The buzz: Offering a more substantial dining experience and breathing some much needed life into the slightly faded nightlife hub on Sarasin Road, Mokka is run by the people behind Extra Virgin. The concept is a simple European-style drinks and dishes vibe alongside traditional Thai fare, but definitely no mixing of the two. The décor: The owner describes it as like moving into his grandpa’s old shophouse. The result is eclectic and quite tricky to pin down. There are hints of European bistros in the stonewashed walls and beer signs, shades of the 1920s in the Vettriano print and art deco posters on the walls and some vintage touches with the old Singer sewing tables. It all kind of fits into the shophouse shell to create a cozy space which has the added bonus of a small open air terrace on the third floor overlooking Lumpini park. The food: They’re pretty clear with their tagline: Thai food with a European experience. While the two appear side by side, there’s no spaghetti with dried fish on the extensive menu. Instead you can choose between simple European dishes like chicken cream soup with garlic bread, pizzas or classic Thai options like fried rice noodles with roasted duck. The name Mokka is actually in honor of a friend’s grandfather who used to run a restaurant with the same name. Some of his old recipes have been revived here. The drinks: Like Extra Virgin, there’s a good choice of intriguing cocktails like the Pillow Talk as well as European beers like Stella and Hoegaarden draught. While the wine list is long and quite impressive there are currently only a couple of by the glass options. The crowd: Early days, of course, but definitely a professional and cultured crowd of business types from the nearby CBD. Nick Measures
Located right next to Brown Sugar on Sarasin Road, Mokka isn’t exactly aiming to attract the snobby, foodie crowd. In fact, coming here exclusively to dine can produce the gastronomic equivalent of a shoulder shrug and a “meh”. But considering that their main objective is to provide loads of calories for Thais and expats there to soak in the booze and the music from Brown Sugar—and the otherwise dwindling nightlife in the neighborhood—that’s not necessarily a disaster. While we usually scoff at this sort of thing, at Mokka it makes sense to have a broad menu, with Thai noodles and fried rices and Western pastas and pizzas and the occasional fusion option. And many dishes are comforting and hit the spot, like the Esarn Lover Pizza (B180 for an 8” pie), which is competently handled, thin but not too thin and nicely charred, though we do wish they’d use stronger sai krok (Isaan sausage) flavors in it, but that’s just a personal preference. The curry fried rice with chicken satay (B120) is an odd combination of a decidedly non-curry fried rice bowl topped with three satay sticks and a side of peanut sauce. But the rice is neither soggy nor greasy, the satay is moist and we like the peanut sauce. But other dishes are either ill-executed—like the pumpkin soup with garlic bread, a cream overload which lacks both the pumpkin color and flavor—or ill-conceived, like the smoked salmon spicy mango salad. The Thai-style mango salad in the middle is tart, crisp and balanced, but the odd-looking rolls of smoked salmon surrounding it are just OK, and we can’t help but think that the dish really just needed fresh salmon. The service is pleasant, but patchy, and the experience is a lot more like a bar than a restaurant. But honestly, after a few Beer Lao or a couple of cocktails, you’re not going to care very much, and you might even find yourself ordering more carby comfort food. Besides, with the run-down, Parisian absinthe den décor and many little private nooks, including one on the second floor balcony, there are far worse (and pricier) places in the area to have a plate of pasta and a glass of cheap house wine.
|Address:||Mokka, 231/18 Ratchadamri Rd., Bangkok, Thailand|
|Opening hours:||daily 10am-midnight|
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