ny resident of Bangkok will know, and any visitor to Bangkok will soon discover, that one of the great gastronomic pleasures to be had in Thailand is sampling the vast array of “street food” available. If you venture down almost any street, at almost any time of the night or day, you’ll no doubt encounter an endless array of open-air vendors serving up an astonishing variety of dishes—from tasty grilled meats to filling noodle soups, fiery curries, and an assortment of exotic regional specialties. This month we celebrate this uniquely Thai tradition with a special photo feature and interview with food blogger Mark Wiens, as well as stories that highlight some of the city’s street food hidden gems. However, ardent foodies also know that Bangkok is a global epicentre for fine dining so we have several restaurant profiles as well, including Gaggan Ananad’s Meatlicious on Ekkamai Soi 6, mouth-watering BBQ at Smokin’ Pug on Soi Surawong, and sensational Spanish delicacies at Islero in Ploenchit. Also this month we cover some of the “highs and lows” of Bangkok’s bar scene. Regular contributor Joe Cummings takes readers on a tour of the city’s best dive bars—the drinking man’s equivalent of street food—while our nightlife feature profiles Red Sky, one of the city’s most stylish rooftop sky bars. Finally, for travellers we take a road trip to Thailand’s Southern provinces, while our Over The Border feature explores the Old World charm of Ipoh, in Malaysia. All this, as well as our 101 archive and extras, can be found online at www.bangkok101.com. A couple of Enjoy. clicks are all it takes to keep in touch with what’s happening in Bangkok and beyond. And if you as a reader feel there’s something we’re not Mason Florence covering—but should be—please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Publisher
What is Bangkok 101 Independent and unbiased, Bangkok 101 caters to savvy travellers who yearn for more than what they find in guidebooks. It brings together an authoritative who’s who of city residents, writers, photographers and cultural commentators. The result is a compact and intelligent hybrid of monthly travel guide and city magazine that takes you on and off the well-worn tourist track. Bangkok 101 employs the highest editorial standards, with no fluff, and no smut. Our editorial content cannot be bought. We rigorously maintain the focus on our readers, and our ongoing mission is to ensure they enjoy this great city as much as we love living in it.
BA NGKOK 101 PA RT N ER S
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Mason Florence editor-in-chief
Dr Jesda M. Tivayanond associate publisher
Parinya Krit-Hat managing editor
Bruce Scott food editor
Bangkok-born but internationally bred, DR TOM VITAYAKUL has a background in communication and branding but now runs his family’s boutique hotel and Thai restaurant. An avid traveller and a bon vivant, he has contributed to magazines including Lips, Lips Luxe and the Bangkok Post’s The Magazine, and has also helped edit several books on Thai subjects.
Award-winning writer JOE CUMMINGS (CPA Media) was born in New Orleans and grew up in France, California and Washington, DC. Joe became one of Lonely Planet’s first guidebook authors, creating the seminal Lonely Planet Thailand guide. Joe has also written illustrated reference books such as Buddhist Stupas in Asia; Sacred Tattoos of Thailand; Muay Thai; World Food Thailand; Buddhist Temples of Thailand; Chiang Mai Style and Lanna Renaissance.
JOHN KRICH has just returned from Kuala Lumpur for his second stint in Bangkok. Previously the chief food columnist and feature writer on travel, arts, and sports for the Asian Wall St. Journal, John is a native New Yorker who has authored nine books. He has also been a frequent contributor to major publications like TIME/Asia, Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times, and San Francisco Examiner.
Pawika Jansamakao editor-at-large
Pongphop Songsiriarcha editorial intern
Julia Offenberger art director
Narong Srisaiya graphic designer
Thanakrit Skulchartchai strategists
Nathinee Chen, Sebastien Berger contributing writers
Matty Dyas, Chris Lombardi, Marco Ferrarese, April Nelson, Wahtihdah Shannon Duffy, Kaila Krayewski, Craig Sauers contributing photographers
Anupong Hotrawaisaya, Wattanapong Hotavaisaya, Willem Deenik Having lived in Thailand for many years, JIM ALGIE has authored such books as the non-fiction collection, Bizarre Thailand: Tales of Crime, Sex and Black Magic (2010) and the short-fiction collection, The Phantom Lover and Other Thrilling Tales of Thailand, as well as co-written the history book Americans in Thailand (2014), and Thailand’s Sustainable Development Sourcebook (2015). His new 2016 book is entitled On the Night Joey Ramone Died: Twin Tales of Rock ‘n’ Punk from Bangkok, New York, Cambodia and Norway. AVAILABLE AT:
Native-Bangkok writer, photographer and incurable travel addict, KORAKOT (NYM) PUNLOPRUKSA believes in experiencing the world through food. She can usually be found canvassing the city for the best eats. Nym has been a host for music and film programmes, a radio DJ, a creative consultant for TV and a documentary scriptwriter. Her work appears in magazines, including Elle, Elle Decoration and GM .
Paris native LUC CITRINOT has lived in Southeast Asia for the past 12 years, first in Kuala Lumpur and more recently in Bangkok. A seasoned traveller, he writes about tourism, culture, and architecture. He was instrumental on a recent EU-endorsed project to establish the European Heritage Map of Bangkok and subsequent app covering all of Thailand. Luc still travels extensively in Southeast Asia, looking particularly for new architectural gems related to colonial and European history.
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Seri Sartsanapiti published by
Talisman Media Group Co., Ltd. 54 Naradhivas Rajanagarinda Soi 4, Sathorn Tai Rd, Yannawa, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120 T 0 2286 7821 | F 0 2286 7829 email@example.com © Copyright Talisman Media Group Co., Ltd 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the express written, prior permission of the publisher. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher, which accepts no responsibility for them. SEP T EM BER 2014 | 5
CITY PULSE 8 metro beat 12 my bangkok: saiyuud “poo” diwong 14 hot plates: meatlicious 16 best of bkk: hidden street food gems 20 out & about: chili paste tour 26 on the block: bukruk art walk
SNAPSHOTS 30 tom’s two satang 32 joe’s bangkok 34 bizarre thailand 36 very thai 38 heritage: asean eats in bkk 40 making merit: mindful farms
FOOD & DRINK 68 food & drink updates 70 meal deals 71 food editor’s letter 72 restaurant reviews: smokin’ pug, m krub, islero bangkok, meat & bones, loop, elements, hamilton’s steak house 82 eat like nym 84 breaking bread with chef Jackie ho 86 made in thailand: theera healthy bake room
NIGHTLIFE 92 nightlife updates 94 review: teens of thailand, let the boy die 96 feature: dive bars 00 imbibe: red sky 1
LIFESTYLE 108 lifestyle updates 110 unique boutique: simpl 12 bangkok’s best barbershops 1 14 review: diora spa 1 115 spa products
SIGNING OFF 116 did you know?...som tam
TRAVEL 42 travel updates 4 4 upcountry now 46 upcountry escape: southern road trip 50 over the border: ipoh 60
ART & CULTURE 54 art updates 56 exhibitions 58 cheat notes: thailand – from the source 60 interview: mark wiens 62 photo feature by mark wiens
On the cover
Ho Mok (fish curry paste in banana leaf) as photographed by Mark Wiens 6 | M AY 2 0 1 6
From Sea To Table A Lobster Odyssey at J’AIME
From May 9 -21, 2016
Discover a Michelin Star menu highlighted by produce from the sea to your table. Amerigo Sesti, Head Chef at J’AIME and his team proudly present a 7-course menu created with Maine lobster including Menu Crustacean cappelleti pasta served with leek fondue, emulsified coral butter and lime Lobster and chestnut bisque with sweet garlic emulsion and savory Lobster and heart of palm salad served with sweet potato rouille and pomelo Lobster aspic dressed on a thin gelée of gazpacho, warm lobster claw and parsley and spinach sauce Quail egg and lobster salpicon in a puff pastry shell Burgundy-style lobster served with red wine-braised beef cheek, glazed carrots and spring onions Or
Moroccan-style roasted Maine lobster with quinoa and spicy vegetables Marinated pineapple carpaccio scented with Selim pepper, Marc de Bourgogne granite and coconut espuma
Priced at 3,199 THB net per person excluding beverages For reservations, please call 02 119 4899 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
J’AIME by Jean-Michel Lorain at U Sathorn Bangkok 105, 105/1 Soi Ngam Duphli, Sathorn District, Bangkok www.jaime-bangkok.com
| metro beat
running & fitness Celebrate International Pilates Day on May 7 with a range of activities organized by Pilates by Apittiya. Held at Benjakitti Park at 5.30pm, the event is free to join. Just bring a mat and resistance band to get in on the fun. Visit facebook.com/gentripilates for more details.
The Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra The Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra brings its 2016 season to a crescendo with a series of performances held over three consecutive Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons this Month at the Prince Mahidol Hall at Mahidol University (Salaya, Nakhon Pathom). First up is “Mozart & Mahler” on May 6 and 7, following by “Thailand Meets America” on May 13 and 14, and finally “Belgium, Berlin, and Bangkok” on May 20 and 21. Soloists range from clarinet to classical guitar to piano, respectively. Friday performances start at 7pm with a discussion taking place at 6.15pm, and Saturday shows start at 4pm with talks at 3.15pm. Tickets are B500/B300 and B100 for students (up to bachelor’s degree). To make a purchase or read more about the programmes, visit thaiticketmajor.com.
Singha Bangkok 21k Organized by Jog & Joy, the Singha Bangkok 21k brings runners back to the lush grounds of Suan Luang (often called Rama IX Park) on May 22. Choose from 5k, 10k, and 21k courses that weave through one of the city’s biggest and most beautiful parks. To register or read more about the race, visit jogandjoy.com. For Bangkok’s young and young at heart, the Ultraman Run ought to ignite fantasies of superhero feats and daring. Held at Lumpini Park on May 29 at 6am, the race keeps things short—a 2.5k run for adults (B1000) or families (B2400; 2 adults plus 1 child aged 10 or younger), and a 5k run for grown-ups (B1000)—but full of adventure as it celebrates 50 years of the Ultraman series. Every registered runner receives a unique medal, a shirt, a personalized bib, and a waterproof pack. To register, go to shop.dexclub.com. 8 | M AY 2 0 1 6
Vladimir and Vovka Ashkenazy The Bangkok Charity Orchestra (BCO) bring father and son duo Vladimir and Vovka Ashkenazy to Bangkok for one special night on May 14. Vladimir, in particular, is widely considered to be one of the world’s greatest living pianists, having won the Tchaikovsky and Queen Elizabeth competitions before turning his focus to conducting. Starting at 7pm inside the Main Hall of the Thailand Cultural Centre, the artist will move from the pit to the piano, joining his accomplished son as they play Glinka, Smetana, Ravel, and Rachmaninov. Tickets range from B800 to B3200 and are available at all Thai Ticket Major outlets. bangkok101.com
metro beat | CITY PULSE
pop & rock
Olivia Newton-John Olivia Newton-John, one of the most iconic musicians of the 1970s, makes her way to Bangkok on May 10 courtesy of the Singha Corporation. The Grammy award-winning artist is probably best known for her role in “Grease,” a movie that paired her with superstar John Travolta and earned them both eternal fame among teenyboppers and musical fans. The show takes place at Royal Paragon Hall (Siam Paragon) and starts at 8pm. Tickets range from B2500 to B5500. Visit thaiticketmajor.com for more information and to make purchases. Using crowdfunding platform Asiola, dream rockers Yellow Fang are saying thanks to their fans on May 14. Those who back them on the platform will get exclusive access to a one-of-a-kind party curated by the trio, which includes glitter tattoos and art, a surprise line-up of DJs and bands, Yellow Fang’s own performance, and the premiere of “YF Japan Tour Documentary,” the movie that followed the band as they toured the Land of the Rising Sun. The location of the party remains a secret and will only be shared with backers—sorry, folks: invite only. There are a few levels of tickets available, each different price earning unique rewards provided by Yellow Fang. Get your tickets at asiola.co.th. On May 15, the Rock Pub (near Ratchathewi BTS) plays host to non-stop live music from 4pm onwards Yellow Fang with a show titled Secret Gig. Though not really a secret in the “hush-hush” sense of the word, the lineup does unite some lesser known bands, so therein lies the mystery. Holy Vex, Glassmouth, Aquila Vasica, Jimmy Revolt, Sound of Desolate, and AUGUSTVTH represent the hard rock, indie, hardcore, and garage punk scenes from the US, Singapore, and Thailand—and more artists are expected to join soon. Tickets are B200, which includes one free beer. Visit facebook.com/therockpub for more details.
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| metro beat
Disclosure The Together Festival returns for the fifth year in a row on May 6 with another big, bold line-up. Led by trance music star Andrew Rayel and Grammy-nominated English duo Disclosure, who will be making their Bangkok debut, the festival promises a night of high-energy music and visuals at BITEC Bangna. Last year, over 10 local and foreign DJs kept the party going until the wee hours of the morning. Although the full line-up has not been revealed at the time of this writing, expect a similar outcome from whoever plays. The festival kicks off at 5pm and lasts until late. Visit togetherfestival.com for the latest news and ticket information.
fairs & workshops
Thai Craft Fair The Thai Craft Fair will be held twice this May. The first event takes place on May 7 from 10am-3pm on the L floor of the Jasmine City Tower on the corner of Sukhumvit 23; the second moves to International School Bangkok in Nichada Thani on May 14, running from 9am-1pm. Pick up clothing, pottery, food, a variety of home décor items, and more handmade by minority groups nationwide—people from hilltribes, slum communities, and rural villages. There will also be activities for kids and DIY workshops, as well as fair-trade coffee, tea, and food to enjoy while perusing the stalls. Visit thaicraft.org for more information.
Fix Party is back on May 7 with wet and wild fun at the Summer Splash Pool Party, held at 772 Craft Experience (Ekamai 12; inside Paradise Sukhumvit Hotel). Starting at 3pm, local DJs Tyra J, Bixzexy, Anan, Underdog, and more take the decks while Bangkok’s pretty young party people splash it up in the rooftop bar’s pool. Tickets are B500 at the door, which includes one drink. Visit facebook.com/fixpartyz for the latest information.
markets From May 9-11, the United Center in Silom transforms into a chic street-style shopping paradise filled with shoes, bags, accessories, blouses, bottoms, food, and more made by Thai designers. Chic Market “Around Silom” #2 brings the popular pop-up market organizers to the CBD for the second time, continuing a run of successful quaint markets set up citywide. For more information about this market and others, visit facebook.com/allabouteventbkk. 1 0 | M AY 2 0 1 6
Creative Wax Working Workshop Stoke your creative fire with Atelier Rudee’s Creative Wax Working Workshop. Held over two days—first on May 28 from 1pm-6pm and again on June 4 from 9am-noon—the workshop will feature exercises that guide participants toward finding unique ways to work with wax in creating jewellery and small precious objects. At the end of the course, each person will walk away with at least one unique piece of jewellery or small object cast in a metal of his/ her choosing—sterling silver, gold, or brass—as well as unique know-how to help sharpen ideas for future work. The workshop costs B2900 (including use of tools and materials in the studio; not including fees for casting and metals). Atelier Rudee is located in Napalai Alley off Sukhumvit 70/3. email email@example.com for more details. bangkok101.com
| my bangkok
Saiyuud “Poo” Diwong Saiyuud “Poo” Diwong, author of the waggishly titled “Cooking with Poo” and owner of Cooking with Poo and Friends, a cooking school in Khlong Toey, is more than an affable entrepreneur and Thai culinary maven—she’s a role model for the people living in Bangkok’s slums. This month, Poo talked with Bangkok 101 about her life and work: past, present, and future. How old were you when you started cooking?
in our community and we give money to support the students. We take people from our community to explore the world, not just in Thailand, but also abroad. We encourage them to speak English with my customers. We help them run small businesses so that they can make a living by themselves. I strongly believe that we only have this new cooking school because of the kindness of others, so I feel compelled to do something in return to help those in need.
I started cooking when I was 13 or 14. My mother was my first teacher.
Why did you call your book “Cooking with Poo”?
My name is Chompoo, but Thai people like to shorten names. For example, if your name is Apple, your friends will call you “Ple.” So people call me Poo. At first, I didn’t know what “Poo” meant in the Western world. Every time I would introduce myself to foreigners, they would giggle. But my friends and I turned the silly little problem into an opportunity by using my name on the book, which is really eyecatching and funny at the same time.
What inspired you to open your own cooking school?
I sold made-to-order food [aharn tam sang] for more than 10 years. But during the economic crisis in 2007, ingredients suddenly became more expensive, and I could no longer make a living selling food and had to close my own business. Luckily, an Australian who had been living and working in the Khlong Toey slum for years, Anji Barker, who was also my customer and neighbour, told me that I shouldn’t stop cooking. She and her friends from Urban Neighbours of Hope gave me the support I needed to start my cooking school.
Do you have any plans to expand?
My answer will always be no. Some people have called me a fool for not expanding the size of my classes or adding more branches, but I believe cooking is more about caring and understanding [than just making money]. Having fewer students in each class means we can focus on every person. I 1 2 | M AY 2 0 1 6
What else are you working on right now?
used to go to cooking classes where the owner never even talked to the students. People expect to see me, and they will always be able to see me.
How did it feel to work with Jamie Oliver?
To be honest, I didn’t know who he was at first—not until a friend told me he’s really famous. But working with him was such a nice experience. We had so much fun, but that day was seriously tiring. We filmed for close to nine hours for a 5-minute-long video! Jamie encouraged me to keep smiling for the video, though. When he posted about us on his Instagram account, we started getting even more customers coming to our cooking school.
In what ways has Cooking with Poo and Friends improved the lives of people living in Khlong Toey? We’re always coming up with new projects and ways to get involved. We provide food and drinks for the school
Right now, I’m doing research for a new book. There are so many dishes that I want to write about, and many more that people have suggested. Khao soy has been requested by nearly everyone. I also want to include food that isn’t quite as popular now, like moo ka ta.
What are the most popular dishes you teach how to make?
Definitely pad thai and green curry. Normally we change the menu every couple of years, but those two are always there. My team and I teach them all the time, in classes in Thailand and abroad. We cook pad thai and green curry so often that we never eat them anymore!
What are your favourite street-eats? I love khao niew moo ping. I normally get it from 70 Rai Market. And also yam [the tangy salads found on streets nationwide]. All kinds of yam.
What can home cooks in Bangkok do to improve health and well-being?
I think we should stop using MSG in food. It is just not good for you. And we can do without it. All the ingredients we have here can make food taste wonderful. bangkok101.com
| hot plates
Meatlicious Celebrity chef goes back to basics By John Krich
hink of it like this. For years, you’ve been a poet, acclaimed for creating obscure, elitist statements that dazzle the few inthe-know. Now you want to show the world you can excel in prose also—accessible, clear, muscular prose, the sort anyone can savor and understand. That’s the impetus for Meatlicious, the surprising new creation of Gaggan Anand, the man who was voted Number One restaurateur in Asia for single-handedly charting the territory of a cuisine that could only be
called “Hindu molecular fine dining”. Understated and unpretentious in every way, including the casual décor of a refurbished house down an Ekkamai side-street, this newest entry in Bangkok’s ever-expanding set of choices hits the mark with every dish. The only wrong note is it’s supercilious name, as the endeavor, while focused entirely on wood-fired roasting and grilling, as about a lot more than mere animal orphan. But perhaps the chef wanted to emphasize that he was going for bold flavors over experimentation, and
that he would be flaunting a Westernstyle adoration of beef that would be entirely banned in his “holy cow” homeland. From an open kitchen, where counter-style stools offer the best view of the show, a team of eager young apprentices—mostly from South America and steeped in the region’s outdoor charcoaling traditions—put forth a limited yet infinitely succulent selection of specialties. It’s even more exciting on Tuesday nights when the goateed maestro himself is on hand, shouting out the food orders in a theatrical manner. Giving away the dishes on offer is almost like giving away the ending to a great movie, but here are some hints: a “foie gras” breakfast made of a unique crème brulee (B390), fire-charred corn (B90) or chilies with goat cheese (B230), a brilliant selection of ceviches built around Hamachi or tuna (a steal at B390), a perfect rendition of Argentine steak—actually Australian—with chimmichuri dipping sauce (B990), a tomahawk steak (B3000) to put more hair on one’s chest, a unique slowroasted French lamb chop (B790), or scallops with truffle cream (B490) for those who prefer less cholesterol. The delicious results are all purposely un-fancy and decidedly south-of-any-border. Maybe the chef is trying to prove he can be Latin even more than he can be French. Yes, Gaggan has opened a new chapter in his rewriting of world culinary rules. However, it’s not from James Joyce or any Remembrance of Things Past, neither Borges nor A Day at El Bulli. This time, the pages are all taken from “Joy of Cooking”.
Meatlicious 8 Ekkamai Soi 6 091 698 6688 meatliciousbkk.com daily 6pm-midnight 1 4 | M AY 2 0 1 6
hot plates | CITY PULSE
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| best of bkk
Hidden Street Food Gems Where to start on your culinary journey through Bangkok’s back streets
angkok is known as a city that never sleeps, but it’s also a city that never stops eating. In fact, you can grab a bite here at any hour of the night or day, as long as you know where to look. And during most waking hours the city’s hungry hordes don’t have to look much further than the average street corner, since
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Bangkok numerous roads, alleys, and busy thoroughfares are teeming with open-air food sellers—hawking everything from simple chicken and rice and salted sea bass, to exotic oddities such as fried frogs and roasted duck tongues. When it comes to finding great tasting street food there’s not really
one particular place that surpasses all others. Virtually every area has it’s pocket of purveyors, but for those new to Bangkok—or those who’ve lived here a while but are always on the lookout for something new—we’ve complied a beginner’s guide to the city’s outdoor restaurant cornucopia. Think of it as ‘Street Food 101’. bangkok101.com
best of bkk | CITY PULSE Yaowarat (Chinatown) Chinatown, especially its most famous street Yaowarat, is one of the best places to eat in Bangkok when it comes to street food. The street itself packed with hundreds of stalls, as are the endless sois that feed off the main thoroughfare, and diners can find all kind of of delicious food options to choose from. And as exciting as this might be, often the decision of where to eat becomes simply overwhelming. Normally we’d recommend you just “dive in” see what happens, but at the same time we don’t want to withhold some of our area favourites. If you make your way to the backstreets of Chinatown you’ll come upon the Charoenchai community—also known as Trok Mai Phai or “bamboo”. The name derives from the shape of the long, narrow road that cuts straight through. These backstreets are well known for selling Chinese origami paper, used in ThaiChinese ceremonies to pay respect to the ancestors and Gods, but food is serious business here as well. Look out for the “Soi Charoenkrung 23” sign, and you’ll find an array of dishes loved by locals including kra proa
Thanon Convent Both Silom and Sathon roads are often referred to as the “central business districts” of Bangkok. But that doesn’t mean that among the skyscrapers and international corporate offices the only food to be found is in high-end hotels and
pla (fish stomach in gravy with young bamboo shoots), or peang tod (fried pancake dessert with beans or taro). Afterwards, visit Easae Yaowarat, one of Chinatown’s best teahouses. Look for the blue shophouse—located at 42 Yaowarat-Padsai Rd—and enjoy some o-liang (traditional iced coffee), o-yua (traditional hot coffee) or cha yen (ice tea) with the locals. Here you
can also find heng-yin, an almond extracted blended with fresh milk, and their signature cold marmalade jam drink. The shop is open daily from 5.30am till 9pm.
spiffy restaurants. In fact, it’s rather the opposite. Come lunchtime you’ll find people in gym clothes (Lumpini Park is only a few hundred metres away), businessmen in suits, and tourists in flip flops, all gathering on the numerous streets and laneways to grab a midday meal. While food stalls pop up on almost every street in
this historic district, a great assembly can be found on Convent Road. The pavement is lined up with one food stall after another, offering everything from meat skewers and noodle soup, to fruit and yummy kanoms (sweets). These readily available items make great grab-and-go snacks, but if you rather sit down then make your way to Hai Som Tam Convent Restaurant. As the name implies, the Som Tam (spicy papaya salad) is a signature dish, but the restaurant also offers favourite Isaan (Northern Thai) dishes including Tom Saap Seekong Moo (sour Isaan soup with pork ribs) and Laab Moo, as well as terrific grilled chicken. After lunch history buffs might be interested to explore the historic buildings nearby, including Christ Church Bangkok (built in 1905) and the Carmelite Monastery, which gives Soi Convent its name.
