30 March 2014

Koh Samui Nov 2013 - Part VI Spa

Continued from
Part I - Grand Deluxe Sea View Room at Akyra Chura Samui
Part II - Akyra Chura Samui Resort
Part III - Krao Chao Ban Restaurant
Part IV - Saebieng Lae Restaurant
Part V - Food in Samui

More spas have certainly sprung up in Samui especially at Chaweng Beach area, in the past 2 years as compared to 4-5 years back when we first visited.

One of the brands that has been quite aggressive in expanding is D's Spa. The brand has opened 2-3 large branches along the busiest part of Chaweng Beach and appeared to be attracting a fair number of tourists due to it's clean outlook and lovely furnishings.

We too were attracted. Prices-wise, it remained quite competitive, about 300 baht for a foot + back massage.

Upon entrance, guests are invited to this foot wash area where the therapists will provide a simple scrubbing and washing service.

Ground floor area is mainly for foot and back massage.

I asked for my favourite "tiger balm back massage" which is a soothing massage concentrating on the back, shoulder and neck area using tiger balm and some massage oil. The massage also combined some thai style stretching. Hubby asked for the traditional thai massage. This was the 2nd level massage area where we had our massage.

This is another area, probably for facial or scrub/wrap.

I was asked by my therapist to remove my top for the back massage. As for hubby, simply wore his existing clothes. I remembered a few years back when we went for such spas, we would be given a set of comfortable cotton wear to change into. Anyways, the skills of both therapists were so-so only. And after the massage, we were offered only water to drink as we proceed for payment, whereas in the past the spas we visited would lead us to a lounge for relaxation and offer herbal tea.

I think the large spa establishments at Samui these days didn't really train their therapists very well, so their massaging technique and skills weren't up-to-par. And to save costs, cut down on offering cotton wear and herbal tea for customers.

The next day, we went to a smaller establishment Sarunya Spa which was located at the quieter end of Chaweng Beach.

We were led to a lounge sofa area.

Our therapists brought out tubs of water for the foot wash/scrub service.

Also offered a soothing pandanus drink before the start of our massage.

This is the foot massage area.

Once again, I opted for the "tiger balm back massage", same for hubby. This was the massage area located at the ground floor. We were offered a pair of cotton shorts to change into. Yep, much more thoughtful indeed. The skills of the therapists were much better than D's Spa.

After the massage, we were once again offered a herbal drink at the lounge area. Quite pleased with the overall service and quality and hence returned the following night for a foot massage which was equally good.

I guess if we were to return to Chaweng Beach again, we would go for Sarunda Spa or other mid-size establishments instead of the big chains. Till then, I shall be missing my tiger balm massage which can only be found in Samui.

Finally, I've concluded my sharing on this Samui trip! Looking forward to the next one this year (once there's a good promo for Bangkok Airways)!

28 March 2014

Nasi Goreng with Achar (Indonesian fried rice with pickles) - AFF Indonesia Mar 2014

I used to think that Nasi Goreng is the same as our chinese fried rice; after trying I found the taste to be more flavourful and fragrant. I guess it must be the use of spices in the fried rice. So I bought one of those commercial pack of "Nasi Goreng paste" to try but wasn't quite impressed with the taste.

Decided to do a proper Nasi Goreng this time round, and after searching the internet for recipes, I found that it's not so difficult after all. Basically just pound or blend shallots, garlic, toasted belachan and chilli into a paste for the fried rice; and the other key flavouring is kecap manis which gives the fried rice a mild sweet taste. The fried rice turned out so flavourful and fragrant! Love it!

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)
(recipe adapted from Indochine Kitchen)
(serves 1-2)

  • 3 shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3g belachan/shrimp paste, toasted
  • 2 chilli padi
  • 80g chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 300g cooked rice, preferably left overnight in fridge (I use mixture of jasmine, brown and red rice)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp kecap manis
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  1. Grind/pound shallots, garlic, belachan and chili padi to fine paste.
  2. Heat cooking oil in a wok using medium heat and stir-fry spice paste till fragrant and slightly golden brown.
  3. Push spice paste to side of wok and add chicken breast. Fry till opaque.
  4. Push aside. Pour egg into the wok and quickly scramble.
  5. Mix egg and chicken with the spice paste, break them into smaller pieces.
  6. Add rice, pepper, kecap manis and soy sauce. Stir-fry everything quickly over high heat, for 5 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle chopped spring onion and serve warm with condiments such as achar.  

