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It can be hard to keep a finger on the pulse of the dynamic and ever-evolving Thai capital. Here’s a selection of our favourite newcomers.
Bangkok isn’t a city that likes to rest on its laurels. New venues appear in the city with the regularity of a ticking metronome, often setting new standards for mixology and gastronomy. Compiling a definitive list of these hotspots is, of course, impossible, but these five – at the time of writing – are among those causing the bigger stir among lovers of life’s finer things in the city.
Keeping things simple is key to the formula at Cagette, a new French restaurant/deli on leafy Yen Akat Road in the Sathorn neighbourhood. An extensive menu may look like a tome, but the focus is very much slanted towards the excellent produce. We are suckers for a good charcuterie and cheese selection (something of a rarity in Bangkok) and the one here is among the best in the city. The kitchen also does a great job of more advanced dishes. French classics such as beef tartare, cassoulet and coq au vin are hearty and authentic while salads and seafood items such as a “seafood bouquet” including oysters, whelks, cockles and prawns sing with freshness.
Located in a beautiful shophouse near to Hualamphong train station, Humble Projects is another venture in step with the creative resurgence in Bangkok’s old city. Extending over four levels, the venue offers plenty of room for expression and its scattershot agenda supplies eclectic intellectual stimuli. On the ground floor, visitors can glean hands-on learning about letterpress printing at the open-access studio. Upstairs floors, meanwhile, are dedicated to small-scale art exhibitions, screenings and seminars with recent highlights we have attended including Cambodian classical dance and short movie premieres.
Thai ingredients are to the fore at this – mixologist/bar entrepreneur Niks Anuman-Rajadhon’s second venture in the Soi Nana enclave. Located down a tiny alley a stone’s throw from his other bar, the gin-focused Teens of Thailand, Asia Today is a highly intimate affair. A few pews at the downstairs bar take care of seating arrangements, while an upstairs area is slated for a chef’s table feature, but with fancy tasting menus substituted for cocktail ingredients. Concoctions here are informed by the owner’s travels in northern Thailand with exotic drinks components including wild honey, pickled garlic and leaves and herbs plucked from the jungle-clad mountains.
Along with the Bangkok Edition, the new Waldorf Astoria is among the most eagerly anticipated addition to the city’s luxury hotel portfolio in the new Magnolias skyscraper. The 170-room property is the first Waldorf Astoria hotel in Southeast Asia and it’s a suitably grand entrance for the brand. Spacious rooms and suites start at 50-sqm and offer plenty of natural light as well as floor-to-ceiling windows. Of the myriad other notable features a temperature-controlled outdoor infinity pool and an array of dining options including an upscale elevated steakhouse stand out.
When the trend for nose-to-tail dining initially hit Bangkok, the handful of venues it spawned signally failed to capture the imagination of the public. Kudos then to chef Chalee Kader, the brains behind 100 Mahaseth, for picking up what appeared to be a tired thread and running with it. The twin keys to the success of his old city venue seem to be its lack of pretention and the quality of its offcuts and entrails, which are sourced from one of Thailand’s best butchers. The culinary style is Isaan (north-eastern Thai) and the punchy flavours mesh well with tasty morsels like tripe and brain.