Oolong, Darjeeling, Pu’er, Ceylon—it can be a bit baffling when it comes to choosing the right cha for the right time. Here’s a guide to help you read between the leaves.

Pu’er tea

Pu’er is the name of the town from which this tea was originally bought and sold. Unlike other teas, the fermentation process can take anywhere from one to 50 years, and it is considered a medicinal tea by many Chinese.

“Pu’er is more expensive than other tea since it has gone through a long and complicated fermentation, then the leaves are compressed into solid bricks of various sizes to retain the earthy flavor for longer periods of time. Its flavor gets better and smoother with age,” explains Noppaporn Phasaphong, owner of Ong’s Tea. She advises drinking pu’er tea after a meal as it helps digestion. Beneficial to those with particularly stressful or hedonistic lifestyles, the tea is also believed to help lower blood pressure and detoxify the liver.

Green tea

Due to its minimal fermentation, green teas contain a high concentration of antioxidants. Although it has a shorter shelf life than other teas and generally loses flavor within a year, this tea is said to reduce the risk of cancer and improve cognition. As a staple of the Japanese diet, this tea is cited as part of the reason why they have the longest lifespan in the world. Although it certainly isn’t a cure, much research in the medicinal properties of green tea has consistently found it to reduce the risk of cancer and lower cholesterol.

But watch out: The so-called bottled green tea and iced tea drinks found in your typical convenience store barely contain any health benefits, but instead are loaded with sugar. “They should be called refreshing drinks instead of green tea,” comments Noppaporn.

Black tea

Black tea, commonly known as red tea in china, is the most widely consumed tea in the world. “Unlike green tea, the black tea leaves are fully fermented, which accounts for its higher concentration of caffeine and more robust flavor,” says Bousarin Methangkul, assistant marketing manager of Whittard of Chelsea. Due to its longer oxidation, black teas retain their flavor for far longer. As a stimulant for the central nervous system, the high amount of caffeine found in most black teas promotes alertness and wards off fatigue.

Oolong tea

A popular accompaniment of dim sum, oolong cha lies somewhere between green tea and black tea. “Oolong is half-fermented tea. If it is left longer to oxidize, it would become black tea and have a stronger flavor,” says Noppaporn.

Also, oolong combines the health benefits of both black and green tea but to a lesser degree. Like green tea, oolong is cool in nature and activates the enzymes in the stomach responsible for breaking down oils consumed during a fatty meal.

The discerning tea drinker would describe it as bitter but, like a fine wine, with a sweet aftertaste. “Oolong has a sweet lingering aroma and flavor. Its caffeine content lies between green and black tea, making oolong a great coffee alternative that also works well as a wake-up drink,” adds Ong’s Tea owner.

Herbal tea

An entirely different genre of tea, herbal teas (known as huacha in China) usually don’t contain actual tea leaves and are caffeine-free. The widely popular chrysanthemum tea is purported to prevent sore throats and reduce fever, while lavender tisane is a natural cure for insomnia as its soothing scent has a relaxing effect perfect for those in need of a good night’s rest. Different herbal teas usually cater to specific ailments and most are said to have mild medicinal properties, but it is recommended to consult a doctor before self-treating.

Where to Tea Off

Ong’s Tea
4/F, Siam Discovery, Rama 1 Rd., 02-658-0445. Open daily 10am-10pm
With its first outlet on Bumrungmuang Rd., this long-standing teashop offers almost every tea under the sun from pu’er to long jing. Teaware items are also on offer.

Whittard of Chelsea
Try G/F, Q House Life Center, 02-610-7519. Open daily 10am-10pm, and G/F, Siam Paragon, Rama 1 Rd., 02-610-7519. Open daily 10am-10pm
The English tea brand provides a vast selection of eastern and western teas. For those seeking to minimize caffeine intake, various flavored teas and decaf infusions are also available.

Erawan Tea Room
2/F, Erawan Bangkok, 02-254-1234. Open daily 10am-10pm
This beautiful tearoom has takeaway packages of tea from India, China, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Also, you can grab a seat and enjoy an ongoing promotion that allows you to enjoy the famous afternoon tea (2:30-6pm) for B150.

The Oriental Shop
G/F, Siam Paragon, 02-610-9845/6. Open daily 10am-10pm
At this Oriental outlet, there are about 10 kinds of tea, with prices starting at B300/can, for you to bring home. Instant tea packages are also on offer for those intimidated by the tea brewing process.


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Cure that throbbing headache at these great restaurants and cafes

Drink Up

Hangover symptoms are signs of dehydration caused by booze. Water is your knight in shining armor as it combats dehydration and helps
wash out your system. It’s advisable to replenish your body with plenty of H2O before crashing out (best if you can remember to do it throughout the night) as well as during the day after.

Where? If you liked water, you wouldn't be here. Read on, we have much better ideas.

Fruity Fixes

If water is too bland for your sore palate, slurp freshly squeezed juice instead. It is a good source for vitamins your body is desperately in need of and also helps flush out toxins.

Where? Try Fruitz Etc.'s smoothies at G/F, The Portico, Langsuan Rd. BTS Phloen Chit. Or go oggle the muscle boys at the little stall Koguma Kafe, across from Silom Complex, on Silom Rd. BTS Sala Daeng.


For once, a fatty meal can actually be beneficial for you. Before you go out boozing, have a good fatty meal as it helps slow down the absorption of alcohol. Then on the next morning (or afternoon), you can also get the much-needed energy boost from a fry-up meal or a hearty English breakfast. Eggs and meat are thought to be secret weapons to put you back on track. Just don’t eat too much, as your stomach may not be ready to welcome oodles of food.

