatively, I ordered the Chocolate Mint Parfait, which was served cold and decorated with a mint leaves on the side. Only the outer layer was mint-flavoured, with the interior was filled with rich chocolate parfait, with a very smooth and dense texture. Too dense and rich, in my opinion, that we had problem finishing this.

Antonio's

Chocolate Mint Parfait

Our dining partner Aubrey, chose Felchin Maracaibo Chocolate Terrine with Double cream and Roasted Pistachio, and it looked like a piece of foie gras pate to me, don’t you think? :) I thought the chocolate terrine tasted pretty similar to the chocolate parfait, except that this had probably a harder and denser texture, something in between the texture of chocolate bar and parfait. Truthfully, at this point we’d had too much chocolate to stomach for the night.

Antonio's

Felchin Maracaibo Chocolate Terrine with Double Cream and Roasted Pistachio

At the end of the dinner, we were all more than satiated with the amazing food from Antonio’s, coupled with the cool ambience and of course, how could I miss out the wonderful company of our friends from Manila. It was thanks to them that we were introduced to perhaps the best restaurant in Philippines if I might say so.

Antonio's

Us with our friends from Manila

Antonio's

Picture taken at the garden

Dining in such a fine restaurant would usually burn a big hole in the pocket, but our set of rib eye steak (for 2 persons) came to 4,900 pesos (~RM350), which included salads, soups, desserts and tea for two, so I thought it was quite a good deal compared to many other restaurants which charge much higher but were less impressive. It is no wonder this restaurant is listed as the 5th Best Restaurant in Asia in 2010/11, we certainly hope  it will go up next year! Better still, if dining in this restaurant can be included in all inclusive holidays packages, it will be icing on the cake. :)

Antonio's

Room filled with pictures

Antonio's

Antonio’s Garden Restaurant, Tagaytay

Antonio’s Garden Restaurant
Purok 138, Barangay Neogan,
Tagaytay City, Cavite,
4100, Philippines
Contact No: +63 46 413 0975 / +63 917 899 2866
Email: antoniosfarm@yahoo.com
Opening Hours: 11am – 2pm & 5.30 – 8.30pm daily except Mondays
Website: www.antoniosrestaurant.ph

 

Taal Volcano – A Volcano within a Volcano

One thing that makes the biggest difference when we are traveling overseas is to have someone local to show us around. This time, we are indeed lucky to have two exceptionally kind and generous souls, Anson and Aubrey, who brought us to several amazing places while we’re in Manila. After touching down, they picked us up from the hotel and told us that we would be heading towards a volcano – an active one, to be precise. We were, in fact, going to Tagaytay, a place with a slightly higher altitude that would provide a gorgeous view of the Taal Volcano within Lake Taal.

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Gorgeous place for a cuppa

From the city to Tagaytay, the drive took about 1.5 hours without traffic jam. Once we reached Tagaytay, I could immediately feel the temperature getting cooler. There were many places in Tagaytay that provided a gorgeous view of the lake but we ended up at Taal Vista Hotel instead. Located behind the hotel was a stretch of al-fresco dining area set amidst one of the most breath-taking views around. The greens, the blues and the cool breeze just made the environment perfect for an afternoon coffee.

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Coffee by the garden

It just stopped raining when we reached, so the air was still humid, windy and cooling. The temperature must have hovered around 24 degrees Celsius, which was absolutely soothing. The view from our table was pretty amazing, we could see the Lake Taal from afar, not to mention being surrounded by lush plants and greenery.

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Lush greenery

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Popular spot for photography

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One side of the view

Without much ado, I took the chance to snap some pictures of the Taal Volcano before the sky got darker. Taal Volcano is an active complex volcano located in the island of Luzon, Philippines. Within the Taal Volcano is a crater, which is also the world’s the largest lake within an island (Volcano island) within a lake (Lake Taal) within an island (Luzon island). Are you confused?

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Spot Taal Volcano in the middle!

