Best New Rooftop Bar in Bangkok – Octave Sukhumvit

Sukhumvit Road from Ocatve Rooftop

The people who say Bangkok doesn’t need a new rooftop bar haven’t visited Octave on Sukhumvit 57. Opened in late April 2013, it is easily my favourite rooftop in the city, and not just because it’s less that ten blocks from my house. Split over three levels and starting on the 45th floor, they have really let the view do the talking. Cocktails start at 350 baht, beers start at 170 baht and there is a decent selection of wines by the glass. For me, Octave is the best rooftop bar in Bangkok, and as someone who’s visited them all, I don’t make this statement lightly.

Octave Rooftop is only a few minutes walk from Thong Lor Sky Train inside the Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit. Head through the lobby and the lifts are towards the back, just past the Chocolate Cake Company (note to self – return to sample goods).

The bar is cool and funky but not totally pretentious. On the first floor is the lounge area, comfortable seats and booths, a great place to hang if you are coming with a group friends and enjoy Octave Rooftop Bar’s amazing views at the same time. When planning their seating arrangements they have done their best to ensure that most visitors get an uninterrupted view of Bangkok. The DJ on the 45th floor plays chilled out music, and for those with families, children over 12 are welcome on this level until 20:00. I’m convinced plenty of teenagers would be very impressed with the view, although I am less sure how ecstatic those here on a romantic date would be to share their space with kids (thankfully they are banned from the upper floors).

Head up one level and you reach a long bar that glows blue. There are a handful of tables here, but it does feel more like a pit-stop on your way to the main event than a stand alone space. Octave Rooftop have really made the most of Bangkok’s vista, and on the first two floors it wraps around the building, giving you 180 degree views. Whilst the bar area is edgy, the walls are panelled in blonde wood adding a softness that makes the space seem much more welcoming.

Up another flight of stairs you head to the best bit of this Bangkok rooftop, an amazing 360 degree space that makes you feel like you are on top of the world.

360 Bar Bangkok

There is definitely more of a party vibe on the 47th floor, with a DJ booth and space to mingle. Music here could been anything between mash ups of Oasis / Green Day and the latest chart hits. But for me, the best part of this rooftop was that on every floor there was nothing but a thin pane of glass between me and Bangkok. The view from up here is rather marvellous.  I recommend you head on up to Octave Rooftop Bar now before the rest of Bangkok discover it.

Rooftop Bangkok

Bangkok Cat Cafe – Play with cats in Thong Lor!

Cat Cafe Bangkok

Just when I thought I had seen it all, Bangkok opened a Cat Cafe! Yes, an actual cafe where you can go an play with big furry cats and eat biscuits and brownies in the shape of felines. What more could you want?!

Cafe Cafe Bangkok

Getting there is easy, it’s only around ten minutes walk from the sky train at Thong Lor on Sukhumvit Soi 53, Purr Cat Cafe is located on a sleepy residential road  watch out for the sign on the left hand side of the street as you walk along. Open from 11:00am daily except Monday it easy to spend a few of hours in Kitty Land, stroking the cats and sampling the sweet treats.

Cat Cafe BangkokI think the cat below has the best idea: hide and nap. It’s tough at the top of the Cat Cafe in Bangkok, and these guys get tired. Most of the Persian cats here spend their time asleep, but that’s okay, getting to pet them is a great way to reduce stress, much easier to do when they are asleep, and you need that in a city like Bangkok, especially when most apartments are too small to own a kitty all of your own. Cat Cafe to the rescue!

Cat Cafe Bangkok

The best thing about the menu here is that it was mostly cat shaped. Let’s be honest, I’ve had better scones and biscuits elsewhere, but I really appreciated the effort and thought that had gone into the food. The staff at Cat Cafe are really friendly but service is slow. We didn’t mind so much as we wanted to spend time playing with the cats.

Cat Cafe

I enjoyed my trip to the Purr Cat Cafe, but I haven’t felt the need to go back since. It really is one of these mad things that needs to be seen to be believed! Bangkok is one of the cities where trends come and go really fast, and I worry that the Cat Cafe might be one of those. It’s easy to look after 14 cats when people are regularly coming to visit them, but what happens when the crowds and the money goes? I hope that the cats will still be looked after.