Where? Here's our list of egg-friendly breakfast places.

Make a Toast

If the thought of frying grease is making you green, perhaps some slices of toast might be a good idea? Spread some honey over it for a sweeter taste that not only soothes a dry throat but also brings your sugar level back up.

Where? Paw Pang Ping (168, Chula Soi 5, Suan Luang Market, 084-911-8896. Open daily 10:30am-10:30pm). This famous grilled bread (khanom pang ping) cart had been sat outside Sam Yan until the demolition. Now it has moved across the street, conveniently next to Sing Sem Ee. The shopfront grill operation lures you in with its range of toppings, including more pricey ones like coconut paste (B30) and ice shavings (B30). Most range from B15-18, though, and they also do Thai iced tea and related drinks.

Starbucks, Anyone?

Most of us swear by a cup of coffee. Caffeine always works wonders getting rid of a head-pounding hangover, but keep in mind that coffee is not a universal cure and dehydrates you more. After a heavy night out, tea might be a better remedy.

Where? Starbucks is fine, but serious coffee connoisseurs will head to Roast, 2/F, Seenspace, Thonglor Soi 13.

Hair of the Dog

Though some may swear by it, it is an urban myth that another alcoholic drink can cure a hangover. The logic goes that your body is so busy with a new dose of booze, it temporarily forgets the old poison. But as morning after drinks go, the hangover champ is the Bloody Mary, a classic fix that contains lots of tomato juice, Tabasco, worchester sauce and lemon.

Where? To combine your bloody mary with a greasy burger (another great hangover cure), head to Bangkok Burger Company, which does both very well. Thonglor Soi 8.



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BK explores the city for things that will cost you absolutely nothing

We have all heard these phrases over and over again: “Nothing in life comes for free,” “You can’t get something for nothing,” “You can’t get anything worthwhile for free.” This is especially true in a competitive city like this—“free” just isn’t in our dictionary.

But the truth is, there are freebies out there, they just aren’t advertised real well. Don’t let those cynical conceptions stop you from enjoying the free stuff Bangkok has to offer. Keep your money intact, put your checkbook away and let the city’s free magazine introduce you to some of the great free goods and services around town.

Just in case you’re wondering, when we say “free,” we don’t mean “buy one, get one free” or “free with your purchase of this or that.” Oh no—when we say “free,” we mean you don’t even have to open your wallet for it.

Free Flicks

Have you ever seen a film so bad you feel obliged to fake a laugh just so that you could get something out of your money? With the B600 you just spent on a premium seat at the theater, you might feel like you would have been better off with an hour of massage. The good news is there are a lot of places in town that screen quality flicks for free.

Every Friday and the first and the third Tuesdays of the month, catch classic Japanese films at Japan Foundation (10/F Sermmit Tower, Sukhumvit Soi 21, 02-260-8560/-4, www.jfbkk.or.th). The theme varies each month­—this month’s theme is “Friends.” See the film page for the upcoming movies.

At Rewat Buddhinand Room (2/F, Main Library, Thammasat University, Tha Prachan, 02-613-3529, www.tu.ac.th), the “Talk to Movie” program is held every Thursday, 5pm onwards. The event showcases various critically acclaimed flicks, which are rarely seen in mainstream theaters. Leading the talk is Prof. Songyod Viewhong. Here’s the lineup of the upcoming program: Nov 23. It’s Raining in Santiago: Set in 1973 Chile, director Helvio Soto painstakingly dramatizes the military takeover of the Chilean leftist government. Nov 30. Fahrenheit 451: A fireman starts to question his duty of burning books assigned by the government that doesn’t want to deal with intellectual, independently minded citizens. Free admission, but there is a dress code: No tank tops or shorts, please. It’s in the university, after all.

Pridi Banomyong Institute (65/1 Soi Thonglor, 02-380-3860, www.pridiinstitute.com) also screens a mix of classic flicks and blockbuster hits on its 43-inch TV on the first weekend of each month. The screening starts from 12:30pm onwards. Stop by for its free films next month on Dec 2-3, and enjoy such movies as Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Grease with John Travolta and the Oscar-winning West Side Story.

If you don’t mind noisy kids, TK Park (8/F, CentralWorld, 02-257-4300, www.tkpark.or.th) is a good place to catch popular Thai hits. The “knowledge” park treats movie buffs to a free film every Sunday at 2pm. Wondering what P’Bird looked like when he was young? Stop by for a screening of Langkha Deang on Nov 26.

Also worth checking is a selection of French films at Alliance Francaise (29 South Sathorn Rd., 02-670-4230, www.alliance-francaise.or.th), where they hold free screenings in their spacious theater every Saturday at 5:15pm.

Free Beauty

If you fancy a free haircut or wouldn’t mind a free blow-dry and aren’t scared of being a guinea pig for a stylist trainee, there are various beauty schools where their young apprentices give you a free snip, shampoo and blow-dry. Try Grace Siam The School of Beautification (5, Petchburi Rd., 02-653-6951/-20. Mon-Sat 9am-3pm), Korn Klao Beauty Salon School (57/141-5, Wireless Rd., 02-251-8033. Mon-Fri 9am-3pm) or Gade Glao Institute of Beautification (1678/1-4, Soi Phaholyothin 30/1, 02-513-9749/-51. Mon-Sat 9am-3pm). Want a curly, wavy perm like those bright-eyed Korean actresses? You get that for free too, but you have to pay for the necessary chemicals. A haircut gone wrong is a big nightmare, but fret not—if your dream hairstyle turns out to be horrendous, there’s professional staff around to help correct it. One warning—don’t go for a free blow-dry when you are in a hurry because it’s likely that the hairdresser in training will spend at least an hour on your locks.