Hua Lamphong MRT Station is located just a short distance from Chinatown, or take the Chao Phraya riverboat to Ratchawong Pier
Convent Rd is easily accessible from Sala Daeng BTS Station (Exit 2) or Silom MRT Station bangkok101.com
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| best of bkk
Or Tor Kor Market Bangkok has plenty of great food and produce markets, and while Or Tor Kor Market might not be the biggest among them, it is definitely the best organized. Pronounced Aw Taw Kaw in Thai, the complex is a collective of over 200 tidy and well-organized food stalls. It’s also administered by the Marketing Organization for Farmers, making it a true farmer’s market. Located on Kamphaeng Phet Street, just opposite Chatuchak Weekend Market, it is easy to reach using the MRT (subway). Once
inside you might find the prices a bit higher than at other fresh markets, but the high quality of food and hygiene of the market is incomparable. This is definitely one of the reasons why Bangkok’s top restaurateurs and chefs, as well as Thai celebrities, are among its regular clients. CNN Go even named it as the fourth best fresh market around the world in 2013, in the same league as La Boqueria Market in Barcelona, Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, and Union Square Farmer’s Market in New York City. Vendors here specialise in organic vegetables and fruit, as well as hard-to-
find products such as som saa (bitter orange). Besides that, everything from fresh meat, fish and seafood, to flowers, fresh-pounded curry paste, and regional foods such as naam phrik num are on offer. And if all that shopping makes you hungry, pick up some barbecued meat, fresh sausages, or Thai sweets to munch on, or head to the food court in the centre of the hall for a choice of noodle soups, curries and more. Open daily: 6am-8pm Kamphaeng Phet MRT Station, Exit 3
Further Afield If you make your way up to the new Rot Fai Market Ratchada (which has actually been open over a year now) you’ll find both a bustling antique and vintage market, as well as an abundance of food stalls offering a huge array of meal options—both humble and high-end. It’s also a great place to people watch, hear some live music, and soak in the lively neighbourhood buzz. Open Tuesday to Sunday: 6pm till late Thailand Cultural Centre MRT Station (behind the Esplanade Shopping Complex)
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| out & about
Khao Lam, the sweet and aromatic sticky rice steamed in bamboo 2 0 | M AY 2 0 1 6
out & about | CITY PULSE
Chicken Feet Soup for the Soul CRAIG SAUERS goes on a culinary journey with Chili Paste Tours and comes back lighter of mind but heavier of body
t’s not even 9am and the temperature is already 33 kneebuckling degrees, but Chinnapatt “Chin” Chongtong looks cool and composed as she climbs the stairs at Krung Thonburi BTS station, our meeting point for a street food tour through the Old Town. The young and diminutive entrepreneur is wearing sunglasses and light linen clothing, looking altogether prepared for the weather, as well as the next seven hours on our feet. When she crests the last stair, however, she lets out a little yelp and fans herself. “I led two walking tours yesterday, and the last one through Chinatown went until after 11pm,” she explains. Today it’s just the two of us, though, and I reassure her I’m easy—I’ll eat anything, anywhere. But, as I will soon discover, Chin’s Chili Paste Tours involve a whole lot more than eating. Within minutes, we’re in a taxi, crossing Memorial Bridge and passing the so-called Flower Market, and she’s talking about the neighbourhood’s gentrification. “The vendors can’t set up on the sidewalks until 8.30 at night anymore,” she says. “Yesterday, the tessakij [city inspectors] were out here, watching the vendors to make sure they weren’t selling early. At 8.30, someone rang a bell and they all started racing around to set up [their stalls].” Chin is a dynamo, a one-woman street-combing machine with as much know-how of this country’s cuisines and cultural mechanisms as any chef bangkok101.com
this side of David Thompson—and more spirit than a Muay Thai prize fighter. Chili Paste Tours is the outlet for her creative energy. Or, rather, her hunger. Up to seven days a week she guides avid, curious, or even first-time eaters of Thai food around Thonburi or Rattanakosin. She also leads canalside cooking classes in Samut Songkhram. And a few times a year, she takes small groups to her home village outside Ubon Ratchathani for three-day food and farming retreats. “In the beginning, I just liked to eat, and eat, and eat,” she tells me. But she and her tours have evolved. Nowadays, even when she
isn’t working, she visits markets to sample produce, as much to gather information for tours as to source ingredients for cooking classes. “I love to cook, so I’m very picky,” says Chin and, only vendors selling the freshest goods make the cut. Yet even when she’s fashioned a routine she’s happy with, she’s always on the prowl for new curry paste purveyors, satay sellers, and hor mok hawkers to include in her tours. In fact, the destinations change throughout the week—where she takes customers differs from Monday to Friday. Our tour begins not with a headfirst dive into a wet market, but rather
Chinnapatt “Chin” Chongtong M AY 2 0 1 6 | 2 1
| out & about
Deep-fried bananas, or “ klouy kak” Akha Ama coffee beans and her homemade cho muang at World Café & Books, an organic-focused café and seller of fair-trade Thai goods located near Wat Ratchabophit. Here, Chin presents me with the beautiful, lavender snack she made from scratch, explaining the process stepby-step: dye the dough (a blend of tapioca, rice, sticky rice, and cassava root flours) with butterfly pea flower, stuff it with a pork-based filling, shape it to resemble a petal, and finally steam it. No easy process, but Chin doesn’t seem like the type to enjoy taking shortcuts in life. Chili Paste Tours began in 2012, shortly after floodwaters swallowed up Chin’s former office in Pathum Thani. Suddenly she had time to explore local markets, sharing her favourite foods with friends. At the suggestion of one such friend—not to mention the realization that renovating her previous space would cost the same as starting her own company—she mustered up the courage to turn pastime into full-time. Since then, Chili Paste Tours has survived protests, a coup, market closures, and more. Despite the upheaval, Chin’s tours have remained a bright spot in Old 2 2 | M AY 2 0 1 6
Tiny fried frog
Chili Paste Tours has survived protests, a coup, market closures, and more. Despite the upheaval, Chin’s tours have remained a bright spot in Old Town communities. Town communities, uniting some of Bangkok’s unsung heroes with travellers in meaningful ways. “It’s not just about money,” says Chin. “The local people share their culture with my customers. They [the locals] are happy to walk with them, cook with them, eat with them. And I teach customers what to order and how. I want everyone to learn [from one another].” After the warm-up of cho muang and cappuccino, Chin leads me around the corner of Feung Nakorn Road to Trok Mor Market on narrow Soi Thesa. Unlike the cavernous Flower Market and Khlong Toey, this market saw very little foreign foot traffic before Chin began to form relationships with its vendors. Now, nearly each day someone new is sampling khao lam, the sweet and aromatic sticky rice steamed in bamboo, or taking their first bite of a tiny fried frog. This little alleyway is full of surprises for me, too—among
other rare finds are “moon flowers,” a wild vegetable that can be stir-fried or eaten raw with nam prik, as well as one of the better versions of khao soy I’ve had in this city, lightly sweetened and ideally spiced. Eating our way down the alley, Chin takes me into a small shophouse to get some shade and sample Isaan food the way she likes it. She orders som tam pu pla ra, not normally the foreign man’s preferred varietal of papaya salad, but in this case only a little funky, with stalks of green papaya that are “crunchy, how they’re supposed to be,” according to Chin. Paired with smoky nam tok moo, the meal serves as a reminder that much of the city’s workforce has come by way of domestic diaspora, moving to the capital to fashion more fruitful lives for their families and bringing with them the flavours of their fatherlands. But this tour isn’t just a bacchanalian joyride into Bangkok’s culinary frontier. Chin takes me down bangkok101.com
out & about | CITY PULSE
Nang Loeng Market an even narrower alley—an alley within an alley—where Buddha images are spray-painted gold and bought as gifts to give to temples. She explains how this alley and others beside it evolved when the main road, Bamrung Mueang, was cleared out centuries ago to allow for more convenient transportation between the Grand Palace and Wat Suthat, our next destination. Between noon and 1pm each day, the abbot of Wat Suthat chants blessings beneath its 800-year-old Buddha image. So, naturally, the temple has become a tourist rite of passage. Tuk tuk drivers line the road outside, waiting for willing customers. Inside, on the other hand, an almost palpable sense of calm pervades. As inspiring as the temple may be, with its intricately painted murals and lines of Buddha statues, the number of locals who visit during lunch to channel their energies into spiritual practices is perhaps most remarkable. As we clamber into our own tuk tuk outside, the monks’ sonorous chants still humming in our ears, Chin mentions that the road we’re about to putter down, Mahachai, leads to Pratu Phee, literally “ghost gate.” In bangkok101.com
the 19th century, during an outbreak of cholera, dysentery, and malaria, the dead were sent outside the walls of the capital, through Pratu Phee, either to a mass grave site or to Wat Saket, where a small patch of land had been reserved for sky burials. While vultures no longer exist in Thailand—and mass grave sites have gone the way of the vulture, too—the street retains its eerie legacy in name alone through such legendary shophouse restaurants as Pad Thai Pratu Phee, sometimes called Pad Thai Thipsamai. Since we’re on the hunt for more serious street food than typically bland pad thai, we give it a pass. Nang Loeng Market, our next stop, yields more unique flavours— and even more unique personalities. The market has been around since 1900, and it’s hard to imagine it in any other state than ramshackle. Before we can traverse its narrow passageways, Chin seats me in a small restaurant beside its entrance and skips away, leaving me alone with a mango shake for a few minutes. When she returns, she does so toting three dishes: kua khling, a spicy southern specialty of sliced pork stir-fried in curry paste; pak mo yuan,
a fresh spring roll filled with peppery Vietnamese-style pork called moo yor; and a fantastic yam makhuea yao, a salad of fresh shrimp and roasted eggplant dressed in herbs and lime juice. Three satisfying mini-meals, yet only another prelude. Inside the market, Chin introduces me to a variety show of vendors who urge— more like command—me to try their unusual treats, including tom saeb with stewed chicken’s feet, numerous kinds of sausages, a dense ho mok pla (red curry paste with fish steamed in banana leaf), a sweet fish jerky that accompanies khao chae, miniature saku sai mu from the fabulous Mae Sa-Ing, and a kind of egg custard topped with fried shallots called mor geng, which Chin says is the best version of the dessert she’s had in Bangkok. I have no reason to doubt her, nor can I deny any of the ladies and gentlemen who have plied me with sweets and savouries and seriously warm smiles. Over the past five years Chin has become close not only with vendors and owners of fair-trade shops, but rather with people. Nowhere is this more apparent than when we M AY 2 0 1 6 | 2 3
| out & about
Pak Mo Yuan
Outdoor chef hard at work depart Nang Loeng Market—after a token look of wonderment at the wooden cinema—and stroll down the sidewalks. First she takes me to a shop, where women dressed in long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and cotton trousers that make me sweat just looking at them fry bananas in massive vats of oil all day. She buys a bag of what she says are the best around. While I eat, she chit-chats. “I’ve been coming here for five years. So how many of your bananas have I eaten by now?” she jokes with the owner, who’s seated on a red plastic stool. When we leave, she asks the migrant workers, whose job it is to sell bags of bananas to people in cars waiting for stoplights to turn green, how many they’ve sold today. Up the road, she stops to say hello to an old man who sells jewellery, the owner of a toy store, and three women in a pharmacy. The communities, she tells me, have been around for over a century—a hundred years of parents passing down businesses to their children, who pass them down to their children. Within this framework, Chin has managed to become a fixture despite being an outsider. And when we arrive at Phraeng Putthon, a 2 4 | M AY 2 0 1 6
Cho muang, a traditional dessert true cultural enclave bestowed upon select families by Rama V, it’s easy to see how her charm and veracity has curried her favour. Chin mostly works alone, unless the volume of requests requires the help of a friend. So rain or shine—even very aggressive shine, as is the case on this Friday in March— she laces up her walking shoes and hits the streets, stoking relationships every step of the way. In Phraeng Putthon, she leads me to one of her favourite restaurants, a tiny home kitchen called Krua Som Hom, where we enjoy two standout dishes: pla goong, or fresh prawns topped with a sweet and spicy sauce leavened with sliced lemongrass, and truly toothsome bites of fried chicken with stir-fried lemongrass tacked to their coating. I can see why she lists this little house among her preferred haunts. At least she doesn’t keep it a secret. “At the end of the day, I want people to bring some happiness back
home with them, to tell their friends how good it is in Thailand,” says my gregarious tour guide. Curiosity and a service-oriented mind might have led Chin to start a company, but her exuberance for Thai food and culture continues to shape her evolution. So when she says, “Let’s go to the Flower Market now,” even though the thought of eating another bite makes me nauseous, if not self-conscious of the fact that I need to unbuckle my belt to walk comfortably (I’ve had 12 meals by 4pm), I realize that, for Chin, the tour is never truly over. The experience is constantly evolving, too. Vendors move around and retire, markets are razed or rebuilt or shellacked to within an inch of existence, and in the years to come hundreds of other people with innumerable tastes will scour the Old Town for tasty street eats with Chili Paste Tours. Luckily for us all, Chin’s appetite for exploration is insatiable.
Chili Paste Tours is accredited by the TAT. All tours can be adapted according to personal tastes and allergies, and children are more than welcome to join in the fun. For more details, visit foodtoursbangkok.com. Chin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 09 4552 2361 or 08 5143 6779. bangkok101.com
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Bangkokian Museum ru
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on the block | CITY PULSE
Bang Rak Meets
The second edition of the street art invasion offers opportunities for self-guided walks By Matty Dyas
or those that have ventured further into Bangkok than Sukhumvit Rd., you should be reasonably au fait with what the likes of Sathorn and Silom have to offer. However, away from the impressive skyscrapers of global bank headquarters, embassies, and ambassadors’ digs, and even further removed from Silom’s infamous nightlife, there is a side to this part of Bangkok that might just surprise you. Bang Rak is a fascinating and extremely diverse part of the city. Translated to mean “Village of Love,” it manages to epitomize almost every element of Thailand within one district. The neighbourhood is defined by some of the most expensive property prices in the whole country, Patpong’s raucous nightlife, colonial-style architecture, historical mosques, Chinese shrines, and Indian temples, not to mention Charoen Krung—Bangkok’s oldest street—and, of course, the mighty Chao Phraya river. Bang Rak is now home to some of the city’s most spectacular urban art, too. This past January the 2nd edition of the BUKRUK festival saw artists from all over the world descend upon Bangkok. Along with some top local names, they transformed walls and buildings across the district into gigantic masterpieces. The artworks will remain on display indefinitely, so each day now offers a wonderful opportunity to wander down some of Bangkok’s oldest and most intriguing sois, discovering cutting-edge art converging with history. From Saphan Taksin, take the exit for the Chao Praya Express Boat. As you come down the stairs to ground level you’ll see another set of stairs. Climb to the top and you’ll be on the bangkok101.com
pedestrian walkway over the river itself. Lap up the breeze as well as the fantastic view of the luxury hotels, the haunting ghost tower, and boats dodging each other as they ferry their loads to and fro. If you look to your left, just past Wat Yannawa, you should see your first BUKRUK art work. This duckthemed giant was created by Nychos (Austria) and can only be viewed from this part of the bridge, or by boat, as the boat yard where it’s painted is closed off to the public. Make your way back down the stairwell you came from and cross the small pedestrian bridge. Hidden behind the ever-present row of red songtaew is BUKRUK wall number two—a surreal offering from Dutch artist Daan Botlek. Wading through the throng of pedestrians and dodging the glut of fruit stalls on Charoen Krung Road next is worth the hassle, as a few hundred metres down the street opposite Robinsons you’ll be rewarded with a visit to Prachak.
This Bang Rak stalwart was founded back in 1909 and is famous for its roast duck. Although it might look dilapidated from the outside, there’s no better place on the street to fuel up for the rest of the walk. Don’t be put off if it’s too busy, you can walk through to the back and up the stairs, where you’ll find a less crowded room. Try the signature duck on rice (khao na ped) or opt for an egg noodle soup topped with roast duck and pork, crabmeat, and wontons. Continue your way down Charoen Krung until you reach Soi 40. A few hundred meters down the street on your left you’ll find Assumption Cathedral. First constructed in 1821 and then rebuilt in 1909 to cope with the rapidly expanding Catholic community, it’s open daily and visitors are welcomed inside. But take note of the sign at the entrance of the church—“Please be respectful when taking a photo. Don’t pose.” Come back on to Soi 40 and follow signs for OP Place, a shopping
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| on the block
Old Customs House
Jack’s Bar plaza-cum-gallery. What at first seems like a five-minute interlude to enjoy a blast of air conditioning is in fact a hidden gem. Opened in 1878, this is Thailand’s oldest department store. It’s easy to imagine that this was once the Harrod’s of Bangkok—and it still is a place for the wealthy to buy antiques, art, and tailor-made suits. It was known as “Hang Sing Toh” or “lion store” by the locals due to the stone lions that adorn the windows on the south side of the building. It’s worth coming here, if for no other reason than viewing the old photographs, dating back from the 1800s, found all over the plaza. One in particular of the electrified tram system built in 1893 gives you a real feel of what the Big Mango must have been like a century ago. Exit OP Place on to Soi 36 and you’ll spot Haroon Mosque. Turn left and you’ll be standing in the shadow of the imposing French Embassy. Carry on a little farther and you’ll find the fantastic Old Customs House. You may have seen it from the river, but up-close this building is even more impressive. With the peeling yellow paint and decaying wooden shutters, in a strange way the building is perhaps more beautiful now than it was when it was constructed in the 1890s. Walk the full-length of the building along the riverfront and at the far end 2 8 | M AY 2 0 1 6
Portuguese Embassy of the car park you’ll see a petrol tank. Behind this is Wat Muang Kae Pier. You can walk through the grounds of the temple to get back on to Charoen Krung. Turn left, pass the giant postal building, and then head up Soi 43 for a flying visit to the Bangkokian Museum. This free-to-enter attraction is made up of three buildings and offers a fascinating glimpse of what life was like in the middle of the 20th century. The main house was built in 1937, costing just B2400, an amount you’d struggle to buy a couple of cocktails with at some of Bang Rak’s more exclusive bars. Head back down Soi 43 and opposite you’ll see Soi 32, home to the next BUKRUK wall. On weekdays this soi is a frantic market, and the murals may be hidden by vendors. But on a weekend you’ll find the soi deserted. You can enjoy hundreds of meters of diverse and interesting artwork created by eight different street artists—J.M. Yes, Alex Face, Sabek, Kult, Lolay, Bonus TMC, Phai, and Thibaud Tchertchian. Tear yourself away from these aesthetic pleasures and make your way down Soi 30. Gallery Café is an ideal place to take a breather and grab a well-earned coffee before visiting your next BUKRUK mural, a huge black-and-white piece by Italian stencil artists Sten & Lex.
Carry on down Soi 30 until the road becomes Trok Captain Bush, named after an English sea captain who served under King Mongkut back in the 1850s. Pass the Portuguese Embassy and the impressive bronze sculptors, as River City appears on your right. Walk on through Soi Wanit 2. Nestled amongst the motorbike shops, junkyards, and scrap metal shops of Talad Noi is the beautiful Holy Rosary Church, as well as another BUKRUK mural by Escif of Spain. Go straight and you’ll emerge on Song Wat Road. Take a left to see the final three pieces of wall art by Aitch (Romania), Roa (Belgium), and the gigantic bicycle themed wall by Aryz (Spain). Now you’ve got a few options: you could head on in to Chinatown or nearby Hua Lamphong MRT station to get home. However, your best bet would be to jump in a tuk tuk to Jack’s Bar on Charoen Krung 42/1. Offering a laidback riverside vibe, it’s the best place to enjoy a Chao Phraya sunset. Black pepper chicken skewers and crispy wontons are the ideal accompaniment to the cheap beer on offer making it a perfect end to your Bang Rak–BUKRUK experience. For more information about the annual BUKRUK festival, and to see an interactive map of other wall murals in Bangkok, visit bukruk.com. bangkok101.com
Mango Sticky Rice Price: Baht 150.00 net per serving Available Time: 9:00am – 9:00pm Available at Paparazzi Restaurant 2nd Fl. and Café Gourmand at hotel Lobby
Memorable dining is about getting together with great friends, enjoying quality wines, international & thai cuisine and personalized service at Chateau de Bangkok. We wish you “bon appetite” at Chateau de Bangkok!
29 Soi Ruamrudee 1, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 tel: +66 (0) 2 6514400 email: email@example.com
ChateauBKK M AY 2 0 1 6 | 2 9
Painting by Panya Vijinthanasarn 3 0 | M AY 2 0 1 6
insight | SNAPSHOTS
On Class and Where to Find It
o are all men created equal? Do we have certain unalienable rights to our life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? In a seemingly egalitarian utopia, the world still silently pigeonholes its populace, and Thailand still has a complex social class structure. In India’s old caste system, people were born into certain types of professions and social stature. The Brahmins were priestly people while the Kshatriyas, or Rajanyas, were rulers, administrators, and warriors. Further down the line the Vaishyas were artisans, merchants, tradesmen, and farmers, the Shudras were labouring classes, and the tribal and the rest were deemed “untouchables”. Thais, on the other hand, were more flexible in their social mobility, although there were not several categories of professions—it was agriculture, artisan, trading, or military. In the Ayutthaya Period, a system of corvée and slavery was established and regulated. The Siamese commoners, or Phrai, as well as slaves, all had to register with a government bureau or under
Tom’s Two Satang Join Bangkok-born but internationally bred aesthete Dr. Tom Vitayakul as he gives his own unique take on Thailand and its capital. Each month he tackles a different aspect of the local culture – from art and festivals to 21st-century trends – in a lighthearted yet learned manner. bangkok101.com
a leading member of the royalty or a nobleman’s master. When King Rama V abolished slavery in1905, the newly freed slaves settled themselves as farmers or merchants. However, today the hierarchical system is still ingrained in our culture as reflected in our language and social perspectives. The pronouns of “I” and “You” in Thai can be the most mind-boggling of all languages because they will refer to the relationships of the first and second persons—from royalty, to monks, to laypeople of all ages, genders, and statuses. Modern capitalist society stems out different types of class systems. The pyramidal social structure has become more onion-shaped, with new affluences borne out of the bourgeois and the bohemians. As the middle class prospered and gained more presence through their businesses and achievements, socio-economic statuses shifted from the ruling class and political cliques to income, education, and social influences. Nowadays artists, actors, and musicians can earn superstardom in milli-seconds of appearances, with votes, likes, and social media comments. With their fame and fortune, these celebrities have grown into the new VIPs and VVIPs who receive preferential treatments and privileges. The earnings of celebrities and the nouveau riche speak louder than the old establishment’s discretion. One aristocratic personality even shunned the word “Hi-So” of which he claims sounds vulgar. In the society that places more importance on the superficial, we tend to have an eye for the exterior rather than the interior. Most think that class can be seen through someone’s last name and family background, or what they do, drive, wear, and eat, live, etc. However, like morals and merits, class cannot be bought. Good and gracious behaviours, manners, gravitas, attitudes, beliefs, and intelligence are what should be seen as true class. Unlike an episode of Downton Abbey, in our era we can move up
and down the stations if we board the right platforms to trade up. However, these days we hardly hear about a Cinderella story of someone marrying into wealth or status, as many upper-crust families tend to merge their fortunes. But for some, life can be like working in a large company, where if one performs rightly one can climb up through the social ladder. But be warned— happiness is not guaranteed. In fact, sometimes it can be very lonely at the top. For example, an extremely wealthy wife of a captain of industry wanted to move up the ranks within the entourage of the royalty, but she was shunned by the ladies-inwaiting because she “tried too hard”. Another case-in-point tells of a pretty girl from a modest background who entered society as a “kept woman”. However, no man would dream of her as marriage material, so she has had to settle for the charmed life of a mistress. Ah, the upper echelon can be so cruel! Buddhism, by contrast, sees humans as lotus flowers and classifies people into four categories according to their hearts and souls. First, the blooms above the water receiving the full sunshine are like people who are most susceptible to understand Dharma and reach enlightenment faster than others. Second are the blossoms floating at the brim and about to bloom—similar to people who have good minds and with more learning and practicing, they will understand Dharma soon. Third are the slowly growing buds below the water, representing the people who are less intelligent and need time to comprehend. Last are the lotuses growing at the bottom in the mud. They are akin to people who are ignorant, unconcerned, and hard to teach, and will end up being eaten by water creatures and will hardly ever arrive at their goal. So if you are looking for true class, don’t judge based on someone’s designer bags, or the flashy cars they drive, but try to peek into their souls. M AY 2 0 1 6 | 3 1
Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem
Emmanuelle’s Bangkok The city has a starring role in this 1970s X-rated classic
Joe’s Bangkok Award-winning writer Joe Cummings was born in New Orleans but became one of Lonely Planet’s first guidebook authors, creating the seminal Lonely Planet Thailand guide, as well as several other titles and updates for the region. Each month, he picks out his favourite cultural gems throughout Bangkok. 3 2 | M AY 2 0 1 6
By Joe Cummings / CPA Media
few weeks ago Mexican film artist Luis Palomino invited me to sit down and watch the 1974 erotic blockbuster Emmanuelle on his laptop. Luis is thinking of producing a video that draws parallels between the loss of innocence of the French film’s main character and that of the city of Bangkok itself over the last 40 years. We fast-forwarded through the sex scenes—which are pretty tame compared to what you can see in today’s mainstream cinema—so that I could comment on the Bangkok locations scattered throughout. Although I’d seen it once long ago, the fresh viewing left me with a new appreciation for the production that launched 70s soft-core with its gauzy
dresses, wicker chairs and Vaselinesmeared lenses. Based on a 1966 novel that was attributed to Thai author ‘Emmanuel Arsan’ and banned in France, Emmanuelle enjoyed such success after opening in Paris that it ran for 13 consecutive years at Le Triomphe cinema on the Champs-Elysées. In the USA, Columbia Pictures released the film, which became one of few X-rated movies to enjoy commercial success there. Growing out of the late 60s/ early 70s sexual revolution, the film signalled an era during which birth control was universally available, AIDS was non-existent, and pleasure without responsibility seemed like a dream come true. All you had to do bangkok101.com
highlight | SNAPSHOTS was board a plane to Bangkok. The 1974 film follows young and beautiful Emmanuelle (the producers originally wanted an Asian actress, but in the end chose Netherlands native Sylvia Kristel for her “ingenuity, and purity”) as she joins her diplomat husband Jean in Bangkok. Her erotic voyage of self-discovery, amongst a jaded, hedonistic group of European expats and locals, takes place entirely in the capital and environs. Through the lens of first-time director Just Jaeckin, who had studied interior design and architecture in Paris and did photo shoots for Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar, Bangkok is transformed into a lush, bold character of its own. The film’s locations are almost entirely drawn from Bangkok and Chiang Mai, although a few scenes were later shot in the Seychelles. The cameraman is Robert Fraise, who was subsequently nominated for an Oscar for his cinematography in Jean-Jacques Annaud’s The Lover. Jean-Louis Richard, who adapted the novel for screen, had co-written screenplays for François Truffaut’s The Soft Skin, Day for Night, and Fahrenheit 451. The first Bangkok scene arrives at 05:28 as a yellow Jaguar convertible weaves past a Thai cinema house in Wang Burapha. Jean is at the wheel, and he says to Emmanuelle, “It’s always the same faces. Exadventurers, diplomats. They’re dying to see you.” The Jag continues through Chinatown and over a bridge spanning Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem. The canal is seen at several other points in the film, along with canals extending deep into Thonburi, and the Wat Sai floating market (now an infamous tourist trap). The partially ruined temple of Thonburi’s Wat Daowadeung also makes an appearance, along with a bit of the Makkasan neighborhood. The frequent lovemaking takes place behind mosquito nets, and amid muaythai brawl or other stereotypical ‘Thai’ contexts that permit local participation. On my second viewing, it struck me that sex was little more bangkok101.com
than a time-killer for the characters. We’re reminded of this when Jean says “Here we have only one enemy, boredom.” Emmanuelle eventually absorbs the program, and comes up with “Here, idleness is an art form.” While shooting in Bangkok, the actors and crew stayed at The Siam Intercontinental, which stood on 26 acres of Thai royal property in the heart of Bangkok. A few film scenes— none of them sexual in nature—were shot among the ponds and gardens of the vast hotel, which was demolished in 2002 to make way for Siam Paragon and Siam Kempinski.