As a condiment to the fried rice, I also made some achar (Indonesia pickle). The pickled cucumber and carrot was sweet, sour and slightly spicy and remained very crunchy, very appetising and complimented the fried rice well. Some people served the fried rice with a fried egg or sunny-side-up but since there was already egg added to the fried rice, I decided to pair the rice with some Sate Lilit Ayam.

I'm a big lover of achar, whether the ones made by Chinese or Malay. I love them all! But I haven't tried making before because I think it's rather tedious having to cut up the vegetables neatly and also prepare the rempah. However, this Indonesia recipe is so quick and easy! The taste was so good that I finished half the portion and hubby the other half portion at one go.

Both the fried rice and achar are very suitable to pack for lunch-in at the office as well, which I did for hubby. They are definitely keepers!

Achar (Indonesian Pickle)
(recipe adapted from Daily Cooking Quest)

  • 1 large cucumber, remove seeds and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 large carrot, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 5 chili padi, remove the stems
  • 8 shallots, peeled
  • 1 tsp salt
 Pickling liquid
  • 300 ml water
  • 80g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  1. Place cucumber, carrot, chilli and shallots in a mixing bowl and sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. Toss well. Wash and strain after 5 minutes. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the pickling liquid, bring water, sugar, salt, and vinegar to a boil in a pot. Turn off heat when all the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Add the vegetables into the pickling liquid and let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer to glass jar and let rest for at least 1 hour before the achar is ready to be enjoyed.
  5. Store the pickles in fridge, for up to 2 weeks.

I am submitting this to Asian Food Fest Indonesia Month

25 March 2014

Sate Lilit Ayam (Balinese Chicken Sate) - AFF Indonesia Mar 2014

I have bookmarked this recipe for a month now and finally gotten down to cook it. When I first saw the recipe posted by Ira of Cooking Tackle (guest post on My Cooking Hut), I immediately took to it because I love how the sate was adorably presented using lemongrass! And I love anything lemongrass =D

There are 2 steps to making this dish, the spice paste and the chicken minced mixture. Although there's a long list of spices required, it's not as tedious as I imagined.

I managed to get all the spices required from the wet market near my place. As usual the kakak at the Malay/Indonesia grocery stall was more than happy to help me gather all the required ingredients.

These were all the spices/ingredients needed for the spice paste. I've seen most of the spices except for kencur (fresh kaempferia galanga) and daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves). Was quite lucky coz last packet left for the kencur. It has a mild ginger and earthy smell. The salam leaves have no fragrant and look like some random tree leaves. LOL.

Basically blend or pound all the ingredients together except lemongrass, salam leaves and kaffir lime leaf into a paste. I didn't blend till very smooth paste, there were still some fine bits. Then fry the paste till cooked/fragrant.

Next, mix minced chicken (I use half breast meat half thigh meat), fresh grated coconut and finely sliced kaffir lime leaves together. Then add in the cooked spice paste and mix thoroughly.

Take about a tablespoon of mixture, slightly flatten and place a stick of lemongrass on top. Mould the mixture around the lemongrass.

Tadah! Here were the uncooked stalks of sate lilit ayam. I used my Happy Call Pan to pan fry the sate till slightly golden brown.

The sate was yummy and very aromatic from the combination of the spices. The use of lemongrass as a stick added a tinge of fragrance to the meat. The meat wasn't too dry as I used both breast and thigh meat. Could also taste the fine bits of spices and grated coconut. Sedap!

