Archive for January, 2010

Hong Kong Lounge, Richmond – San Francisco

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Hong Kong Lounge, RichmondContributed by Carole Chung

Hong Kong Lounge
(formerly Hong Kong Flower Lounge)
5322 Geary Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94121 (Richmond)
Tel. 415-668-8836
Credit Cards: Yes
Prices: Inexpensive

Is this just another loud and dirty Chinese restaurant with children running wild around the tables under harsh fluorescent lighting? It is loud, and it isn’t sparkling clean, and you must take a number slip and wait in  long lines, but the dim sum is good here, although it is delivered sans carts (you order from a paper list) and servers will bring them bit by bit in due time. Go early, stick to the basics, avoid the weekends and you should be all right—and remember, the prices are right!

Tapas Cafe – Bangkok

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Tapas Cafe (image credit: Cafe
1/25 Sukhumvit Soi 11 (Walking Street)
Bangkok 10110
Tel. 02 651 2947
Open: 11am – Late
Credit Cards: Yes
Prices: Inexpensive – Moderate

Tapas Cafe is easy to find, just take a left on the first sub-soi when you enter Sukhumvit,  Soi 11 and walk around the bend, you will see this easy going cafe with a friendly, casual atmosphere on the right hand side of the walking street. The design and decor is “minimalist warehouse” and might appear to some as halted midway in construction. They have a good selection of tapas and a wine list that will pair with any of the dishes you select, as well as a house-made Sangria and many different types of beer, including one developed by Ferran Adrià of El Bulli and his team especially created to compliment food (maybe the result of intense molecular experimentation).

I dropped in one afternoon for a late lunch and I ordered three tapas as the waitress suggested, “Three for the price of two”, she said. Patatas Bravas, Fried potatoes with garlic mayonnaise and a spicy tomato sauce 90 baht, Ensaladilla Rusa, Russian Salad of mixed vegetables in mayonnaise 100 baht, and a bowl of Gazpacho, (Chilled tomato and vegetable soup) 120 baht, accompanied by a glass of Cabernet-Merlot-Tempranillo, Ops, Loxarel, Penedes 2007 220 baht.

This is a place where you are meant to drop in and have some tapas and a glass or two of wine at any time of the day or evening or you can get serious and order a Paella. The service is informal but the staff is pleasant and friendly. They also have recently opened a branch on Silom Soi 4 called Spanish on 4.

Tapas Cafe (image credit:

Tapas Cafe (image credit:

Salad Russe, Tapas Cafe (image credit:

Gazpachio soup

Spanish Wine at Tapas Cafe, Bangkok (image credit:

El Bulli Restaurant, Roses, Spain To Close For Two Years

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Ferran Adrià, El Bulli Restaurant, Roses, Spain

It has just been announced at a press conference in Madrid that the world famous El Bulli Restaurant, chosen top restaurant for 5 years running, will be closing for two years in 2012. It has already been closing for six months a year recently and Ferran Adrià, the restaurants owner and chef, has decided to close for two years to use the time for reflection; even though there has been speculation that the most difficult restaurant reservation in the world might “dry up”, it still comes as a shock in culinary circles. Rumors are that the restaurant itself does not generate much income due to very high operating expenses, and they count on the large income from book sales.

Le Café Siam, Bangkok

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Cafe Siam, 1920s House (image credit:

Le Café Siam
4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Cha Ploeng Road
Thung Mahamek, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120
Tel. 02 671 0030
Fax. 02 671 0031
Enquiries: 089 536 2085
Credit cards: Yes
Prices: Moderate

This restaurant has been around awhile and in the past it was, shall we say, “loosely operated” and the only possible reason anyone might return, would be to enjoy the atmosphere of the lovely 1920s house; certainly the mélange of French and Thai dishes on the menu would not be reason enough for a repeat visit.

However, that was then, and this is now, and the story is completely different! Quite fortuitously for Bangkok diners, Le Café Siam is presently in the very capable hands of its new owner, Paul Anthony Quarchioni, formerly the chef at the Normandy Grill at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. His cooking has made the restaurant sparkle, and even though the dishes might appear to be simplistic, they all have had meticulous care exerted in their preparation and each and every one of them are hand delivered by Mr. Quarchioni to the table.
Paul has struck a balance between haute cuisine and bistro cooking, learning from his experience at the Oriental, that today’s savvy dining crowd are slowly straying away from extravagant presentations and heavy saucing, and are simply craving genuine good cooking at a fair price, and that is what he has delivered at the NEW Le Café Siam.

