N.53, 55 Sukhumvit Soi 53, Bangkok, Thailand
Nearest Train:BTS Thong Lo
Opening Hours:Tue-Sun noon-midnight
Price Range:BB - BBB
Live music, Parking available
Running parallel to its more glamorous sister, Thong Lor, recent years have seen Sukhumvit 53 quietly asserting itself as a home to some popular eateries. Italian trattoria, Bacco, seems to be packed every night, while newcomer Extra Virgin is equally busy with the area’s well-heeled punters. Of course, N.53 was here before both, but the old timer seems to be suffering as a result of the competition. Sadly quiet on our last couple of visits, the decline in popularity is obviously getting to the staff. When we asked where to sit, our waitress simply laughed and waved her arm across the near-empty candlelit, black-themed restaurant. The menu looks extensive, and impressive, covering everything from inter classics to pastas and Thai favorites with a particular leaning towards fish and seafood dishes. There are also some intriguing options that diverge from the traditional Thong Lor/Ekkamai inter/Thai menu. Unfortunately though, the execution doesn’t live up to expectations, especially when you’re paying 200+ for a simple pasta dish. Indeed some offerings are just plain bad, like the crab meat with salmon. The salmon has seen better days while the sweet, spicy sauce simply overpowers any hint of crab. Another appetizer, the deep fried soft shelled crab with garlic, isn’t much of an improvement— at least there are a big chunks of crab and it comes with plenty of crispy garlic—but the batter is so desperately dry, it just cries out for some kind of sauce or dip. The main dishes are a little better, the spaghetti olio ham and black olive, garlic, chili and fried bacon was decent if slightly oily and the fried snapper with spicy creamy Moroccan sauce and steamed rice is certainly intriguing. The snapper was wonderfully soft and light and went well with the fiery sauce. We appreciate that N.53 is trying to do things differently but it doesn’t really work often enough to justify the prices. Last time we were there, the big projector screen was tuned to a Japanese cooking show, which followed a group of diners as they sampled various delicacies—we couldn’t help wishing we were eating with them.