Surrounding the Taal Volcano is Taal Lake, which was formed by eruptions between 500,000 to 100,000 years ago. This lake is now home to some of the freshwater fish species, which explains the numerous fishing activities and traps found on the shores of the lake. The Taal Lake, on the other hand, is situated on a larger island called Luzon in the Philippines. Therefore, the crater in the Taal Volcano becomes a lake within an island on a lake within an island. :)

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Taal Lake

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Fishing activities around the banks of Taal Lake

We were there at about 5+pm and realized that the sun actually started to set at 5.45pm, much earlier than the Malaysian sun set time.

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A closer look at Taal Volcano

Sitting on the edge of the hotel, looking towards the Volcano and the lake on a calm and cool evening while sipping my hot Mocha was more than I could ask for on my first day in Manila. If only the sky was less hazy/foggy that evening, the view would have been more spectacular. Still, I was contented just to be there witnessing the amazing work of nature.

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Cafe Mocha (~90peso)

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San Mig Light (100peso or 188 peso for all-you-can-drink during happy hours!)

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with the lovely couple from Manila :)

I could not get enough of the crisp and clean air that I wished I could stay on longer, but it was time for dinner! And Anson brought us to the this exquisite and charming French restaurant nearby that I could not stop raving about until now. But that is certainly another story for another time! ;)

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Saucer and with with the Taal Volcano

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The magnificent Taal Volcano on Lake Taal

The only drawback about this place is the transportation getting there. There is apparently no public transport going to Tagaytay so it would seem that the only way getting there is by a taxi? Correct me if I’m wrong though. :)

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Entrance to Taal Vista Hotel

For more information about the hotel: www.taalvistahotel.com

Touch Down in Manila!

First of all, Selamat Hari Merdeka or Happy Independence Day to Malaysia! This year marks a special double celebration for those of us in Malaysia since our Independence day coincides with the Hari Raya celebration, which meant a longer stretch of holiday, not to mention the multitude of lemang and rendang as well. As for me, to enjoy my week-long break, I am now in Manila! We just arrived yesterday and boy, was it a long day! Flight was at 7.55am, which meant we had to wake up by 5am to go to the airport. Since we took the Air Asia flight which landed in Clark, we had to endure a 2-hour ride to Manila. *yawn* Along the way, look what I saw – Mexico! Little did I know that there was a Mexico in Philippines as well. :)

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Mexico in 1km?

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Exit to Mexico

On the way to Manila, we stopped by for lunch since I was famished. We only saw fast food outlets in the nearby shopping mall, so we settled for Kenny Rogers which was supposed to be a healthier option. I was surprised to find out that they serve Pork Ribs here, along with their Rotisserie chicken.

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Crowded Kenny Rogers

The serving of pork ribs was pretty generous, and the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender. Saucer thought it was a tad too dry though, but nothing some gravy can’t fix! :)

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Chicken and pork ribs combo

Another hour or so drive towards Manila and we’ve reached our hotel! We are staying at the Edsa Shangrila, located just next to the Shangrila Plaza and across the street from Megamall (both of which I intend to visit soon!).

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Our room

Our room was relatively spacious, with a large King-sized bed with 4 plush pillows and comfortable sheets.

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King-sized bed

I was surprised to find that they are still using CRT TV in the room instead of LCD or Plasma. Not a major complaint since I won’t be spending much time watching TV in the room. :) What I love though, is their complimentary Broadband access! At times the connection could be fabulous, with speed of about 100kps, but sometimes there could be intermittent disconnection. Again, not a major complaint.

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Spacious double room

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Lazy chair by the window

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Study desk

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Coffee/tea making facilities

Coffee and tea are provided, together with 2 small bottles of water daily. The snack bar is well-equipped together with a section with mini liquors, but everything comes with a price of course!

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Complimentary water

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Snack bar

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Mini bar price list (Current conversion rate: 100peso = RM7.02)

As with other Shangrila hotels, bathrobes are provided together with comfortable bedroom slippers. Shoe-shining service is complimentary as well!

