Delectable Delights: Eight Places to Indulge your Sweet Tooth in BKK

I’m gonna be honest.  Whenever we take our children out for dessert, it’s more for mom and dad.  “What’s that?  Did I hear you say you want a McDonald’s soft serve ice cream?  Well, okay then.  The Sukothai Chocolate Buffet?  Sure!”  Yes, that’s pretty much how it works.  Using this method, we have found some super-hip dessert locales that offer up some truly decadent treats.  Below I present to you our favorites.

1. For the culinary adventurer and appreciator of arts

IceDEA

This place is too cool for school.  Seriously.  At IceDEA, ice cream is not just served; it is designed and shaped into a variety of foods.  Medium-rare U.S. steak with a side of  fries?  You got it.  Japanese Tonkatsu?  No problem.  Pizza supreme?  Easy.  Not only is the ice cream sculpted to perfection, the flavors offered are creative and eclectic.  Wasabi, roasted coconut, earl grey . . . you get the idea.  This place brings the word unique to a new level.  Go and try it.  You will be amazed.

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Looks like a real hamburger and fries, right?

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The IceDEA cafe at BACC

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Beat the Heat

In case you hadn’t noticed everyone, summer’s here.  Just one foot out the door and you’re sweating.  Five minutes out and you’re drenched.  Here are some ideas that might help you beat the heat with the kids as we move into this very, very hot time of year.

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Ayyee Mom, it is hot out here!

1. Pool – This one is not rocket science, folks.  When it’s hot, go to the pool.  Bring lots of snacks, toys, bikes, trikes, scooters, and lunch and play in the water for hours.  Yes, you do have to be mindful of the strong sun so make sure the kids are fully sun-blocked and have on their SPF-50 shirts and a hat.  Starting early (say, 8am) or late (say, 4pm) can help you avoid the strong rays.  I was nine months pregnant with Katelyn this time last year and I took Logan to the pool everyday.  Everyday.  I bobbed while he swam.  It was heaven for both of us.

2. Find a Good Indoor Play Area – Try the fairly new Kidzoona at Gateway Ekkami or the brand new Kidzania (opening March 29, 2013) at Siam Paragon.  A good play area should hold the kids’ attention for hours.

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On a hot day, Kidzoona delivers

3.  Reading nooks –  Have an avid reader?  Mosey on down to the beautiful Neilson Hays Library in Silom and spend a morning browsing through their selection and reading some new literature.  On Saturday mornings at 1030am, the library hosts a story-telling hour followed by a craft activity.  There is a nice gallery cafe adjacent to the library where you can lunch post-reading.  For a more local experience, hit up TK Park on the top floor of Central World.  It houses a kids reading room with a good selection of English and Thai books, as well as a treehouse of nooks for the adventurous reader-climber.

4. Siam Ocean World – If you regularly read Toddle Joy, you know this is a favorite place of ours.  Fantastic indoor aquarium with exhibits that change frequently in the basement of one of the best malls in Bangkok.  What’s not to love?  Logan and I just traversed the shark tank on the glass bottom boat for the first time last week; worth it.  Very cool.

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Anxiously waiting to board the glass bottom boat

5.  Cool way down and give Sub Zero Ice Skate Club in Ekami a whirl.  140 baht/adult and 100 baht/child per hour (weekday prices; a little bit more expensive on the weekends).  The rink is located at Major Ekami Mall on Sukhumvit soi 61; accessible via Ekami BTS.

6. Visit the Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC) – The BACC is a cool place for parents and children to visit together.  Kids can release some energy by running up the spiral walk adorned with art (it would be hard to break anything) while parents get their art-fix on.  The current exhibit is on Thai cartoons.  There are restaurants in the building so you can grab a quick bite before leaving.  BACC is connected to the skywalk at the National Stadium BTS exit (directly across from MBK).

7.  Find a yummy child-friendly restaurant and spoil them.  That’s right.  Go all out and order them ice cream or cake.  Great new places for this?  Mr. Jones’ Orphanage (both in Thong Lor and at Siam Center) caters to children with its eye-catching dessert table, swinging teddy bears, and home made vanilla, spearmint, chocolate, or bubblegum milk ; the brand new Magnum Cafe in Siam Center allows you to make your own Magnum Bar and choose from over 20 toppings.  Y–U–M.

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Entranced by the dessert table at Mr. Jones’ Orphanage Thong Lor

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Kit-Kat M&M cake: a child’s delight

8.  Get creative indoors – Build pillow forts and race tracks, finger paint, sculpt with Wikki Stix.  If you have a big enough balcony, cultivate your child’s green thumb. You know,  just get creative.   Pinterest is the ultimate tool for finding new ideas when it comes to kids’ crafts.  Embrace it.

