A recent wave of new bars is the perfect excuse to roam the once nightlife-free streets around Yaowarat.
See also: Charoenkrung Road's shop-house revival
Dining in Chinatown is all about old-school shop-house restaurants that have stood in the same spot for 80 years or more. Places like 1. Yim Yim (89 Yaowaphanit Rd., 02-224-2203), a venerable institution in Yaowarat’s rich dining scene—which is to say it’s some of the best Chinese food you’ll get in Bangkok, despite the gloomy decor and small, dark space. The goat ham and cured fish are delicious. On a similar note, don’t be discouraged by the rats and cockroaches in the alleyway leading to 2. Jok’s Kitchen (23 Soi Isara Nuphap, 02-221-4075), a small, menu-less establishment known as one of the hottest seats in town. Chef Jok presents course after course of things like steamed bass in soy sauce and fried rice with crabmeat to a packed dining room every night. Dining here is done traditional Chinese-style, so come with a big enough party to fill one of the large round tables. While Yaowarat is known for its Chinese food, the adjoining Pahurat is home to a sizable Indian community, and 3. Royal India (392/1 Chakkaphet Rd., 02-221-6565) is simply one of the best places in town for lip-smacking good Punjabi recipes. Turn on your heels, because here they cook in true Indian grandmother style— plenty of cream and ghee. And be sure to stock up on traditional Indian sweets on your way out. The area’s old-school tea and coffee houses are also not to be missed. The 87-yearold 4. Eiah-Sae (1-103 Yaowarat Rd., 081-868-9891) serves coffee laced with condensed milk alongside charming snacks like custard on toast, soft-boiled eggs and toast with butter, jam or chocolate spread, all charged at rock-bottom prices. 5. Double Dogs (406 Yaowarat Rd., 086-329-3075), meanwhile, specializes in potent, properly brewed teas from across the region.
Grand China Hotel
Until recently, Chinatown was never on the nightlife radar. But a recent wave of new bars have been converting old shop-houses, both in Chinatown and the surrounding area. One of the first to open was 6. El Chiringuito (221 Soi Nana, Charoenkrung Rd., 086,-340-4791), which has a charming retro ambience courtesy of reclaimed wooden furniture, classic sewing tables, old posters and an adorable chalkboard menu. The owner lived in Spain for six years, and the kitchen rolls out dishes like tortilla de patatas (omelet), patatas bravas (fried potatoes) and bocadillos (sandwiches). Wash it down with a Spanish Xoriguer gin. Just round the corner you’ll find the multi-disciplinary art space 7. Cho Why (17 Soi Nana, Charoenkrung Rd.), which holds informal gatherings like photography/art exhibitions, documentary screenings and rooftop paella nights. Note that it only opens when there’s an event happening, so check their Facebook page for updates before heading over. On the same street, 8. 23 Bar & Gallery (92 Soi Nana, Charoenkrung Rd., 086-264-4471), has a no-frills atmosphere, walls decorated by the owner’s personal artwork and a soundtrack that flits between 90s Britpop and more Rastafarian sounds. It's officially opening tonight (Fri, Apr 3). Or for something completely different, head up to the 25th floor of the 9. Grand China Hotel (215 Yaowarat Rd., 02-224-9977), where a revolving restaurant and bar offers 360-degree views of Chinatown and the river.
Chinatown’s Top Streetside stalls
10. GUAY TIEW KUA GAI
This gem, very well-known among locals, is hidden in a tiny alley and run by an old couple who have been serving one of the best guay tiew kua gai (fried noodles with chicken) for decades.
Yaowarat Soi 6. Open Wed-Mon, 7pm-1am
11. PA JIN COCKLE SOI TEXAS
Located in the middle of Soi Texas, this place has been specializing in soft-boiled cockles and mussels for over 35 years.
Soi Phadungdao, Yaowarat Rd., 081-795-1839. Open Mon-Sat 6:30pm-1am, Sun 5pm-1am
12. KUAY JUB NAI EK
This place is known for its kuay jub–a hot dish composed of rolled noodles with crispy pork belly, blood and intestines served in peppery soup.
Yaowarat Rd., corner of Soi 11. Open daily 7pm-late
13. T&K SEAFOOD AND R&L SEAFOOD, SOI TEXAS
Located opposite each other, these two restaurants are known for their fresh seafood dishes at reasonable prices.
Soi Phadung Dao, Yaowarat Rd. Open daily 6pm-1am