Word Morgan Thanarojpradit
The old town as once the resting grounds for a palace belonging to one of the Thai princes; after the major fire in the reign of King Rama IV, the area was replaced with a foreign court and accommodation for visiting foreigners. The ubiquitous shop houses followed when the area became more populated with locals and foreigners alike.
Recently, the sidewalks have been cleared to make way for various shops and restaurants as well as other up-and-coming developments. This month, The BigChilli team revisited the neighbourhood to find the best spots to eat, drink, and sit back and relax in Thatien.
Located on the fourth floor of the charming Riva Arun Hotel along the banks of the Chaophraya River, the recently opened Above Riva rooftop restaurant and bar offers breath-taking panoramic views of Wat Arun and Wat pho. The retractable rooftop is perfect to provide cover during the rainy season making this new rooftop restaurant and bar a new must-visit spot in the old city.
The menu offers both Thai and international cuisine including crispy duck and foie gras salad (B390), crab and lobster creamy capellini (B650), spicy chorizo spaghetti (B470), to name but a few, as well as a selection of signature cocktails.
392/25-26 Maharaj Road. 02 221 1188. snhotels.com/snc/rivaarun
Opening hours: 7.30am–11.30am, 6pm–11.30pm
Founded by Somboon Chayavichitsilp in 2006, Elefin started as a single café on Sukhumvit Soi 1. In following years it expanded to Siam Museum, Hansar Bangkok Hotel, and its most recent venture, a third branch near Wat Pho on Maharaj Road.
Sourced from the Doi Chang region along the Thai-Myanmar border, the coffee beans are carefully selected and sourced with a simple mission to share the passion for Thai-grown coffee with locals and beyond.
Served fresh using 100% Thai Arabica coffee, the signature coffee is the Elefin Cold Brew (B100) and comes in a unique bottle with sugar syrup and milk. Made from Elefin’s homemade coarse-ground coffee beans soaked in water overnight at room temperature, filtered then chilled. The coffee isn’t allowed any contact with heated water causing it to have a different, more concentrated, and sweeter taste due to its lower acidity level. A guaranteed eye-opener perfect for breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up drink.
The menu features Thai, Thai-fusion, and western food. One dish not to be missed the Green Curry served with rice and roti (B125). Guests can even request how spicy they’d prefer.
Providing free WiFi service, this café slash bed and breakfast is the perfect hideaway from the sun after a walk around the old city or a quiet and comfortable resting place for visitors.
394 / 1 – 2 Maharaj Road. 02 622 1115. elefincoffee.com
Opening hours: 7am–10pm
Baan Thatien Café
This small but bustling café is located directly on Maharaj Road, making it very easy to find. The café offers á la carte traditional Thai dishes on their menu with an array of coffee and refreshments. It also offers a bed and breakfast services.
392/2 Maharaj Road.
095 151 5545. facebook.com/BaanThaTienCafe
Opening hours: 7am–6pm
To reflect their Vietnamese heritage, the proud owners of this eatery offer a family-oriented atmosphere with every dish on the menu derived from home cooked family recipes. Opened in late 2016, this two-storey shop house turned restaurant offers both traditional and modern dishes that combines Vietnamese flavours with the fresh local ingredients.
69 Maharaj Road. 093 469 2969. facebook.com/tonkinannam
Opening hours: 11am-11pm
Make Me Mango
This cute and yellow-themed café is all about its name sake. The two-storey shop house was turned into a bright yellow café serving Thai food, desserts and beverages. Included in the menu are Phad Thai (B135), grilled pork with sticky rice, and Som Tam (B135), but their bestsellers are the desserts. Their signature treats include Make Me Mango – mango sticky rice that comes with an ice cream, Thai custard, and mango pudding (B185); mango and durian sundaes (B165, B185); and Bingsu (starting from B175).
67 Maharaj Road. 02 622 0899. facebook.com/makememango
Opening hours: 10.30am–8pm
Vivi The Coffee Place
This nautically themed three-storey café offers photogenic interiors as well as photogenic food and beverages. The interior is covered in graduated blue and green tiles that mimics the scales of a fish and sketches the scenery under the sea.
Upon entering, guests are welcomed by friendly baristas, as well as the ceiling-high hand-drawn blue whale. The signature drinks too stick to the colour scheme with the blue butterfly pea latte (B90 hot and B120 cold), while the signature menu boasts hunger-busting healthy bites like the Hamburg – teriyaki chicken topped with cheddar cheese, rice and sunny side up egg with a side of fresh organic vegetables (B210).
The café is outfitted with simple wooden furniture mirroring the neighbourhood’s nostalgic feel with blue photo ops all around.
397/, 37 Maharaj Road. 081 641 4514. facebook.com/bluewhalebkk
Opening hours: 10am–8pm
Eat Sight Story (ESS) Deck
This riverside venue owned by Sala Arun offers breath-taking and uninterrupted views of Wat Arun, and top notch Thai fusion food to go with. Decorated with old wooden doors and furniture and a mix of both Asian and European bric-a-brac , preserving the history of the old pier.
Led by Executive Chef Tony Wrigley from the UK, the eatery and bar offers both indoor and outdoor seating over the water dining deck. The dishes served offer a variety of international and traditional Thai favourites.
Whet your appetite with sweet and sour Soft Shell Crab Salad – deep fried crispy soft shell crab with organic salad and red vinegar dressing (B260), and Khao Neaw Moo Yang – honey grilled pork neck and sticky rice (B240). For mains try the Hawaiian Pizza – pizza base topped with ham, crab meat, mozzarella cheese, and pineapples (B290). Lastly, for dessert, the signature Kanom Krok Sam Sri – a traditional Thai coconut pudding offering rich local flavours.
Sala Arun also owns the refashioned commercial property, Sala Rattanakosin, a luxurious riverside boutique lodge with 17 stylish rooms. Each decorated in the ‘Bangkok Period’ style and feature balconies with spectacular views.
The recently renovated history SisSino-Portuguese house, known as Arun Residence, offers accommodation on the riverside and features balconies with an unfolding panorama of one of Thailand’s finest views.
The Deck by the River restaurant at Arun Residence too overlooks the river and serves á la carte breakfast, light lunch, and dinner daily. The venue also houses Arun Gallery displays local and imported decorative items and art exhibitions and hosts drawing and painting classes, charity shows, and meetings or private parties.
45/1 Maharaj Road. 02 622 2163. facebook.com/ESSDeck
Opening hours: 11am–11pm
Walk straight for a few minutes until you come to Maharaj Road.