If you don’t mind the dirty looks when you don’t buy anything afterwards, you can always hit up one of the makeup counters in department stores. The trick is not to get your whole face done in one place. It’s better to graze--toner at Clinique, then lipstick at Red Earth, then blush at Mac, then eye shadow at RMK, and then you’re set! For wide open spaces and huge selection, Paragon Beauty Hall (M/F, 02-610-9000. Open daily 10am-10pm.) can’t be beat. Or try Central Chidlom (Open daily 10am-10pm. 02-793-7777) if you’re too lazy to walk around for your free face.

Free Courses

Taking up a language course is an investment in your future; but it can be time-consuming and arduous, not to mention expensive. But at Cocolo International Center (3/F, Piyawan Building, Phaholyothin Rd., 02-619-8591/-3, cocolo@asianet.co.th), you can have a one-hour free trial Japanese class. Obviously, you certainly can’t master the Japanese tongue in just one hour, but you can learn enough phrases to get by. If you are planning a trip to Japan, the trial lesson is useful to learn how to haggle with the vendors, order some ramen, or pick up a cute Japanese person.

For t hose planning to take a TOEFL test, Wall Street Institute (try Silom branch, G/F, Kamol Sukosol Building, Silom Rd., 02-237-7070, www.wallstreet.in.th) offers a free English exam so that you know how much you need to work on to get the satisfying result. Visit the website to register. 

Free Plays

While the past West Side Story show and performances at the Bangkok International Festival of Dance and Music might have cost you a hefty sum, there are a lot of plays on offer for free at the Bangkok Theater Festival. The annual event returns to TK Park on Nov 17-25, treating audiences to an array of stage pieces by various troupes such as Naked Masks and 8x8 Theater. Also, every Sunday 6-9pm, you can enjoy various performances in the leafy garden of Patravadi Theatre (69/1 Soi Wat Rakang, Arun Amarin Rd., 02-412-7287, www.patravaditheatre.com).

If you prefer something more upbeat or want to rock out after an exhausting week, try the free concerts at Center Point of Siam Square, where up-and-coming bands belt out their tunes every Friday from 4pm onwards. Also keeping you entertained is the big TV screen opposite the fountain showing music videos from popular artists.

From Nov 22-24, mingle with the art students at the annual Gift Town (the Faculty of Education Chulalongkorn University, 4-9pm, 081-613-1555), where they showcase their masterpieces and put on fashion shows. What’s more, you can also enjoy free performances by various artists like Paradox, Slur, Lemon Soup and Morning Surfers.

Free (for) Pets

Soi Dog Rescue (www.soidogrescue.org) is looking for a new home for its soi dogs and stray cats. To make sure the puppies will be in good hands, the non-profit organization requires you to fill in a long questionnaire about why you want a pet and how you are going to take care of it. The adoption process is free, but donations are welcomed.
Take your puppy for a free rabies vaccination at Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s rabies control department (Mitmaitree Rd., Din Daeng, 02-245-3311, 02-245-5906. Mon-Fri 8:30am-4pm). Call ahead in advance since the queue is quite long.

Free Fortune Reading

We heard about the fortuneteller in Hua Hin who presumably gives an accurate prediction of your future for the next whole year for B8,000. Most of her customers, of course, are celebrities and from the hiso crowd. If you can’t afford the pricey charge, why not try consulting the e-fortune tellers?

Some of the free fortune reading sites are www.horazard.com, where you can use various kinds of readings from tarot cards to crystal balls and www.e-tarocchi.com, where your love life prospect is at a click. Or simply fill in your personal details at www.fortunestars.com and have your fortune emailed directly to your inbox. The site offers a glimpse of your future in the next two months.

Free Exercise

Feeling a bit apprehensive about paying for a membership to a gym that is already too overcrowded during the hours you want to go? Get ready to kiss those love handles good bye for free. Almost every park in town has free aerobics classes nightly sometime between 5-7pm. Hop over to Lumpini Park or Benjasiri Park after work someday and follow the sound of the hyperactive techno, then join in the fun. It’s not so silly once you get over the initial embarrassment—we promise!

If that seems a little too much for you, both these parks also offer free tai chi. You may have to do a little research beforehand as it isn’t a “guided class” so to speak, but you can just follow along in the back until you get the moves down—no one will mind.


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Save more on tasty chows with hotel membership cards

Central Hotels Gold Card—Sofitel Central Plaza

Meat of the matter: Discounts on food—10% for a single diner, 50% for two, 25% for four—at Don Giovanni, Dynasty, Le Danang, Hagi, Suan Bua, Chatuchak Cafe
Side dishes: 10% on beverages and take-away baked goods.
Highlight restaurant: Craving crispy pizza? At Don Giovanni (Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm, 6-10:30pm), a team of Italian chefs bakes the pies in a charcoal oven.
Plus perks: The card can be used at various other Central group properties throughout Thailand.
Minus point: Can’t be used abroad.
Membership Fee: B4,900
Sofitel Central Plaza, Phaholyothin Rd., 02-541-1234 ext. 4210, goldcardncs@chr.co.th, www.centralhotelsresorts.com/chic.  

