Toby’s – A Breakfast Story

The French toast with a side of bacon

I recently talked about my staycation to downtown Bangkok being like a greatest hits album where I didn’t take any pictures because I have been to all the places I went to before. Therefore, it was pointless to take pictures because I was already so familiar with these places. But there was one place that I do want to talk about, Toby’s. I have never been here for dinner, and I have heard that they have some amazing Italian food, but I have been here a couple of times for breakfast, and it might be one of the best places for breakfast that I have ever been to.

How do I describe it? To go back to the analogy of a greatest hits album, there is always one song on it that stands out above all the rest. Yes, you still love all of the songs on the album, but there is the one song that everybody gravitates to. It is that band’s best of their best. It is the “Satisfaction”, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or “Joker” on the album. And this is what Toby’s is.

Toby’s is a small restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 38 and you really have to have your eyes open to see the place or you can easily drive past it. But there are hints that you are close. There is usually a group of people gathered outside waiting to get one of the few tables the place has. Cars are collected on this sleepy street near to the entrance of the place. And your stomach will start growling because it knows the treat that it is about to experience.

The bacon platter with eggs done over medium

And yes, this place is worth searching for when you are hunting down a good brunch. The food is fresh and obviously prepared there. Most of the time, the dishes come with a selection of fresh fruit, unless you get the bacon platter (yes, they have a platter dedicated totally to different kinds of bacon), and this still comes with a bacon jam that I would recommend smearing all over the two eggs that come with the dish. But the best dish that they have for breakfast has to be the French toast. I have always enjoyed this dish and I have had some amazing versions of it, but the one here is made with crumpled corn flakes that gives it a crunchy coating that is so good. And instead of topping it with butter, they give you a scoop of vanilla ice cream that makes this entre more of a dessert that you will come back to time and time again.

It was the perfect spot to complete my greatest hits tour. It filled me up with the great food that this city has to offer before sending me back home and the reality of life. I will come back again someday, but for now this was a great way to enjoy a weekend in Bangkok.

The Things I am Excited About – The Move Day 24

I have spent a lot of time this summer talking about the place where I came from, and mentioning the place where I am moving to, but I have not really talked about it, and why I am excited about moving there. So I thought I would give a little time to talk about the things that I am looking forward to about the relocation to Bangkok.

First of all, I am looking forward to the food. I know that Korean food is the trendy thing worldwide, but I have never been a fan of this kind of food. I like the spices and I do enjoy the community spirit that is created by going to a Korean bar-b-q, but it has nothing that I have ever craved. I do enjoy what they have done to fried chicken, and I do not think that any culture can compete with this improvement on an American staple, but I cannot eat that every night unless I want to end my life by exchanging cholesterol for the blood in my veins. Basically, for the last four years, I have struggled eating.

My wife and I would always talk about our favorite foods in the world, and if there was one type of food that we had to eat for the rest of lives what would it be. Of course Italian always comes up for me because it has always been my favorite style of food, and my wife always talks about Japanese food because of the variety and the unique flavors that they explore in that country. And even though we both agree with each others’ main choice, we both agree whole-heartedly with Thai food. On my recent trip out there to scout out places where we would end up living, I even experienced new flavors that I did not know existed with this cuisine and it turned into one of my favorite Thai dishes. This just means that I have not tried everything that Thai food has to offer. I am excited to explore these options even more.

Which brings me to the next thing I am excited about, the street markets. There is a big one right next to the place where I will be living. It is not as big as the Chatuchak Market in central Bangkok, but it will still be a nice addition to the neighborhood. Apparently, it is only open during the weekends, but it will be the perfect place to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables. And the amount of fresh fruit that will be out there excites me a lot. I was able to get fruit in Korea, but it was heavily dependent on the growing season. When I arrived in the summer was when I could get green apples, but they disappear soon after I got out there. Berries would not be available until late in spring, and yes, I could get a watermelon, but I would have to spend up to $30 for it.

The fruit should be more readily available in Thailand, and the variety should always be there available at the markets and delivered that morning from the groves. I look forward to going to the market and searching for the perfect fruit and vegetables of the day and creating a meal with them later in the evening. I will not always have to wait until the weekend to make this happen either. Where we are moving has a mango tree in the front yard, and twice a year I should have a supply of fresh mangoes in which to eat and cook with. I see myself perfecting the best mango salsa by the end of the first year.

