Sathorn 10 and 12
SATHORN 10 and 12 have the potential to become Bangkok’s most stylish and cosmopolitan entertainment district. The signs are already there in several chic venues operating along these leafy avenues, such as French-owned Moko, New Zealand/Maori-inspired Kai, and Rocket, a neat little bakery, bistro and pavement café, as well as the adjacent Lady Brett. And for Japanese cuisine, the Hanakaruta Saki Bar takes some beating.
But the big boys are coming – Bar Rouge, a French phenomenon in Shanghai, is set to make a spectacular entrance here soon, as are two more French-owned operations on soi 12.
Propelling this area’s rapid rise is the nearby 77-storey MahaNakhon, which on completion will become the city’s tallest building and home to the Ritz-Carlton-Residences and a luxury boutique hotel called Edition, along with the already open upscale restaurant L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Vogue Lounge and Dean & Deluca. Also pulling the crowds is Ku Dé Ta. Customer traffic to Sathorn is set to increase significantly, with Soi 10 and 12 major beneficiaries.
GOOD: Tree-lined streets whose potential and central location have been recognized by French investors.
BAD:Tour buses, dodgy motel and neighboring cemetery.
Soi Sri Bamphen
SOI Sri Bamphen and the adjoining Soi Ngam Duplee are Bangkok’s original hippie haven, years before Khao San Road became popular with foreign backpackers. Today, it retains something of that rare bohemian atmosphere, with lots of small restaurants, coffee shops and eccentric bars occupying long rows of ancient shophouses and frequented by an interesting mix of people.
The presence of a dozen or so guesthouses and inexpensive hostelries, including the veteran Malaysia Hotel, which dates back to the Sixties, continues to attract budget travelers and expat workers on limited incomes to this area, now known somewhat optimistically as ‘Yen Akat Village.’ If it wasn’t for the heavy traffic, this would be an even better place to explore on foot. And with virtually no space for parking, it’s only really accessible by taxi.
Dining out options range from the very reasonable to the choice of gourmets: the latter being the Issaya Siamese Club, a restaurant owned by renowned Thai chef Ian Kittichai. Set in an old-style wooden Thai house surrounded by a sumptuous tropical garden, Issaya’s beauty is in stark contrast to the drabness of the area’s general architecture.
Less opulent but no less popular is The Corner, a relative newcomer to Soi Sri Bamphen. This all-day diner is operated by Cedric, a cordial young Frenchman whose culinary skills have won him a regular following with locals and tourists. Don’t miss his freshly made croissants and coffee for breakfast.
For good and unpretentious Italian food, head to Lido, tucked down a small lane almost opposite The Corner. Decent breakfasts ranging in price from B85 to B220 can also be had in Hansaah B&B Restaurant and Penguin House.
Mama’s Thai Restaurant and Trajai Steak House both serve western and Thai food. Next to the Malaysia Hotel is Just One Restaurant & Sports Bar, a sprawling outdoor restaurant that also dates back to the area’s hippie heydays.
One of Soi Sri Bamphen’s curiosities is Wong’s Place, the legendary after-hours bar which is cozy, smoky, and invariably packed. Help yourself to a beer from the fridge and pay by the bottle top. It’s that laid back.
A connecting road, Soi Yen Akat, is home to Le Petit Zinc, an excellent modern French restaurant, and Madame Dolores, which promotes itself as an outdoor pizzeria but in fact has a long list of western and Thai dishes on its menu.
FANS of Thonglor (see last issue) will feel immediately at home in this leafy soi, which over the past few years has drawn an increasing number of wealthy Thais leading, in turn, to the opening of numerous hip coffee shops, restaurants and bars.
A short walk from Ari BTS station and, alongside several noodle stalls (inexpensive and tasty) and La Villa Shopping Center, you’ll find all kinds of international cuisines just waiting to be devoured, no doubt in venues packed with young creative types sporting vintage threads and ironic moustaches (the guys, that is).
Just some of the highlights on this fast bourgeoning soi include Salt, where you can enjoy Thai food and selected international dishes while projected video art plays on the walls; Summer Street, a food truck on Ari Soi 2 selling grilled seafood; Jim’s Burgers and Beers, which lives up to its name by offering a wide range of tasty patties just perfect alongside a cold lager; Steve Café & Cuisine in town, the second branch of a popular restaurant well-known for its generous portions of traditional Thai dishes; Basilico, which, like its other branches in town, serves inexpensive Italian cuisine (pizza, pasta and steak); Marlin Café, serving a mix of Japanese and Western dishes, and craft cocktails created by Vice Versa; and Fatbird, a homely hangout serving hearty western dishes alongside local favourites, and potent cocktails too.
For coffee and desserts, check out Porcupine Café, an unusual venue modelled after a porcupine cave – seriously – that serves a small selection of signature teas, coffee and desserts; White Rabbit (Ari Samphan 5), which serves spaghetti, steak and salad but is best-known for its soft serve ice cream; and Casa Lapin, set within Nobel Reform Condominium, where an extensive selection of superior coffee and decadent desserts is available alongside a decent breakfast, lunch and dinner menu loaded with international cuisine.
For drinks, aside from the aforementioned Fatbird, we suggest you check out the British-garden inspired Mad Bar, or, if Belgium beers are your tipple of choice, head straight for HOBS in Aree Garden or HOBS Away in La Villa.
GOOD: The street is constantly evolving and boasts many restaurants, cafes and bars
BAD: Lack of parking, and the lively bars (think loud after dark) and may put you off becoming a resident