Thursday, 30 April 2015

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Contemporary Japanese, Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

pavilion kl
Aka Chochin Izakaya

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

Words by The Yum List and Kirsten Durward
Photos by The Yum List (Monica Tindall)

Currently one of the hottest places to dine in the city, the newly relaunched Aka Chochin Izakaya, combines quality Japanese cuisine with contemporary flair. Recently appointed, Executive Chef Miguel Huelamo Estrada – a culinary globetrotter - vamps up the menu with passion and devotion to teasing his guests by making “the unfamiliar familiar.” After a sneak peek into the overhaul at an opening party earlier this month, we’ve been itching to get back in for the full experience.

Aka chochin izakaya
Favourite Table
japanese pavilion kl
A Nice Sunny Spot
Our foodie playmate Kirsten has been delayed with car trouble and we’re not sure she’ll make it, so we begin, not wanting to lose the natural light for our photographs.

A trio of refreshing beverages make flawless tipples: Green Tea Mojito (RM25.60) shaken with green tea, mint leaves and white rum; a pretty Watermelon Shochu Tini (RM25.60), a simple recipe of Godai shochu shaken with fresh watermelon juice; and a pint of Iceberg Beer (Happy Hour RM20.05 noon to 8pm) made from Carlsberg put through the slushy maker - genius!

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Green Tea Mojito 
Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Watermelon Shochu Tini
Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Iceberg Beer
Edamame are fitting companions for our drinks and there’s a variety from which to choose: the original lightly salted; pan-fried with sweet chili and garlic sauce; or, our favourite, grilled with lime and soy (RM13.85).

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Edamame Grilled with Lime and Soy
Further fine fodder, partnering well with a chilled beer or cocktail, is seen in the Fried Cauliflower (RM12.80). Chef describes them as just like Kentucky Fried Chicken except much better. The veg is tossed in a tempura batter, briefly deep-fried and seasoned with gochujang, sweet lime and sesame seeds. Hubby raves over these until the very last one is finally demolished.

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Fried Cauliflower 
A duo of salads make a healthful entrance, and we’d be hard pressed to pick a front runner, as both are equally alluring. Seaweed Salad (RM19.20) features: roasted pumpkin; pumpkin seeds; red radish; cherry tomatoes; a trio of red, white and green seaweeds; pickled cucumber; and a delicious wafu dressing.

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Seaweed Salad 
Aka Salada (RM19.20) is a tower of red and green lettuce, cherry tomatoes, shredded beet, daikon and fried tofu drizzled in a honey-miso dressing. The crunchy fried tofu prisms could possibly convert any adamant health-resister into a soy-loving fiend. Coated in a layer of potato starch and quickly deep fried, the crisp product is then bespeckled with a mix of seven spices, including a spot of chili and the citrusy habit-forming flavour from the yuzu skin. I could see these joyfully plucked from a bowl on their own as a tasty beer snack.

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Aka Salada
Chef Miguel buzzes in and out as dishes are delivered, his lips vibrating at the speed of a machine gun, firing off the names of every single ingredient in every single dish alongside a story to go with every single plate. He proudly declares everything is made from scratch, and envelopes us with his ardour and high-spirited enthusiasm for food and flavour. We’re on a rollercoaster ride of culinary thrill and we don’t want to get off.

Two exquisite platters arrive next, and we’re hoping that Kirsten will arrive soon, as we know she’ll adore both. Salmon Tataki (RM35.20) drapes slices of rosy pink flesh languidly down the length of a plate, dribbled with shiso ponzu, black sesame seeds, yuzu pickled daikon, fresh chili and coriander.
Chef’s special Prawn and Black Cod Gyoza (RM24.50), hand wrapped and pan-fried, are petite packages bursting with flavour. Stuffed with luxury and topped with ebiko, the ponzu dip toothsome but unnecessary in these mouth-filling parcels.

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Salmon Tataki 
Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Prawn and Black Cod Gyoza
Just as we smell the yakitori skewers en route to our table, our gal Kirsten arrives.

I was delayed a little by car trouble and actually thought I wouldn’t make it. Luckily, Monica and Caning had barely nibbled on some delectable appetisers before I slid in next to them. From the fast platters of food arriving, it seems just as well I was able to make it in the end and that there are four of us munching.  It seems like a never ending array of delights. Does Chef Miguel want us to try everything on the menu? For sure I am going to have to walk home after this Japanese smorgasbord.

