Bangkok’s culinary scene has gotten just a little bit more exciting. Award-winning Korean-American chef Akira Back introduces Thais to his brand of cooking at his namesake restaurant in Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen's Park hotel. Soaring above Sukhumvit on the 37th floor of the five-star hotel, Akira Back breaks new ground by offering cuisine that fuses Japanese, Korean and Western influences. Avid foodies would know who Akira Back is. But in case his name doesn’t ring a bell, Back is a US-based chef whose fame travels across continents. Prior to becoming a world-renowned culinary figure, he was a pro snowboarder and a part-time cook at local restaurants in his hometown of Colorado. Severe injuries from a snowboarding accident prematurely ended his career in extreme sports. Another door opens when one closes; Back decided to shift his path towards the kitchen, starting out as a prep cook at Kenichi restaurant in Aspen. This was soon followed by a senior position at the famed Yellowtail restaurant in Las Vegas, which eventually led to a decision to venture out on his own and launch his namesake brand. Akira Back’s Bangkok outlet is a study in sleek, contemporary Asian décor. Japanese shinto ropes hold up elongated arches and provide an interesting canopy to the entire space. Abstract paintings by the chef's mother adorn the walls. The posh restaurant is an expansive space that can seat up to 100 diners at a time, composed of a main dining room, sushi bar, omakase bar and f
Posh hotel bars that serve great cocktails are, in most cases, rare in Bangkok. (We usually encounter juice-heavy numbers that skimp on booze). But new waves of establishments, including Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, are doing their best to change this situation. Launched alongside the highly anticipated Akira Back restaurant, ABar impressively combines style with substance by pulling off well-rounded libations in two distinct venues: a Victorian-themed drinking palace and a rooftop drinking space up above. Upon entering the bar, your eyes are met with awe-inspiring, moodily lit interiors that make the most of dark wood, black marble and brass details to pay tribute to Victorian London aesthetics and gritty retro-Manhattan elements. (The whole thing looks like something straight out of the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.) The outdoor terrace, fitted with apothecary-like cabinets, provide an area for puffing on vintage cigars while looking out to Sukhumvit’s glittering skyscrapers. The bar is helmed by Rojanat Chareonsri, who honed his skills at Nopa Kitchen + Bar in Washington DC and Fillets in Bangkok. The cocktails put the focus on premium dark spirits, so expect whiskey, rum and cognac to make their way into your drink (though we also noticed a couple of gin-based items). Study in Stone is a sour with Nusa Cana rum, sherry cream, citrus oleo saccharum (macerated lemon oil) and lemon (B415). Another offering, The Oxford, smartly reinvents the class
Authentic Fukuoka soba is now in Bangkok. Respected soba chef Mizuho Nagao shut down his Soba Sei Restaurant in Fukuoka, Japan to relocate at Bangkok Marriott Marquis Hotel on Soi Sukhumvit 22. The open-plan dining room features posh, contemporary decor and an open kitchen. Chef Nagao’s menu includes buckwheat soba made of high-quality buckwheat from Hokkaido.
An army of architects and interior designers may have injected luxury into Bangkok Mariott Marquis Queen’s Park—or the former Imperial Queen’s Park to those who’ve stayed around long enough—but one thing that hasn’t changed about the Sukhumvit 22 venue is the fact that it’s always been a haven for gastrophiles. The latest establishment to join the hotel’s squad of culinary cocoons—Thai restaurant Siam Tea Room, gigantic buffet hall Goji Kitchen and straight-from-Nagoya Soba Factory—is The Pagoda, a Chinese restaurant that purveys authentic Cantonese fare at its best. Pagoda is set in an eclectic dining room decorated with interiors inspired by Chinese pagodas (tiered ones with eaves, not to be mixed up with the pagodas found at Thai temples), which are believed to bless diners with power and wealth. The vast dining hall can accommodate up to more than 150 diners, while those looking for privacy can opt for one of the seven private rooms, each one named after a Chinese flower. They have a room for every requirement, from a small alcove for up to ten people, to a bigger room for 20 guests equipped with a giant table with an automatic turning feature, to connecting rooms with two tables so kids can dine separate and won’t need to sit frozen, sandwiched by relatives they only meet once a year. The kitchen is helmed by Hong Kong native Chef Oscar Pun, who spent the past two decades working at notable Michelin-starred restaurants in Hong Kong and Singapore. Chef Pun whips up Cant