Bangkok Cat Cafe

 
 
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 11:00-22:00 and Saturday & Sunday 11:00-23:00
Address: Soi Sukhumvit 53 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Tel: +66 2 108 3604

Mandopop Chinese Restaurant Review – Bangkok

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Mandopop is a modern Chinese restaurant on Wireless Road, just next to the Dutch Embassy. As soon as I read about it (and saw the pictures of the neon dining room) I knew I had to go there. It opened in 2012 so it has taken me a while to get around to it, and as you can imagine my excitement at getting invited there for dinner one evening was palpable. The restaurant is walking distance from Ploen Chit BTS station and opens at 17:00, with Sunday brunch at the weekend.

The restaurant is on the grounds of the Oriental Residence, a beautifully chic hotel that envelops you in a perfumed world decked out in so much white and cream that I felt like a two year old with sticky fingers. Mandopop has a completely different vibe, more like a swish discothèque. In fact, from 19:00 they even have a DJ, but despite the restaurant’s name he doesn’t seem to actually play any Chinese pop music. Or if he does it sounds a lot less cheesy than K-pop and J pop…

Upstairs there is a long blue lit corridor that leads onto the private dining rooms, set up for the more traditional Chinese sharing meals around a circular table. Downstairs is a combination of high bar stools and some funky cow hide covered chairs. It feels more like a modern bistro than a Chinese restaurant.

The chef is extremely enthusiastic and I really admired his idea to present Chinese food in a different way using healthy ingredients.  We ordered the set menu, which comes in small portions and gives you a taste of all the different specialities on the menu, which is a great idea for those who want to try new things.

Sadly for me, the food was beautiful to look out, but the flavours just weren’t that wow. It was such a disappointment! Perhaps without all the greasy goodness Chinese food just doesn’t taste as amazing?

Set menu one starts with a Dim Sum platter and four individual portions. The spinach dumpling looks like a jewel on the plate, but the flavour of the prawn inside was nothing special. My favourite was easily the radish cake, a thick comforting slab with bacon bites inside. It’s sad when beautifully prepared food like this leaves you wanting a BBQ pork steamed bun from the 7 11.

Next up was the appetizers, three choices and definitely more flavour. This pretty trio included a lamb roll, crispy pork and cod fish. The pork was mainly fat, admittedly a tasty morsel, but that left you feeling a little like Jack Sprat’s wife.

They seemed to have a knack with fish though, with both portions of cod (why have cod twice on a set menu?) moist and flaky. The main course was served with a portion of fried vegetables and scallop noodles, personally I loved the slightly fishy chewiness of them, dipped in a hot stock, but my companion was non-plussed.

Dessert, a mango pudding with slices of beautiful but flavourless dragon fruit is hardly worth mentioning. I left feeling hungry and I won’t be returning to Mandopop. If you are going to risk it, I recommend the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch, which at 1,200 is a bargain, especially considering a single plate of pan seared foie gras comes in at 459 baht.

Ground Floor Oriental Residence, 110 Wireless Road Bangkok
Sunday lunch : 11.30 – 14.30 hrs and Dinner daily : 17.00 – 24.00 hrs
Mandopop@oriental-residence.com
02 125 9000 or 02 252 8001-5

Bangkok’s Best Fish and Chips

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Fish and Chips is something that I have really missed since I moved to Bangkok, which is rather odd as I am not usually a huge fan of eating anything that comes from the sea. Thankfully there is a great restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 11 that serves up some tasty catches with what I would argue are the most delicious fries in the world.

This isn’t your usual greasy cafe where you get a mound of slightly soggy chips in newspaper, although the dishes are served on print, which definitely made me smile. There are over half a dozen different fishes to chose from, and thankfully a short description on each one, as my seafood knowledge doesn’t stretch much beyond cod… The fish are caught from the seas around New Zealand and include the wonderfully named Tarakihi and Silver Trumpeter. The fish is served either battered or breaded with either tartar or garlic dipping sauce.