The menu has many French bistro favorites such as coq au vin, beef cheek and many others.
On my first visit I had a really memorable marinated salmon, the best by far in recent memory, followed by beef cheek served with really fresh, perfectly prepared “mange tout” with a hint of vanilla (young peas in the pod) and a extremely smooth version of mashed potatoes served on the side, both in their own separate bowls accompanied by serving spoons. I had to ponder for a second as to where to put them as the beef cheek was served in a low bowl rather than on a plate.  I followed through with the only option open to me and put them into the bowl. On another evening I enjoyed river prawns in won ton, sea bass with caviar and an extraordinarily good, old-fashioned, properly constructed Coq au Vin.

The service staff are pleasant and go about their duties efficiently guided by the very capable restaurant manager K. Korn Wisanukoyn.

This is Paul Quarchioni’s home, as he spends more time here than in his actual abode, and he would like you to make it feel as if it is your home too, at least for the evening, and that is why he has no closing hour posted on the business cards, you are free to sit and have a bottle of wine or drinks even after “last order” has been taken.

Jambon amuse bouche, Cafe Siam (image credit:

Marinated Salmon, Cafe Siam (image credit: restaurantdiningcritiques.ccom

Seabass with Caviar, Cafe Siam (image credit:

Coq au Vin, Cafe Siam (image credit:

Beef Cheek, Le Cafe Siam, Bangkok (image credit:

Interior Dining Room, Cafe Siam (image credit:

Interior Cafe Siam (image credit:

The Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge – Beverly Hills

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Polo Lounge, Beverly Hills Hotel (image credit: Beeverly Hill Hotel)

There was a period in my life when the Polo Lounge was virtually my second home, although the days of Buddy, the telephone pager walking around the hotel with a sign and calling, ” Paging Mr. . .” and a telephone at your booth being a coveted symbol are over, the Polo Lounge is just as popular today as it was on the day it opened.  I recall Dino, who was the Maitre ‘d for the evening shift, and Nino the Maitre d’  for lunch, he took over Dino’s slot after Dino passed away. After Nino (his last name is Osti) took over and became the No. 1 man, the one that doled out what were considered the “good” tables to a limited few.

Beverly Hill Hotel (image credit: Beverly Hills Hotel)

It was always difficult to obtain one of the tables in front of the bar, and especially difficult to be seated at one of the booths lining the walls. Gus Tassoupulos was one of the bartenders at that time, I last saw him a couple of years ago tending bar at the Hotel Bel-Air (he told me at the time he would be retiring soon), and he was just one, of a great staff of waiters and bartenders that staffed the Polo Lounge, I can still remember all their faces, although unfortunately, not all of their names.

The Beverly Hill Hotel Pool (image credit: Beverly Hills Hotel)

It all began on May 12, 1912 when the hotel was opened by Margaret J. Anderson and her son, Stanley S. Anderson, who previously managing the Hollywood Hotel. In the twenties the name of the famous bar and lounge with attached al fresco dining patio was called El Jardin, the name was changed in the forties to honor Will Rogers and his friends Daryl Zanuck and Tommy Hitchcock as they played polo on the field behind the hotel and often stopped by for drinks afterward.

The founder of the Beverly Hills Hotel was Burton Green and the hotel was specifically built to attract people to the new area of Beverly Hills from the fashionable residential areas of Hollywood and Hancock Park in hopes of enticing them to buy one of the plots of land to build a house in the new surrounding development of Beverly Hills. Many different owners were to follow, and it should be mentioned that the hotel closed for a time in 1930 during the depression. In 1932, Bank of America reopened the hotel with William Kimball as manager, but the hotel struggled financially, and in 1935, the bank installed one of its vice presidents, Hernando Courtwright, to oversee foreclosure.  Courtwright fell in love with the hotel and dismissed the thought of foreclosing. He instead orchestrated a buyout, installed himself as manager, and along with Loretta Young, Irene Dunne and Harry Warner purchased the hotel in 1941. He then presided over the period of the hotel’s fastest growth.  In the next decade, it became an even bigger celebrity spot than it had been in the 1920s. Courtwright later went on to buy the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. There was also Ben Silberstein, who bequeathed the hotel to his two daughters Muriel Slatkin and Seema Boesky. Seema Boesky sold the hotel for $136 million to Denver oilman Marvin Davis. In 1987, Davis sold the hotel to its present owner, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, of Brunei under the umbrella of Sajahtera Inc, a subsidiary of the Brunei Investment Agency. They closed the hotel for two years for a complete remodel. The hotel is now managed by the Dorchester Collection, which includes such prestigious properties as: The Dorchester, London; Le Meurice, Paris; Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris; Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan; The New York Palace, New York; Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles.

The Polo Lounge has been patronized over the years by Royalty, Presidents, film stars that go back from the silent years to the present, Hollywood power-brokers and wealthy people from all over the world. It is an institution!

