Review: Millennium Hilton Bangkok Christmas Buffet

Wahhh… Just got back from the not only the best Christmas buffet ever, but the best buffet I’ve had anywhere in the world and I just had to share my thoughts about it.

This year I decided to have Christmas in Bangkok. After being in Chiang Mai for 6 weeks, it was time to change things up a bit and head to a big city to enjoy a GOOD Christmas buffet. And the Christmas buffet at the Millennium Hilton Hotel in Bangkok was the perfect choice.

We arrived at 11:30am and were directed to the 31st floor for a complimentary welcome drink and canapes. I knew the welcome drink was on offer for guests arriving before midday so that’s why we arrived early. But what I didn’t know was that you got to have that drink with an awesome view PLUS you also got a selection of delicious canapes.Millennium Hilton Bangkok Christmas Buffet Canape with a view

After about 30 minutes, we were invited to enter the restaurant and we chose to sit on the terrace. It was hot, but it was nice to have the fresh air and to enjoy the scenery of the nearby river.Millennium Hilton Bangkok Christmas Buffet Terrace

We were offered a drinks menu, but we weren’t keen on spending more money on drinks after having already paid 2800 baht for buffet. Also, they include juices in the price of the buffet anyway which can be gotten from the bar. I was a bit surprised there was no water included in the buffet. I thought that was a bit crappy.

I started off with tuna tataki and moved immediately onto prawns and huge legs of alaskan king crab. ALASKAN KING CRAB! As much as you wanted to eat! There were also mussels, oysters and heaps of varieties of fish.Millennium Hilton Bangkok Christmas Buffet Tuna Tataki

The next station was the cold meat station. I went straight to the big leg of jamon they had set up, just like they might have in a bar in Spain. They also had some fantastic bresaola which is something of a rarity anywhere really.Millennium Hilton Bangkok Christmas Buffet Cold Meats

Next was the Japanese area. I grabbed a bunch of really fresh and tasty raw fish and downed that in about 30 seconds.

And now was the time for the part I had been a little worried about. The turkey. It’s so easy to mess up turkey that I had low expectations. But I should never have worried. The turkey was succulent and tasty. Not a hint of dryness at all.Millennium Hilton Bangkok Christmas Buffet Turkey and Beef

I was keen for some sweet stuff by now, so I skipped the Indian section as well as the Thai section and went hunting for the dessert station, but I couldn’t find it! Then I spotted someone carrying chocolate and followed where they had come from and I arrived at a totally separate building which seems to function as a sort of boutique chocolate shop.Millennium Hilton Bangkok Christmas Buffet Dessert1

Well… Today it was open to guests and you could eat whatever you wanted. All sorts of amazing cakes, handmade chocolates, ice cream and puddings.

I went back numerous times including one time when I got them to give me a slice of a lemon tart with macarons on it that no one had dared to try yet. It was awesome to see them slice that cake for the first time just more. Needless to say, the tart was great and the macaron was seriously impressive — soft and chewy on the inside and only a slight bit of resistance on the outside.Millennium Hilton Bangkok Christmas Buffet Dessert2

By this stage I was stuffed and I hadn’t tried everything. People were starting to leave and lots of space opened up inside. We decided to see what it was like dining inside. And that’s when I saw it. The cheese room. THE CHEESE ROOM! Yeah so what? Like they’re going to let guests raid the cheese room… BUT THEY DID!Millennium Hilton Bangkok Christmas Buffet Cheese Room

But I get the feeling hardly anyone knew about it because there was still a massive plate of blackberries left, so I scooped up some of those and started slicing up lots of the imported cheeses which usually cost like $100/kg… like the roquefort, manchego and… a huge array of soft, smelly cheeses.Millennium Hilton Bangkok Christmas Buffet Cheese Plate

After eating my weight in festive food, I was done. So I ordered a black coffee and even left the little biscuit that came on the side. I just couldn’t do it. But who cares? This was the best Christmas buffet ever and all it cost was a paltry 2800 baht (US$75). In you’re in Bangkok for Christmas, go here. I might even go and try their breakfast buffet some other time.

If you want to know how much it costs to stay at the Millennium Hilton Bangkok, you can check rates on Agoda.