The Club at the Hyatt—Grand Hyatt Erawan

Meat of the matter: Discount depends on the outlet, ranging from 10% for one, 50% for two, 15% for six or more at The Dining Room, The Chinese Restaurant, The Garden Lounge, The Breezeway and Spasso.
Side dishes: 10% off on drinks; 15% on afternoon tea at Erawan Tea Room or noodle dishes at You & Mee; 20% on full bottles of spirits and liquors at Bar@494 after 10pm.
Highlight restaurant: Spasso (Open daily noon-2:30pm, 6:30pm-2am) is still a good place to hang after 1am. The restaurant serves up Italian pastas and fresh oven-baked pizzas during the day, but turns into a vigorous dancing venue at night.
Plus perks: Complimentary birthday cake and no corkage charge on your birthday. Use the card at Figs Mediterranean Restaurant and Talay Thai at Hyatt Regency Hua Hin, as well as at other Hyatt subsidiaries throughout the world when you are an in-house guest.
Minus point: Different discounts. At the Erawan Tea Room, all you get is a measly 10%.
Membership fee: B6,500.
494 Ratchadamri Rd., 02-254-6295, www.bangkok.grand.hyatt.com.

Club Landmark—Landmark

Meat of the matter: 20% discount on food when dining alone at all of its nine eateries. Bring a date and receive 50% off, three is worth 33% or 25% for four.
Side dishes: Voucher for a Peking duck when dining with a minimum five people at Sui Sian, voucher for buffet for two at The Atrium Café. 15% discount on beverages.
Highlight restaurant: Coming soon is the Landmark’s Rib Room & Bar, aka RR&B, the next “best steakhouse in Bangkok.”
Plus perks: 75% discount on joining fee at Fitness First.
Minus point: Can’t be used elsewhere.
Membership Fee: B4,900
The Landmark, Sukhumvit Rd., 02-252-6676, clublandmark@landmarkbangkok.com, www.landmarkbangkok.com. 

Prestige Card—Shangri-La

Meat of the matter: Discount is proportional to the numbers of diners per table: 15% for dining alone, 50% for two, 33% for three and 20% for four up to 50(!) diners. Mon-Thu stop by Next 2 or Angelini with a party from three to 12 persons at lunch and enjoy 50% discount.
Side dishes: A vast array of complimentary coupons such as 50% vouchers for dinner at Angelini and on board Horizon Cruise.
Highlight restaurant: From Nov 23-Dec 3, M.L. Kwantip Devakula reveals her secret cooking techniques at Salathip (Open daily 6:30-10:30pm). Some of her royal authentic Thai recipes are Phra Ram Long Song (boiled Chinese water spinach and beef in peanut sauce) and kaeng nua prik keenu (beef in fresh chili pepper curry).
Plus perks: Too lazy to go home after a big feast? The Prestige Card includes a 1-night accommodation voucher for 2 persons in its Deluxe room, Krungthep Wing (exclusive of breakfast).
Minus point: The card can be used only at Shangri-La.
Membership Fee: B6,999
Shangri-La, Soi Wat Suan Plu, 02-236-7777 ext. 6205/-6, www.shangri-la.com/bangkok.

Starwood Privilege—Royal Orchid Sheraton

Meat of the matter: 20% discount on food for single diners, 50% for couples, three get 33% and four 25%.
Side dishes: Various special vouchers to use at the participating restaurants such as all-you-can-eat international buffet for two at Etc (open daily 6am-11pm).
Highlight restaurant: Chow on scrumptious Italian fare while enjoying the views of the Chao Phraya River at the newly renovated Giorgio’s (Open daily 6-10:30pm).
Plus perks: Starwood Privilege Card can also be used at The Westin Grande Sukhumvit, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit and Le Meridian Khao Lak Beach & Spa Resort, plus other participating hotels in the Asia Pacific region.
Minus point: It’s one of the most expensive membership cards, but you get what you pay for.
Membership Fee: B6,900 
Royal Orchid Sheraton, 2 Charoen Krung Soi 30 (Captain Bush Lane), 02-261-2555, www.starwoodprivilege.com.


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BK tests seven of the city’s most popular takeaway sandwiches

The Oriental Shop

Triski Panini on Whole Wheat Bread
Price: B180
Size: The largest of the bunch, the sandwich is the size of a small book. Although the most expensive, we say it’s worth every baht.
Taste: Where to start? Should we tell you about the thinly sliced ham, the fragrant cheese or the warm and crunchy whole wheat bread? The simplicity and quality of the ingredients speak for themselves. Have it at the shop, though, because the bread turns hard when not eaten immediately.
G/F, Siam Paragon, 02-610-9845/-6, BTS Siam.

La Boulange

Ham & Cheese Baguette
Price: B97
Size: The perfect lunch size: Not too big, but big enough to constitute a meal. The baguette is pretty thick, which might make for a few lost teeth.
Taste: The bread is one of the best we’ve tasted, but it’s not really fit for sandwiches: It’s so tough that it might be best cut with a knife. Also, there could be more toppings, but the ham and cheese are delicious, and the overall taste pleasant. They don’t ask which bread you want with your sandwich, which is a minus, but the price can’t be beat.
2-2/1 Soi Convent, Silom Rd., 02-631-0355, BTS Sala Daeng.

Au Bon Pain

Chicken Tikka Sandwich
Price: B105
Size: Medium-sized, this one comes in a braided design with sesame sprinkled over it.
Taste: The chicken is absolutely delicious, with the yogurty tikka marinade adding some oomph. They weren’t frugal with veggies and sauce, resulting in the sandwich gaping wide open. Mouth-watering, but not one for the road.
Silom Rd. Branch, BTS Sala Daeng.