Beverly Hill Hotel Bungalows (image credit: Beverly Hills Hotel)

“Gastronomic University” To Open – San Sebastian, Spain

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

"Gastronomic University" (rendering image credit: Basque Culinary Centre)The construction of the unique “Gastronomic University” also known as the Basque Culinary Centre began a few weeks ago in San Sebastian, Spain. The university will be the first of its kind and is designed to look like a pile of stacked plates. Students will be encouraged to use scientific innovation to prepare the recipes of the future and will try to master the science of “molecular gastronomy” under the direction of Ferran Adria, owner of the famous restaurant El Bulli, and other well-known chefs. There are already many Michelin-decorated restaurants in the town and their chefs are more than likely to participate in helping with tuition costs and possibly teaching duties. Heston Blumenthal, the self-taught chef at the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, U.K., who has followed in the footsteps of Adria, will probably be a guest lecturer.

Mr. Adria has come under attack by more traditional chefs, and just recently by a German “food critic” with accusations of “poisoning diners with foams and emulsifiers”, although whether these claims have any merit or not is unknown.  In any case, they have not hurt the popularity of his restaurant that is always solidly booked for the entire six months of the year that it is open.

Lake House, Tapas & Wine – Bangkok

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Lake House, BangkokLake House Wine Garden and Tapas
18 Soi Prommitr, Sukhumvit 39,
Klong Toey, Bangkok
Thailand, 10110
Tel.02 662 6349

Lake House is within a few meters of Sukhumvit Soi 49 and this hidden plot of land, which includes a large pond and towering jungle-like foliage, provides a very pleasant escape from the city’s tangle of traffic and noise; it makes you feel like you are far, far away in an exotic resort. This new establishment offers a simple but encompassing menu of dishes that accompany wine well. The wine list changes often and wines are available at wholesale prices with free delivery within the Bangkok Metropolitan area. A wine tasting will be held every Friday from 7-9pm. The dinner menu is listed below:

Lake House MenuLake House Menu 2I am not convinced that mosquitoes are non-existent here, as there is always a price to pay to indulge in beauty, however, as they do use coils and fans strategically placed to blow above and below tables as a preventative, the pests are kept to a minimum. My advice is to wear outfits that cover the skin as much as possible or sit in one of the attractive, air-conditioned dining rooms.

Lake House, air-conditioned dining roomAbove: One of the air-conditioned dining rooms

PavilonA Pavilion on the pond at Lake House


Cococabana Restaurant, Deep Water Bay – Hong Kong

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Cococabana, Deep Water Bay, Hong KongContributed by Carole Chung (image credit: Carole Chung)

Cococabana Mediterranean Restaurant,
U/G Beach Building, Deep Water Bay, Island Road, Hong Kong
Tel. 2812 2226
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 12 pm-3 PM, 6 pm -11 pm
Saturday,Sunday and Public Holiday: 12 pm-11pm
Credit Cards: Yes
Prices: Expensive

As in the south of France, this seaside restaurant is best for lunch in the summer where you can enjoy the outdoor deck above the beach. One of the pluses is the wine list that offers a large selection of well-priced rose wines from Provence–the perfect accompaniment with the seaside menu on a hot summer’s day. The restaurant is also open in the evening for dinner although, the ultimate experience is for lunch provided the weather is good.

Joel Robuchon to Open 3 Restaurants in Singapore – Singapore

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

jr-resortsworldsentosa (image credit: resortsworldsentosa)

Chef/Restaurateur Joel Robuchon will open L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and The Pastry Shop & Lounge in the about to be launched Genting Singapore’s Resorts World located in Sentosa.  This will bring his worldwide tally of restaurants to 23.
The Genting Singapore’s Resorts World Sentosa is going to be a complex that will feature hotels, casinos, and a Universal Studios theme park and will begin partial operations in February. This is not to be confused with the Marina Sands, which is a different organization altogether, and has already slated Wolfgang Puck, David Boulud and Mario Batali into the operation. Robuchon has a successful restaurant in Hong Kong and two restaurant is the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, he has experience operating restaurants in a resort casino and also in Asia.

Brodard Chateau, Upscale French Vietnamese, Garden Grove – Los Angeles

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Brodard Chateau, Garden Grove (photo credit: brodard chateau)Brodard Chateau – Upscale French Vietnamese in Garden Grove

9100 Trask Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92844-2226
(714) 899-8273
Credit Cards: Yes
Prices: Inexpensive-Moderate

Brodard Chateau is quite upscale in comparison to the rest of the pack of Vietnamese restaurants in Garden Grove, a town straddling the border of Los Angeles and Orange counties. A large community of Vietnamese live and work there and I believe it is the largest single concentration of Vietnamese in California, if not the entire country. Dark wood paneling, solid wood and bamboo tables and amazingly, an actual bar.
As far as the menu is concerned, it contains the standard dishes as spring rolls, Pho (spicy soup accompanied by a platter of greens & herbs), various curries, grilled chicken with garlic noodles and the like, all are prepared with aplomb. They offer excellent French-style bread and no florescent lighting to be found outside of the kitchen.