The building that was the Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel has been entirely refurbished into the sleeker Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, a new five-star hotel that also promises to be a mecca for food and booze. One of its outlets, Siam Tea Room, looks to invite discerning diners to either feast on authentic Thai grub or nibble on a variety of baked items – or both. A northern Thai-style, wood-crafted gable graces the restaurant’s facade, one of the few decorating pieces kept from the Imperial Queen’s Park structure. It was only later on that we learned, as revealed by the hotel’s publicist, that the iconic piece was designed by the late legendary artist Thawan Duchanee. Stepping inside, the center of the room is unusually dedicated to a pastry shop selling house-baked goodies. The adjacent wings on both sides are connected to elegant, dark-hued dining rooms that display intricate Thai-style furniture and custom-made cutlery crafted by the villagers of Aranyik, a small town in Ayutthaya. The name is quite deceptive — the main focus here is not tea. Rather, old-school Thai dishes, whipped up by chef Anukool “Aon” Poolpipat (who previously worked at JW Marriott) dominate the menu. Chef Aon doesn’t tone down the spice and delivers flavorful versions of Thai cuisine that sentimentally reflect the tastes of his childhood. The blue swimmer crab curry (B460) represents southern Thai fare at its best. Spicy with delicate salty notes, it is served with meaty crab chunks, charcoa
This eatery is one of the many branches of Saep Classic, the country’s famous somtum chain. We particularly love this outlet for its cleanliness and easygoing vibe. Plus, a somtum break in between bouts of shopping is a real treat. Those unfamiliar with fermented fish sauce will be glad to know that the somtum here is seasoned to appeal to their uneducated palates. Try the mildly sweet somtum sua pu pla ra (papaya salad with fermented fish sauce, salted cured crab and rice noodle) to start. Pair it with their crispy-skin grilled chicken for a truly amazing meal.
The annex to one of the city’s favorite bike cafés has become a popular shave ice spot. Among the selections, the newly-introduced creation is the avocado kakigori, milk-based shaved ice topped with crushed avocado and, surprisingly, fried bacon. The combination might sound odd but this is just fantastic and worth a revisit.
The garden fronting Thai restaurant Kram welcomes a beach-themed cocktail bar, which is possibly the closest in Sukhumvit you can get to a tropical island experience. The brainchild of the people behind Blaq Lyte dance club in Thonglor and bar-slash-art gallery Future Factory in Ari, Coastal takes on a beachy atmosphere with rustic bamboo-shack interiors festooned with trendy umbrella and colorful inflatable tubes. Adding to the laidback feel are mats for lounging on the grass and low khan tok-style tables. Sweet and fruity cocktails are the bar’s main focus, as in the Smashing Basil, a Mojito-lookalike that is a light, gin-based concoction with a hint of Thai basil (B340), and the fiery yet refreshing Sweet Juan, which combines chili-infused tequila with pineapple juice, lime and cilantro (B340). For something a bit more grown-up, go for the Cottonmouth, a sipping drink that mixes gold and dark rum with slight hints of citrus (B380).
Hidden on the 2nd floor of The Green Connect Building on Sukhumvit soi 31, this bar doubles as a space where artists can showcase their pieces for free. Cocktail workshops are also hosted on special nights – visitors get educated on Thai liquor-based drinks infused with local ingredients such as Bua Bok Splitz, Honey Spice, Pineapple Beer and Whiskey Tea.
Shinsen Fish Market is perhaps the most exciting eatery to open in Sukhumvit this month. The fancy seafood-focused restaurant is located next to Ozono on Sukhumvit Soi 39 and is built around the concept of Addiction Aquatic Development, a modern-looking wholesale and retail fish market in Taipei that also supplies most of the seafood served at Shinsen. The space is stylishly decked out in glossy black and features ten different zones. Only two zones, Market and Café, are open for now. For those who aren’t familiar with how things go at the Taipei fish market (we aren’t either), here is how it works: You enter through the Market zone where you can handpick fresh or live produce (everything from Hokkaido crabs to Wagyu beef) from ice-topped counters or tanks. You then pay for your loot at the cashier. You can also shop for cheese, wines, saké, fruits and pastries at the Market. Carry everything to the cooking station, choose how you want them cooked, pay a small cooking fee (starting from B50) and then wait to be served at the Cafe zone. You can also choose dishes and drinks from the à la carte menu, which includes grilled seafood and meats as well as glistening slices of raw fish prepared at the sushi bar located inside the Market. However, those who choose to sit at the said sushi bar won’t be eligible for the pick-and-cook option. Sounds confusing? It is. We visited the place on a Sunday evening, a few days after the soft-opening period, and discovered that the place is i
Named after the mellow hue the sky took on when its owner first arrived at the location, Vanilla Sky is nestled on the 35th floor of Compass SkyView (aka that tower sitting right behind the Emporium mall), offering stunning views of Sukhumvit from every angle. The music is pretty chill, and perfectly complement the bar’s selection of refreshing cocktails. For a more exciting experience, ask for the flammable cocktail named Lamborghini (Sambuca, Kahlúa, Blue Curaçao, Bailey’s, B850) or head downstairs to Vanilla Club.