Chicken Teriyaki with BBQ Sauce
Price: B109
Size: What can we say about Subway sandwiches? They’re either 6-inch or footlong and usually you’re full halfway through.
Taste: The only thing we could find fault with is the bread’s softness—we like it a bit crunchier. The fillings are fine, lots of veggies and spicy BBQ sauce, but a bit sparse with the chicken.
Silom Rd. Branch, J City Building, BTS Sala Daeng.

Vanilla Brasserie

Chicken Caesar Baguette
Price: B170
Size: The second-most expensive sandwich is tiny. They did add some potato chips, but since we’re hungry for sandwich and not snacks, that’s no real consolation.
Taste: We’d be lying if we said the sandwich wasn’t good. Some find it too salty, while others like the slightly briny taste of Romana salad with bacon bits. The bread is fresh and crunchy and has a thin dusting of flour on top. But honestly—for that price, the thing should be a foot long.
G/F, Siam Paragon, 02-610-9383, BTS Siam.


Chicken & Bacon Triple-Decker Toastie, with cheddar, coleslaw, onion, tomato and lettuce
Price: B160
Size: Huge, but the three layers of bread take up more room than anything else, and toppings are rather sparse. Not a good deal for your money.
Taste: Made with boring bread available in every supermarket, this sandwich is bland. There’s only one single slice of chicken, cheddar and bacon each. Somehow it manages to be soggy and dry at the same time.
G/F, Thaniya Plaza Silom, 02-632-7166, BTS Sala Daeng.

La Brioche

Ham on Foccacia Bread
Price: B100
Size: We really can’t complain. There is ham in abundance, and we find ourselves longingly comparing all the other sandwich’s fillings with this one. “Freebie” salad and tomatoes add some extra zest.
Taste: The fluffy foccacia tastes unobtrusively of rosemary. The ratio of ham to bread is just right, too: We find a layer of fillings almost as thick as one half of the bread.
G/F, Siam Paragon, 02-610-7602, BTS Siam.


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My Favourite is set to win over meat lovers with its juicy steaks.

Remember Coffee Berry, a homey coffee shop in Ozono complex? It’s gone; and taking its space is My Favourite, the new steak bar that proves it’s possible to serve big portions of meat without charging the earth.

Instead of the cowboy kitsch typical of most steakhouses, My Favourite went for a refreshingly casual modern look. The earth-tone palette exudes a business power-lunch flavor but the snug sofas and rattan chairs provide balancing laidback touches.

Owner Ken S. R. Jao is a genuine meat lover so it comes as no surprise his menu gives center-stage to a wide selection of premium imported meat. Whether you choose to have grass-fed US beef, racks of Australian lamb, or Japanese Kobe steak, everything comes in large servings and at reasonable prices. The three racks of grain-fed Australian lamb (B495) are tender and carefully grilled to your liking. The chunky slap of Australian rib eye (B495) is just as good, which makes choosing difficult. If the dilemma is just too much for you, go for the mixed grilled dinner (lamb, beef and salmon, B750). Meats are served with your choice of sauce and side dish. Highly recommended for carnivorous diners looking for something special is Wagyu beefsteak topped with foie gras sauce (B800-990).

The menu also features an array of Ken’s favorites—recipes such as spaghetti carbonara served with rack of lamb (B395), seared tuna with wasabi-hollandaise sauce (B220), and Thai-style beef basil spaghetti (B210) which substitutes sun-dried beef with juicy beef sirloin strips.

Here we talk to Ken about his carnivorous passion.

What sets My Favorite apart from other steakhouses?
I think we offer one of the best values for money in town. For example, Wagyu beefsteak elsewhere is probably over B1,000 but here you can have it at B800. We take pride in serving high-quality steaks and offer many beef-related dishes. We keep things simple because we want the atmosphere to be relaxed and laidback. Eating here is like dining at a friend’s house.

What are the must-haves of My Favourite?
Grilled rack of lamb, grilled rib eye steak and grilled 600-day-grain-fed Kobe beef. If you are a meat devotee, these three dishes are not to be missed. We now have a special promotion offering racks of lamb, which usually are B495, at B395 till the end of the year.

What’s the best cut of meat?
Each cut works well with different recipes and cooking methods. If you make stew, there’s no need to use top-grade tender cuts—shank and brisket will do fine. As for steak, it also depends on your liking. Those who like their beef juicy with some fat should order sirloin and rib eye. If you like lean and tender beef, go for tenderloin.

Dining Details
Rip into juicy steaks at My Favourite. 307 Ozono Complex, Sukhumvit Soi 39 (Phrom Phong), 02-259-5960216-3700. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30-10:30pm. AE, MC, V.


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Since he likes to keep a low profile, you may not find many write-ups about Rungroche Uptampotiwat. The bassist of 90s Britpop pioneer quintet Crub was hot in indie circles, but due to the failure of their one and only album, the band never quite made it into the limelight. In spite of his band’s flop, Rungroche has pursued his musical passion and become a core founder of Smallroom, a small record label that helps young aspiring artists to achieve their dreams.

When I was a student, music was just a hobby, something I had never taken seriously. Back then, there was only a slim chance to break into the music scene, let alone making a living.

These days, things are much better for aspiring artists. Teenagers can form a band, record their music in their bedrooms and send their promotional material to radio stations and record labels.

