This casual new bar in Asoke pairs craft beers with the internationally trending Korean-Mexican fusion cuisine.
Changwon Express is quite the oddity. This yellow-painted spot mere steps away from MRT Petchaburi (Exit 3) pairs Thai craft beers with trending Korean-Mexican fusion cuisine.
Though little more than a hole-in-the-wall, the place bursts with character with its shipping-container bar, cartoon wall paintings and effervescent owner, Korean expat Ted Ahn. Thanks to his welcoming presence (first name greetings, the odd free soju)—and possibly the best selection of local brews in town (more on that later)—Changwon achieves a chat-friendly, after-work chill vibe that’s otherwise missing in the concrete wasteland that is Asoke-Dindaeng Road.
The food, created by the owner himself, has its charms: nachos, tacos and hot dogs with Korean twists (B160-200), plus standard Korean fare like bibimbap (mixed rice, B160-80), topokki (spicy rice cakes, B160) and bulgogi (grilled marinated beef, B300). Of the fusion fare, we’re most taken with the Kimchi Taco (B200/three tacos), a soft tortilla filled with sweetened beef (or pork) bulgogi topped with kimchi. The meat is flavorful, if a little one-dimensional—to remedy this, use a liberal dollop of gochujang (a red, spicy and pungent sauce), available in the Nacho Fiesta (with guacamole and salsa, B160).
The Dooroochigi Taco (B200/three tacos) is a more Tex-Mex-like variation, with meat marinated in a hot Korean style slathered with salsa and gooey cheddar cheese. Refined stuff. The American Dirty Dog (B180), with its plump pork sausage, soft bun and mountain of sauce, is another easily negotiated handful.
We’re not as fond of the straight-up bibimbap, which packs all the right components but doesn’t come served in a hot stone bowl, leading to quickly cold and mushy rice.
What’s most fun about Changwon is that it feels like a work in progress.The menu has had its missteps (the Galbi Burger is no longer on offer), but manages to just about transcend its novelty factor. The pocket-friendly prices help.
So, too, does the beer. A couple months back Ahn installed six more beers on tap—all Thai and all coming in at under B200/pint. The ever-changing chalkboard lists popular local brewers like Sandport and Outlaw. There’s even a Changwon IPA (B180), made in collaboration with Happy New Beer, which makes a dangerously delicious session beer thanks to a lowly 4% ABV.
There may be better Korean and Mexican food in Bangkok, but as an experience there’s nothing quite like Changwon Express.
This review took place in July 2016 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.