An estimated 500 million people have viewed the film around the world, spawning global brands for both Emmanuelle and Bangkok. Over a hundred sequels—more than any other film in history—have been released, starting with Emmanuelle 2 in 1975 and continuing most recently with Emmanuelle in Wonderland in 2012. Many derivatives drop an ‘m’ in their titles (in an apparent attempt to avoid lawsuits from the original producers), as in the successful Black Emanuelle series starring Java-born Laura Gemser. Some of the more outlandish titles include Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977), Kung Fu Emanuelle (1992), and an
entire series of Emanuelle in Space episodes. The original story’s jet-setting characters, philosophical amorality, and glamorous settings created a new porno chic, while the world at large forgot that Emmanuelle was based on a novel. Although officially published in 1966, the novel was first distributed clandestinely and anonymously in France in 1957 as Joys of a Woman. Later editions bore the nom-de-plume Emmanuelle Arsan, who was later revealed to be Marayat Bhibhit (born Marayat Krasaesin), a woman of aristocratic Thai descent. Born in Bangkok in 1932, the year of the Siamese Revolution, Marayat was sent by her parents to complete her studies at Switzerland’s prestigious Institut Le Rosey boarding school. There the 16-year-old Marayat met her future husband, French diplomat Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane, who was 30 at the time. After marrying in 1956, the couple settled in Bangkok. Years later it came out that the novel Joys of a Woman was actually a collaboration between Marayat and her husband. Emmanuelle’s international crew would not have been permitted to shoot the erotic tale in Thailand without the assistance of Thai filmmaker Prince Bhanubandhu Yugala. A grandson of King Rama V, the influential prince provided a palace which serves as Emmanuelle and Jean’s rental home in the movie. After Thai police arrested Sylvia Kristel and crew for shooting a nude bathing scene at Khao Yai waterfall, the prince helped obtain their release and invited the producers to complete filming at his Assawin Pictures studios in Bangkok. During post-production, editor and Truffaut disciple Claudine Bouché dumped much of the pseudophilosophical dialog originally intended for the ending. Instead she shows Emmanuelle gazing into a mirror alone, suggesting the whole thing might have been a dream. I’ve discovered several more interesting twists to the Emmanuelle story, to be divulged in an upcoming column. M AY 2 0 1 6 | 3 3
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highlight | SNAPSHOTS
Heaven’s Dollhouse The viral trend for “child angels” may be a passing fad, after restaurants offered discounted meals for those who want to eat with their dolls and some Thai airlines allowed passengers to purchase an extra seat for them, but the roots are buried deep in ancient occult lore, writes JIM ALGIE.
he doll that has been supposedly imbued with otherworldly powers is one of humankind’s most ancient vessels of magic. Predating any of the world’s great faiths, these fetishes were often depicted as crude representations of people or animals, or some monstrous hybrid of the two from a folktale. But the hoary figures of yore have gotten a beautiful makeover in today’s Thailand. Far from their horrific origins, these lookthep (“child angels”) resemble the kind of dolls that children play with, and that’s because they come from the same factories. Listening to one of the vendors at Pantip Plaza 2 talk about them, the high-end dolls that can retail for
Jim Algie has parlayed his experiences living in Thailand into books like the non-fiction collection, Bizarre Thailand: Tales of Crime, Sex and Black Magic (2010) and On the Night Joey Ramone Died: Twin Tales of Rock ‘n’ Punk from Bangkok, New York, Cambodia and Norway (2016). Check jimalgie.com for more. bangkok101.com
as much as 20,000 baht each are imported from the US, the mediumpriced dolls come from China, and the cheapest ones are homegrown. Though each vendor tends to stock a few different molds of boy and girl dolls with different features, they customize them with an array of clothes, hairstyles, glasses and even piercings. Strip away the fashions and you find that the dolls are covered with yantras: an occult diagram designed to ward off evil or, in this case, contain the spirit of a wandering child ghost within it. That is their most controversial aspect. Some vendors claim that the lookthep house a genuine spirit that can bring good fortune to owners who treat it well, while others say that the spirit must be animated by an adept in white magic who blesses it, and skeptics recast them as figures of fun, making wisecracks about the malevolent doll named Chucky in the Child’s Play series of hokey horror movies. Naysayer or true believer, the dolls are part of an arcane tradition, says Peter Jenks, who runs the Facebook group ‘Thai Occult Magic’ and is writing a book on amulets in Thailand. “These dolls go all the way back to shamanistic societies, but they’ve been given a Thai and Buddhist twist in the way they perform benevolent acts as opposed to vengeful ones.” The lookthep craze, he explains, has only gone viral recently after restaurants offered discounted meals for those who want to eat with their dolls, and some Thai airlines allowed passengers to purchase an extra seat for them. But the English expat in Bangkok credits the mor phi, literally “ghost doctor,” Ajarn Thep, with
inventing them, some five or six years ago. The dolls may appear to be a new phenomenon, but Jenks believe that they are “a new brand or manifestation” of the ancient kuman thong (“golden child”), an age-old tradition of the Thai black arts. Instead of having to find a dead fetus to grill, now the modern-day occultist or devotee can simply choose a doll that is factory-made. Even the forces of the supernatural, it seems, are still subject to the gravity of consumerism and the human need for convenience. M AY 2 0 1 6 | 3 5
| very thai
A nation full of sweetness
hais seem disposed towards sweetness, in words, personality, sentiment, colours and, crucially, food. Per capita sugar intake is about the highest in the world. Perhaps that languid ability to doze in any position is due not only to heat, work or digesting sticky rice, but also to blood-sugar collapse. To keep a sugar rush going, a colour-enhanced rainbow of puddings and candies tempt, though they often have a saline tang. Some desserts are cubed and wobbly, slice from tray of gelatinous variations on the coconut, palm sugar and bean theme, often combined with sticky rice. Eggy desserts and light, sweetened breads derived from the 17th century Portuguese, who also brought the
> Very Thai
River Books by Philip CornwelSmith with photos by John Goss and Philip Cornwel-Smith B995 3 6 | M AY 2 0 1 6
chili and the tomato. Heavily yolked desserts often bear flakes of gold leaf. At weddings, bride and groom feed each other syrupy saffron threads and thumbsized golden cupcakes resembling flowers. Vendors also place golden fillings in tiny crepes cooked on mobile griddles. Taste for the diminutive, decorative and cute infuses Thai sweets, from blue-dyed rice and multi-coloured bean strands to fruit carving and mini marzipan sculptures in pop hues. “The attention to detail within the confections is a sight to behold: the soft curves of the saneh jant (charming moon), the painstaking decorative marking on the tong ake sumpany and the creation of a crown for the ja mongkut,” writer Mallika
Khunansathaworanit says of sweets still found at specialist outlets. The sugar addition extends beyond traditional treats to imported nibbles, from sweetened movie popcorn to chocolate made waxy so it doesn’t melt. Kids with a handful of satang (pennies) pester shopkeepers to rummage for boiled sweets or durian-flavour biscuits in huge tins with a window to help you guide your hand. Pizza can’t be eaten without sweetened ketchup. Teenagers swarm at bread-and-milk bars in malls for toast slicked with margarine, and dusted with granulated sugar or coloured sprinkles. Another variant involves toast spread with a white, red or green gloop: condensed milk, scarlet jam or leafy pandan paste.
Now out in an expanded, updated 2nd edition, “Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture” is a book that almost every foreign resident has on their reading table, a virtual bible on Thai pop culture. Now with four extra chapters, 64 more pages and a third of the 590 photographs being new, it guides you on a unconventional Technicolor tour of the quirky things that make Thailand truly Thai. From the 70 chapters, we present a different excerpt every month. Prepare yourself for the sideways logic in what seems exotic, and buy a copy of the new edition at any good bookshop. bangkok101.com
Galleria Milano EATING THE ITALIAN WAY
open daily lunch 11:30 a.m 14:00 p.m. afternoon tea break 14:00 p.m. 18:00 p.m. dinner 18:00 p.m. 23:00 p.m.
66/4 Sukhumvit Rd., Soi 20 Mille Malle Millennium Residence
Klongtoei , Bangkok 10110 Tel. 02-6634988
ristorantegalleriamilano @gmail.com www.galleriamilanorestaurant.com
“Makan” Me Hungry Finding the flavours of Thailand’s ASEAN neighbours right here in Bangkok By Luc Citrinot
hai food is so beloved for its many layers of flavours that it tends to eclipse other Southeast Asian cuisines. There are no sophisticated Burmese or Cambodian restaurants in Bangkok, for example. On the surface, only Vietnam seems to have made a mark in the landscape, and even then sometimes the Vietnamese food served here retains strong Thai flavours. But despite this ostensible lack of regional culinary diversity, the flavours of Thailand’s neighbours are actually well3 8 | M AY 2 0 1 6
represented—that is, when you know where to look for them. For newbies to Indonesian and Malaysian flavours, there are a few good places to “makan” (meaning “eat” in Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia). Some of the most authentic Malay food is found around Ramkhamhaeng University. The university welcomes many students from Southern Thailand, including a large number from the four Malayspeaking provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Satun, and Yala. The school
even has a student association that promotes the region’s unique culture, customs, and language. At the Ramkhamhaeng Night Market, located along the entrance to Rajamangala Stadium, a few outlets serve Malay-style food. Look for two stalls selling barbecued chicken coated in a red-orange coloured dip. This is the equivalent of ayam percik, a typical dish from Kelantan, a state located near the border with Thailand. The chicken is marinated in a slightly sweet and creamy coconut sauce bangkok101.com
heritage | SNAPSHOTS that’s flavoured with herbs such as coriander, turmeric, and lemongrass. One small outlet in Ramkhamhaeng Soi 53 sells a kind of blue-coloured rice with fresh herbs called nasi kerabu, also a specialty from Kelantan. Looking south again lah, the lion city is represented at Sambalacha Café on Soi Chula 9. Owned by a Singaporean man, the restaurant makes a tasty laksa, rojak (a salad of mixed fruit topped with a savoury dressing of shrimp paste, chillies, and lime), and, of course, nasi lemak. For an Indonesian food experience, Rhasa Khas Indonesia behind EMQuartier offers the most authentic taste of the archipelago’s food in the city. Particularly good is the gado gado salad, a refreshing and light dish of boiled and semi-boiled vegetables generously covered by a peanut- and tamarind-laced sauce with chillies. They also offer typical dishes such as ketoprak (a salad made of steamed rice cakes, tofu, and vegetables) and tender and juicy satay. Not to mention typical Indonesian desserts and drinks, such as the iconic avocado
shake mixed with chocolate sauce and cendol, a rather sweet treat made of palm sugar, coconut milk, and rice flour sweets. Best of all, Rasa Khas is reasonably priced. A meal will cost from B250 to B500 on average. Despite the size and depth of the Filipino populations in Bangkok, the only place presenting a taste of the country’s mostly meat-centric cuisine is New Mabuhay in Pratunam. Chicken adobo, dang bangus (a kind of fried fish), and a plate of, yes, fried pork face with a luscious fried egg are just a snapshot of this shophouse’s specialties. And next to the Phra Khanong BTS station, a small shop bearing the flag of the Philippines sells a selection of Filipino products. The cooking of two of Thailand’s contiguous neighbours, Myanmar and Laos, abounds. Laos, of course, closely resembles Isaan in cuisine and culture. Want a taste? You could order som tam pla ra with sticky rice from the nearest vendor. For a more upscale version of Lao cuisine, visit Thai Lao Yeh at the Cabochon Hotel or Café de Laos in Silom, and get the
herby gaeng om with frog, some nam prik ong, or rice crackers with minced pork dip, and relax. For Burmese food, go to the Phra Khanong Market on the corner of Sukhumvit 71. Inside are a handful of mom-and-pop shops and restaurants selling fried samosas, laphet thoke (pickled tea leaf salad), khao swe thoke (the dry noodle cousin of khao soy from Shan State), and tophu thoke (tofu salad with tangy peanut sauce). Some excellent Burmese food can also be found on Ramkhamhaeng Soi 30, also called Soi ABAC, at STK Food Centre, again near Rajamangala Stadium. Cambodian food? That’s more of a challenge. Most of the outlets are market-based eateries targeting construction workers. Although its influences are very prevalent in Thai food (curry pastes, pork and rice, crab and squid stir-fried in fresh green peppercorns), sadly no ho mok in Bangkok can replicate a proper mousse-like amok, and the practical use of such less popular but deliciouswhen-done-right ingredients as buffalo and tree ants is not common.
MALAY STREET FOOD Night Market at Ramkhamhaeng University (nightly in front of Rajamangala Stadium) and in nearby Soi 53 and 55, across from the market SAMBALACHA CAFÉ 427 Chulalongkorn Soi 9 09 1025 7269 RASA KHAS 86 Sukhumvit 23 | 0 2108 5437, 08 2223 6239 | facebook.com/rasakhas BURMESE FOOD Phra Khanong Market, Sukhumvit Soi 71 (Phra Khanong BTS); Ramkhamhaeng Soi 30 NEW MABUHAY Petchaburi Rd Soi 19 | 0 2255 2689 CAFÉ DE LAOS 16 Silom Soi 19 | 0 2635 2338 cafedelaos.com THAI LAO YEH 14/29 Sukhumvit Soi 45 | 0 2259 2871 cabochonhotel.com bangkok101.com
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| making merit
Back to the
Mindful Farmers plants the seeds for a better future for their community By Julia Offenberger
indful Farmers is not the typical raise-money-for-agood-cause kind of effort, but rather a contribution to the community that aims to create a more sustainable and peaceful environment and future. The organic farm, about 75 kilometres northwest of Chiang Mai, is run by former monk Pi Nan and his partner Noriko, who met while studying meditation at a temple in the eastern part of Thailand. After the birth of their daughter, they settled in Pi Nan’s hometown and started hosting volunteers at their organic farm. “We thought that not only two of us, but [also] many other people were searching for a place to enjoy meditative lifestyle with likeminded people outside temples,” Noriko explains. Living in what amounts to a big family, volunteers help grow more than 50 different kinds of vegetables and fruits, ranging from local veggies to medicinal plants, berries, and figs. “We believe that promoting organic farming and a vegan diet is the only way to preserve Mother Earth,” Noriko says. Since organic farming requires more effort and time compared to conventional farming, help on the farm is always welcome. But the farm doesn’t only produce organic
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goods. In exchange for their work, volunteers also get the chance to learn about natural building methods, such as mud brick building, as well as vegetarian cooking. Both Pi Nan and Noriko enjoy the art of cuisine, and their kitchen often ends up a fusion of local-style food made with greens from the garden, green smoothies, Thai sweets, and healthy Japanese food. Plus, volunteers often add their own seasoning to the mix, cooking dishes from their homes, like pizza, gnocchi, Chinese rice dumplings, and Indian curries. While some of the farm’s products used to be sold in Bangkok, the couple is looking into the possibility of selling it at local markets to help promote healthy diets among the local population. “So much processed food from the city is brought into the village, and apparently health problems have increased,” says Noriko, adding that she hopes Mindful Farmers can help reverse this trend. So far, the couple has already launched a vegan restaurant in the village, where they offer free vegan food on Buddhist days and special holidays. Another major reason why so many volunteers—more than 70 a month during high season—choose to join Mindful Farmers is to slow down,
forgetting the torrid pace of city life, even if only for a little while. As the farm’s name suggests, mindfulness reigns supreme here. “We achieve inner peace by working day-by-day with mindfulness,” says Noriko. And so meditation plays a central part in daily life on the farm, which boasts its own family temple, too. Pi Nan and Noriko also regularly invite teachers from across the country to give lectures to volunteers and locals, because, as Noriko explains, “We would like to help people in the village free [themselves] from suffering and enjoy inner peace.” By opening up the farm to volunteers, the couple has created a vibrant community where locals and travellers from around the world can meet, exchange ideas, and empower one another. Through communal activities, such as temple festivals, weddings, harvesting peanuts on neighbour farms, and teaching English to the village children, the volunteers have already influenced far more than these two homesteaders. They have touched the whole community. As Noriko puts it, “Our farm is a door to the world for the people in the village.” Find out more at mindfulfarmers.org bangkok101.com
Photo by Sayaka Yamaguchi
Photo by Sayaka Yamaguchi
Photo by Sayaka Yamaguchi
making merit | SNAPSHOTS
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ROAM Bun Bang Fai Better pack some earplugs!
ne of the noisiest festivals on the calendar takes place in the usually sleepy Northeastern town of Yasothon. For the three-day-long Bun Bang Fai, often called the “Rocket Festival,” farmers pack huge, ornate rockets (bung fai) with homemade explosives, drag them to launch sites on elaborate carts, and then, on the third day of the festival, fire them high into the sky. According to folklore, the first raindrops of the rice planting season only fall when the gods are in the mood for love. Firing rockets in their direction is said to stimulate them into action. For the ethnic Lao community, however, the festival also offers a way to enhance social prestige. And so lots of rambunctious Isaan-style merriment—including parades punctuated by lively dances, beauty contests, and mor lam music—accompany the festivities. While there’s much fun to be had, remember to play it safe. These are rockets, after all. Enjoy the fire-powered revelry from a distance as you take in the sights, sounds, and smells in town. Bun Bang Fai takes place this year from May 13-15. You can purchase bus tickets at the Mo Chit Bus Station, or fly to Roi Et via Nok Air or Thai AirAsia and transfer from there.
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TRAVEL | upcountry now
until may 4 12th Top of the Gulf Regatta
The Top of the Gulf Regatta sets sail from Jomtien Beach’s Ocean Marina Yacht Club near Pattaya. This regatta is unique in that it operates out of a marina, providing safe and secure berthing for competitors each evening while also offering a full complement of onshore services and facilities for everyone at the yacht club. When the racing is finished each day, thirsty sailors and guests tend to come together to kick back with a cocktail or two at a host of fun venues. Check out topofthegulfregatta.com for more information.
may 21-28 Samui Regatta
The annual Samui Regatta, also known as the Tropical Island Regatta, one of Asia’s largest sailing events and the final leg of the Asian Yachting Grand Prix, takes place at Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui. Join the fun on the sand or get up close and personal with the sport in a spectator boat. For information about race entry forms, tickets, and schedules, visit samuiregatta.com
may 21-29 The World Durian Festival
Learn all you’ve ever wanted to know about the world’s funkiest fruit and more at the World Durian Festival in Chantaburi, taking place at Somdej Pra Chao Tak Sin Maharat Park. The region is famous for its tropical fruit, so expect some prime specimens here, as well as a variety of tasty fresh fruit for sale and sampling, live demonstrations on preserving fruit, and a bunch of OTOP products to peruse. Better yet, the festival has been expanded to incorporate an enormous bazaar, a sprawling night market, and multiple stages for live entertainment.
may 28 Overlove Music Festival 2016
Media Wrap and Silverlake present Silverlake Overlove Music Festival, The Love Party 2016. The festival takes place at the beautiful Silverlake Vineyard, Pattaya. Enjoy a concert from Thailand’s most popular pop and rock bands, such as Scrubb, Mild, Lipta, Slot Matchine, Jetset’er and Polycat. Tickets are available for B1200. To get more information, visit facebook.com/overlovemusicfest or call 0 2938 4474 or 08 3701 3539.
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upcountry now | TRAVEL
may 28 The Singha River Kwai International Trophy Adventure Race 2016
For its 11th edition, the most popular and largest Adventure Race in Southeast Asia takes place near the world famous ‘bridge over the River Kwai’ in Kanchanaburi, offering exciting routes along scenic trails of the historic Kwai valley. An expected attendance of 200 teams from around the world will experience the wilderness adventure racing through running, mountain biking, swimming and kayaking. Check ama-events.com for more information and registration details.
until may 31 Freshwater Jellyfish at Khao Ko National Park
Freshwater jellyfish are only found in six places worldwide, one being the renowned eco-tourist destination of Khao Ko National Park in Thailand’s central region. May is the last month of the year in which these living fossils can be found floating in their natural habitat. A visit to the area also reveals deciduous forests with rare plants and a diversity of animals on both sides of the Lam Namkeg River. Check out tourismthailand.org for more information.
june 4 7th Samed in Love Music Festival
Bring your suntan lotion and go with the flow at the Samed in Love Music Festival, once again taking place on the island’s beautiful Sai Kaew Beach. The festival features performances by various Thai singers and DJs, including Mild, Paradox, Slot Machine, Palmy, Big Ass, Potato, and Gancore Club. The event starts at noon and runs until late—possibly even dawn, for those who prefer to party hard. Find out more at facebook.com/samedinlove.
until july 31 Pang Sida Butterfly Festival
More than 400 types of butterflies fill Pang Sida National Park in eastern Sa Kaeo Province, and to celebrate the park puts on a big festival. Pick up products from different districts at the OTOP market in the city, watch a butterfly parade, visit a butterfly exhibition, and enjoy live music and dance. For more information, contact the Pang Sida National Park Office at 0 3724 6100.
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TRAVEL | upcountry escape
in Southern Thailand KAILA KRAYEWSKI takes the long and narrow road to the not-so-deep South
e’ve done the buses, the trains, and even the low-cost planes. Travel in Thailand is simple that way. You’re ferried from one place to another, switching tracks here and there, herded like sheep onto various vehicles of transportation. But within this context, it’s easy to miss the freedom of driving your own car, 4 6 | M AY 2 0 1 6
letting your hair blow in the wind, stopping when and where you want rather than being at the mercy of an overzealous bus driver blasting highvolume karaoke music as he barrels down a dark highway. Yet the thought of a road trip can be a little unsettling. What about those of us who learned to drive on the other side of the road? What happens if you
confront an elephant on the asphalt? And let’s not even get started on the laws of driving in Thailand. What if you get pulled over? Fear not, the following tips to road tripping in Southern Thailand—starting on Koh Phangan and travelling to Khao Lak, Phuket, and Koh Yao Yai and back again—will break down the process. bangkok101.com
upcountry escape | TRAVEL Rent (or Buy) a Car
Rent from a reputable source and be sure to have either a Thai driver’s ID (you have to do a long day of testing to get one of these, but it’s worth it if you plan to do a lot of driving) or an international driver’s license. Check the insurance papers, kick the tires, and so on. Then take the car for a test drive. You’ll want to try taking it up a steep hill, because there are many parts of Southern Thailand that are very hilly, and you don’t want to stall on an incline with honking cars lined up behind you. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order, and then negotiate a price. We paid B1000 per day for an SUV, but prices range from B650 to B2000 per day, depending on the quality of the vehicle and who you rent from.
Make Ferry Reservations
It is usually necessary to make reservations if you plan to take a car onto a ferry. The Raja Ferry shuttles vehicles between the mainland and Koh Samui/Phangan. We reserved the night before and had to wake up at ridiculous-o’clock to be in line an hour before departure. If you are not in line an hour beforehand, you get moved to the back and may not
make it on the ferry. The same rules apply to the car ferry from Phuket to Koh Yao Yai—we didn’t make reservations and just barely made it on-board, even though we had arrived 45 minutes ahead of time.
Map Out Your Route
Google Maps is an ideal app to use if you have a decent phone plan with your service provider. Have the person in the passenger seat read the map aloud as you go. If you’re not a believer in Google, then make sure you have some other navigational device—maybe even, gasp, a map.
Drive It Like You Own It
With any luck, you haven’t spent so long on the back of motorcycle taxis texting your mates on Facebook that you’ve forgotten how to drive. I was a bit rusty at first, but once I got moving, it was, well... like riding a bike—you never really forget, even if you’re seated in a new position. The highway from Surat Thani to Khao Lak gets quite scenic towards the end of the route, especially about an hour outside of Khao Lak, when the road forks. We chose to take the route that Google Maps said was “three minutes longer.” It was
The Route Koh Phangan ---›› Surat Thani Approximately 2.5 hrs on the Raja Ferry * Ferry reservations can be made online at rajaferryport.com. The cost is B550 for one car and driver, and B210 per person thereafter.
Surat Thani ---›› Khao Lak Approximately three to four hours by car, depending on the frequency of stops you make on the side of the road—we took many, and it was worth it.
Khao Lak ---›› Phuket On the way out of Khao Lak, set aside a few hours to check out the stunning natural park, which is home to the aptly-named “Small Sandy Beach”— one of the most gorgeous beaches not only in Thailand, but anywhere in the world. There are numerous seafood restaurants on the way out of the park, all serving fresh catches from the Andaman Sea. If your tummy is grumbling after your hike, stop at one for lunch—there won’t be any more restaurants until Phuket. It’s approximately a two-hour drive to Kamala.
Phuket ---›› Koh Yao Yai Getting to Chainawarat Pier takes time—there is a lot of traffic along the way. Leave at least two hours before the ferry is scheduled to depart if coming from Kamala or Bangtao. You will need a good map for this; it’s a windy route with lots of turns. Call 08 1091 0630 or 08 1956 5470 to book a spot on the ferry. They don’t speak English, so find a Thai interpreter. Tickets cost B400 for one car plus driver, and B100 per person after that. The car ferry leaves at 7am and 2pm from Phuket to Koh Yao Yai. Bringing a car to Koh Yao Yai is a really good idea since it is quite a big island and virtually no taxis exist. If you want to drive to the north of the island (highly recommended), a car makes the journey much easier.
Koh Yao Yai ---›› Koh Phangan
The Raja Ferry bangkok101.com
Unfortunately there is no car ferry from Koh Yao Yai to Krabi, so it’s necessary to go back through Phuket for the return journey. This is a bit of a pain, but it is possible to take
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TRAVEL | upcountry escape
a different road in order to enjoy different scenery. On Fridays, there are no early morning ferries from Laem Yai Pier on Koh Yao Yai to Phuket, so book accordingly. Ask your hotel to make a reservation on the ferry for you the night before. Total Petrol Costs: Approximately B2500 or three tanks.
Recommended Accommodation Khao Lak
Budget: Bavaria Inn This simple guesthouse is set back from the road, but it’s cheap, it’s clean, and the staff are very friendly. The beach is about 10 minutes away by foot. It’s great for groups, with its two large beds. There is no sign reading Bavaria Inn from the road. Instead, look for SS Emerald Suites, its old name.