Fries come in three varieties: standard cut, thick cut and the most awesome of all, that I am sad I didn’t discover till I was 29, Kumera fries. Chunky, delicious wedges of sweet potato, fried and served with sour cream and chilli dipping sauce. I have been thinking about them far too often since we had our first bowl, and I keep wondering if it would be acceptable to go back and just have a portion of these and nothing else. Alone, so I don’t have to share.

Open: Mon – Fri: 17:00 – 12:00 and Sat – Sun: 11:00 – 12:00

BTS: Nana
Address: Sub lane of Sukhumvit 11, left hand side as you walk from BTS (less than 5 minutes). Look for the small lane with the gate and Cheap Charlies out door bar 
Tel: +66 (0)2 651 1098

Best Mango Sticky Rice in Bangkok

Soi 38

Soi 38 is one of the most popular places for street food in Bangkok, attracting everyone from locals to those with a copy of Lonely Planet. I usually take visitors here because it provides a local experience AND it’s clean, friendly with plenty of signs in English.

The stall that keeps me coming back time and time again is the one that sells mango and sticky rice. On the other side of Sukhumvit Road at the beginning of Thong Lor, there is a very famous mango shop, but I still prefer the Soi 38 one.

Firstly the staff here are so friendly, even though I come only a couple of times a month the stall owner still remembers me. The quality is impressive: the mango is always fresh and juicy and the accompanying rice really cuts through the sweetness with its light coconut flavours. All this for 60 baht, either at a table in the street or to take away.

The stall seems to be open every evening of the year. I have never been here and not been welcomed by piles of yellow fruit, whether I come at 6pm on a Tuesday or 11:30pm on a Saturday. It is only steps from the BTS at Thong Lor, on the left hand side. Delicious!

Mango and Sticky Rice

Ladies Night Bangkok – Free Drinks and Great Deals (2014)

The Golden Dusit Thani Spike!

 One of the best things about Bangkok is most definitely ladies night. In a city that seems designed for the pleasure of men it’s great to have somewhere dedicated to honouring the fairer sex with free drinks and some cheesy music. Not that we are that easy to buy of course, but we appreciate the acknowledgement that is attached to Ladies Night.  I’ve put together a list of my favourite ladies nights in Bangkok.

My Bar at Dusit Thani

My Bar at Dusit Thani is the queen of Bangkok ladies night. This is premium quality ladies night, with all you can drink between 19:00 and 21:00 every Wednesday. The drinks list is impressive: red and white wine, beer, gin, whisky and a handful of rather sweet cocktail served (sadly) in wine glasses. The DJ seems to have a thing for 90s pop, but he also plays some recent hits as well. My Bar can be found on the ground floor of the Dusit Thani towards the back of the hotel, past the pastry counter. They occasionally enforce their dress code, which is smart casual with no flip flops. The cost is 200 baht for two hours, and the money goes to Charity.

MRT: Silom – BTS: Sala Daeng – Hotel is directly outside the MRT, if you haven’t been there before it has a huge gold spike on the roof!

Coyote

On Wednesday head down to Coyote Silom on Soi Convent. Ladies night at Coyote runs from 18:00 to 20:00, and the classic margaritas are free. Friendly staff will keep your glasses topped up and if you need something to soak up all that booze we recommend getting a plate of Nachos to share. Coyote is pretty informal and relaxed, making it easy to lose track of time and how much you have had to drink.

Silom Coyote, Soi Convent – BTS: Sala Daeng – MRT: Silom

Royal Oak, Bangkok

Only a few steps from the BTS at Phrom Pong you will find a row of British and Irish boozers. Every Wednesday from 20:00 till close (01:00) you can get free Vodka and Cokes, Chang Beer and Mojitos when the oldest pub in Bangkok holds its ladies night. The Royal Oak is usually filled with old men reading the newspaper and watching sports, but don’t let that put you off. It’s friendly and welcoming, and they do amazing desserts as well. The pub is easy to find, on soi 33/1, just past Robin Hood and The Dubliner.