I’m gazing in awe at two distinct platters of Yakitori Skewers. Usually these come in sets of two, thankfully we are just tasting one of each, although I note that we’ve been plied with extra Asparagus and Shitake mushrooms, which should please the Yum Lady.  Each design has a different artistic element to it, a varied shape, and the serving sizes could surely be described as voluptuous. 

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Yakitori Skewers
I’m more than hungry so I’m eager to get the chopsticks going. First to slide off are moist beef cubes with green pepper dripping with sauce that is more sweet than spicy and a good hint of soy in there too. We love the fresh flakes of herb that are sprinkled on the steak with miso butter. This is meltingly delectable and I have to go back for another piece, battling Caning’s chopsticks successfully.

On the chicken side, the spicy chicken drummers have tantalisingly crispy skin that bursts and crunches in the mouth, and a sticky sweet coating, while the wings have flakes of salt giving a great boost of flavour to the smooth meat that falls easily from the bone. I love the rich firm flavour of the thigh with leek, and the crunch texture of the leek gives this meaty offering a welcome touch of freshness. Last but not least, a delicate lemon teriyaki breast melts with a soft mellow citrus sense. 

On the vegetable side, I cannot wait to sink into the rack of Asparagus. Laced with wafu and scattered with sesame, it is just as well there are plenty of these as we are all eager to snaffle a few. Superb. The Shitake Mushrooms are just as good, also drizzled with wafu and oodles of garlic butter. A couple of these and really who needs meat? Sweet Potato Teriyaki is cooked in its skin, large rondavels of meltingly soft flesh are scattered with sesame. These are dense and delicious and something I might even try to figure out at home.

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Vegetable Yakitori
Yakitori range from RM12.80 to RM24.50 depending on the ingredients of the skewer. There are plenty to choose from and it would be so easy to get carried away when ordering. They don’t take long to cook though so I’d say be reticent and then order more.

Aka Chochin Izakaya offers a wonderful range of fresh Sashimi, Nigiri and Sushi. As we are oohing over our platters and deciding which to grab onto first, irrepressible Miguel is showing us his new ideas for lunch menu, sharing platters and sets. All look very colourful and exciting, and are sure to capture the imagination of  those who get overwhelmed by choices.

Our sashimi platter is beautifully laid out, the fat thick slices of fish surrounded by snippets of fragrant Japanese greenery and I am ogling the mini boat of fat Tobiko glistening there. The fish is impeccably fresh and clean, although I love wasabi, these slices are so good they need nothing else. We work our way through tastes of Salmon, Tuna, Red Bream, Sea Bass and Yellow Tail. I particularly love the stronger slightly smoky flavour of the Yellow Tail. A generous portion of fresh Sashimi ranges from RM25.60 to 27.20, but there are also some exciting platters to choose from if you are looking for diversity, such as the one we devoured, Sashimi Moriawase (RM93.80).

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Sashimi Moriawase
The sushi menu features everything from Hosomaki - the very tiny fish and vegetable rolls in eight pieces through Urumaki (inside outside rolls) to Futomaki Jumbo rolls ,which are five enormous mouthfuls of delight. Hosomaki starts around RM25.60 for 8 pieces, while Uramaka, and Futomaki range from RM28.80 up to RM35.60 for 5 and 6 pieces respectively.

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Mixed Sushi
Even though the Hosomaki are tiny, they carry quite distinct flavours. We taste the soft Salmon with Avocado and the Spicy Tuna. I particularly love the slithers of sweet red pepper in the Tuna. Our Uramaki is one of my perennial favourites, Crispy Ebi (prawn). The tempura is light and the asparagus and spicy mayonnaise are a sublime combination. Meanwhile the Futomaki are so enormous I fear whether they will go in my mouth politely. The Black Spider is particularly impressive with tendrils of soft-shell crab tempura spiralling up out of tobiko mayonnaise, chives, avocado and cucumber. Wow. Unagi Boom is just as packed full of flavours as grilled eel tangles with asparagus tempura, jalapeño cream cheese and sansho pepper. Now we are really seeing some international influences in the sushi come together. Densely packed with proteins, Salmon Takana is our final mouthful; fat pearls of tobiko atop slices of seared salmon adorn this delightful combination of fresh salmon and crab blended with takana tartar sauce - fabulous and I have to say, rather filling!