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Bath robes

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Bedroom slippers and complimentary shoe-shining service

The bathroom is spacious with a full-sized bathtub within, complete with hot and cold shower. My only gripe is that they don’t have a proper toilet stall for the WC.

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Shower and bath tub

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Wash basin and WC

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Toiletries provided

Our room faces the city, which meant seeing cars and buildings every day when we wake up. Perhaps a better choice would be the garden view or the pool view, don’t you think so? I wouldn’t want to get stressed by looking at the Manila traffic jam every morning :P

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View from the room

We went out right after checking in yesterday, and came back only around 10pm to find our bed nicely turned down for the night, together with warm lights switched on. Such a thoughtful gesture by the housekeeping staff. Now if you’ll excuse me, I should get myself ready to explore the shopping malls nearby! Update soon!

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Time for bed!

*P/S: Let’s hope I have the courage to eat a balut while I’m out! ;)

Thai Boxing & The Story of Erawan Shrine

Visiting Bangkok or any part of Thailand wouldn’t be complete without watching some Thai boxing or going to the famous temples. Frankly, I’m not a fan of boxing but to be able to watch it live in front of my very eyes is an experience that I would like to have at least once! Thai boxing is aplenty in Bangkok, with huge posters displaying the fights on some of the shop lots along Bangkok, as well as boxers demonstrating on moving trucks on the streets. If you’re like me and wouldn’t want to spend money on these shows, there’s a free alternative that you can go to!

Thai Boxing

M.B.K. Fight Night

Every Wednesday from 6 to 8.30pm, head on to M.B.K. Center in Bangkok to witness the MBK Fight Night. We happened to walk past the mall coincidentally on Wednesday and saw a large crowd around this area that we just had to go check out. It turned out that a fight was going on, and most of the audience were cheering for their favourite fighter whenever he scored a point.

Thai Boxing

Fight about to start

We managed to watch one of the fights going on by 2 foreigners. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch some locals in the ring for some of the fights.

Thai Boxing

Round 1 – start!

The beginning of the fight was pretty mild and boring, but as the crowd got heated up, the fight became more violent. In fact, I saw some blood at the mouth of the guy wearing the red shorts towards the end of the fight!

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It can get pretty rough

To head to MBK Center, just take the BTS (Sky train) to National Stadium station and follow the signs to MBK Center. You will definitely pass by this ring!

******

Moving on, the next day, we visited one of the most talked about shrine in Bangkok – the Erawan Shrine, also known as the Four-faced Buddha statue. Getting here is quite easy – take the BTS to Chitlom station, and follow the signs to Erawan Shrine or Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, and you will see a row of stalls selling flowers just outside the shrine. Along the way, you would have passed by Amarin Plaza, so you’d know that you’re on the right track.

Erawan Shrine

Amarin Plaza along the way

Once you see a row of stalls selling flowers and incense, you’ll know that the shrine is just around the corner.

Erawan Shrine

Stalls selling flowers and incense

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View from outside – Filled with devotees

Even though we went there on a weekday, the shrine was packed with people  – devotees and tourists alike, they all seemed to know what to do and where to go. We took a few minutes to observe the situation and find out what we were supposed to do.

Erawan Shrine

The four-faced Brahma Statue: Face of Peace and Health, Face of Good Fortune, Face of Good Relationships and Face of Protection against Evils

From the entrance, there’s a booth at the right corner that sells incense and flowers. Each set costs about 30baht, consisting of 4 wreaths of flowers and some incense. One is supposed to pray all 4 sides of the statue, placing one wreath of flower and burn 3 incense sticks at each side while saying one’s prayers. Since there was such a crowd, the smoke from the incense and the heat from the sun made the task quite a challenging one.