Sugar Ray was a mainstay in Ekkamai’s nightlife scene for a reason—its creative cocktails and rustic-meets-minimalist speakeasy vibe drew both eclectic hipsters and cocktail connoisseurs to the second floor of Baan Ekkamai. The bar, however, has just gone through a complete makeover, and it includes a new address on Sukhumvit Soi 24. Tucked within new restaurant complex Octo Seafood Bar (we won’t spoil the fun by telling you where the entrance is, but we will say that you have to hunt down a chap that looks as if he’s dressed for Comic Con in the medieval times), the new Sugar Ray is now a sleeker and more dapper version of its former self. Dressed in fine black marble and leather, the dimly lit space now features ample bar seating, which was conspicuously absent in its former digs. In true Sugar Ray fashion, the guys behind the bar are still up for conversation, mostly on cocktails or the bar’s selection of fine whiskey. Head mixologist Vipop Jinaphan and his team have come up with a short list of signature drinks that cater to all kinds of flavor-profile preferences. Un Poco Loco (B420) is a fruity and sour drink that packs a punch with a mix of tequila that's sous-vide with saffron, Amaro, mango, yogurt, lime, salt and bitter. East Coast Boulevard (B420) is a twist on the good old Boulevardier, infusing Bengalese spiced tea into Campari and the smooth blending of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Punt e Mes, and chocolate and grapefruit bitters. Local flavor shines in Born an
If you’re tired of overpriced mall food, this food cart parked near the entrance of luxury mall Emporium offers the perfect solution. There is only one thing on the menu: Hainanese-style chicken rice that got all the components right. The fragrant rice is packed with garlicky flavors, while the boiled chicken is juicy and tender. A fried option is also on the offer and the chicken is served crispy and not too greasy. For parties of two or more, a slightly peppery-sweet soup with whole chicken bone is served. Here’s the tricky part—trying to nab a seat is like a game of musical chairs. The minute you spot an empty chair, seize it as fast as you can. Otherwise, the remaining alternative is to take your place in the notoriously long queue for take-away orders—or eat while standing.
Just like other hotel rooftop bars, Aire Bar at Hyatt Place offers expansive views over Bangkok. The difference is, the drinks here don’t empty out your pocket. Offering the perfect lookout to Benjasiri Park against a backdrop of skyscrapers, the bar caters to punters on a budget—sparkling wine starts from B199 while cocktails created by mixologist Nick Braun sets you back around B260.
Some of you may have noticed the construction that took place right behind the Emporium mall up until a few months ago. It’s actually a five-star hotel called Compass Skyview and it has just opened to the public. We would gladly recommend the hotel to our visiting friends, but we’re more excited about its steakhouse, Prime+. The restaurant has been open for a while and you may have heard of its reasonably priced Sunday lunch buffet. But you should also check out Prime+’s dinnertime delights and first-rate grilled goodies. Nestled on the seventh floor of the stylish hotel, the restaurant merges the industrial-chic interiors of a modern eatery with a posh hotel restaurant feel—faux brick walls are combined with glossy dark marble surfaces. The space is divided into two distinctive parts—an intimate area by the glass window offers a decent view of Sukhumvit at sundown while the seats by the lively open kitchen is ideal for watching Prime+’s chefs in action. As the name suggests, the restaurant specializes in premium beef cuts. On top of light bites like olive oil-drizzled carpaccio dishes (options include beef, B425; salmon, B375; and tuna, B395), meat-heavy mains are set to please carnivores with a selection of beef mainly from USA and Australia, from a 250-gram rib eye Angus (B1,350) to a 500-gram wagyu fillet (B4,500). We love the marbled texture and juicy flavor of the sirloin (starting from B1,350). However, the rare wagyu fillet (starting from B2,450), though seasoned pe
R.E. 234 will take you back to the time of King Rama V when Western culture first arrived in Thailand, hence a menu chock full of fusion recipes. Indulge in tiger prawns with pomodoro sauce, stuffed pork chop with pesto cheese or the massaman kai. Don’t forget to try the organic floral tea before you leave. For jazz fans, live jazz music plays on Fridays and Saturdays.