A lot of this is due to the thing that I am having a love/hate feeling towards, and that is the weather. It is going to be hot and humid, and this will never change. My two favorite seasons in Korea were autumn and spring. If you are ever visiting Korea, this is when you want to go because the weather is perfect and the changing of the trees, whether it is the shedding of the leaves or the blooming of the cherry blossoms, is spectacular. I will really miss that about Korea.

What I will not miss about Korea is its bitter winter. I have seen my fair share of bitter cold winters, but I have never experienced anything like the ones in Korea. The temperature drops and stays there. I used to look at the outside, not wanting to venture out because I knew it meant bundling up so my skin would not be ripped away by the dry frigid wind. It wasn’t even pretty because it rarely snowed in the winter to hide the dead tree and lawns. It was just cold. I will not miss that.

But I am not also a fan of extreme heat. I am a runner, and trying to run while it is hot and humid is harder than when it is cold and bitter. It just saps all of the energy from me, and I feel like I am wading through the air rather than slicing through it. I know I will eventually acclimate to this because it is never going to change, but I will miss the colder times of the year. I know this even before I make it out to Thailand  because as I said earlier, the milder times of the year are my favorite. It is still not enough to dissuade my excitement for this move, and it is this weather that makes all of the other things I am excited about possible. It is just a minor thing, and I know that I will be able to make the adjustment.

So as the time pushes closer when I will finally get make that last leap, I am starting to get excited about what the changes will be for me, and I can’t wait to share them with the rest of you.

It’s a Colorado Thing – The Move Day 9

Some people will see this picture and instantly know what I am going to talk about; whereas, others will look at it as some kind of Mexican food that they are not yet familiar with. Of those people who recognize this dish, not all are from Colorado, and it is true that this type of burrito is not only in Colorado and can be found everywhere in the Southwest. It is also a very popular dish in New Mexico, and Arizona, and has even found its way into some of the western parts of Texas. But this particular burrito comes from a great Colorado chain, Santiagos. So for today, I am going to claim that it is a Colorado thing.

What makes this burrito different from other burritos that you can find is that it is smothered in green chili. Now many people will automatically think of the can of Hatch green chilis that you can find in your local supermarket, and yes this is used to make green chili, it is not the same thing. It is really hard to describe what green chili is to somebody who has never has it. The best way I have found to do it is to describe it like a red chili you would normally associate with a chili cook off, except it is made with pork, spicy peppers including green chilis, and does not have any beans in it. Some call it a stew; others call it a soup; and still others call it a condiment. None are exactly right, and yet in some way, they all are correct. Either way, when ever you get an opportunity to put it in a bowl, on a burrito, on a plate of french fries, or a piece of fry bread, you do it because what you will get is one of the best meals you have ever had in your life.

Now many places in the Southwest make their own version of this delicacy, but I find the one at Santiagos to be the best. I am sure I am going to have a list of other places that make a better green chili in the comment section below, but I still find this one hard to beat. It goes great with the breakfast burrito that they serve there, but if you put it on any of their items, you won’t be disappointed. You can even get big bowls of it to take home which is just as good as eating it at any of its many establishments throughout Denver.

Green chili is one of the things that I look forward to every time I am back at home, and I am confused a little bit by the way it has never moved beyond the borders of this part of the world. I don’t understand why something so delicious can only be found in this part of the world. I plan to bring it to Thailand when I go out there. I am even plan on growing green chilis so I can have this dish any time I want and share it with my new friends out there. But the next time you find yourself in the Southwest, seek out this dish. You will understand what I mean after you have tried it once. It will become one of your favorite dishes too.

 

Let’s Talk About Food – Back to Japan Day 7

 

There are certain places in the world that people think of when they think of food, Italy, France, Thailand, and most definitely Japan. The culinary delights that can be explored in this country seems to be unlimited, and it would take a lifetime to explore them all. Each of them offer new tantalizing tastes that will make your bud sing, and a blog itself would have to be dedicated to the many ways food is offered in this country.