We thought we might be done, but dishes are still arriving, each one a visual work of art in its own right. Every dish presented on a different natural texture, stone, glass, wood, all shapes and natural colours, as well as subtle use of Japanese edible topiary. It makes for an eye catching table with a very relaxed feel.  

A very, very rare Black Angus Rib Eye Yakinaku Steak (RM83.15)is surrounded by teeny touches of perfection: slender garlic, chips, truffle wafu sauce and fresh sea salt. The meat is slender and full of buttery flavour. So much so that Caning waxes lyrical, dipping his chopsticks back and back again. He thinks this is his favourite dish, until a moment later...

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Black Angus Rib Eye Yakinaku Steak
Chargrilled King Crab (RM 93.80), certainly a premium dish, prepared for the lazy crab eater, arrives. All the hard work is done for you; simply prod the sweet flesh out and let it linger a moment in the buttery, almost bearnaise like sauce. Lime butter and shichimi, to be exact, are the wonderful flavours tingling here. Caning is so so happy, as usually eating crab is such a fight to get the flesh out. He grins as he grabs the final piece, pronouncing it ‘orgasmic.’ 

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Chargrilled King Crab
Monica and I meanwhile are in love with the sail like Black Cod (RM56.65), which has been miso marinated before being baked in banana leaf and ginger shoot. Served with lemon wasabi miso dip, we ladies agree this is perfection. With a fabulous caramelisation glistening all over, we break in and fat buttery flakes of cod slide off, oozing into the sticky sauce. Moist large slithers of fish have absorbed light flavours from the banana leaf and ginger shoot and we absolutely adore this dish.

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Black Cod
Japan is not known for desserts that please the European palate, however with a Spanish internationally experienced Exec Chef, the world of food appears literally to be your oyster. So instead of ubiquitous green tea ice cream we are spoiled with something quite decadent. A soft tower of Chocolate Banana Sponge (RM16.00) is crowned with a circlet of thinly sliced fresh banana and floats in a veritable lake of thick toffee sauce, scattered with salty crunchy peanuts. I wish I wasn't so full as I’d like just another spoonful. The dense, intense toffee is insane and the salty peanuts just lift the dish from being overly sweet. A great Yum to finish on!

Aka Chochin Izakaya, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Japanese
Chocolate Banana Sponge
As usual with Chef Miguel, we’ve been highly entertained as well as plied with incredible food. I say to Monica, that Aka Chochin Izakaya is a wonderful addition to the Pavillion suite of restaurants, and I mean it. It’s something new and fresh in the world of contemporary Japanese, something worth trying, something, surely for everyone.  

Reasons to visit: Lively fun atmosphere; fresh, fresh food; a creative and delicious twist on contemporary Japanese cuisine; classic high quality sushi and sashimi made to order.

Aka Chochin Izakaya
Lot C3, Level Three, Pavilion
Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
+6 (0)3 2110 6118

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu


The award winning Japanese restaurant, Nagisa at Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, is a venue valued not only for quality cuisine, but too for its suitability to entertain important guests and visitors.

Resembling a Japanese winter cottage, the restaurant is framed with dark wood panels, and lit with gentle warm lighting. The main dining area has an outlook over the sea, of which the hotel is an immediate neighbour. The large space is divided into smaller more intimate areas with the division of a tatami room, two private dining rooms, a sushi counter and two teppanyaki tables.

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Private Dining Room
Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Nagisa Japanese Restaurant
Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Teppanyaki Table
I meet some friends for a light lunch, which turns into quite a feast, as there are so many tempting items that grab our attention.

A house specialty, Unagi Sunomono – vinegared eel with seaweed, sliced cucumber and ginger shoot – whets our appetite for more, much more! Good thing the Miso Soup arrives and takes the edge off our hunger. It proves a good standard with the signature murky broth holding plenty of seaweed, cubes of white tofu and a speckling of green herbs.

