Just a few months ago, Sanam Pao, the quiet neighborhood sandwiched between Victory Monument and hipster-friendly Ari, barely saw any foot traffic due to a lack of attractions. But with the insurgence of new condos and service apartments in the area, more eateries, bars, and clubs have been opening as of late, bringing in the young crowd and office workers who want to wind down after work in venues that don’t charge an arm and a leg.
Rooftop eatery Vela’s contribution is a casual vibe complemented by crowd-favorite fusion dishes that merge local flavor with French influences, as well as creative cocktails.
Its appearance is no different from the live-music pubs that spread throughout low-key neighborhoods in the city. The venue is partitioned into two parts: an air-conditioned dining room featuring bare concrete walls and dark-toned furniture, and an alfresco terrace that offers views of the Skytrain continuously rattling pass rather than the vertiginous scenes from sky-high rooftop bars.
Elevated Thai-Western bar chow are on the menu, courtesy of celebrity chef Tawatchai “Bus” Akarawongwattana. one of the finalists in Top chef ThailandThe Nakhon Ratchasima-born chef uses French techniques to create Isaan-inspired bites, such as oxtail croquettes served with spicy jeaw sauce (B280), “duck confit” nibbles served namtok-style (B220), and tuna tartare packed with fragrant Thai herbs (B260).
Western-style pasta dishes are given new life with Thai elements, as in the spicy spaghetti with intensely flavored Isaan sausage (B240), and the black ink spaghetti with creamy salted egg cream sauce and squid (B280). For bigger plates, there’s the pan-seared salmon with flavorful tom yum bisque (B380) and, perfect for sharing between four people, a perfectly-cooked prime rib paired with house-made jeaw sauce (B2,990).
The bar takes its concoctions seriously, bowing to a menu curated by Anuman “Nik” Rajadhon of Teens of Thailand and Asia Today. The signature Vela cocktail (B320) balances Gin Lane Pink Gin with an all-spice syrup, citrus and pomegranate tonic, while Bitter Watermelon (B320) is a delicious and heady drink that brings forth the flavors of tropical fruit, complemented by the combination of rum, Campari, basil and lime. If you’re keen for drinks with a nutty note, try the Banana Sprit (B320), which has banana chip-infused Jameson whiskey, Amaretto liqueur, nutmeg and citrus.