After graduating from university, I set up a company with my friend Weerayot, now better known as DJ Nor of Fat Radio. During weekends, we got together to make music in Suharit Siamwala’s garage.

It wasn’t until two years later that Suharit suggested we bring our songs to DJ Wasana Weerachartplee of Radio Active 94FM.

Crub was born in 1995 and our first and only album View was released close to Moderndog’s debut. It sold 20,000 copies, which was still far below the break-even point.

I never thought of us as popular. Even though now Crub is more widely known, we still have only a niche fan base.

It wasn’t a complete failure. Yes, you are disappointed and disheartened, but you have to get up and move on.

I firmly believe that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

We started Smallroom in 1999. At first, we only did scores and jingles, because we still didn’t believe it was possible to make music without compromising and managing to squeeze money out of it at the same time.

A few months later, unable to resist the temptation to make music, we changed our minds.

I used to judge the bands on whether we clicked or not rather than focusing on their skills, but it became too exhausting because I had to help them out all the time.

Whether we click is still important, but I’ll also make sure that they can make their own music.

Smallroom has over 40 groups of artists, meaning I have more than 100 kids to take care of.

“Adhere to the international quality.” That’s what my advisor told me in my senior year and I still remember it today. It’s vague and imprecise, yet very practical for me.

I keep up with music trends via the Internet. I hardly have time to watch TV or listen to the radio.

There are four things I’ve always told our artists: don’t think you are too smart or else you won’t learn, be diligent, respect your elders and if you have a question, ask!

Investing in new artists is risky. Introducing new styles of music is often unprofitable.

I still don’t know why I do it. All I know is if Smallroom didn’t do it, no one else in the business would.


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Jarulak Chayakul, aka Ball, never planned to be an artist, but thanks to luck and his music-savvy cousin, the 24-year-old is now the indie label’s newest R&B/hip hop acquisition. But don’t expect an oversized shirt and bling-bling accessories—Ball comes with his own style, clothes and music, as his debut album From Now On shows.

Why did a US business graduate like you become a singer?
I wrote my first song in high school to just impress the girls and have kept on writing ever since. When I came back from America, I took my songs to Boyd Kosiyabong, and he asked me to work on the compilation album Love Is Vol 2. Our timetables clashed, so my cousin introduced me to Smallroom.

Why From Now On?
It’s the title of the song that SEA Write winner Prabda Yoon wrote a long time ago. I think it is a perfect title for my first album because it symbolizes the beginning of a new chapter of my life. I still have a long way to go.

Tell us a bit more about your album.
It’s a blend of hip hop and R&B with touches of soul and Motown tunes from the 70s. I wrote 10 out of the 11 songs myself. Most of the songs are about love or girls I’ve met in clubs, so it’s easy to digest.

What if the fans think you’re just another pretty face?
Just because my songs are accessible doesn’t mean the album is tacky. Actually I have written plenty of songs, probably over 60 tracks, but for the first album I want to have fun with the fans. All the songs have potential to be singles. If you are looking for serious, thoughtful songs, wait for my second album.

Have you ever thought about joining a boy band?
No! I’d be such a nuisance. My bandmates would hate me because I don’t think I’d agree to follow the dance steps. My voice isn’t that powerful, so I try to focus more on how to capture the fans’ attention. I think I have a sexy voice that can move them.

What do you expect from the album?
I myself am 100% happy with it. I want to improve my songwriting skills so in the future I’ll be able to compose songs for other singers, too.


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Why is Natalie Portman so hot? She’s a vegetarian!

With the Vegetarian Festival underway, there’s no better time to cut meat from your diet and go for fake bacon and mock chicken! With a large selection of tasty meatless fare on offer, there’s no excuse not to take the veg pledge.


The place: KOKO is far from chic, yet it is always packed with the trendy crowds of Siam Square. The tables are so close to each other that you can hear other people’s conversations.

Selection and prices: Actually, KOKO serves up both normal and vegetarian food . But during the Vegetarian Festival the eatery switches to pure vegetarian with no MSG and excess oil. The prices range from B60-B130.

Must-haves: Sun-dried beef (B100), which is actually made from mushroom, is the star. Spicy sausage salad (B100) and kraprao hed (spicy stir-fried mushroom with basil leaves, B120) are also worth trying. Come prepared with time and patience, since the service tends to be slow and the waiters often mix up orders.

Where and when: 262/2 Siam Square Soi 3, 02-658-4094. Open daily 11am-9pm.

Tamarind Café

The place: Tamarind Café offers a top-notch ambiance. The bright gallery-like dining area is spruced up with the art works from rotating artists, and a spiral staircase leading up to the al fresco rooftop terrace.

Selection and prices: Its “new world vegetarian” menu offers a harmonious balance of different cuisines from Thai to Mexican. Every dish is presented as if it were a piece of art: The food comes in tiny portions and is a bit pricy (ranging from B90-B300), but you get what you pay for. The staff speaks English fluently as the majority of diners are foreign.

Must-haves: As a special for the Vegetarian Festival, Tamarind Café whips up a selection of new dishes such as Siberian Pelmen (stuffed ravioli served with sauce) and Provence crumble of tomato and eggplants. Also, the tried-and-true favorites like wild mushroom steak will never disappoint.

Where and when: 27 Sukhumvit Soi 20, 02-663-7421, 02-663-4261. Open Mon-Fri 11am-midnight, Sat-Sun 9am-midnight.


