Thursday, June 27, 2013

Elias Corner

Very disappointing Greek food.  As others have noted, there is no menu, nor will they tell you everything they serve.  We had to ask for sides specifically (as the waitress walked away), and saw delicious items on our neighbor's table that was not offered to us.

The bread was stale, although served charred (a pattern emerges...).  The octopus appetizer, expensive at $17 (though a good portion) was beyond charred to the point that it was bitter.  The appetizer of 3 huge pork sausages was also burnt, but a better match for the high heat.  Juicy sausage, paired well with lemon (as everything is at Elias), but a bit bland and missing many of the Greek elements I was expecting.  Tasted more like traditional Italian sausage.

Our main courses were more of the same.  Burnt, bland food, cooked poorly.  We asked for Lemon Potatoes and Fries.  With less than 15 tables all night (that we could see) they were out of Lemon Potatoes.  Ok, no big deal, we ordered both types of fries (regular and sweet potato) and asked for them well done.  When they arrived, not only were they soggy and oily, but they were clearly thrown in a ball into the flyer, leaving many of them to stick together and remain soggy.  They were not busy, so this was just poor cooking.  I don't think either had any salt or pepper either, which was another theme.

The fish itself was fresh but very bland.  I've been to Greece, and I often eat fresh fish in Astoria so I'm used to and welcome a simple grilled fish accented by lemon (perhaps grilled as I had recently at MP Taverna), salt, pepper, perhaps dash of garlic oil or paprika.  At Elias's the fish is served bland.  Really bland.  My father said it had "no taste".  I'd disagree with him, it tasted once again, burnt.  The salmon fillet (the size of my arm) was so black on the bottom that I thought perhaps the kitchen was full of interns learning to cook.  The Branzino was decent, but also lacking seasoning.

Our waitress did not smile once during our meal, not even when we thanked her in Greek.  Really cold, unfriendly service, pretty much guaranteeing I will not be returning.  They need to improve in almost every facet of the restaurant.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Thailand - February 2013

Amazing trip to Thailand!  Check out the other non-food vacation pics here:


 A few minutes after getting to Bangkok we had our first fantastic bite. 
Tom Kha Goong, Spicy Thai Soup with Coconut Milk and Shrimp

 The soup and an crispy pork dish were served on the street, which was how we ate the majority of the meals in Thailand.  It was right off Sukhumvit on what Google maps calls Thanon Duang Phithak, Bangkok, Thailand.  

It was hot, so we did not mind eating under the tents, good respite from the sun, but those small Thai stools were not exactly comfortable.  The food however was excellent.

If you plan a trip to Thailand, the Grand Palace is one of the must see attractions.  One of the best ways to get there is to take the ferry to the Tha Chang Pier.  Outside the ferry stop is a medium size market of goods and good food.  The above picture is from one of the few sit down places.  The colors and diversity of the food was amazing.
 Small squid stuffed with meat and rice.  The squid was fresh and tender, I finished a bunch of these.  Very inexpensive and as always in Thailand, very friendly service.

On Sukhumvit and other roads there are numerous malls lineup up one after the other.  In every mall I ventured into there was a huge food court.  These are not your typical food courts, these all serve authentic, Thai food, as well as often cuisine from other parts of Asia, and as always very inexpensive prices.  This is pork a few ways at Siam Center, Bangkok

Amazing crispy chicken with rice and crispy shallots at Siam Center, Bangkok.

In addition to the food court, which often has a payment system where you use a debit like card to pay for food, or even coupons, there are often a wide variety of restaurants to sit and eat in.  Being a fan of Isan food, we were drawn to the popular SomTam in Siam Center, Bangkok.  This was their grilled pork shoulder salad.  

The Som Tam at Somtam was surprisingly mild and somewhat bland.  I expected a bolder flavor.  
Disappointing, and too small a portion.

We celebrated Chinese New Year on Yoarowat Road in Bangkok, at a huge festival of food, venders and music.  One of the venders was selling something I had been seeking out, Thai Khao La, sweet Thai sticky rice, stuffed with black beans and other items, then stuffed inside bamboo shoots.  They grill the bamboo and the rice inside steams and picks up the essence of the bamboo.  The result is sublime.  We also encountered a great version of this on the road in Cambodia the following week.

Delicious dessert.  The black beans retain some of their bite and the savoriness was an outstanding complement to the sticky sweet rice. 

Also on the Yarowat Road in Bangkok we had noodles and shrimp.  
A simple dish, more expensive then most food we had due to the large fresh shrimp, but very tasty.

One of my favorite street foods in Bangkok is fresh fruit such as strawberry or mango (pictured here), served with a dip made from salt, sugar, dried shrimp, and hot chili.  It hits the palate on every level, its crisp and fresh and not to hot.  Amazingly addictive snack.
Pad Thai with Shrimp on Khao San Road, Bangkok.
Nice amount of peanuts and dried shrimp, not too much tamarind, good flavors. 
One of my favorite bites of food we had on the street of Bangkok and only about $1.  
Boneless duck over rice.

There is food everywhere in Bangkok.  This vender set up underneeth the Sky Train on Sukhumvit was frying bananas and yuka among other things.  I really liked the bananas.

