Doing authentic Spanish food in Bangkok, you’re immediately going to be compared to a very tightknit club: Tapas (and its sister Spanish on Four), Rioja and Tapas y Vino. And for all the hoopla about Hola having real Spanish owners, we feel this place, located in the basement of mini-mall Ei8ht Thonglor, is at the bottom of the pack. Oddly enough there’s a cannelloni on the menu (meat is too dry, béchamel is good), but apart from that, your options are basically paella or tapas.
The buzz: With the limited choice of Spanish restaurants in town, the arrival of Hola four months ago, was welcome thanks to its spotlight on authentic Spanish cuisine in an intimate setting.
The décor: Dimly lit, the bare walls of the compact but well managed space are lined with the owner’s eclectic collection of European paintings and art pieces. Red carnations, the national flower of Spain, also feature prominently—as does a framed FC Barcelona jersey. There is a sense of practicality to the way the tables are arranged. A high marble counter separates the open kitchen and the dining area with a few bar stools for curious spectators. A bunch of sofas at the back of the venue provide a comfy little hideaway.
The food: Homey Spanish food. Tapas starts from B100-B200 per dish. Try the gambas ajillo con pan tastado (garlic prawns, B175) and other traditional dishes include paella (rice with prawn, squid, mussels, pork and vegetables, B750 for two), marinated barbecue pork (B120 or chicken, B130) and deep fried potatoes with garlic or spicy sauce (B110). Staff also recommended the cannelloni (ground beef and chicken fillet wrapped in lasagna topped with parmesan cheese, B200). Top it all off with crema Catalana (Spanish creme brulee, B90) or chocolate truffles (B110).
The drinks: It’s refreshing to find a decent selection of Marques de Caceres wines from Spain, which complements the food quite nicely. House wine starts from B210 by the glass. They also offer typical Spanish cocktails like the tinto de verano (red wine with sprite and lime, B155) and clara (beer and sprite, B155). Sangria is available by the pitcher (red, B650, and white, B850) and the glass (B210). Beers include Singha (B120), Heineken (B120) and the El Bulli created Estrella Damm Inedit (B595).
The crowd: Mostly Japanese expats and hi-so Thais after a bit more character than what’s generally found in the area. Tanrak Chiengtong
Thai Lao Yeh does fiery Lao, Northern, Isaan and a few Southern dishes in an elegant boutique hotel meant to evoke the home of an affluent family living somewhere in 1920s Asia. The restaurant’s spiel places much emphasis on doing “authentic local food” but that’s created some backlash from expert foodies, given that the menu stretches from Luang Prabang to Phuket. So for example, you’ve got somtam with salted eggs (B100) on the menu, a Central variation of the green papaya salad that any true-blood khon Isaan would turn their nose up at.
The buzz: The former owner of boutique hotel Eugenia sold up, and moved along Sukhumvit to the same small dead-end soi that is home to Casa Pagoda and the soon-to-open Quince. There, this interior designer created a purpose-built colonial-style hotel, with more than a touch of the English country house about it. Despite these design themes, the restaurant is resolutely Thai, focusing on dishes you’re more likely to find at a roadside stall than an elegant boutique hotel.
The décor: A blend of Thai mixed with a touch of 1920s Shanghai. That means wooden walls taken from an original Thai house combined with tiled floors, marble top tables, lots of dark wood and plenty of antique bric a brac and furniture. There is also an Edwardian-style private drawing room for intimate dinner parties.
The food: No fusion, no added sugar and no holding back on the spices, just an extensive menu of classic and authentic Isaan, Northern and Laotian dishes, with the occasional Southern offering as well. Recommended dishes include the gai yang takrai, (deep fried chicken wings with lemongrass, B120), the fresh and aromatic laab Laos (B150), and the kow pad Thai Lao Yeh (B180) that mixes seafood, pork and more with the fried rice. There are also plenty of harder to find Northeastern treats like kob tod (deep fried frog, B160) and gaeng pak wan kai-mod-daeng (spicy soup with ants eggs, B160).
The drinks: The presence of the Joy Luck Club bar in the hotel means you can enjoy cocktails mixed by bar staff dressed in 1920s style outfits, who have previously worked at Zuma and Hyde & Seek. The seasonal signature cocktail is currently the Star Ruby (B280), vodka, roselle, amaretto, and mangosteen.
The crowd: Hotel guests and a growing number of inquisitive well of locals coming to check out the new arrival to this increasingly happening foodie neighborhood.
The buzz: Occupying Salon de L’Oriental’s old spot on the ground floor of the Emporium shopping complex, the TWG Tea Salon & Boutique signifies the Singaporean tea empire The Wellness Group’s continued international expansion, much to the delight of tea-crazy Bangkokians.
CrossFit is a strength and body conditioning group program that incorporates high intensity actions, like sprinting, rope climbing, burpees and weightlifting to develop physical skills and strength that can transfer to any sport or physical event. These are combined into a work-out of the day, which changes daily, but keeps the focus on total physical exertion. One program may include three sets of burpees alternating with three sets of Kettlebell deadlifts, while another may require a 400-meter run, three sets of Kettlebell swings and three sets of pull ups.
The newly opened Flow House Bangkok promises a gnarly surfing experience with perfect waves every day right here in the center of the city. How? Slides with water shooting up their surface offer a similar experience to riding a real wave by generating a fast-moving sheet of water under your board. If you’ve never hopped on a board before, not to worry, riding lessons are available at B1,000 for the first hour and B500 for each hour thereafter.
If you’re missing the beach, then why not go surfing in the middle of the city? That’s what this latest attraction offers, thanks to a special machine which gives a similar experience to riding a real wave. Flow House also features bars, restaurants and retail shops specializing in water sports gear. Lessons are available for novices and prices cover board hire, use of showers and towels.
The buzz: Need proof that Sukhumvit Soi 11 is still hot? Look no further than the seemingly endless stream of new nightspots that keep opening on the strip. The latest is Levels, run by the team behind many of the big electronic parties in Bangkok, which looks to provide a high-end clubbing experience to rival Bed Supperclub and Q Bar
Decked out with a huge LED chandelier above a circular bar and a bunch of monochrome sofas surrounding a sizeable dance floor, this cavernous recent addition to the Soi 11 strip aims for a rather swanky audio-visual clubbing experience with international DJs regularly dropping by.
Grottino—the “little grotto”—has a façade that’s actually made to look like you’re entering a Swiss mountain, albeit a very small one made of grayish papier-mâché. Inside, the décor is fittingly cavernous, with big round tables and enough wood to build a small chalet. The menu makes forays into Italy (and even Thailand) but sticks mostly to Confoederatio Helvetica favorites: cheese and meats.