Things you probably don’t want to do this time of year?  Ancient Siam, Dusit Zoo, any park, the Crocodile Farm, the Floating Market, Jatujak Market, visiting wats along the Chao Praya.  Don’t do it folks.  You and your children will melt.  And you will all be cranky.  Cranky x 100.

Anybody else have good ideas on how to beat the heat?  Please sound off in the comments if so.

The Most Toddler-Friendly Restaurant in Town

As Katelyn was hosting a Valentine’s Day play date today, which looked something like this –

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Reading, playing the piano and eating biscuits . . . a great start to a play date

– I got some inspiration for the following post (thank you, ladies!).  I was surprised to find out that many of my friends are unfamiliar with what I consider the most child-friendly restaurant in Bangkok . . . Cafe Tartine.  So, this one is for all of you.

We were lucky to learn of  Cafe Tartine early on.  It was described to us as a great lunch spot with yummy salads and sandwiches.  We soon came to find out that that characterization was absolutely true, but what impressed us then and continues to impress us now is how easily you can eat at Cafe Tartine with children in tow, especially toddlers.

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Mommy, Logan and Daddy sharing a Valentines lunch at Cafe Tartine (Daddy had the photography honors)

On the culinary front, Cafe Tartine is awesome because the food is always fresh and of the highest quality.  You can create your own salad from an extensive list of ingredients ranging from brie to grilled chicken, parisian ham, and sundried tomatoes.  The first food I had post-delivery with Katelyn was a Cafe Tartine salad.  That’s saying something!  The sandwiches are equally as tasty – ham and brie, pork tenderloin, prosciutto raclette.  And for dessert?  The BEST lemon meringue pie you’ve ever tasted.  Oh, and chocolate mousse.  Is anyone hungry yet?  Their home-made mint lemonade is an excellent beverage option, especially when it is hot outside.  Oh right, that’s all the time.

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This picture is making me hungry

So to sum it up on the food, it’s fantastic.  But let’s face it, that’s probably not why you’re reading this blog.  So let’s talk about the child front.  Cafe Tartine has real highchairs.  That’s right.  Not the kind of “high chairs” you usually find in most Bangkok restaurants – the taller chairs with no safety strap that end up being more of a hazard than seating your child in a regular adult chair.  This place has the real deal high chairs with safety straps.  Secondly, Cafe Tartine has a children’s movie running . . . at all times.  Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Monsters, Inc.  A healthy children’s menu for 169 baht.  Staff that is super with children.  Children’s books, crayons and coloring pages.  Milkshakes.  Smoothies.  Oh, yes, and chocolate mousse.

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Toddler draw? Children’s movies on repeat (don’t worry, there is no sound, so it won’t ruin your dining experience)

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Children’s menu

Cafe Tartine has never let us down.  It has been superbly consistent in the quality of food that is offered and how friendly the staff and restaurant space is for children.  Another bonus is that it is open everyday from 8-8.  It can be a challenge to find a place to go with little ones when they wake up so early.  Well, Tartine has that covered.   Tartine is on Soi Ruamrudee, conveniently located to the Ploenchit BTS station.  If you are looking for a place to go for a good meal and a place that will allow you to actually eat while you have your toddler with you, go to Cafe Tartine.  One trip and you’ll become a regular.  Trust me.

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Logan entranced by Monsters, Inc. while indulging in chocolate mousse

This One’s for the Parents

No matter whether you have one calm, sleep-happy baby at home, a house full of crazy toddlers, or heaven forbid, both, all parents just need a break sometimes.  Here are some new, hip locales that parents in Bangkok owe it to themselves to try out:

The view from “Up and Above” at the Okura Prestige

1. For a drink (or two, or three . . . ), hit up the newly-opened Okura Prestige‘s “Up and Above” bar.  Located on the five-star hotel’s 24th floor, the bar has an amazing outdoor balcony and seating area with an enviable view of the city.  Choices on the cocktail menu are generous and diverse.  This bar is so chic that they even attach small LED flashlights to the  menus so you can read the drink list in the dark.  Being a five-star hotel, the service is impeccable.  We visited “Up and Above” on what was threatening to be another rainy evening in Bangkok.  Even though the hotel had temporary closed the outdoor seating area due to impending inclement weather, the waitress opened it up just for the two of us to have a drink.  Read:  private evening cocktails overlooking the city.  Doesn’t get much better than that!

Up and Above Restaurant and Bar

  • Located at intersection of Phloen Chit and Wireless Road.  The hotel has a direct link via covered walkway to the BTS at Phloen Chit station.
  • Open Daily; Bar hours:  17.00 – 01.00

2. For an exquisite meal, venture out to Quince Eatery and Bar.  We were fortunate enough to first try out Quince during its soft opening in June.  The restaurant, housed in a restored 1950s Sukhumvit home, has a contemporary and homey feel that can be described as “rustic chic”. The chef consultant, Jess Barnes, hails from the Barossa Valley in South Australia.  Quince’s menu, which changes frequently, is divided into small dishes, salads, and more substantial plates; perfect for sharing.  Most of the ingredients are locally sourced and the dishes are reasonably priced.  Quince also has an extensive wine list that features good values – something you can’t often find in Thailand.