Erawan Shrine

Pray all 4 sides of the statue

Look at all the garlands of flowers surrounding the statue. It just shows how important and popular this shrine is, so much so that a man that vandalised the shrine back in 2006 was killed by the bystanders eventually. I tried to get a clearer and better shot of the statue but the incessant smoke from the incense made the picture look hazy and blur.

Erawan Shrine

The golden four-faced Brahma statue

Now for a bit of history of this statue (taken from the information board):

“Thao Maha Brahma

At the end of the year in 1955, the Union of Thai Hotel and Tourism Company Limited, the founder of the Erawan Hotel, was told by Rear Admiral Luang Suwichanphaet, who specialized in astrology, that the original moment for laying the foundation stone of the Erawan Hotel was not really right auspicious moment. It must be corrected by building a shrine of the Thao Maha Brahma and a Spirit House in the area of the hotel. Then a shrine with the image of the Thao Maha Brahma and a Spirit House were built following the advice. The image was a sculpture in plaster covered with gold leaf, which was designed and sculpted by Mr Chit Phimkowit, a sculptor of the fine arts department. It was brought to enshrine there since the 9th November, 1956, and a worship ceremony of the image has been held on the 9th November of every year.”

Erawan Shrine

This is where you should light up your incense

After praying, we saw that most people would head to this huge golden urn filled with water. Believed to be holy water, a small bowl was provided to scoop up the water to sprinkle on one’s head, face and hands.

Erawan Shrine

Huge urn filled with holy water

Throughout the years, many have said that this shrine has granted their wish. Apparently, when a wish is granted, the devotees thank God by granting classical Thai dancers to dance in front of the God. Some even offered these huge teak elephants which were on display around the shrine.

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Teak elephants as a sign of thank you

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witch at Erawan Shrine

After the whole ritual under the hot sun, one was bound to become sweaty and warm. This was when a sweet and cold coconut drink would work wonders! Located just outside the shrine, there were several stalls selling cold drinks and coconut to quench our thirst especially on a hot afternoon. Each coconut cost about 50baht, slightly more expensive than the usual price but we were desperate!

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Thai coconut

The experience of visiting Erawan Shrine definitely enlightened us with the Thai culture and tradition. It’s an experience not to be missed if you visit Bangkok. Of course, you get a bonus if your wish is granted! ;)

Visiting hours: 6.00am – 11.30pm
Getting there: Take the BTS to Chitlom station or Siam station
Entrance fee: Free

Erawan Shrine

Saucer with a cute girl

Erawan Shrine

The Thai Ronald McDonald

Ending the post with some shots of cute statues around Bangkok! :)

*Note: Read the rest of my Bangkok Escapade here!

Snapshots of Food Around Bangkok

Now I know I’ve said it before that Bangkok is a shopping paradise, but one cannot deny that this gem of a shopping heaven is also famous for food! Out of the 5 days that we were there, we walked past many food stalls on the road side, tried many types of rice and noodles, and drank many bottles of juices. It was definitely a melting pot of everything just waiting for us to stumble upon and to renew our love for food. The pictures below are but a handful of the food that we’ve tried and loved around Bangkok, with more coming along the way.

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Beef noodles with plenty of ingredients and hearty soup for only 30Baht. Found under the Phloen Chit BTS overhead bridge, next to Caltex station.

We noticed many stalls by the road side selling what we Malaysians would recognize as ‘Economy Rice’, where a spread of pre-cooked dishes are displayed on the table, and the customers just choose the dishes desired to be added on top of a plate of white rice. Surprisingly, these stalls are always the most popular ones with hordes of people lining up even under the scorching hot sun.

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Bangkok version of economy rice?

Not to miss out on this popular cuisine, I joined the queue and picked out some dishes of my own. What took me by surprise was the amazing white rice! It was oh-so-fluffy with each grain cooked to perfection. Also worth a mention was the deep fried pork chop that was available at almost all the rice stalls there, just because it’s aromatic, juicy and tender. Easily one of the best pork chops ever tasted!