Cultivar Coffee Shop, Bandung

I got a burst of inspiration, so I thought I write up some of my thoughts about a new coffee shop in Bandung called Cultivar.

Located in a trendy area of town with a smattering of nearby eateries, Cultivar gets a lot right that some other coffee shops don’t. The first thing I noticed when I entered was that it was not overly crowded with seating spaced far enough apart that you could get away from people if you wanted to. The ambience was lively although there weren’t that many customer inside due to an eclectic mix of tunes on the small sound system.

Cultivar Coffee Shop Bandung - Tempat Nongkrong Bagus
Cultivar Coffee Shop Bandung – Tempat Nongkrong Bagus

I ordered a double shot cafe latte and it was bang on in my view. They served it in a massive cup which is a general turn off for me, but the flavour was deep and rich and no one where near as milky as I had feared. Two big thumbs up for the coffee.

Enjoying a Coffee at Cultivar, Bandung
Enjoying a Coffee at Cultivar, Bandung

I also ordered the strawberries and cream waffles. I was slightly disappointed with the dish because there was nothing on the plate that made me go “wow”. It was simply waffles, strawberries and cream — what did I expect?! Well, I would have liked that cream to be an amazing home creation with layers of flavour — perhaps vanilla, cardamom… some other Indonesian spices. But it was store bought cream and pretty standard. That said, I finished off the dish and I didn’t hate it — certainly much better than some dishes I’ve had at other cafes in Bandung.

Strawberries & Cream Waffles @ Cultivar Bandung
Strawberries & Cream Waffles @ Cultivar Bandung

The wifi in Cultivar is fast. I got 17mbit down and 7mbit up on my test which is perfect for uploading youtube videos or downloading your favourite torrents.

All in all, Cultivar hits the right spot for me. I can see myself coming back to work for an hour or two whilst indulging in one of those massive lattes. A welcome addition to the Bandung cafe scene.


New Cafes in Bandung, Indonesia

There’s a new wave of coffee brewing in Bandung and the city’s hipsters are taking to them in droves.

Since getting back from our trips to Europe and Australia, we’ve been checking out some of the new cafes that have sprung up around Bandung and have been surprised with the quality of coffee on offer.

A New Wave of Cafes in Bandung
A New Wave of Cafes in Bandung

These are our favourites:

Noah’s Barn

Noah's Barn - great coffee, decent cakes
Noah’s Barn – great coffee, decent cakes

Noah’s Barn really was the first of the new wave in Bandung, mixing modern Australian cafe design with seriously good coffee. This place is not really a cafe per se as they focus almost exclusively on coffee with food being a secondary consideration. Still, it’s a great place to hang out with friends because the interior is designed so well that it gives a compact and relaxed feel. In fact, it’s the interior design that gives this place the edge over the competition in our view. Coffee is sensational, disappointingly the WiFi doesn’t usually work other than to send a tweet or two.

Jalan Laks. M. U. Nurtanio (AKA Jalan Garuda) No. 39
Bandung 40184

Two Hands Full

Two Hands Full - get your hipster on
Two Hands Full – get your hipster on

Two Hands Full has a more industrial angle on the “mod oz” design and utilises high benches, bare concrete floors and a few quirky signs to encourage its hipster set to feel at home. The good thing about Two Hands Full is that it serves food as well as great coffee. Another welcome aspect is the speed of the WiFi which is some of the fastest in town. This place is for serious coffee aficionados, lovers of quick meals and fast WiFi. The location on Jalan Sukajadi can be a major problem on weekends.

Jalan Sukajadi No. 206,
Bandung 40161

Two Cents

Two Cents - a good all-rounder
Two Cents – a good all-rounder

I always get Two Cents and Two Hands Full mixed up. Mainly because they remind me of my two favourite cafes in Melbourne, Three Bags Full and Two Birds One Stone. Two Cents is definitely not as hip as Two Hands Full and not as cozy as Noah’s Barn. Yes, they are serious about coffee, but not to the exclusion of food. And this is a great plus as there is an equal focus on trying to churn out decent food – thankfully they largely succeed. The problem with the food that I’ve had so far is that because parts of the dishes are pre-prepared (such as stewed berries), they sometimes don’t mesh together in a single coherent dish. The stewed berries on our French toast were served at fridge temperature while the toast itself was hot — it just didn’t work, despite the flavours being very good. These are minor issues, though, and we believe this will become one of the most popular modern cafes in Bandung. Definitely worth a repeat visit.