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Unagi Appetizer
Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Miso Soup
An assortment of sushi is made a la minute and we have such a challenge choosing just a couple that we leave our selection in the hands of the manager, who picks three for us to sample.

The white rice exterior of the Soft Shell Crab Maki Roll is speckled with sesame, while the interior is a twirl of green chives, orange ebiko roe and fried brown crustacean. With the crab still hot, the bites are bundles of deliciousness.

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Soft Shell Crab Maki Roll
The most popular roll is the Unagi Maki. Topped and filled with avocado, ebiko and Japanese mayonnaise, it’s a lovely combination of textures: creamy avocado, fresh bursts from the roe, slippery eel, crispy cucumber, and sweet Japanese omelet tamago.

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Unagi Maki
Last month’s promotion was so successful it remains on the menu, Salmon Skin Maki. Rolled in dried grated seaweed and stuffed with cucumber, pickled veggies and roe, the warm filling contrasts its casing creating a very pleasant experience.

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Salmon Skin Maki Rolls
Fresh from the local market comes Horse Mackerel Sashimi served on a bowl of ice with shredded daikon radish and oba leaf beneath, and grated ginger and spring onions on top. A second sashimi platter filled with salmon, Sabah red snapper, tuna, octopus and Sabah butterfish is layered atop shredded white radish and green leaves. It couldn’t be fresher. Each and every slice melts in our mouths without even the suggestion of a chew. Truth be told, our appetites have been satisfied and we quite easily ‘could have’ ended our meal very happily here, but…

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Horse Mackerel Sashimi
Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Sashimi Platter
More fish follows - this time a cooked dish in the Codfish in Teriyaki Sauce. The flesh proves flaky but firm and the sweet sauce complements it beautifully. Two more hot dishes are seen in this month’s promotions, with Wagyu Beef and Cheesy Prawns. The former sees plump firm spears of asparagus wrapped in super thin strips of wagyu beef, and the latter enormous butterflied prawns smothered in Japanese mayonnaise and toasted until golden - most certainly not the healthy style of cuisine this nation is reputed for, but a smashingly enticing one at that.

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Codfish Teriyaki
Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Wagyu Beef Wrapped Asparagus
Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Garlic Rice
Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Cheesy Prawns
And… now that we’re on a downward slope of throwing calories out the window and devoting prime concern to taste, a tower of slender Mixed Tempura is devoured. Prawns, fish, ladies fingers and carrot are coated in brittle golden jackets that crunch as we break them apart with our teeth.

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Mixed Tempura
Our only redemption at this moment is to end with a petite bowl of house made Green Tea Ice Cream with red bean paste. Tea and beans: surely that’s vindication right?

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah
Green Tea Ice Cream and Red Bean Paste
Nagisa not only showcases a wonderful a la carte menu, but a popular monthly Saturday night buffet too. Hubby, envious of my girls’ lunch out, insists on the buffet for dinner. At first I turn up my nose, wondering how could I possibly summons the appetite for a second round of Japanese fare…

It turns out, rather easily! A few hours later and a workout in between, I’m back and find some of my favourites from lunch in the line up, but some new temptations too.  A compact buffet satisfies a full house. Every table is booked when we return, so I suggest you make an advance reservation too.

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu
Tempura Station 
Live cooking stations for tempura, teppanyaki and sushi see these dishes prepared to order. Noodles, rice, and a few other classics are ready for the taking, and a dessert table, including the Hyatt’s homemade ice cream gets a final farewell from every diner as far as I can see.

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu
Teppanyaki Station
The Saturday night buffet dinner is priced at RM138 per person. Advance reservations are highly recommended.

Reasons to visit: quality Japanese cuisine; fine setting for entertaining business guests; Saturday dinner buffet held every third Saturday of the month.