Splurge: Samsara Phuket This award-winning estate consists of eight expansive villas that vary in size and personality, with one common theme: ultra-luxury. If you come with a group, it is well worth breaking the budget to enjoy a few nights overlooking Kamala Bay in villas that have captured the attention of celebrities the world over—including Rihanna. samsaraphuket.com
Koh Yao Yai
Mid-Range: Glow Elixir Koh Yao Yai With deals offering rooms as low as B2100 for a sea-view villa, Glow is an excellent choice for a stay on Koh Yao Yai. This relatively new resort is still getting on its feet, but it is very much on its way to winning accolades. The beachfront restaurant has a fantastic array of delicious Thai and Western food, and a decent wine menu for an island off the beaten path. If you are travelling in a group, snag one of the two-bedroom pool villas. Bida massage, across the road from the resort’s entrance, is a must-visit, as well. glowhotels.com/elixir-koh-yao-yai
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Glow Elixir Koh Yao Yai definitely longer than that, but its twists and turns and jaw-dropping views made it worthwhile. The doublelane highway eventually becomes one lane, which makes it a bit nerveracking when twisting around corners, but the lanes themselves are wide enough to pass in and remain almost in your own lane.
Be Vocal, When Necessary
Khao Lak was easy to find, however our guesthouse was not. Sometimes just asking people on the side of the road can be easier than using Google Maps. In extremely rural areas, such as Koh Yao Yai, don’t rely on technology. You may end up (as I did) nearly driving into the water. Ask around and follow your instincts.
What to Watch Out For
Driving in Thailand is quite different from driving in the West. People are always passing and driving
Koh Phangan for what seems like miles in the wrong lane, and Thai people have their own rules of the road, many of which differ from ours in strange and befuddling ways. Things to take note of: • Sometimes, like in the north of Phuket, you may never see a speed limit sign. Go with the flow of traffic. Unless it’s a school zone, the speed limit is usually 60-80km per hour. • If you’re stuck behind a truck and the driver turns on the left indicator, that means it is safe to pass (whether you choose to take this suggestion or not is up to you). • Enjoy the ride! The sheer freedom of cruising down the open road far outweighs the intimidation factor of driving in a foreign country. Obey the speed limit, be nice to other drivers (road rage is rampant in Thailand and can get nasty), and smile as you drive past million-year- old limestone karst towering in the distance. bangkok101.com
Pay XS and Sip XXL
Tijuana Tuesday 555 All you can eat tacos & free flow margarita
VIN O BUENO DAY Wine promotions every Wednesday
~ H A PPY ~ THURSDAY Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries etc.
1st floor of Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit Soi 18
Mexican brunch buffet every Saturday
EL LUCHADOR SUNDAY Pay less each round you stand
Mexicano Restaurante AutĂŠntico Opening hours 5pm to midnight
Advance bookings call 02 261 7100 # Mexicano
Cooking Mexican at Rembrandt Hotel since 1993
OFTEN IMITATED, NEVER EQUALLED
TRAVEL | over the border
Wall mural by Ernest Zacharevic 5 0 | M AY 2 0 1 6
over the border | TRAVEL
A Brand New Old Town Ipoh’s historical Old Town is becoming another remarkable stop on Malaysia’s heritage and food trail By Marco Ferrarese. Pictures by Kit Yeng Chan
hen it comes to colonial heritage, in Malaysia Penang gets all the praise. However, few are keen to admit that it’s also getting overcrowded with cameratoting tourists, foodies on a rampage, and astute locals exploiting the hype to cash in. And even fewer seem to know that when Penang’s hustle becomes too much to bear, there’s an equally captivating, but still quite undiscovered, elsewhere to go. I’m talking about Ipoh, the former tin-mining centre of 1930s colonial Malaysia and capital of Perak. Compared to Georgetown’s boutique and sterile beautification, the quaint streets of Ipoh’s Old Town—a quick stroll from the exquisite white marble 1935 train station aptly nicknamed the “Mini Taj Mahal”—are still a raw heritage gem, one that’s yet to be polished by mass tourism. What’s more, Ipoh is just a two-hour drive or a cosy train ride south from Penang. A field that was the Japanese Army’s operational base during its occupation of Malaya between 1941 and 1945 divides the train station and the Old Town, a cluster of streets bangkok101.com
sheltered by a bend in the Kinta River. Here, multi-coloured Chinese shophouses lean against each other, seemingly soaking up the ebb and flow of slow tropical days. Nothing much seems to have changed since the early 20th century, judging from the ways local shopkeepers still tend to their century-old crafts. Until recently, however, their laissez-faire
attitude translated to a similar work ethic and outlook towards tourism—a dearth of appealing accommodation options made Ipoh a mere pit-stop between Penang and Kuala Lumpur rather than a destination in its own right. The wake-up call arrived when two airlines, Tiger and Malindo, launched direct international flights from Singapore and Bangkok,
Multi-coloured Chinese shopouses M AY 2 0 1 6 | 5 1
TRAVEL | over the border
Elegant bridge over the Kinta River resulting in a surge in tourist arrivals and forcing sleepy Ipoh to rub its eyes and finally rise out of bed. In particular, two historical buildings were renovated into brand-new boutique hotels, and now international travellers have no more excuses to skip Ipoh’s quiet but infectious beat. Sekeping Kong Heng has an attractive bohemian setting. The eight rooms, including two hanging glass boxes, are a luxe way to experience true shophouse living in the beating heart of the Old Town. Modern fittings have been beautifully added to a building finished in 1923. Way back when, it functioned as the living quarters of a Cantonese opera troupe that performed in the 1500-seat theatre next door. Today, it has transformed into trendy bistro Plan B. This self-proclaimed culture café revamped the building’s original structure using spacious glass and wood fittings, and it’s a great stop for brews and mouth-watering cakes. Not far away, another old Chinese shophouse is ready to host the heritage-nostalgic. Sarang Paloh welcomes guests in a throwback lobby furnished with vintage Chinese décor and inspiring batik paintings. 5 2 | M AY 2 0 1 6
Nothing much seems to have changed since the early 20th century, judging from the ways local shopkeepers still tend to their century-old crafts. A spiral staircase leads upstairs to rooms refurbished from the quarters of a 1920s bank. Set in the centre of Ipoh’s colonial Old Town and close to the Kinta River, these two boutique hotels are great options to wake up and start the day like a local over a steaming cup of the region’s signature white coffee. Sipped rubbing elbows with other customers amidst the crackling sounds of hawker ladles and sizzling woks, white coffee is the quintessential Old Town brew. Kedai Makanan Nam Heng is great for breakfast: besides thick, aromatic white coffee, it offers fresh-baked egg tarts filled with silky custard. The delicious noodles, including white curry mee, are also must-tries. If recommending a cup wasn’t enough, check the walls in Jalan Dato Maharajalela, where Ernest Zacharevic, the Lithuanian artist who made Penang a street art star, glorified Ipoh’s signature drink. From
here starts a treasure hunt to the other six murals that Ernest painted on the Old Town’s walls. Along the way, one might stumble upon the aroma of bean sprout chicken, or tauge ayam, another local delicacy. Try to find a seat among the locals at mom and pop Restoran Ong Kee, which dishes up some of the best in town. Served with noodle soup or rice, tauge ayam here is boiled to perfection and sprinkled with fresh bean sprouts and soy sauce. To take a break from all the food, the city’s newest heritage museum, Han Chin Pet Soo, offers a peek into the old world charm of a Hakka Chinese clan house. The first floor of this double story “gentlemen’s club” for tin-miners and tycoons recounts the history of Ipoh’s industrial past. Upstairs, the quirky reproduction of a Chinese gambling and opium den, complete with life-sized statues of Fu Manchu look-alike punters and their molls, is not to be missed. bangkok101.com
over the border | TRAVEL
Tasty Tauge Ayam
Fountains at The Taj Mahal train station One of the most important—albeit sadly forgotten—historical sites in Ipoh is hidden at its outskirts, in the village of Tambun. Discovered in 1959 by a British soldier, Gua Tambun is a limestone hill with rupestrian art that dates back 3000 years. The rock face here features reddish drawings of human figures, a tortoise, a deer, what seems to be a dugong— Southeast Asia’s peculiar dolphinlike mammal—and sketches that resemble arrows, fish, and even an octopus. Fragments of seashells and a peculiar sedimentation of the rock face suggest that in the past this area may have been covered by water. Regardless of the archaeological importance of the site, it’s puzzling to note that it has not at all been wellpreserved. It’s not easily accessible, as its entrance is on private land, however the rock face has been vandalized by graffiti. A group from Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang is doing what they can to preserve the site and get help from the government for restoration work, but development is slow. If you decide to visit, pay attention to where you tread as anything on the soil is potentially an unprotected archaeological bangkok101.com
remain that way too many careless or unknowing visitors have already irreparably damaged. Back in Ipoh, an evening stroll in the square facing Ipoh’s Taj Mahal train station gives the chance to see a colourful fountain light show before grabbing dinner at Wheel Noodles. With a back entrance covered by rows of vibrant hanging umbrellas, this artsy bistro has vintage bicycles parked next to wooden tables and lofty interiors. Noodles come in old-style, crowing rooster-decorated bowls. The one-hour noodle free flow at RM18 is a steal. At last, a walk along the Kinta Riverfront under trees aglow with LED lights is an interesting way to experience Ipoh’s nightlife along the river. Two rows of restaurants and cafés offer all sorts of Malay, Chinese, and fusion dishes in a relaxed environment, where it’s easy to mingle with chatty locals. When I bunk down I’m still giddy from all the day’s action. Before drifting off to sleep, I think that Queen Penang, the jewel in Malaysia’s crown, should be more careful holding her heritage-sceptre, as these days Ipoh’s got all the energy required to snatch it from her hands.
Rock paintings at Gua Tambun IPOH, INSIDE & OUT SEKEPING HONG KENG 75 Jalan Panglima | 60-5/241-8977 sekeping.com/kongheng/home.html doubles from RM220 PLAN B 60-5/249-8286 | thebiggroup.co/planb drinks for two from RM 25 SARANG PALOH 16 Jalan Sultan Iskandar 60-5/241-3926 | sarangpaloh.com doubles from RM238 KEDAI MAKANAN NAM HENG 2 Jalan Bandar Timah | 60-16/553-8119 RESTORAN ONG KEE 48 Jalan Yau Tet Shin | 60-5/253-1562 meal for two from RM20 HAN CHIN PET SOO 3 Jalan Bijeh Timah | free tour booking at ipohworld.org/reservation WHEEL NOODLES 26 Jalan Market, under 1981 Guesthouse shop sign | 60-5/ 242-3777 facebook.com/WheelNoodle meal for two from RM15 M AY 2 0 1 6 | 5 3
SHIFTING HORIZONS: music, myth, and memory The media art of John Sanborn
ot many video artists can claim they’ve worked on the Winter Olympics and for MTV and Comedy Central in the same breath. Even fewer have then released feature films, worked in Silicon Valley, and had their work appeared at the world’s leading artistic institutions, including the Whitney and MoMA in New York City. But American John Sanborn has done all that and more. Now, the celebrated artist is sharing what he calls “the biggest, richest, and most intense exhibition I’ve ever done” at the BACC, a dynamic exhibition curated by his friend, Stephen Sarrazin. Exploring identity, cultural truth, memory, and the lies we live with every day, “Shifting Horizons: music, myth, and memory” looks to the foundations that have defined Sanborn’s distinctive use of media formalism. The exhibition leans strongly on the use of music, as well as the artist’s role in performance art. This includes his collaborations with eminent 20th-century dancers and performers, and it ultimately establishes the bond between Sanborn and his mentor, Nam June Paik. The show will feature two new works, four recent pieces, and the remake of a work from 1982. Shifting Horizons: music, myth, and memory runs until July 10 on the 7th floor of the BACC.
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ART & CULTURE
The Long Lasting Journey by APNA#5 Numthong Gallery
72/3 Aree Soi 5, Soi 7 Phahonyothin Rd | 0 2617 2794, 08 1918 5067 | Mon-Sat 11am-6pm | gallerynumthong.com
until may 19 Though coming from different backgrounds and experience, 20 emerging Thai artists have joined here to share ideas and expand the space of art. All travelled together in Los Angeles over two weeks in a van, and though the road seemed endless, each sought out final destinations, gaining knowledge, experience, inspiration, and fun to go with exhaustion along the way. See where this “long journey” took them.
Lost in Connection Midnice Gallery
Diamond Apartment, Chockchai 4 Soi 18 | 08 6282 0282 Tue-Sat 11.30-8.30pm | midnicegallery.com
until may 20 With his colourful new display, renowned graffiti artist ASIN considers the way we communicate in the digital age. The exhibition opened on April 23 with live painting and music, but the artwork remains, allowing us all to question whether the highly impersonal nature of social media is tearing us apart or actually helping our society expand and improve.
Proof of Contact Ubaan Art Station
204 Soi Chinda Tawin, Si Phraya Rd | 08 8088 5140 | facebook. com/ubaanartstation | Mon, Wed 10am-10pm, Thu 2.30pm10pm, Fri-Sun 10am-11pm
april 30–june 1 American artist Evan Dawson presents two interrelated projects that look at popular modes of representation in print media and legal documents. In a temporary office on the second floor of the gallery, visitors are invited to collaborate on the title piece, Proof of Contact. For every encounter, two corresponding documents will be drawn up that attempt to prove that the artist and visitor have, in fact, met. Whether approved or not, each participant will receive an official, signed and stamped artwork, and its counterpart will be added to the gallery wall. 5 6 | M AY 2 0 1 6
exhibitions | ART & CULTURE
A View from the Edge Cho Why
Soi Nana 17, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Chinatown by appointment/event | facebook.com/chowhybkk
may 27 onwards Pulitzer Prize-winning David Longstreath has documented historic events around the globe, including the death of Pol Pot and the funeral of Mother Theresa, shooting in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma, as well as other places “where there was no room service,” he says. In 1997, the renowned photojournalist was assigned as the AP’s Chief Photographer for Southeast Asia, a position based in Bangkok. At Cho Why, he presents a collection of his images from the past 45 years.
ARDEL’s Third Place Gallery
The Third Place, Thonglor Soi 10, Soi 55 Sukhumvit Rd | 02 714 7929 | Mon-Sat 10am-6pm | thirdplacebangkok.com/gallery
may 31–july 9 This series of abstract paintings by Niki Kokkinos features the artist’s impeccable use of mixed media techniques, such as paper folding, drawing, and painting with a palette of simple colours. The works portray the concept of the human condition, its creations and myths and most complex sensations. Kokkinos uses space and semi-geometry and semi-natural structures to symbolize change and paradox.
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ART & CULTURE
| cheat notes
Home Cooked Two of Thailand’s top food authors share recipes from the Thai kitchen By Craig Sauers
hile many of us in this day and age might bemoan the decline of the printed word and the gradual devaluation of genuinely good photography, others celebrate the rise of the blog, the Era of the Smart Phone and Tablet, the advent of widespread Internet consumption, even when it comes to our most treasured and timehonoured of traditions: the passing down of cooking knowledge. With Lonely Planet’s most recent foray into food writing, the publishing giants 5 8 | M AY 2 0 1 6
of backpacker lore play each side of the field. And to remarkable success. From the Source: Thailand sees two of the Kingdom’s most respected foodies, veteran photojournalist and author Austin Bush and the freewheeling, street food eating, online sensation Mark Wiens (see our Photo Feature and Artist Interview on the following pages for more about Wiens), team up to provide recipes and stories from kitchens nationwide. Divided regionally—North, South, Central, and Northeast—the book is beefed up by
the excellent photographic work of the two Thai-fluent food travellers. In between vibrant and often impeccably framed images of the cooks and their treasured dishes, the book offers colourful stories that help keep Thai culinary traditions alive in an era when it’s faster and easier to buy food from the street than make it is to make meals at home using hand-me-down recipes. While Bush and Wiens have been frequently found in print, the two have mostly made their mark online, where bangkok101.com
cheat notes | ART & CULTURE they provide immediate snapshots of Thai street food and culinary traditions. For proof, look to Bush’s excellent blog, austinbushphotography.com, and Wiens’ cutting-edge eatingthaifood.com. In fact, both are at their best when they turn the lens to the margins— the home cooks in Khlong Toey, the humble satay vendors in Silom, the grannies making laab the oldfashioned way in Mae Hong Son (i.e. with a cleaver in a dusty shack). So it’s no surprise that the most modest of operations, especially those that have been passed down from generation to generation, are the meat and potatoes of this Lonely Planet title. But even when talking to the likes of Chef Eak from Soul Food Mahanakorn, who expounds the virtues of the humble aubergine and explains the beauty of a well-balanced yam, the duo excel in
drawing out a variety of recipes and anecdotes for this cookbook-cumstorybook. Throughout the book, the authors take turns informing the passages with their knowledgeable writing. At the bottom of each are the initials AB or MW (which ought to be pretty self-explanatory). And most also include a quote from the source being featured. For example, “'Whenever there is going to be hot sun, I make sure to prepare a big amount of nuea dat deaw,'” an insight given by the owner of a restaurant in Udon Thani, passed on through the writing of Wiens. The constant shifting back and forth, however, rarely if ever becomes tiring, since the focus is on the cooks, their sources of inspiration, and their backstories. For aspiring home cooks—at least those who want to make the
perfect wok-fried pak boong fai daeng—the recipes provided are relative godsends. Better still are the locator maps, which roughly detail how to find the real-deal dishes in Bangkok and beyond, so that you can actually taste that gaeng hung lay before attempting to replicate it at home. And fear not, netizens: “From the Source: Thailand,” the second in the series after Italy, features loads of lovely images, perhaps a nod to the fact that we eat with our eyes as much as our mouths—or that our attention spans demand less text nowadays, particularly when it comes to tomes written about food. The book begins with the adage: “The key to creating outstanding Thai food can be summed up in one word: balance.” And perhaps balance is the key to producing outstanding writing about Thai food, as well.
If Cats Disappeared from the World
Long-time journalist Nick Seeley’s debut novel enters Phnom Penh’s treacherous and drug-fuelled underworld with Will Keller, a oncegreat war photographer down on his luck on the blurry edges of the Cambodian capital. When Keller meets the beautiful Kara Saito and offers to help her find her missing sister, June, who had disappeared while interning for the local newspaper, he discovers the most dangerous thing in Cambodia might be June herself.
Chiang Mai-based synth band Polycat follow up 2015’s highly acclaimed EP with the full-length “80 Kisses.” Top charting tracks “You Had Me at Hello” and “So Long” make the cut, joining the latest single, “Teardrops,” all holding true to Polycat’s 80s-inspired sound. Fans can purchase “80 Kisses” as a set with a vinyl copy, cassette, and CD in a fabric pouch, and as another set with a CD only in a fabric clutch, priced at B2500 and B599 respectively.
Based on a novel of the same name, Akira Nagai’s If Cats Disappeared from the World follows a thirtyyear-old postman, who decides to leave his father’s house and live independently shortly after his mother’s death. Soon this loner is not so alone, as he brings home a cat. When he receives news that he doesn’t have much time to live, he is offered a Faustian bargain that could change the course of those close to him, if not the whole world.
Available at Asia Books and Kinokuniya for B750
Available at facebook.com/ polycatband
Opens on May 26 at SF Cinema and Major Cineplex theatres
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ART & CULTURE
Street Food Sensei Meet Mark Wiens, the Bangkok-based food blogger whose websites and YouTube channel have become go-to resources for people the world over—even locals! With so many food blogs out there, how have you got so many people to trust your word on where and what to eat in Thailand? I don’t need to cover restaurants or food just for the purpose of reviewing them. I try to make it clear that I’m not a restaurant critic. I just love to eat, and share the experiences in my own way. Having the freedom to produce content on a subject you’re passionate about, with a personal feel to it, is how I think someone can be trusted and build a loyal audience. A blog is about building a personal relationship with a reader, and not only just sharing inspirational content, but also offering content that is helpful and beneficial to the audience. When I understood how to benefit the reader, while still maintaining my own personality, that’s when my blogs started to grow and I was able to 6 0 | M AY 2 0 1 6
connect with a wider audience. It took a couple years, and it’s still a work in progress. Additionally, when many blogs expand they tend to hire writers or have a team of writers, and while I understand that can be a necessary part of growth, I think a blog flourishes when it has a definite person behind it.
I understand you’re a self-taught photographer and videographer. What got you interested in photography and filming?
I bought my first point-and-shoot camera when I started traveling, right after graduating from university (sometime in 2008). And due to my love for food, I naturally started taking photos of just about everything I ate. Food photography for me completely stems from my passion of food, rather than having a passion for photography, although I do really enjoy
taking photos now as well. I think we always and continually need to try to new things and aim for growth in whatever we do, and making food videos is something I decided to try, without realizing how much I would enjoy it—both the filming and editing parts. Video is so engaging, and it’s such a powerful way to tell a story. I never would have known I enjoyed making videos so much if I hadn’t tried it out and experimented with video in the first place.
How did you shift from being a guy who loved eating and writing about Thai food to an ambassador of the country’s cuisine, even offering recipes for home cooks? I started to realize that many of my readers would travel to Thailand and eat authentic Thai food, and they would return to their home country,
interviews | ART & CULTURE and would want to cook and recreate the authentic tastes that they had experienced in Thailand. Since my mother-in-law is one of the best Thai cooks I know, publishing Thai recipes was a natural progression. That’s how I decided to start publishing recipes, in addition to restaurant reviews and tips. I plan to publish many more recipes, keeping the method of cooking, ingredients, and the taste authentic, just like you’d find the dish in Thailand.
What are some of your favourite neighbourhoods in Bangkok to go to for lip-smacking street food? Any secret haunts you can share?
Wang Lang Market has been a longtime favorite of mine, mainly because of its busy, yet still friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Within the labyrinth of Wang Lang Market you’ll find lots of street shopping, with an abundance of both street food stalls and local restaurants. Check out Som Tam Sida within the market, and also don’t miss the famous khanom tang taek (waffles filled with coconut or egg yolk candy) on the main market road opposite Siriraj Hospital. Yaowarat, also known as Bangkok’s Chinatown, is another place that never ceases to fascinate. The main Yaowarat road is a major tourist attraction, but if you get off the main road and explore some of the back lanes and alleys, you’ll discover a never ending array of incredible street food and old school restaurants that haven’t changed for generations. Finally, the Chokchai 4 Food Market (located just off Lad Prao, between Sois 51 and 55) provides a little bit of an off-the-beaten-path Bangkok street food experience. In the evening a cluster of street food stalls is set up, selling everything from satay to nam prik (chili dip), and along with lots of food to choose from, it’s just a wonderful street food atmosphere.
How do you find places to eat and document?
When I first started blogging and making videos about Thai food I would just go to the nearest street food stall and share the local experience. However, as time has progressed and I’ve grown as a person and food lover, I now often do a bit more research, usually on Thai food websites bangkok101.com
or forums. Another way I love to find places to eat is by local viewer suggestions and recommendations over social media. Also, I discovered some of my favorite street food stalls and restaurants by simply walking past, seeing that they were busy, and just stopping in with no prior plans to eat.
Over the past few years what have been some highlight moments?
For business, my biggest single highlight was earning my first few cents (and it was literally something like $0.03 at first) from advertising on my blog. It was that tiny amount of money that made me realize there was a potential to earn money on the internet doing something I was passionate about. On the other hand, when it comes to travel and food, there have been so many little experiences of hospitality and kindness that I’ve been the recipient of, which have been the most memorable part of traveling. Food is such a huge part of cultures around the world, and if you can genuinely appreciate a culture’s food, you can relate and connect to so many people. If I think about some of the best meals I’ve ever had, there’s often a person I can remember to go with it.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
My wife and I still have no kids, but having a family is something we are thinking about soon. At the moment we are quite nomadic, taking trips on the spur of the moment frequently. In 5 or 10 years from now, if we have kids, I think we’ll probably be doing a little less international travel, but I’d like to focus on covering more travel and food across Thailand—road tripping and finding some of the best restaurants and food spots throughout the kingdom.
Any other projects you’re currently working on?
I’m really focusing at the moment on growing my YouTube video channel, making videos about food based travel, and lots of Thai food. I’m also working on a Thai street food recipes eBook, but it’s a slow process since my wife and I travel so frequently. Additionally, I have a couple Thai food t-shirts that I wear and sell, but will be expanding with more designs soon.
To follow Mark online, visit: youtube.com/user/migrationology migrationology.com M AY 2 0 1 6 | 6 1
art & culture photofeature
Roadside Restaurants T he St r e et Fo o d Photo g ra phy of M a rk W ien s
G a i y a n g K h a o S u a n Kw a n g at G a i Ya n g R a b e a b, K h o n K a en L u a k ji m r u a m m it at H ia Wa n K ha o To m Pla
G o o n g o b wo o n s e n at S o m s a k B o o O b K h a o ne ow d a m s a n g k ay a at Silo m S oi 2 0 m o r n i n g ma rket
Ay ut t hay a r iver p raw n s at R u ay G o o n g Pa o Pla t o o c hu c he e at S o ei
O p e n a i r f r e s h ma r ket i n Ay ut t h ay a M o o k r o b at S oi 6 Po c ha na
Meat & Bones, see p76 6 8 | M AY 2 0 1 6
AROY sanpellegrino’s fine dining lovers series On May 25 and 26 the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok hosts the latest in Sanpellegrino’s ‘Fine Dining Lovers’ guest chef series, welcoming Chef de Cuisine Kirk Westaway from Singapore’s JAAN, a modern French restaurant listed on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. The chef will present a Masterclass at Tables Grill, allowing diners the opportunity to interact and watch the dishes being prepared. Chef Kirk’s signature creations make use of everything from richly marbled Kagoshima Wagyu beef to organic hen’s eggs, but he also explores the many flavours that can be coaxed from the humble tomato. The dinners cost B5899++ per person including Bellavista sparkling wine, S.Pellegrino sparkling, and Acqua Panna still natural mineral waters. To make a reservation please call 0 2254 6250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
bowl, stem, & foot With over 260 years of glass-making experience, it’s safe to say Riedel knows a thing or two about selecting the right glassware for your wine—not to mention wine, in general. So it’s with great excitement that the brand lands in Gaysorn shopping complex with the opening of the Riedel Wine Bar & Cellar, where 200 exclusive wines, selected by sommelier Christian Baeppler, as well as 40 labels by the glass in three different serving sizes, are available. The wine list will be updated every couple of months, and the vino is accompanied by a menu of Mediterranean dishes. Visit facebook.com/riedelwinebarBKK for more details.
uniquely j’aime Chef Amerigo Sesti has recently unveiled brand-new à la carte and tasting menus at awardwinning J’AIME at U Sathorn. With a host of unique dishes, from lobster and chestnut bisque to Gillardeau oysters with leek vichyssoise and seaweed butter toast to pan-seared Japanese Kamui beef fillet with potato confit, beef cheek, and bone marrow, the menus transcend expectations, breathing new life into contemporary French cooking without losing sight of its time-honoured traditions. Competitively priced, they offer great value, as well. For more information or to make a reservation for a table, call 0 2119 4899 or email email@example.com.
a taste of tokyo Chef Teruyuki Kojima, Japanese Chef at The Peninsula Tokyo, takes his tempura talents to The Peninsula Bangkok from May 6-15, for a limited time preparing his authentic Japanese dishes for lunch and dinner. Chef Kojima will also lead a special cooking class on Tuesday, May 10, starting at 10am (B5000++ per person). Among other things, he will teach guests how to make authentic Shoyu stock and traditional tempura. Call 0 2020 2888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot at lunch, dinner, or the cooking class. bangkok101.com
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FOOD & DRINK
| meal deals Golden Egg Pasta
Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn 33/1 South Sathorn Rd | 0 2210 8100 | eastingrandsathorn.com Throughout May, Luce offers pasta lovers a chance to taste traditional Italian cuisine, in particular delectable pasta hand-made by Chef Edoardo Bonavolt. The chef’s creations features snow fish-filled ravioli served with chickpea velouté, mussels and mantis shrimp sauce, Italian pork sausage, black truffle slices and Fossa cheese fondue, cannelloni filled with broccoli and ricotta served with puttanesca sauce and caper fruit, and ItalianThai fusion angel hair pasta sautéed with crispy fish, holy basil, chilli, and crispy fish skin.