Quince by day, photo by farfromthemaddeningcrowd.com

Quince’s FB page features its current menu, as well as photos of the restaurant, the food, and some additional information about the chef’s vision.

In addition, here are some independent reviews for your reading pleasure:

Quince Eatery and Bar
Sukhumvit soi 45 (top of the soi)
BTS: Phrom Pong
Phone:  02-662-4478 (do make reservations, as this place fills up every night!)
Email:  eat@quincebangkok.com
Open Mon-Sun; 11:30-01:00

If you make it out to one of the above places, let me know what you think.  I hope to provide more suggestions of new cool places for parents to unwind in a subsequent post (when we have more time ourselves to get out and do some more exploring)!

Life with a Toddler and a Baby Made Simple (and Yummy)

Weekly milk delivery, check.  Weekly gourmet bread delivery, check.  Almost weekly organic lunch and dinner delivery, check.  This is what life with a newborn and a toddler in the house will do to you – motivate you to find ways to make your everyday life easier.  Along the way, we have not only found some gems for simplifying our daily chores, but some excellent food as well.

Here is what we’ve found and how we’ve simplified:

1. LOVE ME SOME MILK

Logan is a man who is serious about his milk.  Before Katelyn’s arrival, I found myself at the store almost every other day buying a fresh quart of milk.  I used to buy Meiji milk, until a Dutch friend of ours (who knows his milk well) derided me for not buying fresh milk.  I hadn’t realized that Meiji milk was made from powder.  After all, the packaging looked so nice, and I had always assumed it was fresh.  Turns out that Chokchai and Dairy Home are your best bets for fresh milk in Bangkok.  We now opt for Chokchai.  Why?  Because they offer free delivery!  Yes folks, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we have one quart of milk delivered to our home (well, on Fridays, we have two delivered) at approximately 11am.  86 baht/quart and the delivery man is pleasant to boot. No more late night milk runs, no more fussy toddler when his full cup turns into a half cup because we are low on supply.  This has assured we always have fresh milk on hand.

Interested in doing the same?  Decide how much milk you need per week and when you would like it delivered, find a native Thai speaker, simply dial up the delivery number found on the front of the milk carton (02-532-3572), and have your Thai speaker communicate your preferences and address to Chokchai over the phone.  The milk man begins delivering the same week.  It worked like a charm for us.

2. IT MAY PREVENT ME FROM LOSING THOSE LAST FEW POUNDS OF BABY WEIGHT, BUT MAN THIS BREAD IS GOOD!

So, we actually learned about the bread man before Katelyn’s arrival, but now that our little girl is here, we have it delivered on almost a weekly basis.  Urban Pantry makes some seriously fantastic home made bread.  The founder has a really cool back story and I’d encourage you to read this article on CNN Go for more on him and his bread.  If you get on Urban Pantry’s email list, they’ll send you a weekly menu of their bread and condiment offerings (see below for a sample menu we just received).  Our personal favorites are the sun-dried tomato and garlic sourdough, the cinnamon raisin bread, and the rustic whole wheat.  We also recently tried Urban Pantry’s key lime cream cheese . . . if you are a fan of key lime, it is sublime!  Urban Pantry delivers to your door at no cost . . . you can’t beat that!  Email Urban Pantry at urbanpantrybangkok@gmail.com to receive their weekly menus.  You can also catch them on Twitter (@urbanpantrybkk).

Sample Urban Pantry Menu (June 18, 2012)

3.  ORGANICS MAKE YOU FEEL OH SO GOOD

Tired of all the same old sandwich or Thai street food lunches?  Indulge by ordering “mediterranean-influenced wholefood cuisine” from Birds in a Row.  This was a new experiment for us after we arrived home with Katelyn.  I was skeptical at first . . . now I wish I had tried this months ago!

Birds in a Row offers seasonal menus and all you have to do is visit their website (http://birdsinarow.wordpress.com/) to see what’s available and to order.  Some of our current seasonal favorites are:  Salad of lentils, chickpeas, butternut squash and paneer with masala dressing, Summery watermelon, tomato and feta salad with mint and vinaigrette dressing, and paneer cauliflower fritters with curried yogurt sauce and cilantro.  The meals are reasonably priced and are delivered direct to your home (a delivery charge applies).  Make sure to get your lunch or dinner order in by 10am.

I hope these ideas inspire you to try new some yummy new foods, all the while simplifying your life with a toddler(s) and/or baby(ies) at home.  Sometimes when your hands are so full with your little ones, it’s really just about finding ways to make your everyday chores less of a hassle, and Bangkok certainly delivers in that category if you let it.