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My plate of rice with the superb pork chop for only 45 baht

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The consistent long queue

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More of the economy rice stalls spotted at night

Another common delicacy that we spotted was this charcoal-fired fish. They were available at most night markets or hawker stalls that they peaked my interest to snap a picture of them. Unfortunately, we did not get to try this because we were always too full when we passed by the stall and the fish came in a big portion.

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Charcoal-fired fish

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Skewers

A common stall that you would notice in Bangkok is the one selling bottles of orange-coloured juice. A first glance made me think that they were just orange cordials mixed with sugar, so I did not bother getting one. Interestingly, I spotted a stall which was making the juice with a juice presser, and only then I found out that these were freshly pressed mandarin oranges juice! Priced at 20 baht a bottle, this was amazingly sweet, refreshing and cooling to the body – the perfect remedy on a hot afternoon. I could not get enough of this drink! :)

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Pressing of juice

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Sweet, refreshing and cooling – perfect on a hot day! Only 20 baht each.

Thailand is synonymous to Mango with Sticky rice that it almost seems like a sin not to eat it while we’re there. After a strong recommendation from a friend, we went to order the Durian and Mango Sticky Rice combination for dessert. The sticky rice was generously soaked with coconut cream making it rich and aromatic, while the mangoes were generously portioned and very sweet. The durian paste was fragrant too but the portion given was just pathetic. It would have been a whole lot better with more durian! ;)

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Mango and Durian Sticky Rice at MBK Mall food court, 100 baht

Some other random food that we tried included the Food Loft at Central Chidlom, an upscale food court with a wide variety of international cuisine at reasonable prices. While the environment was quiet and elegant, I found the food to be average.

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Food Loft at Central Chidlom

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Spaghetti pesto

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Spicy mango salad

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Food Loft entrance at Central department store, Chidlom

Apart from the local food, we also tried some Western food at Jeffer, serving exceptionally cheap dishes with reasonable portions. A rib eye steak here cost only 109 baht! The pork ribs and chicken steak were recommended, both being well-marinated, tender and oozed with juices. The steak, though cheap, was sadly overcooked. Still, this would be my choice to go for hearty Western food with comfortable environment without burning a hole in my pocket. ;)

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Dining environment at Jeffer

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Someone’s happy ;)

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Half rack of pork ribs with a side of spaghetti

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Chicken chop and dory fish combo – don’t bother with the fish

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Rib eye steak for only 109 baht

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Jeffer Western food restaurant at Silom Complex (exit at Sala Daeng BTS Station)

Last but not least, coffee! A frequent traveler and friend to Bangkok recommended Mezzo, so we went during tea time and had some sandwiches to go with the iced coffee. It was so unbearably hot in Bangkok that we could not live without cold drinks! Thankfully, the coffee was thick and flavourful, providing much respite on a hot day. My order of iced chocolate drink was also nicely done with a rich chocolatey finish.

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Thai iced coffee and iced chocolate drinks at Mezzo

As for sandwiches, they did their job as light bites but nothing too memorable. The Viennese bread was something new to me an it went quite well with the melted cheese and ham. The best part about the cafe was their high speed complimentary wi-fi access. It’s true, internet in Bangkok doesn’t come free or easy. Even our hotel did not provide free internet so whenever we see any places with complimentary wi-fi, we’re down! :)

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Viennese Ham & Cheese sandwich (85 baht)

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Tuna Club Sandwich (85 baht)

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Cross section of tuna sandwich

Food is such a big part of the culture in Bangkok that we almost always saw food at every corner of the road, at every floor of the shopping mall and next to every BTS station that we stopped at. You will never go hungry in Bangkok, that’s for sure!

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Food fair on the ground floor of a shopping mall?

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One of the food stalls in the shopping mall

The diverse food scene, coupled with their decent prices and excellent service, must be one of the reasons visitors keep coming back to Bangkok! I know I would return too, one day. :)

*Note: Read the rest of my Bangkok Escapade here!