Jalan Cimanuk No. 2 (Cnr of Jalan Riau),



Lacamera - much cheaper than Jakarta!
Lacamera – much cheaper than Jakarta!

Ah Lacamera. It’s an odd place. Yes, the coffee is really good. Probably the second best in Bandung in my view. But there are two problems for me. Firstly is the interior of the place. It’s a really great modern design, but it lacks something – something I can’t put my finger on precisely. It doesn’t feel cozy, despite a few large relaxing chairs. Perhaps the space is just too wide open. Perhaps it’s the constant smell of cigarette smoke wafting in from the smoking room around the corner. I just don’t know. But it doesn’t really invite you to spend hours hanging around. The second problem is the food. For me, it’s barely acceptable. They really need to work on lifting the standard of the food on offer because it really does detract from what otherwise is a really great cafe. The WiFi here is incredibly fast which funnily enough does make up for some of the other misgivings here. Perhaps this assessment is too harsh because despite a couple of rough edges, it is still one of my favourite cafes in Bandung and it certainly does eclipse any of the old brigade such as Hummingbird.

Jalan Naripan No.79,

Bandung 40112

So where does this leave cafes such as Origin, Gigglebox and Hummingbird? These Bandung cafes have been mainstays for the past 3 or 4 years, but times change and Bandung grows more modern. To me, Origin still has a role to play because the food is sensational, but the interior design does need to be lifted to keep pace with the competition. Hummingbird’s food has always been OK and it still is. It serves the purpose of catering to those not on the cutting edge of coffee – perhaps families and older groups of people meeting for a catch up. Gigglebox again is still relevant, but only really for people who are on a tighter budget.

But it needs to be said that the old brigade of the Bandung cafe scene are on notice to pick up their game or risk being left behind. The new standard has been set by the likes of Noah’s Barn and there is no stepping back. You either work to lift your standard or you risk becoming increasingly irrelevant as the years go by.

These new cafes set the scene for exciting times ahead. Great coffee, modern interior design and cutting edge customer experience. Ngopi heula!

Cakes and Pastries Food

Opera Cake from Sweet Infinity

When I started my blog I thought I was going to write a lot more about cakes and pastries because I’m always trying new ones out and reviewing them in my mind. The problem has been that I quite often wolf the cake or pastry down before taking a photo! And a review of a cake is no review at all if it doesn’t have a photo.

So my first cake review in a year is the magnificent Opera Cake that I purchased from Sweet Infinity in the Strand Arcade, Sydney. It’s a cute little shop that fits in with the look and feel of the surrounding old-fashioned shops of the Strand Arcade. I stood outside for a while to see who was going in, who was just looking in the window and who just didn’t care. My completely non-scientific assessment is this: Lots of women passing by look in the window while almost no men do and men only enter the shop when accompanied by a woman (except me). What does this mean? I don’t really know, but I reckon it’d probably have something do with most men viewing food as fuel whereas many women view it differently. Good on me for the massive generalisations!

Opera Cake from Sweet Infinity
Opera Cake from Sweet Infinity

OK, the cake. An Opera Cake is essentially a layered cake containing almond sponge, ganache and cream topped with a chocolate glaze. The Sweet Infinity opera cake has all of these elements: a couple of sponge, a couple of ganache and a couple of cream layers with a spinkling of cocoa on top.

Firstly, the cake was NOT overly sweet. I really hate sweet desserts as they take away the subtlety of any flavours. And this cake tasted chocolatey, very slight nutty and a maybe even a hint of…something else. On top of these fantastic flavours was a fantastic texture which was delivered through the fudgy ganache, quite stiff cream and soft sponge. Eaten all together, the mind is just racing with flavours and textures and it’s just about enough to send you over the edge.

Anyway, without getting too scientific and too foodie-like, I can summarise by saying it gets a big thumbs up. I will be returning to try other tasty treats in the future!

Bali Food Indonesia Photography Travel

Bali Photo Essay – Food

This is the third in a series of shameless posts with a lot of Bali photos. Click here for Bali BeachesPeople and Animals and Culture.

