Bangkok's Best New Hot Spots
Published: June 2011
By Jennifer Chen
T+L takes a tour of Bangkok to find the best new hot spots in town.
Bangkok’s chefs are taking cues from the city’s regionally driven street-food scene and bringing those diverse flavors to upscale tables around town. In the Thonglor neighborhood, Soul Food Mahanakorn (56/10 Soi 55, Sukhumvit Rd.; 66-2/714-7708; dinner for two $30) uses free-range meat and organic produce in dishes such as khao mok gai, Thai Muslim–style chicken biryani served with a mint-cilantro-ginger sauce. A few blocks away in a charming shop-house, Phuket Town (160/8 Soi 55, Sukhumvit Rd.; 66-2/714-9402; dinner for two $25) focuses on the fiery cooking of southern Thailand. A standout: fat rice noodles with yellow crab curry. For a sampling of the north’s more subtle, herb-scented cuisine, head to Gedhawa (24 Soi 35, Sukhumvit Rd.; 66-2/662-0501; dinner for two $20), where rough-hewn wooden tables and silk lanterns set the stage for Chiang Mai classics such as khao soi (egg noodles with chicken curry) and sai ooua (pork sausage). At Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin (Siam Kempinski Hotel, 991/9 Rama I Rd.; 66-2/162-9000; dinner for two $150), Danish chef Henrik Yde-Andersen and partner Lertchai Treetawatchaiwong use liquid nitrogen to present frozen red curry with lobster, while seafood-flavored jellies make up a deconstructed tom yum soup. At the equally inventive Gaggan (68/1 Soi Langsuan; 66-2/652-1700; dinner for two $100), Ferran Adrià disciple Gaggan Anand spherifies cumin-spiked yogurt and blankets oysters with citrus black-salt foam in a colonial-style house near Lumpini Park.
The lavish 227 guest quarters at the St. Regis Bangkok (doubles from $470) are studies in painted teak and marble, but unrivaled service sets the property apart. Next door, the Hansar Bangkok (3 Rajadamri Rd.; 66-2/209-1234; doubles from $350) feels more resort-like, with 94 suites decorated in subdued silks; some rooms even have cantilevered nooks furnished with daybeds. Near the Sathorn business district, Anantara Bangkok Sathorn (36 Narathiwat-Ratchanakarin Rd.; 66-2/210-9000; doubles from $320) lures both businessmen and weekenders with its large-scale rooms and outdoor infinity pool, where a butler dispenses cold towels and Evian mist. Asadang (94 Asadang Rd.; 66-2/622-2239; doubles from $110), a four-month-old hotel in the historic district, channels Old Bangkok in a restored 19th-century mansion. Husband-and-wife architects Direk and Chitlada Senghluang fitted the nine intimate rooms with antique furnishings and photographs of Siamese nobles. Opening this fall on the Chao Phraya River: the Siam (Thanon Khao; doubles from $500), the brainchild of Thai-American music sensation Krissada Sukosol Clapp. Set on three acres of landscaped gardens, the 39-suite property includes four traditional teakwood houses salvaged by silk designer Jim Thompson.
For a change of scenery from Bangkok’s ubiquitous malls, head to O.P. Garden (Soi 36, Charoenkrung Rd.), a collection of boutiques in colonial-style houses. Serindia Gallery (Units 3101 and 3201; 66-2/238-6410) is a tranquil space with Himalayan-inspired art and photography by Asian and expat artists. Across the way, designer Atinuj Atty Tantivit sells inventive international jewelry in her Atta Gallery (Unit 1109; 66-2/238-6422). In the Siam shopping district, the team behind local cult label It’s Happened to Be a Closet recently launched Palette (979 Rama I Rd.; 66/81-754-1791), an affordable line of breezy tops and dresses in vivid colors. The winding sois off Sukhumvit Road contain some of the city’s most eclectic boutiques. Enlever Ses Vêtements (59/3 Soi 23, Sukhumvit Rd.; 66-2/260-4660) puts a fashion-forward spin on the city’s bespoke clothing tradition with suits in linen and high-tech Japanese fabrics. Irresistible (45 MSI Tower II, Soi 31, Sukhumvit Rd.; 66-2/662-1050) stocks cicada-shaped silver boxes and clutches made of shell and inky labradorite, while Asana (235/32 Soi 31, Sukhumvit Rd.; 66-2/662-3118) displays contemporary wood furniture by Thai designers. The shop has international shipping, though pieces such as mango-wood vases can easily fit into a carry-on.
Well-heeled young expats and locals frequent Thonglor’s eccentric Iron Fairies (394 Soi 55, Sukhumvit Rd.; 66-2/714-8875; drinks for two $11). Inspired by a blacksmith’s workshop, the lounge serves cocktails on vintage metallic cabinets and tables made of reclaimed wood. A sign outside boldly proclaims best burger in bangkok; see for yourself by ordering the Binzy burger, 26 ounces of Australian beef topped with cheese, tomato, iceberg lettuce, and a house-made tomato relish. A few paces north, the chic, speakeasy-inspired Fat Gut’z (264 Soi 55, Sukhumvit Rd.; 66-2/714-9832; drinks for two $12) serves oysters, fish-and-chips, and creative cocktails such as the Sinfra (cinnamon-infused bourbon with fresh pineapple and apple). Arrive early—the tiny space fills up by eight o’clock. Though it’s run by Thai beer giant Singha, Est.33 (1420/1 Praditmanutham Rd.; 66-2/102-2096; drinks for two $12), located a 30-minute taxi ride northeast of downtown near the Lad Prao district, is the city’s newest brewpub. The smooth Copper beer is made with brown rice and pairs well with the hearty pub grub on offer (bangers and mash; grilled pork chops). Directly across the way is Wine 33 (1420/1 Praditmanutham Rd.; 66-2/102-2233; drinks for two $15), an industrial-chic space with a well-curated wine list and Japanese-inspired snacks such as fried lotus-root chips. On the other side of the Chao Phraya River in the Bangkok Noi district, the loftlike Club Arts: Gallery by the River (258/1 Soi 18, Arun Amarin Rd.; 66-2/866-2143; drinks for two $10) presents international short films, dance performances, and live music every Friday and Saturday. Too much nocturnal reveling? Recover with a lemongrass aromatherapy massage at the quiet, high-ceilinged Thann Sanctuary Spa (Gaysorn Plaza, 999 Ploenchit Rd.; 66-2/656-1424). —Jennifer Chen
Bangkok Street Smarts
With a pair of seminal cookbooks and two restaurants—Michelin-starred Nahm, in London, and its Bangkok outpost (Metropolitan Bangkok, 27 S. Sathorn Rd.; 66-2/625-3388; dinner for two $110)—Thai-food guru David Thompson knows his way around town. Here, his top street-food haunts.
Or Tor Kor Market: “This is one of the great markets of the world,” Thompson says. Look for exotic produce (custard apples; sour snakeskin pears), green curries, fish dumplings, and fermented sausages with sticky rice. Thanon Kamphaengphet.
Yaowarat Road: At night, this Chinatown alley fills with vendors selling Sino-Thai specialties including roast duck, grilled river prawns, and Thompson’s favorite: sweet black-sesame-seed dumplings. “The food here is prepared to order, and everything’s fresh.”
Sukhumvit Soi 38: When he’s in town, Thompson is a regular at this popular, evenings-only spot near the Thonglor sky train station. Classics such as pad thai, chicken satay, peppery pork wontons, and egg noodles are served until 2 a.m. —Howie Kahn