Intercontinental Bangkok Hotel 973 Phloen Chit Rd | 0 2656 0444 | bangkok.intercontinental.com Fireplace Grill and Bar presents a special menu of seasonal dishes. Made for sharing, each new dish on the “Seasonal Delights” menu features premium ingredients imported from France. Highlights include Crispy Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Chives, Crunchy Samphire with Pan-Seared Scallops and Saffron, and Langoustine with Bacon Bits, Brown Rice, Truffle Oil, and Slow-Cooked Egg. Prices start from B520++ per dish.
Pullman Bangkok Grande Sukhumvit 30 Sukhumvit 21 | 0 2204 4000 | pullmanbangkokgrandesukhumvit.com Every Thursday evening, Atelier invites guests to feast on an extensive spread of sizzling BBQ seafood, including tiger prawns, squid, New Zealand mussels, steamed blue crab, a veritable ocean of fish, and more. The buffet is priced at B1499++ with soft drinks and juices or B1899++ with unlimited sparkling wine, house wine, local beer, fruit juice, and soft drinks. Don’t miss the special “come 4, pay 3” deal for adults.
Endless Street Eats Pullman Bangkok Hotel G
88 Silom Rd | 0 2238 1991 | pullmanbangkokhotelg.com Enjoy a special buffet of Thai street food specialties at Mistral. The chefs will serve a feast of street-eat favourites from live cooking stations, such as som tam with grilled marinated chicken or pork; Thai satay with condiments, grilled pork, and chicken balls; Isaan-style sausage; tom yam gung; and pad thai. Thai tea crepes cake, pandan cake, Thai-inspired macaroons, and homemade coconut ice cream highlight the dessert menu. The lunch buffet is available for B599 net, including coffee or tea.
Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit 250 Sukhumvit Rd | 0 2649 8888 | sheratongrandesukhumvit.com To mark the 20th anniversary of Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Starwood Preferred Guest and The Grande Club members and their guests can enjoy a tantalizing 50 per cent off all buffets at Orchid Café, as well as the Sunday Jazzy Brunch. The buffets at Orchid Café include Italian, Thai, and Japanese dishes. And on Friday and Saturday evenings, it’s home to the Weekend Grande Seafood Buffet. The Sunday Jazzy Brunch includes French oysters, sushi and sashimi, Indian curries, and more.
Ship to Shore W Bangkok
106 North Sathorn Rd | 0 2344 4000 | wbangkok.com From now until June, it’s a seafood feast every Tuesday and Saturday at The Kitchen Table. The seafood dishes available these nights include freshly shucked fine de clare oysters, grilled king crab legs, wild barramundi steamed with lime and chilli, stir-fried tiger prawns with chilli bean sauce, and more. Guests can also decide how they’d like their seafood cooked: grilled, stir-fried, steamed, or baked. The buffet is priced at B1300++.
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Notes on Street Eatin’Man “Our middle’s empty, there it all begins…” – Brecht, The Threepenny Opera The world’s oldest profession is not what we usually think it is. Before and after sex or procreation comes the need to fuel and replenish, comes the peddler, the itinerant provider going to wherever his clients may be, jogging the well-trod path to the hungry masses, a bamboo pole bouncing on shoulders holding earthen jugs full of tempting staples. The man with his rickety box, almost like a kid’s toy wagon used for the paper-boy route, the rusted ironwork that barely holds together, an appendage of charcoal held on wobbly wheels, one to either side, some smaller than others, the case for raw ingredients, plastic rather than glass, always fogged and unwiped, the tiny space for working—this is what stands between a man and oblivion. We notice the food, not him. To notice him isn’t as pleasurable as to eat what he offers. Is he a chef or some tamer of the repetitive, a one-man or -woman assembly line making one thing only, wedded his whole life to the carcass of a chicken, to the rind of a guava, to boiling innards, wispy long candy beards of a sage? Restaurants tell us who we want to be and cater to what we aspire, but street food tells us who we are and may always be forced to remain. And what joy we muster in accepting the grubby limitations of it all. Besides, it’s not just that this might taste more pungent
or succulent for far less. There’s no sullen service, no gloves, no tipping, no silverware to get clumsy over— no silly etiquette, gloved hands, stifling silence, or pretentions that should never be attached to a room full of stomachs caught in the act of filling and emptying and digesting. Yes, in this world the margins are greater than the centre (perhaps that there is a centre at all is the greatest illusion). Are these vendors the rural in the urban, the primal, or even prehistoric in the contemporary? Or simply convenient, clever, deep-frying in oil re-used into eternity, steel sieves draining battered plantains? This is emergency food that must not be romanticized. Untold billions could not survive without it. These are prestidigitators that appear out of the dark dusk of city mornings, roaming the boulevards to affect their daily magic. This is an invisible invasion, quotidian yet extraordinary, processing unquantifiable amounts of protein and earning in satang by the millions, delivering to the billions. Is the stubborn presence of this sidewalk army, their lingering presence everywhere, to be celebrated or condemned? A symbol of underdevelopment or tradition? The source of thrills or shame? Either way, we are summoned to bite in, to savour, to pull up a plastic stool and partake of the world, two steps from paradise and one inch from the garbage.
BANGKOK 101 Food Editor John Krich has just returned from Kuala Lumpur for his second stint in Bangkok. Previously the chief food columnist and feature writer on travel, arts, and sports for the Asian Wall St. Journal, John is a native New Yorker who has authored nine books, including the classic on Asian travel Music in Every Room: Around the World in a Bad Mood, Won Ton Lust: Adventures in Search of the World’s Best Chinese Restaurant, the PEN/Hemingway Award-winning novel, A Totally Free Man, and the recent A Fork in Asia’s Road, a collection of his best food pieces. He has been a frequent contributor to major publications like TIME/Asia, Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times, and San Francisco Examiner. bangkok101.com
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FOOD & DRINK
The Smokin’ Pug Low & slow soul food
hy can’t American food ever get a fair shake? Or a decent milkshake? Where junk food and burger uniformity prevails, brought to us from corporate franchising headquarters, Bangkok has finally got a dose of the real thing—in this case, the city’s most luscious Southern barbecue, arrived with the Garbers via Chengdu from Milwaukee and Chicago, with a bit of inspiration from Lockhart, Texas. For months, the Smokin’ Pug, a somewhat cramped bar shoehorned into an exposed brick space on the fringes of Patpong, has been the talk of foodies and off-duty chefs—a place where smoked meats are done just right, slow-cooked for numerous hours on a Thai rooftop, where the attention to detail extends to the sauces made from scratch, the coleslaw, and sweet potato fries, and where Bose-amplified blues music accompanies every plate with an added dose of funky authenticity. 7 2 | M AY 2 0 1 6
Humble as it may be, the Smokin’ Pug isn’t afraid to go up against the biggest chains in presenting the staples of carnivorous American cookery. The chicken wings (B250), peppery and moist, put most Buffalostyle versions to shame, and deserve to be on a platter rather than stuffed in a bucket. The ribs, in half (worth the B575) or humongous full slabs (B825), bear plenty of pork flesh and are just softened enough to gnaw at while retaining full flavour. The pulled pork can be a tad greasy, but is more than amply boosted by the superbly charred yet not a bit dry beef brisket—a true Texas revelation, ready to soak in a full squeeze of the Pug’s three well-balanced barbecue toppings (including a hot ginger blend that makes for a nice homage to Asia). On the generous plate of sliders (B395), the third entry is a perfectly battered chicken breast smothered in tart, cheesy herb butter. For the bored or the Tex-Mex addicted, all
forms of meat can be used to top nachos, stuff tacos, or quesadillas, as well. While the cornbread is disappointing, even the baked beans here are homemade and lusciously smoky. And, naturally, the place boasts one of the most meticulous draft beer selections in town, mostly Belgian and Japanese. For homesick Americans and starstruck foreign fans alike, here one bite can instantly transport you from Bangkok to an open campfire on the Rio Grande, and the bittersweet music seems to blend perfectly with all forms of tangy survival. As the Smokin’ Pug proves so effortlessly, there’s a lot more to finger-lickin’ than the Colonel, a lot more to hard livin’ than the Hard Rock. BY JOHN KRICH
The Smokin’ Pug 88 Surawong Rd 08 3029 7598 facebook.com/smokinpug Tues-Sun 5pm-midnight bangkok101.com
review | FOOD & DRINK
M Krub Picture perfect precision
here’s only one thing wrong with the dishes at M Krub: they’re just too beautiful to eat. Once you get over the guilt of putting a fork into the translucent egg shell of sugar holding two pomegranate seeds, or running your chop sticks across a set of Chinese pictographs and swimming fish handdrawn around the edge of your plate, or testing whether those gorgeous garlands of purple flower petals are alright to eat, the highest quality of ingredients awaits. Set on the second floor of the hyper-trendy MahaNakorn Cube, and actually topping the high-end elegance at fellow tenants Dean & DeLuca and Joel Robuchon, M Krub (the name doesn’t stand for club, or grub, or sweet mee krob, but the polite Thai epithet added to “thank you” and more) is set in one surprisingly intimate yet brightly-lit corner of the building. Its hushed surroundings fairly burst with elegance and can hardly contain the phalanx of servers, tea-pourers, and even a designated dish “explainer” all at your command. M Krub has been billed by others as something of a “fusion” restaurant, but in truth, except for a dollop of salmon eggs or a black cod crust with a hint of pistachio, all of the tasting menus on offer—ranging in price from an already satisfying B4000 selection to the ultimate B12000 splurge—are resolutely loyal to the ultimate in pure Cantonese cuisine. So what if the tied sacks of Chinese dumplings are actually made of egg white and called “aumonieres”? Or if the traditional crispy chicken starter isn’t a full bird but merely one perfect slice on an exceptionally good tofu toast? The real heart of the Chinese matter here is seafood presented with a modicum of spicing—and why spoil things when you’ve got huge slabs of fish maw this excellent, drowned in an abalone sauce cooked for seven days? Even the between-course bangkok101.com
refreshers of chicken broth and lychee sherbet are memorable. There are four signature cocktails named after legendary Chinese beauties, but the fine teas go down even better. And unlike many Chinese establishments, M Krub doesn’t shy away from desserts but embraces them: the congealed topping on an array of lime cakes may look like the usual red bean, but it’s actually
a chocolate ganache as rich as any French place can do. And for those needing a little kick, M Krub presents a playful toothpaste tube of hot mustard. BY JOHN KRICH
M Krub Fl 2, MahaNakorn Cube, 96 Naradhiwas Rd 0 2019 8105 facebook.com/MkrubMahanakhon daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm M AY 2 0 1 6 | 7 3
FOOD & DRINK
Loop Italian on high
e eat with our eyes as much as our mouths. That’s what makes dining with a view such a memorable experience. Looking out over one of the busiest junctions in the Siam area, the alfresco Loop, nestled on the eighth floor of Pathumwan Princess Hotel, satisfies the soul as well as the appetite. Loop specializes in rustic Italian dishes, prepared by Chef Roberto in the way his “mama” used to make them. The restaurant is surprisingly calm and quiet despite the hustle and bustle of Phayathai Road below it. Guests can sit indoor and out, also enjoying sunsets that simply shimmer on the surface of the turquoise pool. The menu covers pretty much every angle of what you would expect from an honest Italian restaurant—and then some. The Schiacciata Summer (B290) is unique from typical pizza as the Schiacciata dough, baked until soft, comes topped with fresh vegetables, like cherry tomato, radicchio, wild rocket, and Italian basil. It’s more like salad than heavy pizza, and a fine starter. The Grilled Zucchini Rolls (B340) see air-dry salted beef and smoked Scamorza cheese wrapped in zucchini and elegantly plated on top of pumpkin and potato puree. The Fantasy Salmon (B400) features marinated salmon fully stuffed inside smoked salmon carpaccio. The fish itself tastes heavenly in any form, and even it’s better with sweet homemade balsamic vinegar. Soups remain firmly entrenched in the classics. Zuppa Di Zucca E Gamberi (B260) is a delicious blend of pumpkin and juicy prawns, while Funghi E Castagne (B260), featuring porcini with sweet chestnuts and olive oil, is not to be missed. The distinctive taste and scent of smoked bacon perfectly complements fresh scallops and the scent of citrus in a standout main, the Capensante Al Bacon (B580). Another mouth-watering dish also highlights the aquatic: with the King Mackerel, Chef Roberto sears 74 | M AY 2 0 1 6
the fillet and serves it with olive oil and ratatouille, uniting sweet and savoury elements (B540). For carnivores, the Costolette Di Agnello in Crosta Di Pistacchi will do the trick (B990). A pistachio-encrusted lamb chop comes with hearty polenta and earthy sautéed mushrooms, a wonderful interplay of textures and tastes. For a sweet end, a range of Italian desserts and gelatos are available, as are coffees and teas. But make sure you order the chef’s original tiramisu
(B180), which is arresting enough to look at, but divine to eat. Or, in keeping with the classics, opt for the quintessential panna cotta (B180) and Torta Della Nanna, that famous slice of apple cake served with vanilla ice cream (B180). BY P. JANSAMAKAO
Loop 8F Pathumwan Princess Hotel 444 MBK Center, Phayathai Rd 0 2216 3700 | pprincess.com Daily 6.30am-10.30pm bangkok101.com
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FOOD & DRINK
Meat & Bones Smoke on the rib-rack (the flavor doesn’t lie)
othing represents the very soul of stateside cooking than smokehouse BBQ, and slow-smoked ribs are as traditional as it gets. The cooking process is time-consuming, the seasoning meticulous and the technique not forgiving of amateurs. There are but a few places where true carni-noisseurs can be assured of finding that realdeal combination of smoke-infused flavor and melt-in-the-mouth bite— they include Atlanta, Chicago and… Thonglor Soi 17, home to Thai-run rib joint Meat & Bones. Founding partner and chief smoke-meister Peerawat ‘Por’ Ruangroenkulkrit is a digital design studio owner whose passion for smoked meats led to him to launch this true-to-the-heritage BBQ dining experience in late 2015. Snugly ensconced in the funky food stall cash-court at community mall The Commons, this compact, aptly named eatery has an equally compact menu built around their supremely delectable smoked ribs. Racks are sloooooowsmoked daily off-site for up to eight hours—the traditional process that gives the meat its unmistakably rustic taste and succulent texture. The pork baby-back ribs arrive with a deep red-brown crust that can be achieved only through hours-long immersion in the fumes of smoldering lamyai wood. There’s also a two-fistful boneless pork rib burger on offer, while the beef rib tips are smoked for an extra two hours for that juicy, impossibly tender BBQ goodness. And true to its name, M&B also offers beefy-tasting, buttery-smooth bone marrow, grillroasted and served with toast squares. Given the shop’s name and casual venue atmosphere, knives and forks are optional. Using the thoughtfully provided plastic glove, diners are encouraged to just grab a rib and gnaw it clean, or give it a couple of gentle shakes and watch the pork fall right off the bone. Whereas most locally-found BBQ uses a sweet, wet-marinate 7 6 | M AY 2 0 1 6
preparation, the meat here is not cooked in a sauce per se, and therein lies the rub… literally. Using a “dry rub” method to massage-in the powdered seasonings allows the meat, spices and wood smoke to comingle and interact to form that flavorful, tantalizingly roasted crust. Such are the culinary complexities that occur within the smoker-oven, and which cannot be simply poured out of a bottle. There’s also a choice of authentic sides like classic coleslaw, mashed
potatoes, corn salad, tangy winter slaw, and some of the best cornbread ever served outside the continental US. The only items not locally sourced are the sharply spicy Ginger Fizz soda and actual moonshine liquor that comes served—wait for it—in a spoutlidded mason jar. BY CHRIS LOMBARDI
Meat & Bones The Commons, Thong Lor 17 | 08 1933 7143 facebook.com/meatandbonesbangkok Mon-Thu 11.30am-2.30 pm, 5.30pm-10pm, Fri-Sun 11.30am-10.30pm
The Soulful Science of Thai Cuisine: Tree Basil Leaves Thai culinary repertoire has always balanced between art and science. At Ruen Urai – “the House of Gold” – dishes are prepared with passion and flair based on an intimate knowledge of ingredients and their flavours, textures, and aromas. Paying homage to the herbal medicine doctor who originally resided in the century-old golden teakwood house in which Ruen Urai is located, our Thai gourmet voyage continues to explore zesty herbs and spices and their meanings and usage. Through their chemistry and harmony, alchemy is created. Tree basil, also called shrubby basil or wild basil, is grown in India and Southeast Asia. Its large leaves have strong taste and aroma. Besides being full of vitamin C and calcium, they also provide several health benefits such as being antioxidant, improving digestion, eliminating nausea, and decelerating the dispersal of cancer cells. They are often used in country-style cooking such as beef strip loin stir-fried with tree basil leaves.
Ruen Urai at the Rose Hotel opens from 12 noon to 11 p.m. 118 Soi Na Wat Hualumphong, Surawongse Road Tel. (66) 2 266 8268-72 www.ruen-urai.com
FOOD & DRINK
Islero Bangkok Taking Spanish cuisine by the horns (no bull!)
ith revered culinary tradition, a dash of molecular magic, and a potent soupçon of Michelin-star essence, Islero Bangkok entices discerning diners with its innovative take on fine Spanish cuisine. Located on Wireless Road, the newly opened restaurant’s highly original approach to Spanish cooking evokes the defiance of its bovine namesake—a fighting bull which famously slew Spain’s most renowned matador nearly eight decades past. Today, that rebellious spirit comes alive in Islero’s intriguing menu, jointly created by Chef Pedro Luis Rodriguez Serrano and the renowned Chef Eduard Bosch of the three Michelin-starred El Bulli in Girona. Now Islero’s top-toque, Chef Pedro brings his gastronomic alchemy to the table with original house specialties that defy conventional food-physics with intense flavours and startlingly unexpected textural events. Starters include the ‘Can Set’ (B800), a trio of rather ordinary sardine tins brimming with seasoned razor clams, mussels, and marinated prawns, respectively, crowned with wispy peaks of light-as-acloud soy-essence foam, slivers of chive, and roasted garlic. Chef Pedro demonstrates ample creative deconstruction skills with his ‘spherical olive’, which features a deceptively ordinary-looking green olive which explodes in a gush of savoury puree when bitten, eliciting a what just happened? reaction from a few pleasantly startled diners. The crispy-chewy crystal bread squares topped with folds of premium quality jamon Ibérico (B220) is a musttry, while the cheese cream features a bed of smooth-blended Manchego and Idiazabal cheeses boxed in by four walls of impossibly thin bread slices. The rostit Catalan cannelloni is a supremely smooth-textured doublemeat delight of slow-cooked beef and pork ensconced in a fine-gauge crepe with a truffled Spanish cheese 7 8 | M AY 2 0 1 6
sauce demi-glace, and the grilled octopus in Castilian broad bean stew beckons the spoon with its captivating aroma and rich broth. Mains include an ocean-fresh baked red snapper with grilled potato and red onion (B680), and Australian lamb rack (B1600) sided by grilled tomato and peppers with vanilla. Other sumptuous viands emerging from Islero’s hightech Jospur oven include prime rib, tomahawk steak, and 16 hour-roasted suckling pig. For dessert, tocinillo de cielo (B230) features cream-topped egg yolk custard cubes garnished with blueberry and cherry drops of the afore-described explodes-inyour-mouth variety, and the torrijas with ice cream (B240) is a milkmarinated bread loaf, pan-crisped
and caramelised with cinnamon. Islero also boasts an impressive list of sommelier-curated wines that pair perfectly with the restaurant’s sophisticated fare. The beautifully done interior is of a contemporary-rustic design, thematically built around a central partition/installation of variouslytoned wooden squares mounted on darkened metal trellises. And for a more casual dining experience, the restaurant’s CAVA section serves tapas with group-friendly, long table seating. BY CHRIS LOMBARDI
Islero Bangkok 63 Athenee Tower, Wireless Rd 0 2168 8100 facebook.com/IsleroBangkok daily 5pm-midnight bangkok101.com
review | FOOD & DRINK
Elements A fresh take on French fare
ast-meets-West gets a refreshing reassessment at Elements, where French cooking traditions are punctuated by Japanese flavours and culinary fitments. Designed by Antony Scholtmeyer, an earnest Australian chef with a background in French cuisine who has also worked and eaten his way across Japan, not to mention he’s married to a Japanese woman, the menu at the Okura Prestige Bangkok’s upscale-casual restaurant offers a unique coming together of two seemingly disparate cuisines. Consider the soups. Scallops, topped with foie gras and shaved bonito, sit in a deep, shimeji-scented miso consommé. Its counterpart is the classic lobster bisque, but the lobster has been marinated in yuzu, giving the meat a tanginess that cuts through the broth and matcha-powder foam (B410 each). Appetizers also offer an inspired fusion of contrasting elements. Sautéed white asparagus from Khao Yai joins pickled daikon, dollops of smoked tofu with shiso leaf, and orange pearls of salmon roe (B340). Meanwhile ocean trout, cooked sous vide to keep it fork-tender, really comes together when eaten with some salmon roe, pickled carrot, and a slathering of slow-reduced orange and miso coulis (B370). Even the oysters, which change daily according to freshness and availability, are prepared with Japanese touches, like a teaspoon of tobiko, a dot of ponzu gel, and a hint of freshly grated wasabi (B410 for four). In the mains, a juicy, soy-marinated duck breast with duck leg confit, pumpkin puree, smoked eggplant with ginger, and vibrant yuzu jus offers perhaps the greatest marriage of flavours on the menu (B890). Yet with all the Japanese overtones, it can be easy to forget that the food remains firmly French in style and presentation. The five-strong Rossini Menu reveals Executive Chef Scholtmeyer’s unique take on the Gallic foie-gras-and-beef bangkok101.com
specialty, all while staying true to the dish’s roots even when the structure of its components changes. As well as Australian wagyu, the chef tries out a few less-common ingredients as mains, including meaty tuna medallions, which are topped with foie gras, dried cranberries, and truffle sauce and rest on a sort of buckwheat risotto (B1200). Elements boasts a solid wine list, even featuring a rare variety from the central Japanese valleys, all of which can be explained in greater detail by the young and affable sommelier. Until
June, there are a few different sakurainspired cocktails to choose from, as well, like the Cloudy Skies, which uses yuzu, sakura syrup, and vodka to eyeopening effect (B475). In a city packed with copycats and fusion fiends, a restaurant like Elements is a fresh reminder that originality still reigns. BY CRAIG SAUERS
Elements The Okura Prestige Bangkok Hotel Park Ventures Ecoplex, 57 Wireless Rd okurabangkok.com | 0 2687 9000 Tue-Sat 6pm-10.30pm
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FOOD & DRINK
Hamilton’s Steak House Meaty marbled magnificence
he number of steak houses in Bangkok has expanded in size like the grain-fed cow in recent years, yet, as with the quality of our beef, few really stand out of the crowd. So let’s call Hamilton’s Steak House the marbled Japanese wagyu of Thai steak joints. The restaurant gives off a somewhat unique vibe, with a distinctive flair recalling Roaring 20s America. The floor at the entrance immediately demands attention, with its two different tile colours, while the shiny hardwood floor in the dining zone is sheer classic, a perfect contrast as a design element. The walls are decorated with grainy sepia photographs of old Bangkok, complemented by mirrors and glass windows revealing the green gardens outside. The astounding creations of Chef Veerawat Rodmanee, sous chef of the outlet, start with the restaurant’s spectacular Signature Gourmand Salad (B1300), which features soft and melting seared duck liver, a succulent lobster tail that turns out a nice goldenbrown, grilled Hokkaido scallops, and fresh mixed greens dressed with Hamilton’s homemade balsamic dressing. Also excellent in scent and taste is the mushroom soup, topped with puff pastry (B350)—a great combination of the earthy-flavoured broth and its textural foil on top. Of the Hamilton’s house specialties, Kurobuta pork spare ribs served with homemade steak fries and Hamilton’s signature BBQ sauce (B650) stands out like a shooting star. The meat that surrounds the ribs is supernaturally smooth and luscious, with the deep layers of flavour moving from one to the next. Pan-fried snow fish (B1000), which retains a velvety, succulent texture, comes with brown butter spinach, salmon roe, white wine sauce, and roasted hazelnuts; it’s served with a plentiful portion of grilled vegetables that brighten the dish. Among the wide selection of steaks, the highly marbled rib eye (B1800)
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from USAD prime beef comes with a large swath of fat, making it very juicy, appetizing, and, well, beefy, which is exactly how a quality steak should taste. Other signature cuts include the mouthwatering tenderloin (B1900) and long grain fed T-bone (B1600), a cut from a cow fed purely with corn for 240 days. All steaks here are aged, marinated, and grilled over lava stones to seal in their natural juices and flavours. Those with a sweet tooth (who still have space, after such a wonderful
