Asia Bar + Kitchen serves up a melting pot of Asian cuisines—from Southeast Asia and East Asia to the Indian sub-continent—at hotel prices and food court quality. Situated in the Holiday Inn Express near the BACC, the spacious venue’s black walls, high ceilings, rustic floorboards, hanging lamps and cane partitions give off a hip industrial vibe—too bad about the lackluster soundtrack and struggling air-con. The outdoor area is furnished with large black umbrellas and a bit of greenery, providing a surprisingly laidback escape right under the BTS line.
The buzz: Brought to you by the owner of restaurants like Barn Thai Jazzaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Asia Bar + Kitchen is a veritable melting pot of Asian cuisines—from Southeast Asia and East Asia to the Indian sub-continent. Situated in the Holiday Inn Express near the BACC, the spacious venue is an energetic kitchen by day, and lively bar by night.
The décor: Black walls, high ceilings, rustic floorboards, hanging lamps and cane partitions combine to give off a natural-meets-industrial vibe as jazz plays in the background. The outdoor area is furnished with a similarly elegant attention to detail, with large umbrellas and a bit of greenery providing a cozy, garden escape right in the heart of Bangkok.
The food: The owners say they want to keep the cuisine authentic, which means Malaysian, Singaporean, Hong Kong, Indian and Indonesian dishes that aren’t adulterated or adapted to the Thai palate. Start your meal with appetizers from the tapas menu like the recommended penang lorbak (pork wrapped in tofu skin and served with homemade sauce, B130) before moving on to mains like the Malaysian satay chicken (B180), Hong Kong wonton noodle soup (B150) and Indian roti (plain roti prata served with dhal beans and chicken curry, B150). If you’d prefer flavors closer to home, there are also Thai options such as pad Thai (B150), which they’re very proud of. Top it all off with exotic desserts like Indonesian fried banana (B70) and Malaysian ice kachang (Malaysian ice with rainbow syrup, B70), which is a bit like our waan yen, or opt for Thai mango with sticky rice (B70).
The drinks: The bar stocks famous beers from all over Asia, with prices starting from B130. The highlights are Cambodia’s Kingdom, China’s Tsingtao and the locally-brewed Phuket Beer. Opt for the Six Pack drink set (B650) which gets you the choice of any six beers in the house. Cocktails start from B180, including the recommended Mango Tango (rum, fresh mango, fresh lime, and mint leaf). Sake is also available, both hot and cold, from B180.
The crowd: Mostly hotel guests and groups of 30-something office workers. Monthakan Chantra
Way out in the far west of Bangkok is this hidden gem of a Vietnamese restaurant. Danung 45 is owned by a Vietnamese family and run by a woman whose parents moved here from Vietnam. Dining here could almost feel like you’re not eating at a restaurant, as you take a seat on the terrace surrounded by the mostly Vietnamese clientele. While the food served is Southern Vietnamese, the owners tell us that they adapted the tastes to suit the Thai palate, not that we’re complaining.
The buzz: The brand new hotel by Zinc, Glow Pratunam, is located on top of Shibuya 19, where it seems they’re aiming to attract shopaholic tourists. But this 3-star hotel also offers a rare new restaurant at which to wine and dine, since there are only really food courts in the area.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more ethnic, then this might be the place for you. With its Bali-Thai style décor, you’d feel like you were transported into a different world, especially if you go at night when the restaurant is lit up with twinkling lights. Every Wed, Fri and Sat, you can enjoy live music from Thai and international bands, in addition to watching traditional Thai dances. The food is suitably eclectic with a choice of Thai, Japanese and even Indonesian offerings.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more ethnic, then this might be the place for you. With its Bali-Thai style décor, you’ll feel like you were transported into a different world, especially if you go at night when the restaurant is lit up with twinkling lights. Every Wed, Fri and Sat, you can enjoy live music from Thai and international bands, in addition to watching traditional Thai dances. The food is suitably eclectic with a choice of Thai, Japanese and even Indonesian offerings.
We’d like to like the Meeting Room a lot more than we do. Located on top of a garish MaxValu supermarket, it’s a cozy space with black and tan furniture, some small couches, the lyrics to an Arcade Fire song on the wall and even some comfy seating out on their covered balcony. They play decent music and they have a very affordable drinks list, with lots of signature cocktails and basic options going for B150. The service, too, is smiling and welcoming. But unfortunately, Meeting Room falls short in its menu, an alcohol-friendly collection of Thai-Japanese recipes.
The buzz: This cool and compact eatery, located above a Max Value supermarket at J-Di community mall, borrows from the current trend of gastro bars—dark, woody décor and lots of drinks—but forgoes the carb heavy, Western comfort food and replaces it with Asian food. The result is something like Hyde and Seek meets Pedalicious, minus the bicycles and super hi-sos, and it’s been garnering plenty of buzz already. The décor: A small, high-ceilinged dining room with a bar and a few tables, and two balconies, reminiscent of the ones at Shades of Retro, with their moody lighting and mismatched seating options. The overall vibe, as a result, is super cozy without feeling pedestrian thanks to the wooden workshop tables and black couches and some hipster art drawn directly onto the walls. The food: The menu is slim but packs in the calories you’ll need to maintain your drinking. Expect greasy stuff like the Meeting Room fries which come spiked with sesame seeds and herbs, tenderloin steak with wasabi butter and egg noodles with stir-fried shrimps with curry powder. They do a few salads as well, like the buta shabu salad with shoyu sauce and one with crispy anchovies and vinegar dressing. The drinks: We are very happy to note that standard cocktails here, like the Cuba libre and gin and tonic, are a very affordable B150 each. Fancier cocktails include the classic mojito and a gin and tonic variation with lemon tea. Asahi on tap goes for B100. The crowd: The hat-wearing, rolled-cuff youth of Thong Lor. Mrigaa Sethi
Like the restaurants in Sex and the City, Bamboo Chic is so cool it’s scary. The glass walkway underlit in green light, the live DJ, the moodily-lit dining room, the soaring ceilings, and the wild pan-Asian fusion menu all make you think you’re going to get lucky. But like the men on Sex and the City, Bamboo Chic clouds your judgment with booze, then reveals itself to be a mistake as soon as you start eating. There is a disconnect between the promise of this ultra-contemporary lounge-slash-restaurant and the reality of what’s brought to your table.
518/15-16, Vaness Venue Plaza, Ramkamhaeng Soi 39, Pracha-uthit Rd., 02-158-9381.
Here’s a surprise. Hotel dining doesn’t necessarily leave your wallet empty, at least not at MoMo Café. Located smack in the city center, this all-day bistro is known almost exclusively to travel-weary hotel guests—a real shame because, considering its good food and even better service, MoMo Café deserves that locals pay it a visit. Done in contrasting red and black, the high-ceiling café feels inviting and open, thanks to lots of natural light. At dinnertime, low lighting and flickering candles contribute to a more intimate feel.
This decade-old Portuguese-Colonial residence has the potential to be a destination restaurant, but this stunning beauty still has a few too many flaws. The spacious residence can accommodate over 100 guests. The alfresco terrace by the lotus pond is decked out with comfy rattan chairs, while the dining area exudes upscale elegance with hanging chandeliers and classy upholstered seats. The dimly lit “oriental” bar, which also doubles as a smoking area, is well stocked with a wide selection of wines and spirits.