Sate Lilit Ayam (Balinese Chicken Sate)
(recipe from Ira of Cooking Tackle (guest post on My Cooking Hut))
(makes about 13-15 sticks)


Spice paste
  • 6 shallots
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 5 red chillies
  • 2 chilli padi
  • 2 candle nuts, crushed and toasted
  • 20g fresh kaempferia galanga (kencur), skin removed and chopped into small pieces
  • 30gr fresh turmeric, skin removed and chopped into small pieces
  • 40gr fresh galangal, skin removed and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp belachan
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 2 Indonesian bay leaves (daun salam), torn into small pieces
  • 1 lemongrass, bruised
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 200g minced chicken (100g breast meat, 100g thigh meat)
  • 50g fresh grated coconut (white)
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp spice paste (from above)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 15 stalks of lemongrass, remove outer layers
To make the spice paste
  1. Blend all ingredients except lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and salam leaves into a paste.
  2. Heat oil in a wok, add the spice paste, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and salam leaves.
  3. Cook over medium heat, until the spice paste becomes fragrant or has changed colour to almost golden brown. Set aside.
  4. The quantity is enough to make 3 portions of sate. Use 1 portion to make chicken sate and keep remaining for fish sate or other dishes in a glass jar and chill in fridge for up to 2 weeks.
To make the sate
  1. Place the minced chicken, fresh grated coconut and finely sliced kaffir lime leaves in a bowl, mix well to combine.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of the cooked spice paste and season with salt. Mix until the chicken has evenly coated with the spice paste.
  3. Take a heaped tablespoon of the mixture, place it on your palm and flatten slightly. Take a stalk of lemongrass and place it onto the mixture, mould the mixture around the lemongrass.
  4. Heat a non stick pan, brush with oil, place and arrange the sate in the pan. Grill/pan-fry each side for about 5 minutes until golden brown all around.
  5. Best served warm with some achar (Indonesian Pickle).

I am submitting this to Asian Food Fest Indonesia Month

24 March 2014

Koh Samui Nov 2013 - Part V Food

Continued from
Part I - Grand Deluxe Sea View Room at Akyra Chura Samui
Part II - Akyra Chura Samui Resort
Part III - Krao Chao Ban Restaurant
Part IV - Saebieng Lae Restaurant

This was our rental bike during this trip. We rented it through the hotel at around 350-400 baht per 24hrs which was more pricey than direct rental from the vehicle rental shops. In fact, the rental shop is just opposite the hotel. But the advantage was that hubby didn't have to give his passport to the shop (usual practice for vehicle rental), since the hotel has our details. Direct rental cost around 250-300 baht per 24hrs. To us, it was a form of safeguard against possible misuse of our passport by the rental shop.

On our way to Krao Chao Ban restaurant at Lamai, we passed by this coconut ice-cream van at a popular cliff viewpoint near Chaweng Noi.

This was the first time we saw this ice-cream truck and appeared to be very popular so we had to stop and give it a try.

Wonder why we encounter this before even though we've been to Samui many times. Maybe coz it usually roams around Lamai beach area whereas we didn't go Lamai beach.

This viewpoint is at Chaweng Noi quite popular among locals and tourists, we always passed by but never stop as well.

We got one coconut ice-cream in coconut shell to share since we were on our way for lunch. Quite an eco-friendly and cool way to serve ice-cream right? The coconut shell was halved and coconut flesh scrapped to become a bowl. One serving came with two large scoops of coconut ice-cream and we could select three toppings. We selected coconut flesh, steamed yam and sweet potato and candied papaya.

Wow, the homemade coconut ice-cream was very yummy, slightly creamy and not too sweet, very refreshing! The toppings complemented the ice-cream really well. Hubby was complaining that we should have ordered one serving per person. I think this cost 200 or 300 baht, cannot remember. This was another surprise find of this trip and we really missed it very much as well!

The next day when we went back to the view point again, the van wasn't there and we went hunting for it at Lamai beach area also couldn't find it :( Same for the last day :( We vowed to track down this ice-cream van the next time we go Samui!

Since we couldn't find the coconut ice-cream van for our dessert, we went back to Chaweng beach for crepes instead. Have tried pancake before, so this time we ordered banana nutella crepes.