The place: Glow shines with its simple Zen décor. Sleek and clean-cut, this 48-seat eatery is decorated only with potted plants standing in a straight line.
Selection and prices: It’s all about organic food at Glow. The menu includes anything from organic wines to organic vegetarian dishes such as Garden Green salad with ginger miso dressing (B280). As a rule of thumb, Glow doesn’t fry anything, so everything you get here is poached, steamed or grilled.

Must-haves: Forget the food—Glow’s drinks are what you should stop by for. There is a vast selection of freshly blended juices, with Blood of the Earth (apple, ginger, celery and beetroot) and Pink Delight (watermelon, ginger) as definite highlights.

Where and when: 2/F, The Metropolitan, South Sathorn Rd., 02-625-3333. Open daily 10am-9pm.


The place: Kwan-Imm Jae's unfussy décor is accented with Chinese touches, such as red paper lanterns and a Kwan-Imm statue adorning the dining area.
Selection and prices: Vegetarian owner Boonmi has wowed vegan diners and fooled meat lovers with dishes like fried goose meat (B120), deep-fried fish topped with chili sauce (B100) and tom yum noodles (B50).

Must-haves: Bestsellers include braised goose meat with Chinese kale (B120), braised mutton soup (B90) and DIY suki. Also definitely worth trying is larb ped (spicy minced duck salad, B60), which packs quite a punch.
Where and when: 6/12 Sukhumvit Soi 24/1, 02-259-6466, 02-259-4531. Open daily 11am-2pm, 5:30-11pm.

Im Boon

The place: This family-run restaurant only has 18 seats, often occupied by office workers. Don’t expect fancy décor or you’ll be disappointed.
Selection and prices: While it’s not the most stylish place in town, you can count on Im Boon’s food. The menu boasts over 70 meatless dishes such as tord mun (deep-fried spicy fish cakes, B50) and pork satay (B70). Vegen ice cream is on offer to wash down the meal.

Must-haves: The gruff owner, who is also the cook, would tell you to “just order” since everything on the menu is delicious, and you can trust her on that. Try khao pad nam lieb (fried rice with Chinese salty olives, mock chicken and mixed veggie, B32) and mushroom balls (B35), which are so pleasant you can hardly tell they are vegetarian.

Where and when: Chula Soi 11, Rama 4 Rd., 02-215-4296. Open Tue-Sun 9am-7pm.

Zgi Café

The place: Decked out in red and black, this two-month-old café features both air-conditioned and outdoor areas. The glass windows offer a view of the bustling soi downstairs, which makes it a good place to chill and indulge in a little people watching.

Selection and prices: Zgi Café churns out “eggless, meatless and gelatin free” meals. Imported frozen pizzas and organic meals make the busy life of an urban vegan a lot easier. Prefer something fresh? Zgi Café also provides homemade pastries and wraps.

Must-haves: Kraftkorn Wrap (Italian sausage, mustard and pesto sauce, B95) and Cheese Chili Wrap (spicy wrap with smoked ham and salad, B95) are recommended. For a light meal, pair a sesame bagel (B25) with your favorite cream cheese (B15).

Where and when: 2/F, Asa Garden, Sukhumvit Soi 24, 02-258-9682. Open Mon 11am-10pm, Tue-Sun 7am-10pm.


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Frustrated by going out and meeting losers? Love is waiting for you online—if you know how to find it.

Considering the amount of time we spend in front of a computer screen, it’s no surprise that the internet is now one of the most popular ways to find love. It’s also a lot easier than the real thing—the butterflies in the stomach, working up the courage to approach, dropping the pick up line as casually as possible, dealing with rejection…all this is eliminated in the Cyber Meet Market. You can cruise as long as you want, flirt to your heart’s content, and meeting up face-to-face is only an option, not the rule. According to a 2000 BBC report, in the next 15 years, pick-up lines will disappear as everybody turns to internet dating. But with the ease that online dating affords comes a whole new set of challenges, including fierce competition and abundance of supply. How can you stand out from the crowd? We asked the experts.

Follow the Four P*s

There are plenty of dating sites, not to mention “networking” ones (MySpace, Hi5, etc.), where you can get connected with hundreds of online daters. So how can you reel in Mr. or Ms. Right? Marketing! With the right strategies, we all stand a good chance of finding our match. “The Four P’s” is a common business model used to market just about everything, so why not yourself?

Placement is how you show off just what a kind, witty and generally magnificent creature you are. More importantly, you need to promote the fact that you are single and available. According to GMM Grammy promoter Ratthakarn Noiprasit, who has mapped out the marketing plans for artists like Sleepless Society, Calorie Blah Blah, Endorphine and Bird Thongchai, it’s essential to be out there and network as much as possible. “When we begin representing new artists, it’s crucial to find out their unique selling point, determine who is the target audience and promote accordingly. And the internet has been really useful in promoting artists,” says Ratthakarn. “It helps the artists to reach millions of fans around the globe and allows these fans to chat directly with their favorite singers. Most people nowadays may not have time to watch TV or listen to the radio, but everyone is online.”

Toby Jones, founder of dating site wheresmydate.com, is of the same opinion. “You’ve got to remember that people are now regularly living on the internet—working, booking holidays, shopping, and even consulting doctors—so it’s no surprise that this trend extends to finding a partner. If you’re serious about promoting yourself on the love market, the internet is one of the easiest and quickest ways to start meeting people.”

Ready to harness the power of the internet to find love online? The key to maximizing your chances of chatting up the right people is to circulate your personal ad as much as possible. There’s no rule stating that you have to be loyal to only one service, so it’s advisable to register with more than one site. “You have to get your name out there and give yourself maximum exposure,” says Ratthakarn. “The more people get to know you, the higher your odds of success.” Myspace, Multiply, Asiandate—find the sites that meet your needs and preferences and post your profile on as many as you wish.