Up the block from our hotel was a quite side street lined with food venders only open in the morning and afternoon.  Not being a big fan of western breakfast, I was excited to learn that I could eat the same food all day long in Thailand, so this show was taken right before a big delicious meal at about 9 in the morning.  Definitely the earliest I've ever had Thai food, until this point in the trip anyway...

By 9:00AM they already had lots of food out and we ended up ordering a big plate of a few items.  

Ground Pork Salad, Crispy Pork, Fried Egg, Chicken and rice.  Not the most well rounded meal, but fantastic, fresh, and it gave us the energy we needed to walk thru Lumpini park and make our way to Wat Arun for the day.

Red Curry with Pork

On a small unasuming street near Chinatown in Bangkok we found this noodle stand.  Soft, tender noodles and cubes of pork served in a light delicate broth.  Amazingly inexpensive and delicious.

Tender slices of pork with thin egg noodles, green and bean sprouts in a delicate light broth.

In Thailand, noodles and other dishes are served with these 4 condiments  Fish sauce  dried chili  sugar and picked chili in vinegar.  While I did not need the sugar, I always added spoonfuls of the picked chili.

Fried pork for about 25 cents on the street of Bangkok right outside of the Grand Palace.

Crab noodle soup

Something like a takoyaki, excellent and sweet.

I learned that there is always delicious street food around hospitals and school in Thailand.  Right outside of some college in Bangkok near the flower market we encountered endless stands of food.  This one serving semi sweet grilled bananas.

Food and flowers near the flower market in Bangkok

Som Tam - Green papaya salad.

There are very happy cats all over Thailand, seemingly at endless peace, resting wherever they choose.

Steamed chicken, roasted duck and roasted pork with peanuts.  Excellent!

Thai Green Curry with eggplant and chicken.

Dinner at Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand

AMAZING Crawfish Salad at Nahm, Bangkok!

Durian and Sticky Rice with Mangosteens

Pork Innards Noodle Soup with Egg, total cost $1 near Democracy Monument, Bangkok.

The last meal in Bangkok, on Sukhumvit Soi 38, Bangkok

This delicious dish of Duck and noodles in a mild broth was served to us at Silom Village at Don Muang Airport.  The food at the airport was as good as almost anywhere, and still inexpensive but slightly more than you would pay in the center of the city.


'Pad Nasser's Nasi lemak Combo' mid-flight on Air Asia, who describes this as a Malaysian dish of chicken rendang and chilli sambal over coconut rice accompanied by fried anchovies, peanuts and egg.  For airplane food, and knowing how the altitude affects my sense of taste, this was pretty good, and the anchovies were effetely the best fish I've had on an airplane.   Yes I've ordered fish on an airplane before, and yes it was disgusting.  This I'd order again.

Taking Chef Andy Ricker's advice via the NYTimes, our first meal in Chiang Mai Thailand was at Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham.  I was really looking forward to the The Gaeng Hung Leh (Pork Belly in Curry) pictures above, and i enjoyed it, but it was a somewhat cold and overcooked. 

This is where I experienced the famous Chiang Mai dish Khao Soi for the first time.  This Northern Thai Chicken Coconut Curry Soup was one of our favorite dishes of the trip.  Egg noodles boiled on the bottom of the dish, and fried on top.  Delicious tender chicken. 

Their Som Tam was very good, which I expected being in the north of Thailand.

Never had fried shrimp like this before, my wife really enjoyed it, as did I.

Great satay

Loved this pork and crispy shallots

The outdoor kitchen

Another recommended place was SP Chicken, who has been serving the same food for about 35 years.  Rotisserie chicken, Thai style.  Loved this place, the chicken was tender and very flavorful, served sweet chili sauce.  I'm not a big fan of chicken, but this was excellent.

Some of the owners of SP chicken.

This is where the magic happens.

In the Chiang Mai night market there are a few different.  This one had a wide variety of Asian food and some excellent Chiang Mai food. 

My first bite of what would become my favorite dish in Thailand, oyster omelet.  The version above is with mussels and served with the sweet Thia Chili sauce.  The eggs do not overpower the mussels, and just a touch of the chili sauce makes this dish amazing.

Another version of Khao Soi, this time with the typical accompaniments of raw shallots and pickled cabbage served inside the dish.

We took the wonderful Elliebum's walking history and food tour.  We learned alot about the history of Chiang Mai and ate tons delicious foods.

Another great dessert, Egg Custard with Sticky Rice (Khao-Niew-Sung-Kha-ya).

The market in Chiang Mai

The "best" Khao Niaow Ma Muang (Mango & Sticky Rice), this version with coconut milk and toasted rice.

Lunch at Huen Phen, Chiang Mai Thailand.

Khantoke dinner at the Chiang Mai Cultural Center.  Starting with the most obvious and working our way clockwise we had the fried chicken, crispy pork rinds, Burmese pork curry (very sweet curry with tender, delicious pork), stir fried vegetables, tomato and pork dip, fried sweet potatoes (I think), sweet crispy pork and in the center were fresh vegetables to dip into the tomato and pork.  They refilled each portion until we were more than full.  The dancing was alright, the meal was excellent.