Sunday, May 28, 2023

Haircut at Hai Barber Shop at District One of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in Vietnam

In all honesty, Alex doesn't really spend much when he is overseas as he doesn't buy souvenirs and can literally stay in the hotel room the entire day. However, there's one thing he will try to do when out of the country; have a hair cut!

Since it was our last day in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), he decided to cast his lot for Hai Barber Shop, which was right next to Cho Thai Binh, where I had my first bun thit nuong

Draped in what appeared to be an emperor robe, I frankly can't imagine how he can be relaxing over who cut his hair. I am super particular as a bad haircut is an extremely stressful affair, and I look a lot worse with short hair. 

And wouldn't language be a barrier for correct, precise instruction on how want your hair cut!? I don't know how Alex achieves that as he seldom has very bad haircut; the worst that could happen was that the hair was shaved a bit too short and even then; he still looks good. Life is unfair! 

The barber was equipped with the necessary tools that were all within reach! The scissors appeared to be from some designer brand although I am just guessing here.

I was wondering why there were chirping every now and then! Turned out there were two bird cages which I had assumed to be decorative in nature. There were indeed two living birds yet strangely, their chirping wasn't exceptionally loud.

60,000 Vietnamese dong for a haircut; that's less than S$4.00! 
And Alex seemed pretty pleased with his new hairdo. No picture though. 


126 Đ. Cống Quỳnh, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, 
Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

As above.

Dinner at Merci Marcel French Restaurant @ Tiong Bahru in Singapore

I almost forgot to blog about my dinner at Merci Marcel in Tiong Bahru until I was going through the notes app on my iPhone! Thankfully, it was only about three months ago and not as backdated as some of my travel posts, which can go into 7-8 months.

Nice setting for French cuisine; not as formal and with elements of Balinese design. I do like the high tables and chairs although they might not be as well-liked by other diners. Oh well, it's hard to satisfy everyone! 

At the back, near the washrooms, would be the glasshouse patio which would be even more comfortable. Only issue was that it can get pretty dim when night falls. I am happier in the main dining area. 

Friendly service staff brought us the above board to ask if we would be keen with the selection of the day. I am not that keen with the red and white wine but the cheese did interest me! However, out of the eight types of cheese, ignorant me knew only one; the raclette! 

Check out the menus via the QR; segregated by breakfast, lunch, afternoon, dinner and even brunch (latter of which was applicable on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays)! Order wasn't online though; please do so through the service staff. 

Marcel Cheese (Any 5) - with so many of us, it would have made sense to go with a cheese platter (came with a basket of bread) to start the meal. Problem was; which artisanal cheese should we choose to make up the five?!

I am going to spare myself the mistake of typing the wrong words for the cheese names that we had chosen. You may refer to the photos as above. Stilton is the renowned blue cheese that you either like or dislike! 

The blue cheese was insanely strong flavored yet so palatable as a whole with the bread and homemade chutney! Chutney was made of onions, apples with a dash of cinnamon. Out of the five cheeses, the two I didn't enjoy were the chevre fermier (goat cheese) and raclette (usually served in the melty form).

Seeing how much I loved the chutney, the waitress brought me another saucer so that she can indulge in my blissful expression whenever I took a bite of the bread spread with cheese and chutney!

Tarte Flambee #1 - "thin crust pizza, asparagus, apple, blue cheese, organic bayonne ham"; thanks to the description as I would have assumed incorrectly that this would be the typical dessert tart.

Despite the facts that the edges lacked the crispness, and there were too much garden rocket (contributing to bitterness), this pizza was strangely delicious; the weird combination of blue cheese, ham and apple must have worked. p.s. easier to roll up and munch through. 

Buckwheat Noodle Salad
- by any explanations, I wouldn't consider a noodle dish to be salad. Taste wise, nothing to complain about even though I would also associate buckwheat to be Japanese rather than French. Likely the salad was added to make it fusion French; a weak excuse nonetheless.

French Ratatouille - any animation movie lover would remember Remy, the rat, from the movie, Ratatouille, who impressed a strict food critic with a simple French dish made of stewed vegetables. 

Served with flatbread and organic eggs, the vegetables used in this Ratatouille were just bell peppers and onions.  Not the best I had but flavorful enough for us to polish up everything! I thought it was a bit too wet though; is that supposed to be the case? Noob here.

Duck Parmentier farcon Marcel - in essence, this was like mashed duck! While easier to manage (and eat), the meat was on the salty side and personally, I prefer the conventional duck confit which allow me to savor the crispiness of the duck fat, following the gaminess of the duck meat.

Ravioles de Royans - "French dumpling pasta filled with Tete de Moine Cheese"; the whole dish looked cheesy enough yet there were additional three large pieces of cheese garnishing the top! 