I love food. It really makes travelling much more interesting for me. Of course, not all foods I encounter on the road suit my palate, but when it does, I usually like to take photos. So here is a bit Bali food porn to get you salivating.

Nasi Campur
Nasi Campur

A favourite meal of many Indonesia is Nasi Campur. It literally means mixed rice – a plate of rice with an assortment of vegetarian dishes and if you’re lucky, one or two pieces of meat. A meal such as the one above can be had for about a dollar. Maybe a little more when you start to pile on meat.


This is gorengan. The word “goreng” means “fried”. And gorengan is simply an extension of that with a very general meaning of “fried stuff”. Most of these bite-sized morsels contain potato-like substances and are served cold. I can almost feel the fat stick to the roof of my mouth.

Gado Gado
Gado Gado

Gado gado is popular in tourist restaurants around Bali, but it is also a genuine Indonesian dish. It’s simply a bunch of vegetables mixed in a peanut sauce with a bit of soy. Something like this costs around the 50c mark at a local food stall, but isn’t enough food to satisfy fat Western appetites — so buy two.

Babi Guling
Babi Guling

Babi guling is a favourite meal at ceremonies in Bali. A whole pig such as this one will set back a village about $150, but will be shared between as many as 20 families. The pig is roasted with a bumbu (mixed spice paste) and then served in a variety different ways. Sometimes foreigners refer to babi guling as roast suckling pig, but Balinese more often than not use bigger pigs than those that are still suckling — there’s more meat on a big pig.

Breakfast at Grocer & Grind, Seminyak
Breakfast at Grocer & Grind, Seminyak

The local food in Bali is fantastic, but there is also a wonderful Western food scene. Grocer & Grind in Seminyak does the full range of Western food and good coffee as well. I like to go here for brunch…

Food defines many of my experiences in a country. Does it for you?

Australia Food Travel

Australia Roadtrip – Western Australia

This is the fourth in a series of posts about my 2011 roadtrip around Oz. Checkout Tasmania, South Australia and campervan purchase!

Western Australia was almost the place that never was. I think after it is all said and done, my favourite state of the not too recent Oz Roadtrip was Western Australia. Many people rave about Western Australia – particularly the backpackers we met along our journey and I always just put it down to crazy Europeans being in awe of the sun and sand that they never get at home. But I was naive. Western Australia impressed me in a way that was totally unexpected and in a way that could only have been experienced on a roadtrip.

Western Australia is a massive state that defies all comprehension. When entering the state on the Nullarbor Plain, you continue to drive for a full day before you reach a town with more than 50 people. It’s then another day’s driving to reach the western coast. The coastline extends for over 12000km (8000 miles) and most of the interior is completely empty save for a few camels, dingos and emus.

Our first stop was the remote but modern town of Esperance on the south coast, 700km east of the capital of Western Australia, Perth. It is an area with some of the best beaches you will ever see and offers some great camping opportunities in the Cape le Grand National Park.

Stunning Beach in Cape le Grand National Park
Stunning Beach in Cape le Grand National Park

The next area I really loved was Albany. Why? Well… The town itself is beautiful with some gorgeous suburbs. But around the whole area there is beach after beach and vantage point after vantage point that takes your breath away. Really! Plus, you can go on a free tour of a forest at the Valley of the Giants near Denmark which starts at 10am. The best beach I have ever been to is Greens Pool just outside of Denmark. How can a place really look like this?

Greens Pool, Denmark, Western Australia
Greens Pool - My Favourite Beach

Finally, I thought Perth was magic. I’d been to Perth a couple of times before, but not with the same spirit as I did this time. This time it was more about food and Perth duly delivered. What struck me about Perth was how new and shiny everything was. It is clearly evident that the mining boom which has been going on for about 10 years now is paying dividends for Western Australia’s capital. Thousands of people work on remote mine sites around the state and fly to and from work on what they call a “fly in fly out” basis. The mines are desperate for workers and consequently people are lured there with big pay packets. The lifestyle sounds somewhat brutal, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a go one day.

