Just what Bangkok needed, two new coffee shops. Developed by the people behind funky Q Concept Store at CentralWorld, Q Café (G/F, Thonglor Midtown, Sukhumvit 55) takes over the space in Thonglor Midtown previously occupied by Starbucks. The décor is mostly black and white, with bright colored cushions, chintzy needlework on the walls and funky lighting.
Fifty Five (54/F, Centara Grand at CentralWorld, Ratchadamri Rd., 02-100-1234. Open daily 5:30-11pm) recently changed its focus from lengthy set dinners to steaks. The meat market is pretty crowded but 55 can boast a great view of downtown and first dibs on Maezawa beef. The fatty, marbled Japanese beef is a growing competitor to the legendary Kobe and Matsuzaka and it’s already served at the swanky New York Grill, at Tokyo’s Park Hyatt. As with Kobe, it’s melt-in-your-mouth yummy and nearly as fat as a slice of foie gras, so 12 oz.
The people behind super hip Café Chili and Extra Virgin are at it again. Blue Velvet (105/2 Thonglor Soi 5, Sukhumvit 55 Rd., 02-392-1769. Open daily 6pm-1am), their latest venture, is already creating a buzz among the hi-so/celeb crowd. The fusion food, combining Thai, Japanese and Italian, has something to do with it, but so does the ramshackle castle vibe. A good wine list means you probably won’t need much persuading to head upstairs to the confession room where you’ll find a DJ deck and some space to groove. Check back here for Open Door.
Chef Paul Quarchioni has moved into Le Café Siam’s (4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chua Ploeng Rd., 02-671-0030) adorable 1920s house and renovated it. He’s known to Bangkokians for his stint at the Oriental, as Chef Norbert’s sous-chef, but worked at a myriad of starred restaurants in Europe before that. We’ll be profiling the restaurant here soon.
Galloping onto our city’s dry and dusty Mexican food scene, Los Cabos (1 Soi 14, Sukhumvit Rd, BTS Asok, 02-653-3900. Open daily 11am-11pm) serves up California-style tacos, enchiladas, burritos “big as your face” as well as special treats from the mesquite wood grill, such as barbeque pork ribs (B325 for half rack) and beef fajitas (B395 with tortillas and sides)—to say nothing of the hand-crafted margaritas and cocktails.
A change from the ultra-hip bustle of Thonglor, Primavera (between Thonglor Soi 23 and 25, 02-713-9583. Open daily 10am-2pm, 6pm-12:30am) with its whitewashed walls and modest paintings, makes for an unpretentious refuge. Chef Wattana, formerly of KOI, serves up homey but stylish fare, such as homemade gnocchi (in a gorgonzola, cream and parmesan sauce, B180) and veal ossobuco (B750).
Bistro’y (138/1 Thonglor Soi 11, 02-381-3882. www.bistroybangkok.com) holds the promise of shaking up Bonjour and Le Normandie. In this cozy, converted house, Chef Benoit, once with famed Pourcel Brothers, the guys behind Dusit’s D’Sens, brings us an affordable bistro menu, including rarities such as marinated herring with mustard cream (B230). Other highlights are the sole meuniere (B480), and grilled frog’s legs (B290)
With at least three Michelin-star chefs having visited Bangkok this month, we spoke to managers and chefs to find out what it actually takes to acquire, accommodate and promote these culinary celebrities.
And, while these guys may have already packed up their knives and left, there are still a host of celeb chefs set to head into town throughout the year. So read up and get ready to appreciate not just the food, but the level of commitment that goes into making these culinary masterclasses a reality.
How the star chefs actually get here.
Chef Jess Barnes has resigned from Grossi, InterCon’s trattoria (G/F, 973 Ploenchit Rd., 02-656-0444). We recently gave the man four stars (some of us even lobbied for five), so we’re positively heart-broken. We’re also convinced that his departure has a lot to do with local diners’ inability to get his food, which was a real improvement on how very, very boring Italian food in Bangkok has become. There’s hope yet: Melbournian chef, Guy Grossi, will be sending a replacement in March.