This was so heavy although I can imagine this could have been the holy grail for many cheese lovers! Sadly, I may love cheese but my level of love had yet to reach the level of fanatics! 

Raspberries - frankly, any desserts with crumble are likely to get my buy-in! Raspberries were too sour but balanced out by the sweetness of vanilla cream custard. Not bad, I liked! 


I didn't realize they had beers on tap until I was leaving!
Guess it's another excuse for me to visit Merci Marcel.

56 Eng Hoon St, #01-68, 
Tiong Bahru, Singapore 160056

As above.


Marcel Cheese (Any 5) - S$38.00
Tarte Flambee #1 - S$27.00
Buckwheat Noodle Salad - S$18.00
French Ratatouille - S$23.00
Duck Parmentier farcon Marcel - S$29.00
Ravioles de Royans (S) - S$20.00
(Subject to Service Charge and GST)

Additional Information
Like any of the cheese from the selection of the day? You can buy blocks of them for self indulgence, in the comfort of your own home! 

Friday, May 26, 2023

Sawasdee Ratchawat - Famous Pad Thai & Fried Oyster Omelette @ Dusit in Bangkok [Thailand]

The above article was published in Thailand year 2534 and it was mentioned that Sawasdee Ratchawat had been in operation for over a hundred years. 2354 is year 1991, which makes the eatery at least 130 years old now!

Our Thai friend was shocked; even though the recommendation for this pad thai eatery came from his dad, he didn't expect it to have been around for such a long period of time! 

With three large pans laid side by side in an open kitchen right at the entrance, the first thing any foreigners would do is to whip out their cameras and take photos and videos when the chefs skillfully whip up plates after plates of delicious food. 

Non-air-conditioned seating but having the wall fans helped to cool down the body temperature. Anyway, it's no secret my favorite pad thai is at Thipsamai although for this relaxing trip made in February 2023; the objective was to try a different restaurant and nothing's better than a local's recommendation!

Fried Carrot Cake - this wasn't the focus for the visit but as our Thai friend was still on his way to the eatery, the hungry monster in our tummies couldn't help ordering this to at least placate it from further anger.

Flavor was surprisingly similar to what we had in Singapore; albeit in much larger pieces, wetter and stir fried with vegetables (so much healthier than our local version)! Texture of the carrot cake was also mushier and reminded me of Hakka Abacus Seeds! 

Personally, I prefer our local's diced up version, in smaller pieces and sweeter. However, I absolutely enjoyed the vegetables and egg; former of which is uncommon in Singapore's carrot cake.

Fried Oyster Omelette Hot Plate - This wasn't our my list to eat too! It didn't escape our eyes that the dish was placed top on the menu and the fact that many diners had a plate on their tables. So how do you think this fared?

Sitting on a bed of beansprouts, there was so much crunch; from the crispy batter and the lightly fried beansprouts. I can't comment much on the oysters since I don't really enjoy them. Chilli was like a blander version of what we had in Singapore. 

Stir Fried Rice Noodle with Prawns - now coming to the star of the eatery; pad thai! At 120 baht, this was a deluxe version and came with two large prawns.

Noodles were fried in the more conventional way, unlike Thipsamai where its signature was the shrimp oil that gave the noodles an orangey sheen. Nevertheless, it was still full of flavor with irresistible slurpiness that had each bite filled with the nuttiness from the crushed peanuts!

Prawns were plump and firm!

For a conventional plate of pad thai, I must say this was one of the best so far, absolute testament for Sawasdee Ratchawat's long history of more than a century! I did mention conventional as the pad thai from Thipsamai, with its shrimp oil, was just too epic to compare, but this one was definitely better than Lueng Pha.

Egg Wrapped Stir Fried Rice Noodle - Alex's order. Despite my love for eggs, egg wrapped pad thai often had too thin an omelette for me to be impressed. This version was thicker, fluffier (seemed to have more eggs) and way more satisfying for an egg lover! Content within was similar to my "Stir Fried Rice Noodle with Prawns"


Worth coming in the future although its location is not your typical tourist area in Bangkok. For me, we actually took the local train to Sam Sen station and walked for about 800 meters. 

p.s. there were so much beansprouts that Alex was literally playing with the leftovers! Faint but yet, so Alex right? Hahahah. 

955 11 Thanon Nakhon Chaisi Rd, 
Thanon Nakhon Chai Si, Dusit District, 
Bangkok 10300, Thailand

As above.

As above.

Fried Carrot Cake (Small) - 60 Baht
Fried Oyster Omelette Hot Plate - 150 Baht
Stir Fried Rice Noodle with Prawns - 120 Baht
Egg Wrapped Stir Fried Rice Noodle - 100 Baht

Additional Information
You can find other snacks, including some Chinese kuehs and dumplings. I would have loved to try but the stomach was simply too full! Shall do so in my next visit!