Polenta & Mushrooms at Toast, East Perth
Polenta & Mushrooms at Toast, East Perth
City Beach, Perth
City Beach, Perth

We didn’t get further north than Perth. If you look at a map, you’ll realise that Perth isn’t far north at all! So we had a fab time in Western Australia and didn’t even scratch the surface. Had we headed north to the famed areas of Shark Bay, Ningaloo Reef and the Kimberley, we would have had to drive about 5000km further and taken weeks to do it – we just didn’t have the time. But these places have reputations larger than the areas we visited and I am supremely confident that they will stack up.

I’d like to say that I cannot recommend Western Australia highly enough, but that would sound stupid. So I’ll just say that if you plan to go anywhere in Australia, try to take a roadtrip in Western Australia. It is magnificent.


Kanga Bangas – My Favourite Source of Protein

Now, I don’t usually have the urge to write about the foods I eat day-to-day, but I’m becoming just a little obsessed with the kangaroo sausages I’ve been eating a bit lately. I think the obsession isn’t with the taste despite them being delicious, I think it’s with the amazing nutritional benefits. Most meat eaters stick with a few staples – chicken, beef, lamb, pork. But no one ever gives kangaroo a second thought, even here in Australia. But what’s not to love about kangaroo? It’s tasty, very healthy and very cheap.


According to the Kangaroo Industry, kangaroo meat has less fat than lamb and beef and a similar level to lean pork and chicken and the fat is primarily unsaturated. That means having to chop off all the excess fat in your pork and chicken whereas kangaroo is generally lean from the start. The protein levels of kangaroo are higher than all the stock standard meats meaning it will fill you up a bit more and help build muscle! The cholesterol level is less than beef and lamb but slightly higher than pork and chicken. And the iron level is less than beef, but higher than all the others.

Also, kangaroo contains Omega-3 which comes as a bit of a surprise as well as a bunch of other things that are too complex for laymen to understand.

Oh yes, kangaroo meat is a great choice for health-conscious animal eaters!


Taste is a very personal thing and a new taste can often be confronting and even off-putting especially when it’s strong. Many exotic meats tend to be strong…  which makes me think that beef is perhaps just bland.  Anyway, kangaroo is only slightly gamy and I can now genuinely eat kangaroo sausages without even noticing the gaminess I once did. It really is not offensive in any way when you first taste it and as with most foods, you learn to love it.

The texture of kangaroo sausages compared to beef sausages is interesting. I find beef sausages to be very oily compared to their kangaroo brethren an a little squidgy whereas kangaroo sausages seem a little more firm and grainy.

I choose to accompany my kangaroo sausages with a nice pungent chilli jam. The combination is an absolute winner!


The cheapest and nastiest beef sausages contain all sorts of garbage – bovine offcuts, lots of saturated fat and often gluten. The kangaroo variety counter all of this by being gluten-free, very low fat (<2%) and… well I guess it could be any part of the kangaroo which is just a muscle-machine! Despite this, kangaroo sausages are about the same price as the cheapest beef sausages being about AU$8/kg or US$3.2/lb. A real bargain, in my view.

Ethical Considerations

I know eating a kangaroo to many would seem cruel, offensive, disgusting etc. Yes, eating animals is a pretty nasty business and if I was having to slaughter my own food day in, day out, I’d probably turn vegetarian. But I eat animals from a position of ignorance and at this point in time I’m OK with that.

Despite being cute, I think it’s OK to eat kangaroos just as I think it’s OK to eat cute lambs, pigs and cows. What is OK to eat and what is not is something that I have been debating with myself for some time with no clear conclusion being formed! Maybe the line in the sand really is “do not eat animals”. I just don’t know.

So, if you’re a meat-eater and kangaroo is cheap where you live (probably not outside Australia), I heartily recommend you give some Kanga Bangas a try. The stupid supermarkets often stick them next to the pet food section, but they are definitely for human consumption. I just think they don’t want to freak people out.

I welcome commentary!

Cakes and Pastries Food

Three Bags Full – Raspberry, White Chocolate and Coconut Cake

As I’ve stated previously, I love cakes but I rarely eat one at a cafe that I can rave about. Continuing my quest for cafe cake and pastry perfection, I headed to Three Bags Full in Abbotsford, a few kilometres from the centre of Melbourne. On offer was a Raspberry, White Chocolate and Coconut cake. Exactly the sort of cake that promises the world because of the mouth-watering possibilities of the flavours, but then so often disappoints due to flavour imbalance!