filling meal) will enjoy the mellow Philadelphia cheese cake (B330). It’s served with blackcurrant jelly, Oreo cookie crumbs, and micro pistachio sponge with touch of chamomile. After that, stick a fork in you—you’re done. BY P. SONGSIRIARCHA
Hamilton’s Steak House Dusit Thani Bangkok, 946 Rama IV Rd 0 2200 9000 | dusit.com Daily 6pm-10pm (dinner), Mon-Fri.30am-2.30pm (lunch) bangkok101.com
FOOD & DRINK
| street eats
Seafood BBQ in Thong Lor I eat like
Our roving eater Nym knows her local grub inside-out and thrives on the stories behind the dishes. Each month, she takes an offbeat tour in search of the city’s next delectable morsel 8 2 | M AY 2 0 1 6
t’s clear that you can eat any kind of food on the streets of Bangkok and going to eat seafood in Chinatown is fun and exciting. But thankfully Thais don’t need to trek across the city to that famous neighborhood for delicious seafood if they are on the other side. One of the hottest neighbourhoods among Thais and non-Thais who live in Bangkok is Soi Thong lor or Sukhumwit 55 where there’s plenty of bar-hopping action taking place and it’s already famous for its nighttime dining scene. Recently, I crossed the city to meet up with friends for seafood on the street. Walking just a little beyond Soi 55 but still before Soi 57, you will come across the tantalising smell of seafood BBQ filling the air. When Talay Pao 57 (Seafood BBQ 57) is ready for action, the charcoals are red hot and ready to grill anything. From 100 metres away I can smell the shrimp shells charring and my mouth
begins to water. As soon as I get a seat I order those grilled shrimps and a spicy oyster salad. The best part of this place is the quality of the seafood, from Mahachai, along with their spicy seafood sauces. There are colours – red is the spiciest while the green sauce has a little sweetness as well. But once I get the super-fresh seafood, nothing else is needed to enhance the taste. The sweetness comes from the shrimp meat after I peel off the shells. You can tell they’re fresh because the orange and red colours from the shells stays on the meat. The little secret of cooking these BBQ shrimps is butter. They apply butter on the shells while grilling to attract the flames and soak up the special aroma of the seafood. The other recommended dish is the spicy oyster salad. It’s a mixture of raw oyster, nam prik pao (roasted curry paste), krathin leaves and deepfried shallots, seasoned with a little lime on the top. bangkok101.com
FOOD & DRINK
| breaking bread presented by sanpellegrino
FINE DINING WATER TO ENHANCE GREAT FOOD ACQUA PANNA AND S.PELLEGRINO. THE FINE DINING WATERS. www.finedininglovers.com Distributed by Global Food Products Co., Ltd. Tel. +66 26831751
Breaking Bread with
Chef Jackie Ho This master of Cantonese cuisine talks with JOHN KRICH about his humble beginnings and his links to tradition 8 4 | M AY 2 0 1 6
breaking bread presented by sanpellegrino | FOOD & DRINK
hy do we tend to take the exceptional standardbearers of Cantonese cuisine somewhat for granted? Mei Jiang restaurant, in the Peninsula Bangkok hotel, is one of but a handful of establishments in Bangkok—a city that teems with Chinese influence but not terribly much quality Chinese cuisine—that have maintained a menu and reputation for excellence, remaining a place where you can take friends or colleagues for private lunches or special occasions and never, ever be disappointed. That sounds easy to do, but it isn’t. At the helm of such a restaurant there has to be a steady, knowing presence like that of Chef Ho Hon Sing, more commonly referred to as Jackie Ho, a cheerful Hong Kong native not to be confused with Jackie Chan (even if his nightly tricks are on the same level as the kung fu stuntman, maybe better because they are live). A humble leader in the kitchen for the past 12 years, he is practically a Bangkokian by now, having put in 3 years at the Oriental previously. Like many a colleague in Cantonese fare, he began as a poor kid apprenticed out to dim sum bangkok101.com
duties, the hardest and most laborintensive of kitchen assignments, usually entailing crossing Hong Kong harbor in the middle of the night and beginning to knead and shape and stuff dough by 3am. Rising in the ranks, Chef Ho fulfilled a childhood dream to see Europe by working in England, then Italy and other locations before ending up in Thailand. At 54, he’s now an old pro, but he says “keeping a high level” remains his daily concern. To that, the Peninsula sponsors him on two trips a year back to mainland Chinese for inspiration—the latest to German-influenced, seafood-oriented Qingdao. The restaurant also offers monthly specials, including a current emphasis on bird’s nest, although for environmental reasons the Chef no longer uses shark’s fin (thankfully). This scrupulous kitchen master also manages to put out organic tofu, substitute egg whites, avoid gluten and even sneak the use of olive oil into some dishes, as he is constantly upgrading his customers’ requests to eat and stay healthy. He also emphasizes that he stands at the ready to tackle any special orders or
dietary needs not addressed on the menu, either for a single diner or in banquet planning. In Chef Ho’s hands, a simple rice steamed in lotus leaf or an unusual potato starch dumpling are amazingly satisfying. He’s got a deft touch for any sort of scallops, making his own X.O. sauce in-house and of course bringing decades of experience to bear in every slice of roast duck. For many non-Chinese, Cantonese food came to seem a bit dull and predictable over the years, as it is the staple fare of the world’s innumerable Chinatowns. However, within China itself the cooking of Guangzhou is considered the height of the nation’s culinary art. That’s because of a reliance on fresh ingredients and superb roast meats, unspoiled or unadorned with heavy sauces, too much garlic, or harsh leeks, or ginger. Yes, simplicity is the highest aim in any art and the luxurious simplicity of Mei Jiang is mirrored in the mild-mannered personality of its head man. Order anything here and what you will get is something beyond taste or flavor. You’ll get consistency and loyalty to the finest supplies and traditions that have no need of change. M AY 2 0 1 6 | 8 5
FOOD & DRINK
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| made in thailand
made in thailand | FOOD & DRINK
Dairy-free, Gluten-free, but definitely not Flavour-free Try tasty alternatives at Theera Healthy Bake Room By Julia Offenberger
hai food is diverse, cheap, and downright delicious. The only downside: it isn’t always the healthiest of foods. Deep-fried, sugar-laden, excessively meaty, and laced with MSG, some of the most commonly loved foods are actually quite terrible for health and well-being. And that’s without even taking food allergies or intolerances into account. In response to these dining dangers, Theeta “Uang” Hotrakitya opened Theera Healthy Bake Room, where she offers gluten- and dairy-free versions of desserts and breads, as well as wholesome meals. Uang was trained at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Dusit cooking school and started selling desserts via Facebook. But her path quickly changed when she discovered her son was intolerant to gluten and dairy. Good mother that she is, Uang began to experiment in her kitchen, trying to perfect “normal” recipes without using dairy or gluten and then selling the most successful of these products on Facebook. Her audience—mostly Thai people struggling with food allergies— expanded to the point where opening her first shop on Soi Sukhumvit 42 wasn’t just a good business decision, but rather a necessity. Now, Uang runs another two branches: one in Siam Paragon and the other in the new Central Eastville complex. While health food long ago became trendy in the West, it’s only starting to bangkok101.com
find its footing in Thailand. Replicating dishes isn’t so easy where certain ingredients just don’t exist. “I’ve done a lot of research on Western websites and blogs. However, I still need to adjust my recipes, [because] here it’s either not easy to find ingredients or it’s too expensive to use imported gluten-free flours,” explains Uang, who nevertheless claims that her biggest hurdle is creating gluten-free or vegan versions of pre-existing and widely loved dishes. Whenever possible, she sources ingredients from local suppliers to mitigate costs while supporting Thai businesses, especially those who specialize in hard-to-find items, like coconut yoghurt. Some other rare goods she creates from scratch, including her soy-based ice-cream. Though health-conscious, Uang herself is relaxed about food and admits to eating nearly everything. The key, she says, is to always opt for the healthiest
choice available, and, if none exists, to keep indulgences in moderation. She usually eats gluten-free bread with nut butter, non-fried meat with steamed veggies, salads, and snacks from Theera Healthy Bake Room. Considering Theera’s success and its growing number of Thai customers, it seems health food is finally on the forefront of peoples’ minds here. “A lot of typical Thai dishes will always include ingredients such as MSG, but I think there is already a wider range of healthier choices available and that that market will continue to grow,” says Uang. She just might be on to something. The recent launch of her online shop, as well as several retailers stocking Theera products, including Broccoli Revolution and the Bangkok Farmers Market, seem to suggest as much. For as tasty as her treats may be, Uang’s greatest achievement might be the access to wholesome and healthy goods she has given to locals.
Recently, Uang has taken up a new project called “Steps with Theera”. In a new branch in Ekkamai Soi 10, the programme offers a vocational training centre for young adults with special educational needs. Uang has previously offered work experience opportunities with young adults with special needs, an area she is particularly passionate about, since her son has autism. “I saw the positive outcomes for both the students and for my cafe and decided to collaborate with a special needs teacher to open our own vocational training centre and coffee shop,” she explains. The vocational programme focuses on life skills and transition to employment, teaching areas such as money management, baking, cleaning, and organisation. For more information, visit stepswiththeera.com and theerahealthybakeroom.com. M AY 2 0 1 6 | 8 7
FOOD & DRINK
american BOURBON STREET RESTAURANT & OYSTER BAR 9/39-40 Soi Tana Arcade, Sukhumvit 63, Ekamai | 0 2381 6801 | bourbonstbkk.com Open daily 7am-1am A Cajun-Creole cut-out whose vast menu explores the patois of the Louisiana bayou and shines in dishes like crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, and barbeque ribs.
LITTLE BEAST 44/9-10 Thonglor Soi 13 | 0 2185 2670 facebook.com/littlebeastbar | Tue-Sat 5.30pm1am, Sun 11am-4pm An intimate gastro-bar suited to grazing and glugging or a bit of both, featuring a menu of New American dishes, which are delicious and exotic twists on old world standbys (e.g. truffle fries).
chinese BAI YUN 59F Banyan Tree Bangkok, 21/100 South Sathorn Rd | 0 2679 1200 | banyantree.com Open daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm The Chinese outlet with the best view in town, one of the highest representatives of Pearl Delta cuisine on the planet offers high-quality ingredients you can actually savour.
LIU 3F Conrad Bangkok, 87 Wireless Rd | 0 2690 9999 | conradhotels3.hilton.com | Open daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm A traditional place that offers all the understated grandeur of Cantonese
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fine dining while executing food full of contemporary notes.
SHANG PALACE 3F Shangri-La Hotel, 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road | 0 2236 7777 | shangri-la.com Lunch Mon-Sat 11.30am-2.30pm, Sun 11am3pm, Dinner daily 6pm-10.30pm The interior is elegant, but, more importantly, the food is a glowing reminder of how Chinese food should be executed and presented. The dim sum is the obvious place to start, and the signature dishes are serious standouts.
french CHEZ PAPE 2/7 Soi Sukhumvit 11 | 0 2255 2492 | chezpape. com | Open daily 11.30am-2pm, 5pm-11pm The menu brims with traditional French fare, an indulgent roll call of sauces and great bread, seafood, and meat. Those in the mood for a proper French feast won’t be disappointed.
J’AIME BY JEAN-MICHEL LORAIN U Sathorn Bangkok, 105, 105/1 Soi Ngam Duphli | 0 2119 4899 | jaime-bangkok.com Open daily 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm The classic cuisine lives up to lofty expectations, even rising above, thanks to the vibrancy in taste and colour of the dishes. You might even find yourself trying to re-create certain ones the next day.
L’ATELIER DE JOEL ROBUCHON 5F, MahaNakorn CUBE, 96 Narathiwas Ratchanakarin Rd | 0 2001 0698 | robuchon-
bangkok.com | Open daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm The Michelin master’s swank and superexpensive Bangkok outlet serves Gallic food at its finest. Exactly the quality you would expect from Robuchon.
indian BAWARCHI Level B, Intercontinental Chidlom, 973 Ploenchit Rd | 0 2656 0101-3 | bawarchiindian. com | Open daily 11am-11pm The kind of curries you’ve been missing. Rich, buttery, decadent, and delicious.
RANG MAHAL 26F Rembrandt Hotel, 19 Sukhumvit Soi 18 0 2261 7100 | rembrandtbkk.com | Open daily 6pm-11pm Meaning “palace of colours,” there sure is a courtly air about the place, down to the refined, delicate food. The proceedings go up a notch when the kebabs and curries come out.
international BROCCOLI REVOLUTION 899 Sukhumvit Rd | 0 2662 5001 | Open daily 7am-10pm The brick-walled warehouse turned vegfriendly restaurant features a menu full of bright veggie bites that could pull in even the biggest bacon-and-eggs disciples.
CREPES & CO 59/4 Langsuan Soi 1, Ploenchit Rd, (also CentralWorld and Thonglor Soi 8) | 0 2652 0208 | facebook.com/crepesnco | 9.30am-11pm
listings | FOOD & DRINK The flavours and ingredients take in the entire sweep of the Mediterranean, borrowing heavily from Morocco and Greece, in particular. Sweet and savoury crepes are just as good for brunch as they are for a pre-bedtime treat.
EAT ME Soi Pipat 2, Silom | 0 2238 0931 eatmerestaurant.com | Open daily 3pm-1am Run by the innovative Tim Butler, this cosy Silom restaurant is consistently ranked among the top restaurants in Asia and serves quite possibly the best steak in town.
ELEMENTS 25F The Okura Prestige Bangkok, Park Ventures Ecoplex, 57 Wireless Rd | 0 2687 9000 | okurabangkok.com | Open daily 6pm10.30pm An imposing space with a list billed as “modern logical cuisine,” translated as the use of seasonal produce. The menu is divided into an à la carte menu and four tasting menus, including a vegetarian option.
KIOSK CAFÉ 65 Sukhumvit 26 | 0 2259 4089 | kioskcafe.com | Tue-Thu 10.30am-9pm, Fri-Sun 10.30am-11pm Located at the Backyard in Sukhumvit 26, the Kiosk Café is a fetching choice for an exceptional meal, a friendly cake-andchat, hot coffee, and a cold nose.
PANORAMA Crowne Plaza Lumpini Park, 952 Rama IV Rd 0 2632 9000 | crowneplaza-bangkok.com 6am-10.30am, Noon-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm Serves breakfast and lunch, but the dinner buffet really has tongues wagging. The all-you-can-eat buffet changes every few months, from Mexican to Japanese, from Brazilian “Samba San” to a fresh seafood bounty.
RED OVEN SO Sofitel Bangkok, 2 North Sathorn Rd 0 2624 0000 | sofitel-so-bangkok.com | Open daily 6.30pm-10.30pm, Sat-Sun Wine Brunch noon-3pm Styled as a World Food Market, this 7thfloor all-day dining venue, named after the restaurant’s red Molteni oven, offers dishes reminiscent of traditional street food with a contemporary twist in buffet spreads. On weekends, the restaurant puts on a scrumptious, free-flow wine brunch buffet. bangkok101.com
TABLES GRILL Grand Hyatt Erawan, 494 Ratchadamri Rd 0 2254 1234 | bangkok.grand.hyatt.com | Mon to Sat Noon-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10pm The theme is based on the tableside preparation seen in many traditional French restaurants, and the menu, billed as pan-European, takes full advantage of the theatre. As entertaining as it is satisfying.
THE KITCHEN TABLE 2F, W Bangkok, 106 North Sathorn Rd 0 2344 4000 | whotelsbangkok.com/ thekitchen_table | Open daily 6.30am-10.30pm A modern bistro with food that is honest, wholesome, and full of flavour. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Good food and an ambiance that matches modern day lifestyles.
italian AZZURRO 253/2 Sukhumvit 31 | 0 2003 9597 azzurrorestaurant.asia | Fri-Wed noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm Azzurro is a new Italian addition to the bustling food street. The extensive menu of this quaint, two-story restaurant is inspired by the flavours of the different regions of Italy.
DON GIOVANNI Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok, 1695 Phaholyothin Rd | 0 2541 1234 | centarahotelsresorts.com | Mon-Sat 11.30am-2.30pm, 8pm-10.30pm The menu is full of home-style recipes, the concept rarely straying from traditional Italian. Along with neo-classical décor, the culinary approach lends Don Giovanni a decorous air befitting its operatic name.
GALLERIA MILANO Mille Malle, Sukhumvit 20 | 0 2663 4988 millemalle.com | daily 3pm-11pm An Italian restaurant in the hands of Italians, where the pride is tasted in every bite, serves as the inspiration for a restaurant aiming to conquer the city.
LA BOTTEGA DI LUCA 2F The Terrace 49 building, Sukhumvit Soi 49 | 0 2204 1731 | labottega.name | Mon 5.30-11pm, Tue-Sun 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm11pm A relaxed, welcoming space with indooroutdoor seating. Chef Luca updates the menu regularly and orders produce from M AY 2 0 1 6 | 8 9
FOOD & DRINK
Italy every fortnight. It’s all rustic, filling, flavoursome Italian cooking, delivered with real passion.
LUCE 14F Eastin Grand Hotel, 33/1 South Sathorn Rd | 0 2210 8100 | facebook.com/ LuceRestaurantBangkok | daily noon-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm Seated beside the Eastin Grand Sathorn’s infinity pool, the focus is on authentic Tuscan fare enliven the culinary senses accompanied by a fine selection of wines from Frescobaldi.
honoured customs in a stylish and convivial setting, the restaurant has offered the Kisso way of Japanese cuisine for two decades as the place for outstanding Japanese cuisine in Bangkok.
ZUMA GF, The St.Regis Bangkok, 159 Rajadamri Rd 0 2252 4707 | zumarestaurant.com | Open daily 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm This izakaya-style joint delivers. Fish and beef get equal treatment, each prepared with duteous touch. Dishes come out in no precise order and can be shared or eaten individually.
27/1 Sukhumvit 33 | 0 2119 7677 | peppinabkk. com | Open daily 11am-3pm, 6.30pm-12am Quite possibly the best pizza in the city, and at reasonable prices to boot. A welcome and much-lauded addition to the upper crust of the dining scene.
SORRENTO Sathorn Soi 10 | 0 2234 9933, 0 2234 9841 facebook.com/SorrentoSathorn| Sun-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-12am A collaboration between expert culinary team who pioneer Italian and European cuisine in Thailand and award winning bartender team
japanese BENIHANA Avani Atrium Bangkok, 1880 Petchaburi Rd 0 2718 2023 | avanihotels.com | Open daily 6pm-10.30pm At the centre of every table, and the Benihana experience, is a hot grill, where a chef cooks for you, stimulating appetites with a deft and close-range slicing of onions, zucchini, shrimp, pork, steak— even the restaurant’s signature fried rice.
KISSO 8F, The Westin Grande Sukhumvit, 259 Sukhumvit 19 | 0 2207 8000 kissojapaneserestaurant.com | Open daily 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm Becoming modern mastery of time9 0 | M AY 2 0 1 6
SABROSO 24/5 Sukumvit Soi 23 | 0 2262 0997 sabrosomex.com | Tue-Sun noon-9pm A small, sexy space run by a Mexican chef, where honest south-of-the-border fare shines. Try the chef’s chicken tinga, best savoured with a glass of sangría.
seafood CRAB AND CLAW Fl 7, Helix Bldg, EMQuartier | 09 6197 5769 facebook.com/crabandclaw | daily 10am-10pm Ensconced on an upper curve of the EMQuartier, Crab and Claw features the perfect appetite (and spending power) for “New England-style” lobster, clams, and all the trimmings.
SCALINI Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok, 11 Sukhumvit Soi 24 | 0 2620 6666 | hilton.com | Open daily Noon-2.30pm, 6pm-11pm Italian with enough surprises to satisfy the curious diner. For example, the antipasti retain a Mediterranean base while adding lighter, Asian-influenced twists.
foundation whose house is indeed the house of all for outstanding Mexican cuisine.
RAW BAR BAA GA DIN 26 Sukhumvit 31 | 0 2662 3813 | baagadin. com | Mon, Wed-Sun 6pm-11pm Baa Ga Din advertises itself as serving “street food,” but when the street in question is super-posh Sukhumvit 33, and the purveyor of snacks is Bangkok’s hottest and most ambitious young chef, the result is unlike anything ever seen on the capital’s sidewalks—or anywhere else, for that matter.
mexican EL DIABLO’S BURRITOS 330 Sukhumvit Soi 22 | 0 2259 4140 facebook.com/El-Diablos | Mon-Fri 4pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 11.30am-11pm The enormous burritos are the stars of the show. They make their own tortillas on the premises, too. The tacos are particularly impressive. The salsa and toppings are light, refreshing, with just enough spice.
MEXICANO Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok, 19 Sukhumvit Soi 18 | 0 2261 7100 | facebook.com/ mexicanobkk Open daily 5pm-12am; Sat brunch 12pm-3pm Having merely moulted the Señor Pico moniker, Bangkok’s original Mexican restaurant, Mexicano now builds on a
440/9 Sukhumvit 55 | 0 2713 8335 | facebook. com/TheRawBarBKK | daily 5.30pm-12am Oysters, tartare, carpaccio, ceviche: it’s all raw here, and it’s all very good. A nice low-key spot to shuck some shellfish and hang out with friends.
spanish EL CHIRINGUITO 221 Soi Nana, Charoen Krung Rd | 08 6340 4791 | facebook.com/elchiringuitobangkok Thu-Sat 6pm-12am On the surface, a tapas bar. Small dishes and high-quality alcohol, a space filled with antiques: it’s an implant from Madrid dropped neatly into the Bangkok beehive.
BARCELONA GAUDÍ Le Premier 1 Condo, Sukhumvit 23 | 0 2661 7410 | barcelona-thai.com | Tue-Sun 11am11pm The chef and founding partners are proud of their Catalonian heritage, and it shows in the incredible tapas on the menu, from prawns in aioli to crema catalana and the traditional Sunday paella.
OSITO 888/23-24 Mahatun Plaza, Ploenchit Rd 0 2651 4399 | ositobkk.com | Mon-Fri 10.30am-12am, Sat-Sun 10am-12am New York meets Madrid. A neighbourhood Dean& DeLuca during the day, with its own smoker, churro machine, bangkok101.com
listings | FOOD & DRINK and deli sandwiches like the Reuben, it morphs into a Spanish tapas bar-cumrestaurant at night.
steak & burger BABETTE’S THE STEAKHOUSE Hotel Muse, 55/555 Langsuan RD | 0 2630 4000 | babettesbangkok.com | Lunch 12pm3pm, Dinner 6pm-12am An intimate 1920s Chicago style eatery at award-winning Hotel Muse Bangkok, serving up the best steak in Bangkok against a glittering city backdrop.
FIREPLACE GRILL STEAKHOUSE InterContinental Bangkok 973 Ploenchit Rd 0 2656 0444 ext.5505 | Mon-Fri noon-2.30pm, daily 6.30pm-10.30pm This perennial favourite has all the attributes you’d expect in a renowned steakhouse, not least a superb selection of aged and chilled cuts from some of Australia’s top meat producers.
PRIME Millennium Hilton, 123 Charoen Nakorn Rd 0 2442 2000 | hilton.com | 6pm-11pm Some of the best flame-grilled steaks in the city, now abetted by high-quality seafood. It’s a welcome sophistication, befitting the sweeping views over the Chao Phraya.
THE CHOP 9F The Helix Quartier | 0 2003 6275 facebook.com/thechopbkk | daily 10am-10pm With its crimson banquettes and industrial-look interior, The Chop is aptly dressed for the part as a purveyor of authentic US-style BBQ.
THE U.S. STEAKHOUSE 156-158 Sukhumvit Soi 16 | 08 7993 3527 theussteakhouse.com | Tue-Sat 4pm-10.30pm Start with a big bowl of chunky, homemade clam chowder, before moving on to the main attraction: flame-broiled steaks, including New York strip loin, rib eye, filet mignon, and Australian T-bone.
thai 80/20 1052-1054 Charoen Krung 26 | 08 7593 1936 facebook.com/8020bkk | Wed-Mon 5pm11.45pm bangkok101.com
Sharing a massive former warehouse with always-full Oldtown Hostel, 80/20’s the place where the best Thai Local Products are combined with the highest passion in hospitality.
BAAN 139/5 Wireless Rd | 0 2655 8995 | baanbkk.com Wed-Mon 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm The restaurant offers traditional recipes collected from the chef’s family with the stylishly modern dining room and an open kitchen.
BLUE ELEPHANT RESTAURANT & COOKING SCHOOL 233 South Sathorn Rd | 0 2673 9353 blueelephant.com | Open daily 11.30am2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm A wildly successful brand since it was first established in 1980, the flagship sits in a gorgeous old mansion. On the menu, Chef Nooror takes a riff on the Thai food of tomorrow, but also shares her heritage with every dish.
BO.LAN 24 Sukhumvit Soi 53 | 0 2260 2962 bolan.co.th | Tue-Sun 11.30am-10.30pm Authentic, but daring, Thai food at one of the top restaurants in Asia. With a modus operandi of “essential Thai, delivered with panache,” it’s easy to see why this place is so popular year after year.
ERAWAN TEA ROOM 2F, Erawan Bangkok Mall, 494 Rajadamri Rd bangkok.grand.hyatt.com | 0 2254 6250 | daily 10am-10pm, Afternoon Tea 2.30pm-6pm This place serves traditional Thai cuisine in a nostalgic setting that overlooks the consistently crowded Erawan Shrine. Packaged products and a wide selection of teas from India, China, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are also available.
ERR 394/35 Maharaj Rd | 0 2622 2291-2 errbkk.com | Tues-Sun 11am-late As an old shophouse with the funkiest of tasteful trimmings, the restaurant takes its name from the most common Thai form of assent which mirrors the local experience of finding good food in low-key surroundings.
JIM THOMPSON HOUSE AND MUSEUM 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Rd | 0 2612 3601 jimthompson.com | 9am-5pm, 7pm-11pm
The city’s number-two tourist attraction is home to a restaurant that pairs a sumptuous setting with surprisingly unusual Thai food. Factor in the generous happy hours, and there’s no reason to be sniffy about the place.
RUEN URAI The Rose Hotel, 118 Surawongse Rd 0 2266 8268-72 | ruen-urai.com | Open daily noon-11pm Set in the former residence of the herbal medical doctor to King Rama V, Ruen Urai uses herbs and spices with medicinal qualities, while delivering refined Thai fare using the finest fresh ingredients.