BTS: Phrom Pong

Above Eleven

Every lady needs a rooftop moment and what could be better than looking down on one of Bangkok’s favourite party streets with a cocktail in your hand. Above Elven is a Central Park inspired rooftop bar and every Wednesday is Salsa night, with 150 baht Margaritas and Mojitos for women. You can see the Fraser Suites as you walk along soi 11, but you need to walk 10 minutes to the end of the street at go round the corner. The Above Eleven entrance is to the side of the building.

BTS: Nana

Am Bar

Or perhaps the rooftop moment should be accompanied by a glass of ladies night bubbly? If so then Thursday night at Am Bar at Sheraton Hotel on Soi 15 is the place to be, with buy one get one free on Prosecco. This isn’t the highest rooftop in town, you’ll be looking up rather than down when you check out the skyscrapers. But the vibe is pretty chilled out, and there are some super comfy day beds to lounge around on.

BTS: Nana

W Bangkok

On Wednesdays between 19:00 and 22:00 (until the 30th of June 2013) you can get free bubbles at Woo Bar at the W Bangkok. It’s easily one of the coolest hotel bars in Bangkok and they play some pretty funky music too.

BTS: Chong Nonsi 
 
Ladies Night drinks make my eyes crazy...

Sra Bua Restaurant Bangkok

There are not many restaurants that have wowed me the way Sra Bua did on my recent visit. I am a big fan of looking outside the box and doing things differently, I don’t get annoyed like some do with foodie fads and a bit of foam or a smear of sauce doesn’t detract me if the rest of the dish impresses. Run by Henrik Yde-Andersen, the Danish Michelin starred chef who got a star for his Thai restaurant Kiin Kiin in Copenhagen, it serves de-constructed Thai dishes and embellished favourites. Even if you have travelled the length and breadth of Thailand, chances are that you won’t see any other dishes created like those at Sra Bua.

We were lucky enough to try some of the menu highlights during our visit. I’ve included some pictures and descriptions below as it really is impossible to imagine them otherwise!

The first serving was a trio of amuse-bouche, a chewy soy sauce flavoured meringue,  lotus root with a kaffir lime coating and a prawn cracker served on a bed of slightly tex-mex tasting tomato and chilli sauce. The meringue was not sweet at all, which is a bit confusing as the texture was exactly like the ones my grandma makes. I really enjoyed the lotus root for its pleasing shape and citrus tang.

Thai Nibbles

The dish that got all the critics swooning was the frozen red curry. Served on a foggy plate of dry ice the creamy, spicy sauce is frozen and served like ice-cream, with chunks of meaty lobster, avocado and longan fruit. A mouthful of this is a real symphony of textures and flavours.

Lobster Salad

One of the mains we tried was the de-constructed Tom Kha, with fish rather than chicken. The large portion of Panko came served with a crispy slice of skin and the sauce was poured from a teapot!

Panko FIsh and Tom Kha

It looks like the steak has skidded on the plate here, but that is actually a reduction of Thai basil: yum. The salad it came with looked like a miniature garden, and there was a delicious bite to the spicy oyster sauce.

Tenderloin with Thai Basil

If you’ve ever wondered what the dessert version of Pina Colada would look like then take a look at this. I think it might have even been my favourite dish of the night. The white dome is a crispy coconut shell that hides pineapple ice-cream and is leaning on malibu flavoured mousse. Despite my dairy intolerance I couldn’t stop eating this.

Pina Colada DessertThe signature dessert is banana cake with salted ice-cream, toasted almonds, fresh coconut and a large smear of milk reduction, which to my untrained palate tasted like super sweet caramel. It was delicious but far too sweet for me, and I really, really like sugar!

Banana CakeMy job really spoils me and I eat far more amazing food than my waistline can handle, but for me Sra Bua easily gets a top ten spot in my favourite Bangkok restaurants list. I will be talking about the food for weeks to come and taking my favourite people here when they visit.

Bangkok Food in a month (Jan 2013)