This cake was moist. This cake was pleasantly chewy because of the coconut! (as well as a subtle tropical flavour that only coconut can give). This cake was also slightly tart on account of the raspberries which also provided the odd pop of sweetness.

Cake: Raspberry, White Chocolate and Coconut from Three Bags Full
Cake: Raspberry, White Chocolate and Coconut from Three Bags Full

OK, so the part of this flavour combination that almost always fails is the white chocolate component. The main reason being is that people often try and make the white chocolate the dominant flavour like one might do in a normal chocolate cake. But really, white chocolate is usually so sweet and so sickly that it ruins your palate after one mouthful. So it was with great trepidation that I took my first bite of this Three Bags Full cake… The white chocolate was only slightly there! Great! It was actually just enough for me to realise that it was contained within, so it just sort of buzzed along in the background without jumping out and becoming a nuisance. It did its job just nicely.

The star of the show for this cake is the raspberry flavour – playing a decent second fiddle is the coconut texture. An all round satisfying cake that I’d be happy to go for again.

Three Bags Full is on Nicholson St, just up the road from Viet restaurant central, Victoria St Richmond.

Cakes and Pastries Food

Market Lane – Was this a Rugelach?

OK, so for my first Melbourne Cake/Pastry review, I failed to note down the details of what exactly I was eating such was my desperation to get stuck in.  Nevertheless, I do suspect I was eating a rugelach despite its non-traditonal appearance.  A rugelach is a Jewish pastry that is usually rolled into a crescent shape and is filled with such items as walnuts, raisins and cinnamon – like a cinnamon scroll in many ways.

My own strict rules for reviewing pastries was to only review those that were made in-house at a particular establishment.  Perhaps this was a silly rule as my primary motivation for going to a cafe is for its coffee and accordingly cakes and pastries are usually secondary items on the menu.  So what this means is that many top cafes buy in their cakes from boutique wholesalers – this was the case at Market Lane in Prahran.  And these boutique bakers still do a sensational job despite them not always being a retailer.  I guess my initial fear of bought-in cakes was that they would be of the mass-produced one-dimensional kind.  My suspicion is that Market Lane purchase their rugelach from Little Bertha in Richmond.

Cake: Rugelach from Little Bertha via Market Lane

First of all, the rugelach was delicious.  As I’ve said before, I like my cakes to not be overly sweet and my rugelach managed to give a good account of itself on this front.  The walnuts gave a solid, crunchy texture, the dried fruit some chewiness and the pastry a nice amount of crumble.  It was cinnamonny (?), nutty and ever so slightly cakey.  A perfect accompaniment to the TOP coffee at Market Lane.  Yes, I do love a good cake/pastry and this one lived up to expectations.

I’ve been told that cakes and pastries from Little Bertha can be found at some of the best cafes in and around Melbourne and I will surely be seeking out more of these delectable morsels over the coming months.

Cakes and Pastries Food

Cakes and Pastries – My Best Friends

I love cakes and pastries.  I really, really love them.  They bring me so much joy when I munch on those little morsels – chocolate melting, almond meal crumbling, pastry fading away on the tongue to nothing…  So from this day forth, I think I will try to review a cake or pastry once every fortnight and perhaps get a sense of whether there really is a BEST baked good.  For me, I think the important aspects need to be:

Not too big – A large cake or pastry ruins itself.  It just goes on and on and on and doesn’t know when to stop.  It’s like getting a great masseuse who finds a knot in your shoulder, but then continues to kneed it for 10 minutes when 3 would have been ample.

Not too sweet – Really sweet cakes and pastries don’t do it for me unless they are absolutely minuscule.  I quickly find them cloying and no longer satisfying!  Add some sweetened herbaceous flavours and I’m anyone’s.

Cakes: Indian Sweets
Cakes: Indian Sweets

Something away from the norm – Unless something is made spectacularly in its traditional form (like an unbeatable croissant), I look for something a little different from the norm.  So none of this bulk-buying from a central factory business that so many cafes lazily do – that just doesn’t cut it because the lowest common denominator is catered for.  I want something with a twist to allow me to pause for thought and appreciate this new sensation.

So, given I’m living in Melbourne at the moment, are there any suggestions as to where I might find some nice cakes and pastries to try out?