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant
Hyatt Regency Kinabalu
Jalan Datuk Salleh Sulong
88991 Kota Kinabalu
Sabah, Malaysia
+60 88 22 1234
kinabalu.regency.hyatt.com

Open daily:
Lunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner: 6:30pm – 10:00pm
Dress: smart casual
Buffet dinner is served every third Saturday of the month.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Sofitel So Bangkok, Thailand

Sofitel So Bangkok

Sofitel So Bangkok


A blend of French and Thai design and warm local graciousness form an intricate lattice composing a chic sanctum of sophistication and congeniality in Sofitel So Bangkok. Add to that park frontage, convenient location and some fashionable food and beverage outlets, and you’ve got an impressive place to stay in the City of Angels.

sofitel so
Lobby 
Design

The sum and substance of Bangkok is realized through the collaboration of five leading Thai designers, an award-winning architect and the celebrated Monsieur Christian Lacroix, in the composition of what stands today as one of the city’s most stylish hotels, Sofitel So Bangkok.

sofitel so
Reception
Cornering Sathorn and Rama IV roads, architect Smith Obayawat has fashioned the building to reap the verdant rewards of the edging Lumpini Park, while five local artists have interpreted the elements of water, earth, metal, wood and fire into the chic interiors of the structure. Monsieur Christian Lacroix’s dramatic panache is rendered throughout the hotel, seen in richly coloured and textured uniforms, and art pieces inspired by mythological creations, 19th Century France and subtle touches of local aesthetics.

sofitel so
A Magical Colour-Changing Welcome Drink - Creativity from the Onset 
It doesn’t matter where we turn, we find ourselves stimulated and uplifted by the flawless amalgamation of wonderfully inventive minds. The vibrant buzz of the city is never forgotten, yet we feel embraced by an inner calm and serenity as a result of clean smooth lines, a sense of organic flow and a tasteful play between line, colour, texture and form.

fun
Stylish Uniforms 
Rooms

With leading design comes state-of-the art technology. All rooms are equipped with 40” flatscreen LCD TVs, fully integrated Apple Mac mini media solutions granting windows to endless entertainment options and guest services, and free Internet access throughout the hotel. Complimentary mini bar with a selection of local goodies, and his and her bath products by YTSARA enhance the rooms even further. Sofitel’s Signature “MyBed” promises a cocooning experience with a pillow menu to match.

Entry-level rooms are offered in the SO Cosy habitats covering 38spm of space with separate shower and free-standing bathtub. The other end of the spectrum culminates in the SO VIP suite: a generous 223sqm duplex with master and guest bedrooms, a living room, dining room, pantry for the butler, Jacuzzi and stunning views over Lumpini Park.

sofitel so
Water Element Room
With our So Comfy room booking, we’re comfortable in a 45sqm room, and are able to pre-select what theme of styling we’d prefer prior to our arrival: Earth, Wood, Metal or Water. Water is our first choice, but if you’re undecided there’s an on-line quiz to guide you.

sofitel so
Bathroom Water Element
so sofitel bangkok
His and Hers Bath Products
Designed to showcase panoramic views from every vantage point, Water motif spaces include walk-in closets with transparent panels and floor-to-ceiling windows. Black and grey keep the colour palette cool and soothing, and one touch automated blinds black out light ensuring a sound night’s sleep, or open fully revealing the stunning park and city vistas beyond. Straight lines and hues of dark flooring and mosaic tiles, contrast with the organic curves of white furnishings.

Water Element Room 
This category of room includes a personal Illy Espresso machine, of which I make good use, priming myself for the day with a strong cup of java in hand and an eyeful of green vistas gifted by the park frontage below.

so sofitel bangkok
Not Your Ordinary Fruit Bowl Welcome - local sweets, fruit and various drinks 
Food and Beverage

The fifth element of Fire is accentuated in the hotel’s all-day-dining restaurant, Red Oven. It’s here where most packages include daily breakfast providing a smorgasbord of international cuisines in a contemporary setting. Natural materials of bamboo, marble and mother-of-pearl synthesize to create a home for a Molteni ‘Red Oven’ – a unique piece to Southeast Asia. A fusion of traditional cooking methods and leading cooking technologies, this handcrafted triumph is something many a chef would drool over.

so sofitel bangkok
Red Oven Outdoor Patio 
sofitel so
Red Oven
We breakfast here both mornings and are more than satisfied with the options. Tropical fruits, nuts, creamy yoghurts and an enormous bakery section keep me happy, while hubby drivels over the multitude of cold cuts, a beautiful leg of honeyed ham, and any number of eggs to his liking. It’s not just the food though, the whole layout is inspiring and we take a more leisurely breakfast than usual, as there’s so much to appreciate.

