Hyde and Seek Gastro Bar & Restaurant

Lately, here in Bangkok, I’ve been feeling a bit lost in my purpose for being here, like I’ve forgotten my direction. So I decided to resume something I like doing and go out to eat good food and then write about it. So I’ll start with the best of what I’ve eaten in Bangkok thus far:

Hyde and Seek Gastro Bar and Restaurant
IMG_0362After reading some reviews I came to this place, as it was called ‘the hip place’ to go and to be seen. I wasn’t sure exactly what that would look like in a city like Bangkok, so I thought I’d check it out. Maybe Sunday night wasn’t the best time to do so as it’s a rather slow night in Bangkok. On this occasion there were a few ‘falangs’ (white or western foreigners) of the older white man varietal sitting outside eating casually, perhaps a bit sloppily as one seemed all too comfortable in the big comfy chairs without shoes and eating cheese from a plate he held in one had as he jerked about talking to another man sitting across the low table, laid-back smoking a cigar. There were a couple other people outside around the front as well. Inside there was a couple and two other small parties.

I opted to sit inside the clean, modern, cool interior. I sat at the long empty bar rather than the high tables behind the bar, a bad choice I came to realize because the bar chairs are so low that you could literally fall backwards, drunkenly or otherwise, by thinking that the mock-backs are high enough to prop up against, giving this false sense of comfort when you actually have to sit upright as if they are bar stools.

However, the food was better than expected. In what I’ve determined as a non-foodie city like Bangkok, I have come to lower my expectations of what to expect. Yet Hyde and Seek was perhaps the closest thing I could find to home. The food is classified as ‘International’ but it was more like American. The menu and many options had the kind of written-on-a-blackboard, farm-to-table kind of feel.

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I opted for the pork belly and tuna tartare. I asked for the tuna first and then the pork belly. But, surprisingly, they ended up bringing the pork belly first, shortly after the bread (two brown wheat rolls, nicely average size, with tasty clarified butter). The pork belly was great, like a nice piece of southern pulled pork. It was a nice size square cut of pork cooked fork tender, with a well paired, slightly creamy sauce. The fat of the belly was meltingly good, rather than chunky or obtrusive, and I ate all of it first and happily as the tartare sat to its side. (They offered to take away the pork while I ate the tartare, reheat the pork, and return it to me later, but I thought this rather unappealing as I don’t trust they’d not simply microwave it -as I saw a restaurant do with my samosas earlier in the day- and I didn’t want them to ruin the texture.)

So I had the tuna tartare second. It was composed of fresh deep red tuna, chopped in a rather minced fashion, laid out amply in a crescent, garnished with radishes and a bit of decorative sauce. Though quite a bit less flavorful by comparison to the pork belly, it retained the flavor of medium fatty tuna (not so buttery and rich as fatty tuna, but meaty nonetheless). Though I had one of the small rolls with the meal, I wouldn’t really call it a meal. Before ordering, I asked the bartender if the tuna dish was large, as I had planned to get a salad as well. She responded that it was rather large. And though the dish wasn’t fine-dining-petite, per-say, it was not large; and I wished I’d have gotten the salad as well. What I ended up with was two plates of meat, as neither had accompaniments, and two rolls. Some green vegetables would have been welcome.

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I was also recommended the ‘Secret Window’ cocktail by the bartender based on telling her I like drinks with whiskey or vodka, that are perhaps sour and not too sweet. This bartender spoke English well though the others there did not very well. Because the drink shared a name with a Johnny Depp movie, I acquiesced. It was composed of Gentleman’s Jack whiskey, dark chocolate liqueur, vanilla, bitters, and garnished with a large pretty piece of sugar Carmel on top. It was a tasty enough drink, though I’d not likely get another.

In all, food was rather expensive, though having paid near this for much lesser food, I was fine with doing so and actually left a tip (which is not necessarily required in Thailand because most places slap on a gratuity percentage, -and also I’m pretty sure the two other bartenders were talking about me the whole time -though unclear whether good or bad, which in a different mood could have swayed my decision to leave an additional tip). Also, the doorman asked if I had a reservation when I arrived, which I thought was rather pretentious as the restaurant was at least 75-80% empty. Yet I’m sure it’s simply what he was told to do as he led me amiably to my seat of choice. All in all, I’d recommend this restaurant as good quality food in Bangkok and would return. Though nothing further screamed my name to come back and eat it, I know that what I’d eat if I came back would probably be a solid choice.

A Slice of Japan in the Heart of Bangkok

Hunting for a short-term apartment or long-stay residence here in Bangkok has been a bit of an endeavor. There are so many options. There are different parts of town that I don’t even know about yet. There is a possible upcoming beach trip with my Thai family, for which I can’t seem to get exact dates or information and don’t want to pay for a room in Bangkok during those days.

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I’ve spent a couple days looking around at viable options nearby. I’ve yet to venture out of my current area, Sukhimvitt. And really, the farthest I’ve gone was a couple streets over! So I decided to stay at a less expensive place down the street, with a small kitchenette and more room, until I can get a better idea of things. Also, I still don’t have a solid clue about my plans for work or volunteering, but that’s a whole other beast I don’t want to get into here right now.

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The new place, Luxx, is a Japanese style residence hotel with a sushi bar downstairs. It all feels very zen. In a city that constantly wears me out and leaves me feeling hot, dirty, and threadbare, grasping for any semblance of cleanliness and tranquility, I decided to stay here, which is a bit down the road from the major hustle and bustle. I can even see a few trees outside my window. It’s a bit more like an apartment in a residential area, with cute small scale restaurants and shops near by, rather than high-rises.

But most of all, I chose it because it reminds me of Japan. Ever since leaving Japan I have missed it quite a bit. Though I was often frustrated by the language barrier, I started to develop a real fondness for the place. The simple way they do things, the infinite cleanliness and order, the civil and proper way of things was wholly endearing to me. Perhaps this speaks to my OCD need for control by such things as cleanliness, civility, and order, but I did like it very much. Japan, to me, is somehow effortless, both serene and bustling, quiet and yet speaking volumes, its impact seen and felt around the globe. Both deep and powerful, yet simple and graceful, much like their Samurai archetype, Japan is respectable as a country and culture. And there are so many folds to its consciousness that I was not even able to see in my brief visit, but can only sense. There is something intelligent about the place and people that I admire.

IMG_0275And yet, Thailand is trying its best to grow on me as well. I do believe its a beautiful country, with beautiful people -both inside and out. Most everyone is both friendly and rather attractive. There is something about the way a smile affects people here that is so rewarding. You see people’s faces light up when you smile at them. You have no choice but to feel happy in so easily making others happy.  I’ve not yet seen much of what this great city has to offer, much less the country as a whole, but I know that it is vast. Much like the food on which Thais so pride themselves, the culture is rich, varied, and vibrant. It has depths,  layers, and nuances that I’ve yet to uncover but can sense here as well.

IMG_0278For now though, I’m going out to buy a piece of luggage. I did my best to live with only a backpack, but several new acquisitions produce more than my backpack can hold. And for simply staying in the city it has become cumbersome. So I’ll don my sun hat as not to disrespect my prized fair skin, and venture out onto the dirty streets to sweat and walk long distances because I’m too stubborn in needing to avoid the confrontation of haggling prices for taxis, motor bikes, or tuk tuks. Plus, I’m listening to my Pimsleur Thai while walking around so that one day here soon I actually can haggle for something and perhaps decrease my newbie status as aFarang/Falang (white person or simply western foreigner).  As I’ll need a deep cleaning after this outing and am looking at more places tomorrow, I’ll post something more in a couple of days.