Of course, when the common man thinks about Japanese food, the first thing that comes to mind is sushi. It is an exotic dish in the United States, but it is not as big of a deal in Japan. Even though there are many fancy restaurants that can be found that serve this dish, it is considered more something that a person can grab for a quick lunch or even breakfast. My favorite way to eat sushi out here is to find the places that sit everybody around the cooks who constantly place various plates on a conveyor belt. You just pull off what looks good, and then the add up the plates, you pay and you go. It keeps everybody happy, and it is a fun way to eat sushi.

Another fun dish to have is okonomiyaki. This is kind of like a pancake made with dry rice as the main ingredient, but there are many other things that they throw into them. You mix them up in a bowl, and the cook them at your table. You can get healthy choices with fish and vegetables, or you can go the route that I went and load it up with a bunch of different meats. There is a really good restaurant that serves this in Harajuku called Sakura Tei. It is a little hard to find because it is hidden well among art galleries, but it might be one of my favorite restaurants in the world because of the food, atmosphere, and fun of making my own savory pancake.

I was also able to experience a lot of street food on this trip to Japan. Anywhere the cherry blossoms come out, they set up a festival for the two weeks that it happens. The booths come out and a variety of food is offered. You can find anything from ramen to fried potato swirls. It is also a fun way to dine because you get to jump into the festivities going on around you, and everybody can find something that they will enjoy.

Speaking of noodles, Japan offers many different types of them from cold buckwheat noodles to think steaming bowls of udon noodles. During the summer months, the colder options are great, but on this trip there was a little bit of winter still in the air, and I enjoyed the hot udon noodles. Many times they are served with some tempura to make a great meal anytime of the day.

Japan is also well known for its Kobe beef. This might be the most tender steak that I have ever had. It just melts in your mouth, and it is worth every penny I spent on it. The rumor behind why this beef is so tender is because the ranchers who raise these cows will feed them beer and massage them while they are alive. It makes the beef tender, and it makes me happy that at least the cow had a happy drunken life while still alive.

Basically, it does not matter where you go in Japan; there is going to be something amazing waiting for you. You just need to be a little adventuresome because you might not always know what it is you will be getting. There are many traditional Japanese dishes out there, but this a very creative country, and I always come across something new that quickly becomes my favorite new dish. The food alone makes coming out here worth it.

Let’s Talk About Food – Around the World Day 5

People love to travel the world for many different reasons, but the one reason that is included in what everybody says when they talk about the places they will be visiting is they are excited to try the food there. The dishes that places make are the things that make one culture distinct from another one, and there is nothing more enjoyable than experiencing what these cultures have to offers. Plus it something that we have to do on a daily basis. If we do not eat we can not live, so why not enjoy it while you have the opportunity.

But it is not only restaurants where this experience can be enjoyed. Many places around the world have markets where you can try many different types of food, or get the fresh ingredients that you need to make an amazing meal. There is a great one right off the Ramblas in Barcelona call the Boqueria. Even if you do not buy any food there, it is still a fun place to visit to see all the city has to offer in fine ingredients. There have been many times on my travels where I have had more fun going to these markets without a clue as to what I was going to make, but finding great ingredients and putting together one of my favorite meals I would have on that trip. It is one of the advantages of staying at a hostel because they usually have a kitchen that you can use. With the inception of Air B+B, this perk has been made available to more people without having to cram into a room with a bunch of strangers.

Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to make a meal yet, but it has not bothered me much because I am in Spain, the land of the tapas. A tapas bar will serve small portions of food, allowing you to have many different bites along the way. There are some traditional dishes that all bars will include, but it is fun to see the different creative ways a chef can piece together a meal out here. One of the best ones that we were able to experience was called Tapeo. It is a small place next to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. They have many traditional items, but they also blend in some Japanese flavors into their dishes such as this salmon potato dish that included a wasabi sauce that you could sprinkle on the top of the dish.

The dish was really amazing, but it was the bombastas they were so good that we kept ordering them right after we had finished eating them. They are a meat a potato ball that is fried so when you bite into them you get an explosion of flavor. It is dishes like this that make me know that I am in Spain and I will only be able to find these flavors in this corner of the world.

And of course, if small dishes are not your thing, you can still wander the streets of whatever place you are in until you find the perfect dish that you would want to try. If you are near the coast, try a plate full of fresh seafood. If in the center of a country, enjoy the hearty dishes they have to offer. The point is that wherever you go, make sure you eat, and eat well. It is part of the experience of travel and it makes each voyage even more memorable.