THE SUMMER HOUSE PROJECT 41/5 Charoen Nakorn Rd | 0 2861 0953 facebook.com/TheNeverEndingSummer Open daily 11am-11pm Next door to the original restaurant The Never Ending Summer, the new branch is one of the best spots in Thonburi to properly indulge in the hearty, the soothing, and the non-Asian offering one of the most beautiful views from Chao Phraya river with clinically clean lines and an open kitchen.
vietnamese LE DALAT 7F The Emquartier | 0 2269 1000 | ledalatbkk. com | Open daily 10am-10pm The newest branch of stately Le Dalat finds it in unusual territory—a high-end shopping mall—but its fresh Vietnamese fare is still as impeccable as ever.
SAIGON RECIPE 46/5 Piman 49, Sukhumvit Soi 49 | 0 2662 6311 | saigon-recipe.com | Open daily 11am10pm The well-designed dishes here reward closer inspection, as flavours reveal themselves in prescribed order. The portions are perfect for sharing.
XUAN MAI 351/3 Thong Lo | 0 2185 2619 xuanmairestaurant.com | 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30 There’s some overlap with Thai food in the ingredients and flavours, but the exquisite combinations at this much-loved shophouse are subtle and more complex than many Thai dishes. A Thong Lor stand-out. M AY 2 0 1 6 | 9 1
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NIGHTLIFE high-flying life At long last, the transformation is complete. The nightclub formerly known as KU DE TA has unveiled its latest iteration, CÉ LA VI, located in its same perch above Chong Nonsi in the Sathorn Square building. Meaning “that’s life” in French, the club incorporates fine dining, mixology, and modern Asian design elements into its highly regarded audiovisual entertainment. Expect many top acts to swing through in the near future.
extra-ordinary Taking place over two days (May 6-7) at Jam Café, Ordinary brings together sounds from the underground (electronic, noise, ambient) and live visuals for a complete sensory experience. Headlining the line-up are Nolens, Volens, and So::On Dry FLOWER founder Koichi Shimizu. Other local acts include Broken YaakBeat, Space360, Deathtrip, Clouke, and Cut The Crab, joining foreign atnr and koeosaeme from Japan, Vietnamese experimental performer Nguyen Hong Giang, and Sadistic from the UK’s Motormouth Recordz. Tickets for each day are B300 (includes one drink). For more, go to facebook.com/eese2014.
outside comes in With a stated goal of bringing international artists to Bangkok’s intimate spaces, new event organizers Transport are getting things started with a bang at Whiteline (Silom Soi 8) on May 7. Four DJs come to the capital by way of the UK and Vietnam: Seelie, Persual, and Sameed from the UK and Hibiya Line from Saigon. Of the four, DJs Sameed and Hibiya Line, who launched hot nightspot The Observatory in Vietnam, are probably the biggest acts, having gained certain renown on the underground scene in their respective home bases. Entry costs B200 and the party starts at 9pm. Visit facebook.com/transportbkk for more details.
(sub)culture club Artsy nightclub Dickinson’s Culture Café (Phra Arthit Road) presents Strictly Vinyl! with Dennis Frost on May 12. Starting at 9pm, the DJ will spin four hours of vinyl, specifically jackin’ house, acid house, and tech house. Entry is free and drinks are cheap, starting at B90 for a beer and B140 for cocktails and select martinis. To hear some of the DJ’s tracks, check facebook.com/djdennisfrost.
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Teens of Thailand Ginspirational
hat was once nicknamed “mother’s ruin” had already replaced rum as the go-to spirit of choice for hipster cocktail drinkers in places as far-flung as England, but now gin is enjoying a renaissance in Bangkok. And there’s no better place to get your fix of juniper-juice than Soi Nana’s Teens of Thailand, where over 100 varieties are in stock and used to unqualified success, and one of Asia’s recently crowned “Best Bars” proves how deserving it is of the accolade. Founded by some big names in Bangkok’s art and bar scene, including Kachain Wonglamthong and Niks Anuman-Rajadhon, the man behind Drinks Academy and Vice Versa Cocktail, Teens occupies a shophouse that had been left in disrepair for 30 years—without a roof or good plumbing, but with a totally uneven floor. The guys had turned up at the first Craft + Jumble Trail, fallen in love with the neighbourhood, taken down 9 4 | M AY 2 0 1 6
the “For Rent” sign, and coined the name Teens of Thailand as a reference to some of the dodgier aspects of life in Thailand. Following a face-lift, the bar, capable of seating 22, has retained a home-like feel (if your home were in a Nicolas Winding Refn movie). Adding to the mystique, most have to stoop to enter through the antique, too-small Indian door, which leads into a dimly-lit room decorated with old posters and one of Kachain’s photographs hanging over an antique piano. While the décor is excellent, perfectly suited for Soi Nana’s shophouse revivalism, the drinks nevertheless steal the show. Although you can always order a classic, such as the sublime Aviation—a light mix of Ford’s gin, maraschino cherry, and crème de violette—it’s difficult to recommend what to drink as the menu changes every night. Yes, every night. Shortly before opening, Niks and the team dream up three or four ginbased specialties, using the ingredients
they picked up earlier in the day. Whether the night leads to a refreshing North Side, made with a surprising banana-infused gin, mint, ginger, and a champagne reduction, or a flatteringly named Bangkok 101, a delicious mix of mace-infused gin, grape, black pepper, anise, and yuzu ale, it’s hard to leave feeling disappointed. Especially considering the cocktails, some of the most well-balanced in town, cost only B300 each. But if you really don’t like gin, and you feel you’re not in the wrong place, Teens offers bottles of Chiangmai Red Truck IPA and Singha. Most refreshing of all, the guys don’t care about marketing, or advertising, or even trends. “We just want to make really good drinks,” says Niks. Mission accomplished.
Teens of Thailand 76 Soi Nana, Charoen Krung Rd 08 1443 3784 Facebook: Teens of Thailand daily 7pm-late bangkok101.com
review | NIGHTLIFE
Let the Boy Die Drink like a local
raft beer has finally reached a fever pitch in Bangkok. Although European brews were available nearly a decade ago, and in the last five years top-selling craft brands like Deschutes and Mikkeller have gradually risen in popularity, it wasn’t until 2015 that honest, independent, experimental beer truly became a “thing” here. Today, craft has gone local, with Thai home brewers staging an underground rebellion against draconian regulations that had limited creativity in the industry for decades. And thanks to Let the Boy Die, Thailand’s brewers now have a platform—a really cool one, at that—to share their beer with the masses. Set in a renovated shophouse on Luang Road, Let the Boy Die is the product of beer-geek business partners, including LA-born Avi Yashaya and Pieak Pipattanaphon, a former architect who turned to home brewing under the Goldencoins label. bangkok101.com
The bar is slick. The walls are finished with faux patina, plants hang from the ceiling, and a low-lit, dive-y moodiness describes the atmosphere. Two long, wooden tables on the ground floor, as well as an intimate second-floor patio space, are intended to foster discussion, preferably about the beer each person is drinking. Likewise, plates of food made to share (and pair with beer) encourage chatter. It’s easy to see how the bar’s originality could have made it an attractive haunt under any circumstances—bonus points for the “Game of Thrones” reference in the name—but its charm has gone far beyond trendy design elements. Six local beers appear on tap each night. The day’s offerings, ranging from B160 to B200, are written in chalk above the taps. Compared to the B300-and-up price tags of much of the imported craft beer in town, the cost of a beer on draft here is a steal. And deliberately so. The craft movement is defined
by intense, fearless creativity—and, more importantly, access. Its central figures lift themselves up by the bootstraps, try out new methods, and share their brews with one and all, effectively cultivating a community and refining the quality of the beer that comes from it. Let the Boy Die captures the essence of craft by putting locally brewed beer—from Goldencoins, Mahankorn, X Beer, Soi Beer, Look-Krung, and more—into the hands of those who may never have tried it otherwise, uniting two sides of a circle. Although home brewing remains illegal, Let the Boy Die doesn’t so much flout the law as it does stake the claim that Thai craft beer is here to stay. And we should all drink to that.
Let the Boy Die 542 Luang Rd 08 2675 9673 Facebook: Let the Boy Die Tues-Sun 6pm-midnight M AY 2 0 1 6 | 9 5
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feature | NIGHTLIFE
Living the Low Life Diving headfirst into Bangkok’s deepest Dive Bars By Joe Cummings/CPA Media
angkok has no shortage of slick, high-concept bars with shaker-twirling barmen serving up the latest mixological miracle while a DJ bobs in the corner. Even when you can afford the high cost of cocktails, sometimes you just want something rough and ready. Some place where there’s no intricate bar menu to pour over, and no need to give your wardrobe a second thought.
Sometimes you need a dive bar. Everyone has their own ideas about what watering holes deserve the hallowed title. A 1961 dictionary defined a dive as “a disreputable resort for drinking or entertainment.” In 2010, Playboy put forward this tight description: “A church for down-andouters and those who romanticize them, a rare place where high and low rub elbows—bums and poets, thieves
and slumming celebrities. It’s a place that wears its history proudly.” For us, a dive is the kind of place where people are escaping from the world rather than updating their Facebook status. It might have a long history, or it might have popped up last year. Here are some spots in Bangkok that we think will satisfy most dive enthusiasts.
23 Bar & Gallery Ordinarily you wouldn’t pair an art gallery with a dive bar, but this place is a giant exception. For seven years, 23 Bar livened up Sukhumvit Soi 16 with its reasonably priced drinks, minimal décor, rootsy artwork, and a magnificent selection of rock ‘n’ roll recordings. The heart and soul of the bar is artist and rock DJ Mongkol Sanla, who moved shop to Soi Nana in Chinatown less than a year ago. Mongkol runs the bar as if every night were a house party, inviting guests for shots while dancing behind the bar to everything from grunge and psychedelia to Britpop. Like Wong’s Place, this is a bar you seldom leave sober. 92 Soi Nana, Charoen Krung Rd 08 0264 4471
Ad Here the 13th Yes, a dive bar can have live music. On Facebook it’s promoted as “Adhere,” which makes one think of glue, and once you’re in for the evening you may find yourself stuck fast to your seat listening to some of the finest live blues and R&B anywhere in the city. You’ll have to negotiate your way through the long narrow room, with a tiny stage wedged in against the left wall and rows of well-worn tables and chairs along the right, past several rows of vinyl album covers and street art to reach the bar at the back. Clientele is a mix of Thai artists and musos, international expats, and seasoned backpackers who have escaped nearby Khao San. Samsen Rd, Soi 1, Banglamphu | 08 9769 4613
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Bob Harley Bar Popular with residents of Bangkok’s Udomsuk neighbourhood, this holein-the-wall with the requisite Harley Davidson centrepiece is owned and operated by British writer Kristy Turner and her Thai partner. The fact that the bar moved from its original spot on a Ko Samet beach explains the reggae and ska tunes, along with the rastaman colour scheme. On Wednesday nights, there’s a regular writers meet-up, hopefully of the Bukowski nature. Udomsuk Soi 102 at Soi 56 08 5804 0451 Facebook: bobharleybarbangkok
Charlie’s Bar Popularly known as Cheap Charlie’s, this outdoor conglomeration of driftwood, Christmas lights, US license plates, a dysfunctional toy train, and Old West kitsch has been serving cheap beer and well drinks from the same spot on Sukhumvit Soi 11 since 1982, predating the soi’s dance club era by 20 years. A white line painted on the tarmac sets the boundary within which you are permitted to stand, and when it rains everyone huddles under the narrow roof that extends a few feet out from the bar. A closet-like WC offers a toilet, famed for the “no shit, only pee” sign on the door. The original Charlie, a Thai barman with a passion for Americana, passed away more than a decade ago, leaving his brother Sathit to soldier on.
Jing Jok Almost all karaoke bars in Bangkok qualify as dives, in our opinion, as long as they aren’t staffed by slinky hostesses and the drinks are cheap. Jing Jok, one floor up from Top Charoen Optics and opposite J Avenue on Thonglor, qualifies with nightly all-you-can-drink specials. You’re charged by the hour at a rate of B600 for men and B400 for women, for local beers, wine, shots, and well drinks, including Chivas Regal and Jameson. The karaoke is pretty much do-ityourself, aided when necessary by friendly staff, just the way we like it. There’s also snooker and darts for those who don’t croon. Sukhumvit Soi 55, between Soi 14 and 16 | 09 9953 7973 Facebook: jingjokbar
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feature | NIGHTLIFE Wong’s Place
Skytrain Jazz Bar A rooftop dive bar may sound like an oxymoron, but as soon as you mount the graffiti-laced cement stairway at ground level, all doubts vanish. Four flights later, you walk through an unmarked doorway into a barely organized jumble of rickety tables and chairs looking out over the BTS line near Victory Monument. Don’t expect to hear jazz. On the rare occasion when there’s live music, it’s supplied by homegrown indie bands. On weekends it’s completely packed out with Thais and expats enjoying what’s probably the only rooftop bar in the city with rock-bottom pricing.
When the topic of dive bars comes up in Bangkok, pretty much everyone thinks of Wong’s Place first. Pack dense smoke and unpredictable drunks into a narrow barroom decorated with proto-selfie Polaroids, posters, and magazine covers and you have Bangkok’s answer to Hamburg’s Café Lehmitz. Back in the 80s, when Khao San Road was yet barely known, the neighbourhood around the Malaysia Hotel on Soi Ngam Duphli was the city’s main backpacker centre. Two Chinese immigrant brothers, capitalizing on the steady influx of foreigners, and inspired by the success of the Blue Fox, the area’s first bar, opened Wong’s Place in 1987. Wongsie, the older of the two, ran the bar until he died from lung cancer in 2003, after which his younger brother, Sam, took over. Over the decades, the bar has managed to draw virtually every Bangkok barfly, from down-and-out English teachers to Thai celebrities and drag queens. Other than the crowd itself, entertainment focuses on the brothers’ vast collection of music videos (once VHS tapes, now CDs and hard drives), ranging from the 60s to present-day and screened all night long on a monitor over the bar. The hangover produced by an all-night bender at Wong’s is affectionately known as a Wongover. 27/3 Soi Si Bamphen, Rama IV Rd | 08 1901 0235
46 Trok Rang Nam, Phayathai Rd 08 9895 4299
Woodball Our favorite karaoke dive is more Japanese than Thai or Western, but all nationalities are welcome to join the affable drunks who line the short bar every night. We have no idea where the name comes from, although a golfcum-croquet sport called woodball is hugely popular in Taiwan. The original Woodball on Sukhumvit at the mouth of Soi 53 proved so popular that the Japanese management have opened three other branches. The formula is the same at all four: cheap and boozy bar downstairs, casual karaoke rooms upstairs, where you’ll find 130,000 songs to choose from. Plenty of regulars never make it upstairs. 2 Sukhumvit Soi 53 | 0 2662 4549 2F 58/14, Soi Thaniya, Silom Rd | 0 2652 4936 595/15 Sukhumvit Soi 33/1 | 08 9001 8532 167/4 Surawong Rd | 0 2634 2519 | woodball.jp
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Red Sky Rising Supachaok “Chaok” Buathong Carries the Classic Old Fashioned to Majestic New Heights with the Extra Infinity
Red Sky’s Extra Infinity • • • •
Combine 45ml of Chivas Regal Extra, 15ml of Disaronno, and two dashes of chocolate bitters in a tall glass with ice and stir to combine the ingredients. Pour into a tall, chilled snifter glass or Old Fashioned glass. Squeeze the grapefruit peel to release its aroma and then run the peel around the rim of the glass. Wrap the peel around a cinnamon stick; garnish with star anise, if desired.
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imbibe | NIGHTLIFE
As afternoon fades into evening, the crowds start climbing to Red Sky, the chic rooftop bar on top of Centara Grand at CentralWorld, where Supachaok “Chaok” Buathong stands at the ready. The bar supervisor watches over all of Red Sky’s outlets—the alfresco dining and drinking space, the top storey bar, even the indoor restaurant—designing, crafting, and delivering a range of wellbalanced signature drinks to hundreds of guests each night. But of all the cocktails Chaok creates, one stands out above the rest to him: the Extra Infinity. Chaok has elevated the classic Old Fashioned without sacrificing the integrity of the original. His aromatic mix is made up of 45ml of Chivas Regal Extra, 15ml of Disaronno, two dashes of chocolate bitters, and garnishes of cinnamon stick, star anise, and a twist of grapefruit peel—plus one of the most unique Old Fashioned ice balls in town, a perfectly smooth sphere with the star-shaped anise frozen inside of it. “When the ice melts,” explains Chaok, as he stirs all the elements together with ice, “the anise adds new character to the cocktail.” bangkok101.com
As a finishing touch, Chaok squeezes the grapefruit peel and runs it around the rim of a large, chilled snifter glass. Then he wraps the peel around a cinnamon stick leaning against the glass. The grapefruit lends a bright aroma and flavour to the drink without overpowering the whisky and amaretto. “There’s no extra oil on grapefruit peel,” says Chaok, explaining his decision to use this peel rather than the same from an orange, the more traditional choice. It’s a well thought-out move by the rising bar expert, who leads the creation of all the signature drinks at Red Sky. The anise complements the bittersweet almond flavour of the Disaronno, an Italian amaretto liqueur. Meanwhile, the cinnamon perfectly draws out the spicy notes of the Chivas Regal Extra, the sophisticated Speyside blended Scotch whisky which uses malt whiskies matured in Sherry casks. The spiciness then gives way to a smooth finish with hints of vanilla. The Extra Infinity is the whisky drinker’s answer to the sundowner, a complex cocktail with some warmth to replace the heat of the setting sun, something to savour as the night begins.
For Chaok, a man who believes in trial and error and fearless experimentation, such an inspired take on the timeless drink represents yet another evolution. “I studied art, but my first job was at a French fine dining restaurant, where I made the same drink over and over again,” he says. “At the time I just liked to drink. Now I love to lead.” From making Mai Tais and Long Islands to mixing new and unique drinks, like a yet-to-be-unveiled blend of Chivas Regal Extra, green apple, and cinnamon that recalls all the best flavours of apple pie, Chaok has come a long way. His drive to break barriers explains why he likes to race his motorbike on the weekends, and why his next major project is to pick the perfect cocktail to pair with meals. “For a fish dish, I’m working on something muddled. And for a dessert like mango sticky rice, I’m thinking of something with cinnamon,” he declares. With an appropriately fire-like sunset illuminating the horizon each evening, and a doyen of a barman leading the team in Chaok, it’s easy to see the infinite appeal of Red Sky. M AY 2 0 1 6 | 1 0 1
bars 22 STEPS BAR Hotel Indigo Bangkok Wireless Road | 0 2207 4999 | hotelindigo.com/bangkok A great place to unwind, enjoying a cocktail or fine cigar while watching the world go by. Enjoy buy-one, get-one deals or freeflow drinks at B599 during happy hours from 5pm-9pm every day. Ladies’ night on Wednesday offers women two hours of free-flow sparkling wine from 9pm-11pm.
AMBAR Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok, Sukhumvit 15 | 0 2309 3288 | ambarbangkok.com | 4pm-12am Located on the rooftop of Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok, amBar offers an inviting and relaxed atmosphere for guests to enjoy the beautiful setting under the star trail.
CHEAP CHARLIE’S Sukhumvit Soi 11 | 0 2253 4648 cheapcharliesresort.com | Mon-Sat 5pmmidnight A no-brainer meet-up spot drawing crowds of expats, NGO workers, and tourists inthe-know who fill up on cheap beers and gin and tonics before heading off to party.
CRAFT Sukhumvit Soi 23 | 0 2661 3320, 08 1919 5349 craftbangkok.com | 2pm-12am Serving craft beer on draft in all its glory, this outdoor patio-bar plays host to food trucks each weekend, spins good tunes, and, most importantly, operates over 40 taps.
DARK BAR Ekkamai 10, Sukhumvit 63 | 0 2381 9896, 09 0528 4646 | facebook.com/darkbarbangkok Wed, Fri-Sat 9pm-2am A tiny and, well, dark bar serving beer and booze at cheap prices. It’s popular with hipsters and counter-culturists. drinkers with cosy settees, ambient soundscape, and giant cocktails.
HOOTERS BANGKOK Next to Four Points by Sheraton, Sukhumvit soi 15 | 0 2006 6001-3 | hootersbangkok.com 10am-2am The new American restaurant and sports bar famous for its wings, beer, and Hooters Girls. Also on Nana Soi 4.
HOT ROD G/F, Park Lane, Sukhumvit 63 | 0 2714 2575 hotrodtapas.com | daily 4pm-midnight An exciting new concept that prides itself on putting out “Thai tapas,” also known as 1 0 2 | M AY 2 0 1 6
some lusciously local bar food, Hot Rod packs a combustive amount of cool—via its drinks and design—into a tiny, glassedin corner of Ekkamai’s Park Lane mall.
HOUSE OF BEERS Penny’s Balcony, Corner of Thong Lor Soi 16 0 2392 3513 | houseofbeers.com | 11am-12am This Belgian-leaning bar offers all sorts of imported quaffs, from wheat beers like Leffe Blonde and Hoegaarden to esoteric specials like Kwak. The refreshments are augmented by Belgian fries and tapasstyle bar snacks.
JAM! 41 Soi Charoen Rat 1 | 089 889 8059 facebook.com/jamcafebkk | Tue-Sun 6pm-12am A cool, dive-y small bar in a formerly bar-less neighbourhood whose claims to fame are frequent cult movie nights and underground DJ sets.
MIKKELLER 26 Ekamai Soi 10 Yaek 2 | 0 2381 9891 mikkellerbangkok.com | 5pm-12am An enclave for beer geeks, distinguished by its many dozens of taps and lush garden. A sure bet for anyone in search of a good—and hard-to-find—craft beer.
SHADES OF RETRO Soi Tararom 2, Thong Lor | 0 2714 9450 facebook.com/shadesofretrobar | 3pm-1am It’s Hipsterville at this Thong Lo hot-spot stuffed with vintage furniture, vinyl records, and a grandmother’s attic of antiques.
SMALLS 186/3 Suan Phlu Soi 1 | 09 5585 1398 facebook.com/smallsbkk | Wed-Mon 8.30pm2am Decorated with vintage furniture and art to give it a bohemian vibe, this favourite neighbourhood dive offers a wide selection of beers, wines by the glass, and hard-to-find liquors.
SING SING THEATER Sukhumvit 45 | 09 7285 6888 | facebook.com/ singsingtheater | Tue-Sun 8pm-2am Tucked between Quince and Casa Pagoda on the sedate Sukhumvit 45, the collaboration of Ashley Sutton and Sanya Souvanna Phouma mashes together the disparate influences of the old Shanghai underworld and the dark and alien future.
THE ALCHEMIST 1/19 Sukhumvit Soi 11 | 08 3549 2055 thealchemistbkk.com | Tue-Sun 5pm-midnight bangkok101.com
listings | NIGHTLIFE This stylish, stripped down drinking hole near Cheap Charlie’s draws its own loyal crowd, thanks to an excellent playlist on top of craft beer, assorted martinis, and some of the best mojitos in town.
THE DRUNKEN LEPRECHAUN 4 Sukhumvit 15 | 0 2309 3255 | thedrunkenleprechaun.com | 10am-1am Located on the ground floor of Four Points by Sheraton, this Irish-themed establishment offers delicious pub grub and drinks from the Emerald Isle and beyond.
bars with a view ABOVE ELEVEN 33F Fraser Suites Sukhumvit Hotel, 38/8 Sukhumvit Soi 11 | 0 2207 9300 | aboveeleven. com | 6pm-2am A west-facing, 33rd-floor rooftop bar with beautiful sunsets, an outdoor wooden deck bar with glass walls for maximum view, an impressive cocktail list, and an electro soundtrack.
TUBA 34 Room 11-12A, Ekkamai Soi 21 | 0 2711 5500 | design-athome.com | 11am-2am A Bangkok classic, room upon room of haphazardly arranged kitsch. Some come to snag a goofy tchotchke, but it works best as a bar, as there are few cooler places to kick back with a sweet cocktail in hand.
VIVA AVIV River City-Unit 118, 23 Trok Rongnamkhaeng, Charoen Krung Soi 30 | 0 2639 6305 | vivaaviv. com | 11am-midnight, later on weekends Reminiscent of a hip bar along Singapore’s Clarke Quay, with bar tables and stools jutting across a riverside promenade.
WHISGARS ON SILOM 981 Silom Rd | 0 2661 3220 | whisgars.com 2pm-2am Whiskey and cigars are the focal points of this rapidly expanding branch. Other branches include Sukhumvit Soi 23, and Mahatun Plaza (2nd floor).
WTF 7 Sukhumvit Soi 51 | 0 2626 6246 wtfbangkok.com | Tue-Sun 6pm-1am The coolest and most enduring shophouse bar in the city, decked out with old Thai movie posters and found items like wooden screen doors and chairs. Marked by great cocktails, live gigs, art exhibitions, and a mix of artsy patrons.
W XYZ BAR Aloft Bangkok Sukhumvit 11 | 35 Sukhumvit Soi 11 | 0 2207 7000 aloftbangkoksukhumvit11. com daily 5pm-1am With its latest revamp, W XYZ Bar continues to transform Bangkok’s nightclub experience with its vibrant neon lights, select works from local artists, and experienced bar staff. bangkok101.com
OCTAVE 45F Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit, 2 Sukhumvit Soi 57 | 0 2797 0000 | facebook. com/OctaveMarriott | 6pm-1am Rows of plush seating along the edge of the open-air balcony offer a perfect spot to plot Bangkok’s geography from above while knocking back punchy, refreshing cocktails, beers and whisky. DJs spin house through the night, neatly setting the vein.
BAMBOO BAR The Oriental Bangkok, 48 Oriental Ave 0 2659 9000 | mandarinoriental.com SunThu 11am-1am, Fri-Sat 11am-2am This Bangkok landmark is a symbol of past glories of the East. Situated in one of the city’s most sophisticated hotels, the 50-year-old bar oozes class, sophistication and style. Reminiscent of a tropical film noir-setting, it features a jungle theme–bamboo, palm fronds and furry patterns. Small and busy, it’s nevertheless romantic and intimate, balanced by the legendary Russian jazz band that’s been on the stage here for ages. Monday through Saturday nights catch the sultry sounds of resident songstresses who rotate with the seasons. Everybody’s sipping on faultless cocktails, mixed by skilled old-school bartenders and served by a superb staff. Ideal for a boozy night on your honeymoon.
CLOUD 47 United Center, Silom Rd | 09 1889 9600 cloud47bangkok.com | daily 11am-1am A wallet-friendly rooftop bar in the bustling CBD that turns into a purple and blue neon fantasy at night.
