Wedged between Silom and North Sathorn roads, the leafy residential backstreets of this old Bangkok neighborhood have a new buzz thanks to a fresh crop of drinking and dining venues. Read on to find the best of the newcomers—and one stalwart that is keeping things current.
By Lara Dunston
Holding the 37th spot on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, this Silom hot spot isn’t new. In fact, it’s 16 years old—ancient in Bangkok years—but has remained au courant thanks to a team with their fingers on the pulse. Australian Darren Hausler and food stylist sister Cherie opened this local institution when there was little in the area except food stalls. The good-looking retro space would be a grand old dame if it weren’t for frequent nips and tucks by American designer Kelly Wheatley of Lump, whose handcrafted furniture is made from recycled wood and vintage fabric. Chef Tim Butler (formerly of New York’s Daniel) continually tweaks his seasonal menu of fine produce-driven cuisine that Hausler broadly labels “modern, international, regional.” Try the Australian saltbush lamb rack with broad bean, mint, and charred lemon. Star “mixultant” Joseph Boroski is responsible for the classic cocktails (Eat Me; Soi Pipat 2, off Convent Rd., Silom; 66-2/238-0931).
When it opened in March, this European-style bistro and cocktail bar injected some sophistication into a street previously distinguished only by an Irish pub and a Mexican joint. By day Vesper has a gentleman’s-club vibe with its leather Chesterfield sofas and black-and-white tiled floor. After dark, when the lights are turned down and the music cranked up, things get pleasantly boisterous. The drinks, designed by mixologists from London’s Fluid Movement, draw a discerning crowd for the infused spirits and barrel-aged cocktails as much as the Spanish-Italian comfort food by chef Luca Appino, whose tapas introduce a menu of pizzas, grills, and handmade pastas such as orecchiette with ’nduja, a spicy Calabrian sausage spread (Vesper; 10/15 Convent Rd., Silom; 66-2/235-2777).
The unpretentious decor of this petite restaurant belies the elegance of the contemporary Thai cuisine artfully arranged on the plates. The two twenty-something Thai chefs—Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn (who is also an owner) and Worathon “Tae” Udomchalotorn—trained at the Culinary Institute of America and worked at Eleven Madison Park and Jean Georges in New York before returning home to open Le Du last November. The name derives from a Thai word for “season,” and the chefs source quality seasonal
produce from around Thailand to create some of the most intriguing food in Bangkok right now. Dishes such as locally raised ostrich with tamarind, winged beans, and sticky rice incorporate modernist techniques without the tricks and gimmicks. It’s terrific value, too: a four-course tasting menu will only set you back about US$30 (Le Du; 399/3 Silom Soi 7; 66-92/919-9969).
Namsaah Bottling Trust
Namsaah is an oldfangled Thai word for sparkling water—a nod to the former life of this hot-pink early-20th-century villa as the office of a soda-bottling company. The owners—Thai celebrity chef Ian Kittichai, music impresario Fred Meyer, and nightlife maven Justin Dunne—tried to capture some of that colorful history in the building’s latest incarnation as a fun bar and restaurant. And they succeeded. With its July opening, Namsaah quickly became a local favorite for its atmospheric decor, idiosyncratic soundtrack, whimsical cocktails, and playful Asian inspired dishes like salmon-tartare wonton tacos and a pink krapow burger (Wagyu beef in a pink-peppercorn bun). Match them with a smoky Negroni made with tangerine juice and roasted mandarin oranges or a Sang Som whiskey sour flavored with salted caramel (Namsaah Bottling Trust; 401 Silom Soi 7; 66/2636-6622).