A reincarnation of The Stories, Indy Trees Bar hosts a nightly bash replete with tasty, unpretentious food, (a lot of) drinking and cheesy live music that brings back your teen years. After the big nip ‘n’ tuck, the baan baan eatery has been transformed into a funky retro-outfitted bar-cum-restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating; the dimly lit garden is popular among lovebirds (there’s even a birdcage table tucked in a quiet nook of the garden).
As its name suggests, MIXT is a mixed bag. It’s in an airy space decked out in chic contemporary style and features a compact one-dish menu to suit speedy urban lifestyles. Unfortunately, its sexy red-and-black dining area is often left empty despite its prime location in popular CentralWorld. Visiting on a recent Friday night, we couldn’t help but wonder why we were the only customers. After browsing the menu, we suspected that the prices might be what’s keeping people away.
In stark contrast to the blond wood and bright lights of most Japanese restaurants, Michi is a cool, dark cave. Its faux-rock entrance next to an aging Seefah is easy to overlook; behind the door is a cozy grotto with charcoal walls and ceiling, stone accents, polished concrete floors, a row of salmon-colored curtained booths and semi-private alcoves featuring low freeform tables made from cross-cut sections of logs. The freeform sushi bar that wraps around the open kitchen is similarly crosscut and stained, and surrounded by huge salmon-colored chairs.
The hype surrounding Ta-ling Pling is hot; unfortunately the food is not, literally. This two-story restaurant impresses with colorful contemporary décor. Vivid red and orange walls contrast nicely with black-and-white photos and dark wooden tables. Reservations are highly recommended because, even on our Monday night visit, the dining area was swollen with Thai diners and their foreign guests. But one thing we’ve learned from visiting a popular restaurant like this is to keep our expectations low so that we are not too disappointed.
With its clunky name and institutional décor, Somtum Maneeya is about as stylish as a mini-mart, with all the warmth of a cafeteria. We almost didn’t make it through the front door the first time we visited. In addition to seating outside on the sidewalk, the five-month offshoot of the original Suan Lum branch is 12-14 small tables in a rectangular room with an all-glass front wall and sliding glass doors.
A year from now, we can imagine Ember worthy of four stars. Either that or it will be closed. Because, like fellow Singaporean offshoot Hu’u, Ember Bangkok has failed to achieve anywhere near the kind of success—and the ever-important “buzz”—that the chic original has earned in the Merlion City. The problem is not the food, some of which is outstanding. But no matter how delicious the cuisine, at the prices they’re charging, most Bangkokians expect more in terms of service, atmosphere and, to a lesser extent, selection.
If you’re into healthy Japanese cooking, you’ll appreciate what Samurai has to offer. But if taste is your priority (the strong flavors that we Thais prefer, in particular), Samurai is a hit-or-miss affair. According to a note on the menu, when chef-owner Naofumi Sato first came to town, he was horrified by the prevalent use of MSG and artificial food coloring in his native cuisine. Samurai exists to prove that it’s not necessary to resort to such fast-food approaches—with only partial success.
Siam Square is not known for its food. People go there to shop, flirt, study, meet friends, get their hair done, watch a movie or whatever—but not to eat. But this is no excuse for a restaurant as inexplicably bad as Pachino. In fact, judging from its appearance (and price), you’d assume just the opposite, that this gleaming new three-story restaurant was a step above its less flashy neighbors in every respect—especially considering that the owners have been running successful Italian restaurants here for years.
Despite its name, Secret Garden is apparently no secret, and we are not surprised because based on ambiance alone, this charming restaurant deserves to succeed. Not only is it surrounded by a huge garden, the white house also resembles one inside, with pastel green walls, flower arrangements and decorative artificial vines clinging to chandeliers. Visual pleasures continue with cute diners to match. In the evening, the air-conditioned dining area is full of life as the chic downtown crowd let their hair down to enjoy a lingering dinner.
2-2/1 Convent Rd., Silom, 02-631-0355