View from Zense

A few weeks back we had another Xangan visitor, this one David from London.  He and I did a day trip down to the evening floating market in Amphawa, which was written about in this entry.  After he went to Phuket for several days of relaxation he returned to Krungthep and Tawn and I met him for drinks and dinner.

We had eaten at Zense before with another David (this one from Singapore) and his partner Chor Pharn, so decided this time to stick with drinks only before moving on to the Italian restaurant at the Amari Watergate Hotel for dinner.

Zense is located on the 17th floor of the Central World Plaza mall, above the Zen department store.  It is one of several new restaurants that are either on rooftops or offer elevated, outdoor dining areas.


The view looking west (above) is quite nice.  You can se the police headquarters (low buildings on the left), the Novotel hotel in Siam Square (tan building with blue sign left of the train tracks), the Skytrain Sukhumvit line, the Siam Paragon mall, and next to it – squeezed between Paragon and Central World Plaza – Wat Phatumvanaram.  This temple is worth a visit as it makes for a very tranquil oasis in the midst of Krungthep’s shopping district.  Looking out from the temple grounds to the surrounding structures gives one a sense of the contradictions that are a part of life here.


Looking south, you look beyond the police headquarters and police hospital (tall building in the immediate left foreground) towards the Royal Bangkok Sports Club – one of only two horse racing tracks in the city – and beyond that, the Sathorn and Silom business district.  The tall buildings under construction on the left are at Ratchadamri Station, a very popular area for short-term expats teeming with many new high-rise service apartments and hotels.


Turning around and looking overhead, the top of the Central World Plaza building has this interesting fiberglass structure that looks like a waterslide and changes color every few seconds in a slow process that is mesmerizing to watch.  Peeking out from behind this structure is the full moon.


Our dinner at the Amari Watergate was pleasant and the food was good, but the lighting was not conducive to taking pictures.  The only shot I managed that was worth sharing was this one, of my “tiramisu in a teacup” that was my dessert.


I Got My Christmas Wish!

Christmas Eve in the Big Mango.  With all the lights and Christmas carols playing, you would swear you were in a Buddhist Christian nation.  And yet, you are not.


Decorative lights adorn the pedestrian bridge crossing the Ratchaprarop – Rama I junction.  Louis Vuitton’s shop at Gaysorn plaza is in the background.

Stephanie arrived from Melbourne yesterday morning about 5:30.  Going back eleven years, Stephanie was one of the managers with whom I worked when I was based in Hong Kong opening the AMC Festival Walk 11 cinemas.  A few years later she moved to San Francisco for several months and lived with Tawn and me.  She has since moved to Australia and we see her every second year or so here, there or elsewhere in the world.

She’ll be our first guest in The Annex which means I’ll be working from my laptop instead of my office armoire.  That’s okay as the weather is nice and I’ve set up on the balcony overlooking the pool.  If it wasn’t for the construction noise from that new seven-level condo going up down the street, it would be quite peaceful.

Last night we met Tawn and headed to Central World Plaza for dinner.  While walking through the mall I spotted a large sign covering the entire storefront of what used to be a fondue restaurant.  Opening 2010: Din Tai Fung!


Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and he is bringing me the best xiao long bao dumplings in the world.  Let’s hope this branch of the venerable Taipei chain will be better than some of their other foreign outlets, which are reportedly inferior to the locations in Taiwan.

I was so excited to see this that I wanted to text message Andy and Sugi immediately, which would have been about 7 am for them.  Thankfully for them I didn’t have their number on my phone.  Whew!

This evening Stephanie’s sister and brother-in-law arrive with a dozen of the in-law’s family members.  I’m not sure what the plans are for holiday dinner but we will see.  I suspect that Christmas celebrations will be minimal but we are planning something big for New Year’s Day.


Yura An Cafe – Central World Plaza

One of our largest malls is Central World Plaza.  Formerly known as the World Trade Center (and renamed a few years after the September 11th attacks for obvious reasons), this mall underwent a doubling in size and renovation about three years ago.  Something that Central World Plaza has an amazing number of is restaurants.

The entire top floor of the mall is nothing but restaurants, easily thirty sit-down restaurants situated shoulder to shoulder.  A few weeks ago, Tawn and I decided to visit one we hadn’t tried before, Yura An Cafe, a nominally “modern” Japanese sushi restaurant.


The restaurant is bright and has a clean design.  There is also an outdoor seating area that offers a broad view of the Rajaprarop – Rama I intersection.


There is a chalk board inside the restaurant playfully explaining the restaurant’s philosophy.  “What is special about Japanese food?”  “It’s very healthy & delicate and takes lots of skill.”


The Yura An roll, avocado and faux crab meat with fried tempura crumbs.  Enjoyable crunch.


Japanese “bruschetta” with smoked salmon and cream cheese.


Fried soft shell crab spring rolls served over salad.  Tasty, but a little too much mayonnaise dressing.


Stir fried pork with kim chi served over rice.  Very tasty dish.

All in all, a very nice restaurant.  Good service, nice ambience and tasty food.  Not terribly authentic when it comes to Japanese food, but an interesting mixture of flavors from across Asia.


Chris hit by credit card fraud

Credit Card It took two years to happen, but almost as if to welcome me into my third year in Bangkok, I was bitten by my first case of credit card fraud.  When I woke up this morning, I had a voicemail on Skype from my credit card company asking me to call them to verify some purchases.  When I called in there were several purchases from high name fashion and cosmetic stores – the companies were based in France but I’ll assume the charges were made here in Thailand – totalling about $4,500 on Monday.

Who got the number?  Hard to know for certain but I haven’t used the card in several days nor have any charges appeared until after I used it at the Food Hall at Zen department store at Central World Plaza yesterday evening.  My guess is that there is some scam going on with the ladies working the check-out lines there.

I’m not certain whether I should lodge a complaint with their management or even inform the police.  I do want to go back to Central World and see if the names on the list of charges correspond with shops there.  Even to talk to the store managers and make them aware of the fraudulent activity.

Thankfully, Chase was on the job and spotted the unusual charges.  Bless those spending algorithms.