Generous spread of nutella! One serving of crepe was huge and even both of us couldn't finish one portion!

During our last night in Samui, we decided to dine at this restaurant that sells whole grilled pig-on-spit.

There are only two restaurants along Chaweng beach that sells grilled pig-on-spit and we had been eyeing it for all the past trips but somehow didn't get to try it.

It looked so tantalising.

We were ushered to level two of the restaurant.

I ordered the grilled pig-on-spit platter which came with grilled pork, potato, sweet corn and coleslaw. The pork was fork tender and succulent, but the sides were disappointing.

Hubby ordered the grilled pork ribs which was very yummy! The meat was very tender and juicy as well.

We decided to try grilled mango with ice-cream. Quite unique as the mango was very soft with a charred taste. Not too bad since the sour taste helped cleanse the meatiness of the meal.

That said, I guess we won't be dining at this restaurant again since the meal was so-so only and we have finally satisfied our craving and curiosity for the grilled pig once and for all.

Next and final post, will share about the spas we visited for this trip. Stay tuned!

20 March 2014

Koh Samui Nov 2013 - Part IV Saebeing Lae Restaurant

Continued from
Part I - Grand Deluxe Sea View Room at Akyra Chura Samui
Part II - Akyra Chura Samui Resort
Part III - Krao Chao Ban Restaurant

Sabieng Lae Restaurant has been our favourite restaurant in Thailand so far, that was until we went to Krao Chao Ban. I think it has now dropped to second place. Nonetheless, we would be happy to have all our meals at both restaurants whenever we visit Samui.

We were delighted to learn that Sabieng Lae opened a branch in Chaweng, it's much more convenient if we were staying at Chaweng or even Bophut area. However, it's not located along the touristy Chaweng Beach road area but the main road, next to Wilmaan Buri Resort (quite near to Tesco Lotus). For those without transport, this place would be hard to reach. In fact, you have to turn into a small lane before reaching the restaurant.

We went in during lunch time and surprised to see that the restaurant was quite empty (it was a weekend). If it's the branch at Lamai beach it would be at least half-filled. Probably because this branch is quite new, and partly coz of the secluded location.

The ambience is not as nice as the branch at Lamai Beach, where you could enjoy sea view. But it's ok we were there for the food.

Stir fried morning glory (kang kong) in garlic. The kang kong was tender and fresh. Nice.

Not sure why hubby wanted to order this dish, cocktail shrimp. It was so-so only, prawns weren't exactly very fresh and not crunchy enough.

My favourite prawn cake. Sabieng Lae's version was better than Krao Chao Ban's.

Since we liked the deep fried fish at Krao Chao Ban so much, we were delighted to see that Saebieng Lae also offers similar dish. Indeed, the fish was deep fried to perfection with crispy crust and tender meat, but the sauce was different, not the tamarind sauce so somehow lacked the omph we were expecting.

The meal was once again under 1000 baht inclusive of drinks. Food standard and service quality still on par with the main branch but given the lack of crowd we were quite worried whether this branch could survive or not?

On our last day, we decided to head to Saebieng Lae main restaurant at Lamai once again. Was debating whether to return to Krao Chan Ban (since also around the same area) but decided to give our beloved Saebieng Lae a try.

Hubby's favourite tom yum seafood. Saebieng Lae's version fared better than Krao Chao Ban.

Decided to order something different, baked mussels with basil.

It was not bad, I quite liked it because I like basil. But the mussels tasted a bit dry though.

Tried another new dish, stir fried vermicelli with prawns.

Oooh, we loved this dish! The vermicelli was chewy and very flavourful having soaked up all the sauce.

Had to order the deep fried fish again since we loved it so much. Although it was not as nice as the one at Krao Chao Ban, we had to make do.

Loved the chilli sauce, spicy and tangy, and salty from the fish sauce. Perfect with everything!

The meal was likewise less than 1000 baht with drinks.

I guess Saebieng Lae is sort of on par with Krao Chao Ban. We love them both. Will definitely be back again!

Next post will share about other food we ate for this trip. Stay tuned!