MOON BAR 61F, Banyan Tree Bangkok, 21/100 South Sathorn Rd | 0 2679 1200 | banyantree.com 5pm-1am An icon among rooftop bars, offering 360-degree views of the urban sprawl in smart surroundings. The perfect spot for honeymooners.
56th F, Centara Grand at CentralWorld Rama 1 Rd | 0 2100 1234 | centarahotelsresorts.com 6pm-1am The al fresco turret offers panoramas in every direction. Just before sunset is the time to come—when daylight fades, a live jazz band kicks in and the city lights up like a circuit-board.
SKY BAR/DISTIL 63F State Tower, 1055 Silom Rd | 0 2624 9555 | thedomebkk.com | 6pm-1am Among the world’s highest outdoor bars, offering panoramic views of the city and river below, earning its popularity with new visitors as well as those intent on rediscovering it.
ST. REGIS BAR St Regis Bangkok Hotel, 159 Ratchadamri Rd 0 2207 7777 | stregis.com | Mon-Fri 10am1am, Sat-Sun 10am-2am The rectangular venue eyes the Royal Bangkok Sports Club through a large plate-glass window, a lovely spot at sunset, even better on Sunday afternoons, when you can spy on horse races with a fine malt whiskey in hand.
THE SPEAKEASY Hotel Muse, 55/555 Lang Suan Rd | 0 2630 4000 | hotelmusebangkok.com | 6pm-1am One of the snazzier al fresco rooftop bars, evoking the glamour of Prohibition Era America. Spirits include luxury cognacs and malts. Wines are available at solid prices, and cocktails include home-made vodka infusions.
THREE SIXTY Millennium Hilton, 123 Charoennakorn Rd 0 2442 2000 | hilton.com | 5pm-1am The only Bangkok venue to enjoy unhindered views over the entire dazzling metropolis. It also hosts live jazz musicians every day, year round, setting a romantic mood as the first stars appear. M AY 2 0 1 6 | 1 0 3
VERTIGO TOO Banyan Tree Bangkok, 21/100 South Sathorn Rd 0 2679 1200 | banyantree.com | daily 5pm-1am Neither an open-air rooftop bar, nor the kind of jazz den found in smoky brickwalled basements, Vertigo Too deftly toes the line between the two milieus. Throw in twinkling faux starlight, lacquered black fixtures, and complementing shades of galactic purple, it then rises to a higher stratosphere.
and Progressive, and is equipped with lighting and lasers.
ROUTE 66 29/33-48 Royal City Avenue | 0 2203 0936, 08 1440 9666 | route66club.com | 8pm-2am RCA’s longest surviving super-club, with three zones to explore, each with its own bar, look, and music policy. Crammed with dressed-to-kill young Thais.
clubs CÉ LA VI 39-40F Sathorn Square Complex, 98 North Sathorn Rd | 0 2108 2000 | kudeta.net 6pm-late One of Bangkok’s top nightlife venues, a vast and glittering club with skyscraper ceilings and a long window that affords an exceptional view. A snazzy LED “chandelier” hangs over the dance floor, twinkling in time with the music.
LEVELS 6F 35 Sukhumvit Soi 11 | 08 2308 3246 facebook.com/levelsclub | 9pm-3am One of the most reliably busy nightclubs in Bangkok that welcomes a mix of resident expats, stylish Thai party animals, and wide-eyed holiday-makers that can’t get enough of the buzzy atmosphere.
ONYX RCA, Soi Soonvijai, Rama 9 Rd | 08 1645 1166 onyxbangkok.com | 8pm-2am An upscale nightclub borrowing from the futuristic interiors of other outlets in the milieu. Laid out over two stories, with most of the action confined to the ground floor. The kicker: a giant video screen looming over the DJ booth.
NARZ 112 Sukhumvit Soi 23 | 0 2258 4805 narzclubbangkok.net | 8pm-3am This huge entertainment venue features two distinct party zones. Upstairs you’ll find Hip Hop and commercial dance hits, while downstairs is designated for Trance 1 0 4 | M AY 2 0 1 6
TITANIUM CLUB & ICE BAR Sukhumvit Soi 22 | 0 2258 3758 | titaniumclub.com | 6pm-1.30am Congenial hostesses clad in ao dai; a gifted, all-girl rock n’ roll band jamming nightly; over 90 varieties of vodka. Not exactly a place to bring Mum, but a fun night out on the slightly wild side.
WOOBAR GF, W Bangkok, 106 North Sathorn Rd 0 2344 4131 | wbangkok.com | daily 9am-12am Chic and low-lit without being cold or inaccessible, and spacious enough to find a seat without feeling vacant. Swing by for Ladies’ Night, an after-work release, or, better yet, a weekend party.
THE CLUB 123 Khaosan Rd, Taladyod | 0 2629 1010 theclubkhaosan.com | 6pm-2am In the middle of the backpacker ghetto, this techno castle lends a fairy-tale vibe, with lasers and UV lights harking back to mid-90s trance raves. The music is loud, a full range of four-to-the-floor beats and cranium-rattling techno.
WISHBEER HOME BAR Sukhumvit Soi 67 | 0 2392 1403 | wishbeerhomebar.com | 7.30am-1am Relocated from the sales office and showroom of The Lofts Ekamai, it’s now back and bigger than ever as its new dig on the corner of Sukhumvit 67. This craft beer bar and café is the first brick-and-mortar location of online beer distributors Wishbeer. It’s a warm, almost warehouse-like environment, ideal for chatter over a draft pour of, say, a Mikkeller offering. Customers can walk in, buy bottles, and carry them home. Or they can grab a seat and enjoy some beers in the bar. Wishbeer claims roughly 500 kinds at its warehouse, all available for home delivery via wishbeer.com. For the time being, the Wishbeer Home Bar offers over 150 different bottles.
SUGAR CLUB 37 Sukhumvit Soi 11 (next to the Australian Pub) | 08 2308 3246 | sugarclub-bangkok.com 9pm-2am A blend of the global clubbing DNA and an after-hours concept, featuring a Vaudevillian cast of dancers, entertainers, and big-name DJs.
SPASSO Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, 494 Rajadamri Rd | 0 2254 1234 | bangkok. grand.hyatt.com 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-2.30am A favourite among visitors and expats looking to let their hair down. By day, it’s a sedate Italian restaurant. After hours, it transforms into a club and cocktail bar and really hits its stride.
pubs BULLY’S Sukhumvit Rd, between soi 2 and 4 | 0 2656 4609 | facebook.com/bullysbkk daily until late Big burgers and beer are the name of the game at this American-style pub. Spacious and stocked with pool tables and TVs.
FLANN O’BRIEN’S 2194 Charoenkrung 72-74 Rd, Asiatique 0 2108 4005| flann-obriens.com | 3pm-12am A sweeping Irish-themed pub featuring daily drink specials, all-day breakfast menus, and live bands throughout the week.
MOLLY MALONE’S 1/5-6 Soi Convent, Silom | 0 2266 7160-1 mollymalonesbangkok.com | 9am-1am Dark wood, dark lighting, bright atmosphere, this long-standing Irish favourite features one of the best Sunday roasts in town, not to mention long happy hours and live entertainment.
MULLIGAN’S IRISH BAR 265 Khao San Road | 0 2629 4477 mulligansthailand.com | Always open A Khao San institution that draws hordes of young locals and a more refined foreign crowd than the norm in the neighbourhood, thanks to great live music and day-long happy hour deals.
THE HUNTSMAN 138 Sukhumvit Rd (Landmark Hotel) | 0 2254 0404 | landmarkbangkok.com/huntsman-pub 11.30am-2am bangkok101.com
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English-style pub, cool and dark, with lots of nooks and crannies and a famous Sunday roast.
THE PENALTY SPOT Sukhumvit Soi 29 | 0 2661 6164 | facebook. com/thepenaltyspot | 3pm-2am Cosy, atmospheric, the crowds forming mostly to watch live sports on TV and drink beer on draft.
THE PICKLED LIVER Sukhumvit Soi 7/1, opposite Maxim’s Hotel 0 2651 1114 | thepickledliver.com | 3pm-late Pub grub, swimming pool, quizzes, live music, and more make this landmark pub, now in its second incarnation, a perennial favourite.
Built to emulate a 19th-century apothecary, this place has an old-school feel, an awesome line-up of live music, and a drink selection including beer and custom cocktails.
ADHERE THE 13TH 13 Samsen Rd (opposite Soi 2) | 08 9769 4613 6pm-midnight One of Bangkok’s funkiest, coolest hangouts, and nothing more than an aisle packed with five tables, a tiny bar, and a band that churns out cool blues, Motown, and originals.
THE PINTSMAN 332 United Center Building, Silom Rd 0 2234 2874 | facebook.com/thepintsman 11am-late A basement bar in Silom serving pints of draft beer and big plates of food. The requisite pool tables and live entertainment get this place hopping on weekends.
THE ROBIN HOOD Soi Sukhumvit 33/1 | 0 2662 3390 robinhoodbangkok.com | 10am-12am All the pub essentials are covered: live sports, a chatty atmosphere, wood features, pints of draft beer and cider, and copious drink deals. A great place to start your night (or afternoon).
THE SPORTSMAN Sukhumvit Soi 13 (The Trendy Condo) | 0 2168 7242 | sportsbarbangkok.com | 8am-2am With 26 high-definition TVs and eight projectors, this is the place to go for live sporting events. Of course, there’s beer, food, and bar games like billiards, too.
THE QUEEN VIC Sukhumvit Soi 23 | 0 2661 7417 | queenvicbkk. com | 9am-1am An indoor-outdoor arrangement up the road from the pit that is Soi Cowboy, with a semi-circular bar serving standard cocktails, various draft beers, and substantial Western fare.
live music APOTEKA 33/28 Sukhumvit Soi 11 | 09 0626 7655 apotekabkk.com | Mon-Thu 5pm-1am, Fri 5pm-2am, Sat-Sun 3pm-midnight 1 0 6 | M AY 2 0 1 6
MIXX DISCOTHEQUE President Tower Arcade 973 Ploenchit Rd BTS Chidlom | mixxdiscotheque.com 10pm-late Located in basement annex of the Intercontinental Hotel, Mixx is classier than most of Bangkok’s after-hour clubs. It’s a two-room affair decked out with chandeliers and paintings and billowing sheets on the ceiling lending a desert tent feel. The main room plays commercial R&B and hip hop, the other banging techno and house. Expect a flirty, up-for-it crowd made up of colourful characters from across the late-night party spectrum. Be warned, there’s a cover charge for guys and girls, but it includes a drink and the chance to party until nearly sunrise.
BROWN SUGAR 469 Phra Sumen Road | 08 9499 1378 brownsugarbangkok.com | 6pm-1am Bangkok’s oldest, cosiest jazz venue. A restaurant and coffee house by day that morphs into a world-class jazz haunt where renditions of bebop and ragtime draw crowds by night.
CAFÉ TRIO GF, Portico Complex, 31 Soi Lang Suan 0 2252 6929 | 6pm-1am, closed the 2nd and 4th Sun of the month One of the only bars worth seeking out on Lang Suan Road. Loved for its
jazz and art, a welcome alternative to Bangkok’s raucous pubs and haughty lounge bars.
CM2 LIVE JAM GF, Novotel Siam Square Soi 6 | 0 2209 8888 novotelbkk.com/cm2-live-jam | Thu-Sat 7pm-12am A subterranean party cave that packs them in, especially on weekends, when it heaves with tourists and nocturnal beauties. DJs play what the crowd wants, when they want it.
MAGGIE CHOO’S Hotel Novotel Fenix, 320 Silom Rd 0 2635 6055 | facebook.com/maggiechoos | Tue-Sun 6pm-2am The main decoration is the leggy cabaret girls, but the real attraction is the live jazz, some of the best the city has to offer. The atmosphere is amplified with sultry mysticism and redolent of dandyish early 20th-century gambling dens.
PARKING TOYS 14 Prasert-Manukitch Rd, Lat Phrao | 0 2907 2228 | parkingtoys.in.th | 7pm-2am A spacious garage-style venue, filled to the brim with random antiques, known for stellar live rock, ska, and rockabilly that runs into the early morning. Far out of town, but worth the trip.
SAXOPHONE 3/8 Victory Monument, Phayathai Rd | 0 2246 5472 | saxophonepub.com | 6pm-2am A must-visit live music joint near Victory Monument, dishing out stiff drinks and killer blues, ska, and jazz every night of the week.
SOULBAR 945 Charoenkrung Rd | 08 3092 2266 facebook.com/livesoulbarbangkok | Mon-Fri 6pm-1am Metalwork, modern art, and live Motown, funk, blues, and soul form the backbone of this stark, yet cool, shophouse turned small bar on the edge of Chinatown.
TAWANDAENG GERMAN BREWERY 462/61 Rama III Rd | 0 2678 1114 | tawandang. co.th | 5pm-1am A vast, barrel-shaped beer hall that packs in the revellers who come for towers of micro-brewed beer; Thai, Chinese, and German grub (especially deep-fried pork knuckle); and, not least, the famous Fong Nam house band. bangkok101.com
Away Spa at W Hotel Bangkok
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LIFE+STYLE a cook’s tour New web platform Cookly takes the Airbnb model into the kitchen. The platform allows hungry travellers to search for cooking classes in cities across Asia—and, eventually, the world. Cookly compiles classes and studios in one place, making the search for the right class for your tastes simple. For Bangkok, a variety of classes at places like May Kaidee, Sampran Riverside, Bangkok Bold, and more can be booked at cookly.me. Currently, other Thai cities where classes are available include Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phuket, Hua Hin, and Koh Lanta.
pop & shop Wake up slow, eat some good food, and peruse some cool new fashion while you’re at it at CHOMP (Samsen Soi 1) on Sunday, May 8, during Brunch & Browse. The cosy café is serving mimosas, wine, and a bunch of brunch bites from noon until10pm, while designer Ali Pearce presents unique swimwear and festive outfits from her Amber Roux fashion label for sale. For information about the brunch and the designer, visit facebook.com/chompcafe.
summer escapes Away Spa at W Hotel Bangkok offers a range of ways to recharge this summer. From cooling oil massages to heal sore (and sunburned) skin to mango body scrubs to the most seasonal of them all—the “Songkran Escape” (B2999++/90 mins)—featuring a white clay facial and a champaca oil massage, the treatments, available through June, help you beat the heat and unwind. On top of these, check out the luxurious “Diamonds are Forever” (B4399++/120 mins); the fullbody treatment includes a scrub and wrap with diamond powder, as well as a diamond oil massage. Visit wbangkok.com for more information.
fashion fete The highly fashionable Irvine Market returns from May 13-15 with the aptly titled Irvine Carnival Parade. Held at The EMQuartier on the ground floor of the waterfall quartier, the chic, pop-up market will present stall after stall selling locally-sourced fashion in collaboration with FABLAB, which supports top Thai online brands by giving them space to sell their fashion items out of FABLAB’s brick-and-mortar shops in CentralWorld and Central Eastville. Check out the latest on Instagram at IrvineMarket.BKK.
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| unique boutique
There’s always time for traditions By Pongphop Songsiriarcha
ow many people does it take to build a watch? In this case, the answer is fairly Simpl. Marketer Alisa Kittipong and designer Tanachpak Warrnissorn teamed up two years ago, turning a mutual love of analogue watches into a full-fledged business. After lots of trial and error, the duo finally found the winning formula, prudently inspecting each watch throughout the creative process, from the design to the photo shoots to the daily operations. Simpl’s minimalist watches are not only functional and practical—they are also reflections of the wearers’ senses of style. Simpl offers eight different watches, each hand-crafted from high-grade materials. The movement inside each watch is built from waterresistant Japanese and Swiss parts that are able to withstand pressure equivalent to a depth of 50 metres. Outer transparent covers are made of sapphire-coated crystal, which
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helps prevent minor scratches, and AR coating that reduces reflection, making the time actually easy to read in any conditions. The dial comes in two classic shades—black and white—while the stainless steel case comes in three different colours: matte black, silver, and rose gold. Straps, made from genuine Italian leather, come in black or brown. Among the offerings, the Amber Black watch has become one of Simpl’s bestselling models. It’s easy to see why. With black dials and straps complemented by a stunning rose gold case, the look and feel of the watch expresses confidence and sophistication, but it also contains a trace of mysteriousness in the black face—sort of like the James Bond of watches. Another classic style, the Regal Dark Brown, features a brown leather strap and white dial set off by a rose gold-coated case. Thanks to the contemporarymeets-classic design, monochromatic
colours, and compact size of its watches, Simpl has gained recognition among the watch enthusiasts at home and abroad. Its products are also exported to United Kingdom, the US, Australia, and Indonesia. The fact that this unisex brand remains dedicated to the art of making watches by hand while the digital gadgets steadily rise in popularity has made Simpl even more estimable as a brand. Simpl’s watches come with a full year warranty. You can contact the shop directly if you have any concerns about the products. To see the collection, visit simplwatch.com or stop by Room Concept Store at Central Embassy or the EMQuartier. They are also available at Seenspace Hua Hin. Simpl also plans to launch a new collection with more designs in the middle of 2016.
Simpl 29/43 Soi Chaengwattana 14 | simplwatch.com fb: Simplstyle, ig: simpl_watch bangkok101.com
5 of the best barbershops in Bangkok By Pongphop Songsiriarcha
ver the last couple of decades, barbershops in Bangkok have been lost in the rise of cutting-edge salons. But just like people’s nostalgic pull to old-school vinyl, a vintage haircut harks back to the good old days. And today, men’s barbershops have made a big comeback.
For those who prefer the luxe life, Bangkok’s first branch of the finest traditional gentlemen’s barbershop from England, Truefitt & Hill located in Central Embassy, offers a superior grooming experience with quality product and services. This old-school barbershop is decorated in Old English style with grainy black and white photographs hanging on walls covered with equally grayscale paper that’s complemented by sturdy wooden furniture. The Royal Haircut starts at B1100—pricy for a men’s haircut, but worth it, considering the attention each follicle gets. Other men’s grooming services include a shave and shape, head spa, facial hair grooming, and even a shoe shine. To read more about the shop, check out truefittandhillthailand.com.
Though not “vintage,” and therefore the outlier in this group, this barbershop owned by rap superstar Way Thaitanium is one of the first of its kind in Bangkok—a shop that would fit right in on the streets of New York, where a guy can go to get a statement-making cut with line designs. The barbers are always at the top of the game, pulling off some cool and unique designs. Although they’re best known for shaving designs into heads, the barbers do casual cuts just as well. The original Never Say Cutz shop is in Siam Square, but the company recently expanded branches at different locations around the city. The shop also sells CDs from Thai and international hip hop artists, as well as urban, hip hop-style clothing and accessories. Visit neversaycutzbarber.com to see some of these items. 1 1 2 | M AY 2 0 1 6
feature | LIFESTYLE
Another highly popular vintage barbershop, Black Amber is located in a small alley between Thong Lo Soi 5 and 7. With its industrial style décor, you’ll feel like you’ve been thrust into a scene from The Great Gatsby (the book, not the movie). Black Amber allows customers to drink while having a haircut. Rum, whiskey, you name it. But this isn’t just a place to get a new ’do. Other services, such as hot towel shaves and beard trimming, are available, as well. Prices start from B700. To see more, go to facebook. com/blackamberbarber.
Three Brothers Barber Shop, located in the Metro Mall at Chatuchak MRT station, offers vintage-inspired haircuts and rockabilly hairdos. The shop is filled with the atmosphere of Thailand’s old barber shophouse, masculine and no-frills. With their welcoming and friendly personalities, the three cofounders (brothers, naturally) quickly gained popularity among college students and young adults, but they also have made an impression on older generations—the rare trifecta. Grab some imported pomades from the shop before leaving, as well. The price for a cut starts at B450. Check out facebook.com/ ThreeBrothersBarberShop for more information. Running its business in Siam Square, the capital’s hot rendezvous spot for teenagers Tew’s Barber Shop has served customers with traditional style since 1994. Beyond classic haircuts, Tew’s offers many services that are not easy to find elsewhere, like shaves, eye cleaning, facial massages, ear cleaning, and manicures. You would also not be out of place here with a waxed heavily handlebar moustache. Imported men’s pomade from big names like Bona Fide, Reuzel, Layrite, and Prospectors are also available here. The price for a cut starts at B500. Visit facebook.com/tewsbarber to find inspiration for your next hairstyle. bangkok101.com
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| spa review
Diora Lang Suan Entering the “hot” stone age By Pawika Jansamakao
estled in the centre of opulent and shady Langsuan Road, Diora Spa takes total mind and body healing seriously. If that much was not clear upon entry into one of 36 light and spacious treatment rooms, where any clinical elements are spirited away by the fresh aromas silently emanating from hidden diffusers, it will be after you settle in to a massage. At Diora, essential oils, herbal balls, and hot stones are used in tandem with massage therapy. The signature aroma oil massage (B1600/90 min, B2100/120 min) combines Thai massage with aromatherapy, the treatment enhanced even further with the use of hot stones. First, hot oil is applied and heated stones are placed along your spine for a few minutes, soothing muscles and mind by 1 1 4 | M AY 2 0 1 6
transmitting heat deep into the body. That’s shortly followed by a proper Thai massage. Every inch of your body, including arms, legs, shoulders, palms, and feet, are massaged first with fingers, and then again with hot stones. Once the whole body is soothed, a heated herbal bag is wrapped around your neck and the session ends with scalp rub and body stretching. Making the massage all the more heavenly is the way the therapists seem to know precisely what each body needs with only a touch of their hands. Putting healing at the forefront of treatments, most therapists will suggest applying firm pressure to help cope with physical ailments. But those in search of a subtle touch for relaxation will not leave disappointed. The same methods used here, in Bangkok, will also be applied at the
spa’s other branches that are soon to open in Japan. And maybe this connection with the Land of the Rising Sun goes beyond massage and into mentality. The entire experience is positively Zen-like. Customers also receive a B200 discount at Diora’s product gallery, located at the entrance. The spa’s product line spans from essential oils, diffusers, and a perfumed body balm to soap bars, body washes, lotions, and scrubs. Get a free facial gold mask or extra massage with the purchase of any oil treatments from 9am-1pm or any Diora packages enjoyed from 9am-6pm.
Diora Lang Suan 36 Soi Langsuan 0 2652 1112, 0 26521113 dioralangsuan.com daily 9am-12am bangkok101.com
products | LIFESTYLE
Edible Enhancers All-natural, nourishing beauty products for body & soul
he skin is the body’s largest organ, absorbing a minimum of 60-70 per cent of whatever we put onto it into our blood stream; even more in our face and underarms. So why put something on our skin that we wouldn’t put in our mouths? These cosmetic products are free of nasty ingredients like aluminium and parabens and so natural you could (almost) eat them.
Mung Bean Facial and Body Wash by Urban Tree (B120/100g)
Made only of mung beans, this all-natural powder removes oil from the skin, leaving it naturally nourished. Hypo-allergenic and ph-balanced, it is great for all skin types, but especially for those with oily skin. Urban Tree is a Thai brand dedicated to all-natural products with a store on Samsen Road. You can either pop by the shop or go online to check out their products at urbantreeorganics.com.
Mangosteen Soap by Soap Chalet
The Thai brand Soap Chalet produces all its soaps with foodgrade vegetable oils, including coconut oil, palm oil, castor oil, and olive oil. Infused with pure and natural Thai herbs, spices, and botanicals, every batch is made, cut, and wrapped by hand. The mangosteen soap contains the peel of the national fruit, the little purple mangosteen, which is said to be an excellent astringent to skin and contain valuable antiseptic properties that reduce body odour and heal damaged skin cells. Take a look at their website, soapchalet.com, for more information.
Living Luminizer by RMS Beauty
If you spend a lot time indoors, check out the Living Luminizer. It just might give your skin a healthy glow. The highlighter enhances
the skin’s natural vibrancy without leaving any sticky or greasy residues. It only comes in one shade, suitable for all skin types, so you can’t go wrong. All RMS Beauty products are made with raw food-grade and organic ingredients in their natural state, allowing their living, healing attributes to enter and rejuvenate the skin. RMS Beauty products are available at BFF on Thong Lo Soi 13 or at rmsbeauty.com.
Wild Cherry Lip Balm by Burt’s Bees
The Coca-Cola of lip balms, Burt’s Bees just expanded its highly regarded collection, all of which are produced with natural ingredients that moisturise and nourish dry lips. The newest addition, the Wild Cherry Lip Balm, is made with cherry oil derived directly from coldpressed cherry seed kernels. Lightly sweet and tangy, this formula of natural oils and antioxidant-rich vitamin E hydrates lips, keeping them soft and moist. Burt’s Bees is found almost everywhere, especially Watson’s, but you can also place orders at burtsbees.co.th.
Argan Sugar Balm Body Scrub by Josie Maran Cosmetics
The key ingredient in Josie Maran Cosmetics’ products is argan oil. The Moroccan oil, one of the rarest in the world, is high in vitamins, minerals, and powerful oxidants. Thanks to its vitamin E and essential fatty acids, the oil benefits the whole body, too, leaving skin soft and hydrated. This exfoliating scrub contains a soothing combination of argan oil, coconut oil, and shea butter that revitalizes dry skin; its delicate sugar granules do the heavy lifting, removing remove dead skin and impurities. Josie Maran Cosmetics’ argan oil products can be purchased at Sephora in Siam Center, Terminal 21, EMQuartier, and CentralWorld.
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| did you know?
hen you talk about Thai food, som tam might be the first dish that comes to mind. Yet not many people know that the ubiquitous papaya salad comes in dozens of varieties—even for Thai many citizens, the vastness of its variations is seemingly unimaginable. The standard som tam most easily found throughout the country is normally made with green papaya, but it isn’t the only ingredient that can be used. At many restaurants or food stalls, instead of green papaya, cooks use cucumber, corn, rice noodles, or many different kinds of fruits, such as apples, coconuts, grapes, and guavas. Meat can also be added
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in the mix: grilled pork neck, fresh crab, shrimp, salty egg, preserved mussels—you name it. Moreover, many modern som tam places try to add value into their food by churching up the dish with imported ingredients, like salmon or kimchi, while some outlets even serve fried som tam. In other words, cooking som tam is like painting—mortar as canvas, ingredients as colours, both very messy affairs. You can always create something unique: as long as your som tam is edible, anything goes. But keep it savoury and sweet, packed with all the flavours of Thailand on just one plate.