WHILE a host of international restaurant brands have elected to take up residence in the air-conditioned confines of Bangkok’s growing number of swanky shopping malls, Sathorn Road is witnessing a mini dining revolution of its own – and it’s rapidly transforming an entire neighbourhood.
Sathorn 10 and 12, two of the city’s leafiest avenues, are now bearing all the hallmarks of an exciting new dining and entertainment zone, with a dozen or so independent restaurants already open – and many more in the planning stage.
This unexpected culinary bonanza is squeezing itself into an area that’s also home to lots of quirky businesses like a shop selling expensive wooden toys, an extremely rare public library, the showroom of an interior designer, an art gallery set in an unusual two-storey wooden house, and an antiques shop.
Located quite literally in the shadow of the giant Mahanakorn project, the multi-purpose project which will become the city’s tallest building when completed next year, Sathorn 10 and 12 are a delightful contrast in architectural styles, comprising shophouses, trendy townhouses tucked down small lanes, stand-alone buildings, a vast and very luxurious mansion now under construction and a couple of sizeable condos.
The two roads are linked, and can be accessed by car from Silom. There is also a narrow passageway for pedestrians (and motorbikes, unfortunately) to the BTS Skytrain station of Chong Nongsi.
What gives this area added appeal, especially as it sits between two of Bangkok’s busiest thoroughfares, are its many mature trees, which overhang the streets and provide welcome cover from the sun, while the surprisingly light traffic gives it the permanent feel of a relaxed Sunday afternoon.
This unexpectedly congenial ambiance is attracting a diverse assortment of people, from fashionable Thais who arrive in hugely expensive limos, to western backpackers who stay in the area’s several cheap hostels.
Among the first to recognize the roads’ business potential was Ben Sorum, whose chic Rocket bakery and restaurant on Soi 12 quickly attracted attention from friends and customers of their previous outlets.
Next door, Ben has a second project, Lady Brett, an upmarket diner. A third venue is apparently on the cards.
A recent newcomer to this area is Moko, a low key but very stylish outlet specializing in breakfasts, pastas and salads prepared by an Italian chef. The almost instant popularity of this restaurant has prompted French owner Martine Pailloux to acquire a second property nearby for her second outlet.
On Soi 12, two sizeable townhouses are now being reconstructed into a single restaurant called Kai, the Maori word for food. New Zealand owner Craig McLean, who is also the proprietor of Snapper on Sukhumvit 11, will offer a menu covering seafood, steaks and lamb. Kai’s neighbor is Abode, a long established home décor showroom owned by Craig’s wife Paveena.
Korean cuisine is represented by Royal Sam Gae Tang, also on Soi 12, while Zalute on Soi 10 serves Italian. The area also boasts a large Chinese restaurant, two Japanese outlets, including the extremely attractive Hanakaruta Saki Bar, plus a Thai café in a delightful garden setting. Almost hidden along the passageway mentioned earlier is a no-name Thai restaurant set in a charming traditional wooden house that serves exquisite menus lunch and dinner.
Just beyond this exquisitely leafy area is the newly opened Dean & Deluca upscale deli and shop. Atop an adjoining building is Ku De Ta.
Soi 10 and 12 may have some way to go before the area can be called something iconic like ‘Sathorn Village,” as some restaurant owners have suggested, but the signs are most definitely there.