2. Promotion

Once you’ve got a solid online presence, it’s all about building up the right hype. Everyone is dating online, so you’ve got to stand out with your profile. Choose carefully what details you reveal and make sure your personal statement and homepage express what you’re looking for. “I don’t like to hand out advice about this, as what is attractive to me is going to be different for someone else,” says Jones. “However, I will say that humor always works well and I prefer reading about what someone is genuinely like, rather than stupid time-wasting one-liners like, ‘I like going out.’ Try and be yourself but work out what kind of person you want to attract,” he adds. “Tailor your statement to them. There’s no point in trying to write a generic profile to attract a million people because it just won’t say anything about who you really are.”

3. Pricing

How much are you really worth? Of course you’re hot, funny, and smart, but compared to others, the first step to hook up might be to get off your pedestal and set your expectations a tad lower.

A popular psychological theory called the matching hypothesis shows that we are more likely to form a long-term relationship with someone of equal attractiveness. So when it comes to assessing your value and the type of person you want to have a relationship with, you must be realistic. Unless you are logging onto rent-a-bride.com, don’t have a long list of date criteria that must be filled—you’ll never find the perfect person who can tick all the boxes on your ten-page list of requirements and you just might put yourself off-limits to people you never thought you could get along with so well.

Don’t go for the first warm body that e-mails you either. It’s still important to remain picky, not undervalue yourself, and steer clear of damaged goods unworthy of yourself and of your hopes.

Pranom Thavaravej, international director of personal development institute John Robert Powers, points out that, at the end of the day, everyone can increase their “price.” Attractiveness, says Pranom, is a combination of various elements, from style to speech. But the most important is personality. “While chic outfits and pleasant tone are important, the most powerful weapon to impress people is a positive attitude,” says Pranom. “You can improve your style or lose weight but if you don’t respect and cherish yourself, who will?”

4. Product

If the online romance goes well, it’s time to meet up in person. To make a good first impression, it’s all about highlighting the good while downplaying the bad. The style, color and shape of your clothes speak volumes about who you are, so it’s vital to work out what you want your outfit to say about you. To be in trend, and at the same time still be yourself, lifestyle/fashion consultant of Gaysorn, Noppanuch Thongphakdi, recommends to make classic items (i.e. black dress, white shirt) your wardrobe staples. Then feel free to pair them up and play them off with bolder trends. “Getting dressed is supposed to be fun and creative. We shouldn’t have to limit ourselves with certain types of skirts or trousers just because we feel insecure about our body. Messing with your hair or dress all the time is a major turn-off. You should be confident and comfortable in your body; that makes you attractive.”

Noppanuch*s Tips for Styles That Flatter Your Figure

Hourglass: Think Nigella Lawson and Jennifer Lopez. No matter how much their weight fluctuates, they always have those tiny, curvy waists. Wearing something that clinches at the waist will make an hourglass-shaped gal look ultra-feminine and sexy. Keep an eye out for tulip skirts and platform shoes that help elongate legs and create a leaner silhouette.

Bottom heavy: A tunic paired with skinny jeans couldn’t be more unforgiving to your generous bottom. Show off your leaner upper body by wearing a scoop neck, sleeveless t-shirt. A low-slung belt and A-line skirt can do wonders to your hips as well.

Top heavy: Show off your skinny legs and slim hips by wearing a short dress. Wearing a loose top, maybe a size or two bigger will give the illusion that you are so thin, you’re practically drowning in them. Balance the look with shorts and ballet flats or even a mini-skirt, but only if you are under 25.

Skinny girl: Wear a potato sack with ballet flats and you can still manage to look divine. If you have few curves, avoid boxy shorts or fitted jackets. Opt for graceful, flowing styles instead.

Whether you are single, recently divorced and on the rebound, tired of cheesy one-liners at the pub or afraid of a face-to-face rejection, the internet dating scene is an inviting alternative. According to the latest government census, Bangkok now has 200,000 more men than women. Maybe this imbalance is why it’s so hard to run into your compatible mate in the offline world. However, there is a vast potential of e-daters that are just a click away. Next time you find yourself sobbing into your vodka while gently swaying about on an empty dance floor, think about signing up on a few dating sites. Romeo, or Juliet, could be just waiting for you to log on.

How to create the most inviting networking profile according to Toby Jones of wheresmydate.com.

1. Include a photo—a really good one. In a recent focus group, only 10 percent of people said they would respond to postings without a photo. But don’t use a photo from your high school yearbook (well, unless you still are in high school). Recent pics that represent what you really look like will avoid disappointments and dates disappearing mid-meal.

2. Don’t include a photo of your genitals, your cat, or your mom.

3. Do have a good opening line, especially a funny one. Everyone loves a good sense of humor. If you don’t have one, get your funny friend who always gets all the chicks to write it for you.

4. Don’t list what you don’t like in a potential date—no one likes a whiner.

5. Don’t say you are looking to get married—you’ll scare everyone off.

6. Do write something other than, “Want to know more? IM me.” It doesn’t make you look mysterious, just lazy. There are thousands of profiles out there. No one will IM you.

7. Don’t bring your baggage along and start moaning about how your ex-boyfriend dumped you for your sister—this isn’t Oprah; no one cares.

8. Do be honest—it’s only fair and people are less likely to date and run.


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