sofitel so bangkok
Red Oven
red oven
Baked Goodies at Breakfast
yum
Red Oven
Crowning the property is the rooftop restaurant and bar, Park Society. A mesh of shiny steel, glass and mirrors reflect and distort fibre optic display walls, crystal chandeliers and geometric designs. A menu of contemporary cuisine utilizing western cooking techniques and infusing local flavours provides a well-executed line up of dishes. We spend an unforgettable eveninghere. Follow this link to see the full recount in photos and find our recommendations for best dishes.

sofitel so
Park Society 
One floor up from Park Society is Sofitel So Bangkok’s rooftop bar and lounge, HI-SO. Al fresco style cabanas are encircled by a collection of lights and majestic panoramas of the glittery city skyline. It’s a fine perch for a cocktail, but live jazz on a Saturday night, along with Ladies’ and Men’s nights, draw the crowds too.

sofitel so
View from HI-SO 
During the day, Mixo, part of the lobby lounge, is the place to head when you’re thirsty. Expert mixologists brew up innovative concoctions, or guide you into crafting your own blend and enable you to immortalize your signature recipe in the logbook kept at the bar.

sofitel so
Mixo
Another place for fun is the entire 10th floor, dedicated to The Water Club. A pool surrounded by lush landscaping furnishes one side, supplying guests with light refreshments and cocktails, and to the other side, a lawn ‘solarium’ with deck chairs aligned to soak up the sun assigns further greenery. As the day cools and the evening heats up DJs mix rhythms worthy of chilling the night away with a group of friends with the lights of the city mirroring the sky of stars. Monthly pool parties have become quite the hit, so be sure to check out if your stay coincides with the action.

On the ground floor, the “sweet shop-cum-chocolate factory,” Chocolab, entices me to spend a few moments inside every time I pass. Drawn in by the luscious chocolate creations and chocolatiers carrying out their delicately delicious job from behind glass windows, I’m sure I leave a trail of dribble upon each walk-by.

sofitel so
Chocolab Creation
Health and Recreation

The appropriately named So FIT health centre takes a comprehensive approach to wellbeing with its provision of a gymnasium, aerobics room, relaxation beds, beauty salon, marble hammams and hot and cold immersion tubs overlooking the terrace garden. Technogym equipment proves the hotel considers fitness of high importance as do an average of five group exercise classes scheduled a day.

so sofitel bangkok
Technogym Equipment
A 32 metre lap pool dispenses a cooler way to burn some calories, and with its infinity edges seemingly flowing over the 10th floor into the park below, gives the illusion of swimming in mid-air. A watery soundtrack is piped into the pool area making a dip somewhat a surreal experience, especially bolstered at night when LED lights illuminate the water with an ever-changing rainbow of colours. Following a good weights session and swim, surely a spa appointment is well deserved?

sofitel so bangkok
Jacuzzi  
French sophistication and Asian healing practices interweave to form the award winning urban retreat, So Spa. Inclusive of a relaxation area, steam and sauna rooms, a Turkish Hammam, and manicure and pedicure spaces, the spa promises to leave guests relaxed and inspired whether they partake in a quick massage or half day spa experience.

sofitel so bangkok
So Spa 
I indulge in a 90-minute massage with an expert therapist on the day of departure hoping to hold onto pleasant Thai memories to get me through the journey home. Beginning with a hot ginger tea, followed by a footbath, excellent technique in a Balinese massage, and ending with a rose tea and chocolate pot, the experience is nothing less than heavenly. My only regret is to not have tried the spa sooner – I would have signed up for a daily treatment given a second chance.

sofitel so bangkok
So Spa
bangkok sofitel so
So Spa - Tea and Chocoalte Pot to Finish
Sofitel So Bangkok has gifted us with not only a comfortable stay, but also a stimulating escape. With so much creativity interwoven into interiors, uniforms, food and beverage, we leave with uplifted spirits and motivation to find ways to incorporate more fun, fashion and quirkiness into our own lives.

Reasons to visit: stylish rooms with choice of element; excellent food and beverage options; chic upbeat vibe; stunning views of Lumpini park and Bangkok’s skyline.

So Sofitel Bangkok
2 North Sathorn Road
Bangrak, Bangkok 10500
Thailand
+66 2624 000