Bangkok is a living and breathing creature in its own right. It grows with new spots and hidden treasures popping up everywhere everyday. It’s a city for everybody: every neighbourhood, every street, every soi has a different personality to offer. And it’s truly worth exploring them all.
The Thai capital is a city worth getting to know well because it will reward you handsomely — either with an out-of-the-way café that serves the best matcha latte you’ve ever had, or a little bookshop you can call your very own hideaway. The LSA Neighbourhood Guides aim to help you get started towards exploring the various wonders around Bangkok. For this edition, we’re going down Yen Akat, the breezy residential soi with a knack for low-key yet trendy new openings.
Unlike many other Bangkok “it-sois”, Yen Akat doesn’t beg for attention. It’s chill, it’s quiet, it’s got a maximum of two neon signs in total, and it’s little seen on social media. The soi is best described as a hotspot “for those who know”. The Yen Akat community itself is a group of unbothered cool cats, be it the groups of French expats who, by nature, only go to the best restaurants, or the long-time residents who are so used to their pretty street that they’d never think of ‘gramming it. Despite its nonchalance — or, rather, because of it — Yen Akat is an effortlessly cool soi with many gems that remain the territory of true insiders. Even so, here we share some of our favourite parts of Yen Akat that capture its trendy yet wholesome character.
[Hero and Feature image: Akart Bistro & Bar.]
1. Brunch at Akart Day
Breakfast or brunch at Akart Day means lounging away in a chic, cooling wooden interior with serene natural light streaming through the large windows. It means a glorious breakfast sandwich oozing with eggs, organic tomatoes, and fresh avocado. It means a mouth-watering menu of artisan coffees and cold drinks which you’ll be sipping for hours while catching up with a friend. And it means that this humble and glamorously rustic café in Yen Akat is simply the loveliest way to start your ‘Day’.
Akart Day. 30 Yen Akat Rd, Bangkok 10120 (7am-7pm). Tel: 02 249 0182.
2. Lunch at Akart Bistro & Bar
The big sister of Akart Day (and located right next to the café), Akart Bistro is a fabulous spot for a casual group lunch. Naturally lit and florally decorated, it sets the tone for long chats and laughter. Yet the menu here is also eye-widening, with their wide selection of contemporary dishes combining Thai cuisine with international dishes. It’s the kind of place you could spend hours just trying to narrow down what to order because everything looks like a must-try. But the real must-tries here, we say, are their desserts. Whether you go for their original-recipe bingsus or their traditional Thai custard-filled buns, you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Akart Bistro & Bar. 30 Yen Akat Rd, Bangkok 10120 (11am-10.30pm). Tel: 02 249 0182.
3. The massages at Zense
To complete the cool and tranquil area of the Akart sisters, Zense Spa is also located on the same land. The rustic aesthetic with its old wooden entrance door and bamboo bridge makes you forget you’re in the centre of Bangkok and not at a luxurious spa resort in Chiang Mai. There are of course various types of massages you can go for, from the signature Thai Balm massage (a traditional Thai massage except they also use a balm to nourish your skin) to the aromatherapy massage. The treatments are all pretty straightforward and no-frills, but this is simplicity done at its best. Just try their incredible foot massage and see.
Zense Massage. 30 Yen Akat Rd, Bangkok 10120 (10am-11pm). Tel: 02 249 0184.
4. Everything French
Lower Sathorn is known for being the preferred dwelling of the French community, and other French-culture lovers. It’s no surprise then that pretty much all of the city’s best French restaurants and eateries are dotted around here. For more casual bites, drop by Cagette for a true quality cold cuts and cheese platter. Throw in a glass of wine if you really want to go French. For a little step up, head to Le Cabanon (slightly further off in Naradhiwas 15) for a beautiful lunch. We’ll save you some time and just tell you to order the crab and avocado salad as a starter, the duck confit for mains, and the apple tart for dessert. Of course, any good French restaurant that can call themselves French will be getting their bread from Amantee bakery — the purveyors of artisan French bread just across on Chan Road (you get an unlimited supply at Le Cabanon). Finally, if you’re looking for the top of French fine dining, then it’s J’aime by Jean Michel Lorain — a beautiful restaurant which probably needs no further comment apart from “bon appetit”.
Cagette Canteen & Deli. 15 Yen Akat Road, Bangkok 10120 (11.30am-10.30pm. Closed Mondays.) Tel: 02 249 1684. Le Cabanon. Naradhiwas Soi 15, Bangkok 10120 (Mon-Thurs: 6pm-11pm. Fri-Sun: 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm.) Tel: 092 568 0444. Amantee Bakery. 12-13 Chan Road, Bangkok 10120 (7am-7pm. Closed Mondays.) Tel: 02 678 1300. J’aime by Jean Michel Lorain. 105/1 U Sathorn Bangkok, Bangkok 10120 (12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10pm. Closed Tuesdays.) Tel: 02 119 4899.
5. Being a nature goddess at Garden Atlas
Just around the corner from Soi Yen Akat to Nanglinchee Road, you’ll find this adorable green sanctuary of plants, garden supplies, and a café serving coffee and scrumptious acai bowls. The entrance looks like a real garden shed, and it’s a great place to browse hundreds of house plants and treating your green thumb to some eco-supplies. We also love that it doubles as a hole-in-the-wall acai bowl café, serving gorgeous good-for-you servings at almost half the price of any other acai bowl you’ll find in Bangkok.
Garden Atlas. 95/14 Nang Linchi 5 Alley, Bangkok 10120 (Mon-Fri: 11am-4pm. Sat-Sun: 10am-4pm.) Tel: 097 246 7547.
6. Heavenly manicures at Nail Concept
On the top floor of the residents’ community mall, Marketplace Nanglinchee, Nail Concept is a fabulously luxurious treat for your cuticles. The well-kept salon is spacious, hardly ever crowded, and is furnished with the plushest armchairs you’ve ever sat on. The therapists here are very friendly and entirely accommodating, and every manicure and pedicure feels like a thorough spa treatment for your hands and feet. It’s a great quiet and private spot to wind down and pamper yourself.
Nail Concept. 3/F Marketplace Nanglinchee, Bangkok 10120 (9.45am-6.45pm). Tel: 02 678 7147.
7. Catching golden hour at AGO
Part arts and crafts workshop, part café, AGO is the secret garden of the Yen Akat area. Found on the south end of the soi, the café pays tribute to Nanglinchee Road by serving a range of drinks and mocktails based on lychee flavours. There are also a few light bites and delicious baked treats which are all served on plates and ceramic trays handmade at the workshop. But our secret tip? Head over there around 5pm and get yourself up to their rooftop tables — then bask in the warm golden rays of the late afternoon sun.
AGO. Nanglinchee Soi 4, Bangkok 10120 (Mon-Fri: 11am-7pm. Sat-Sun: 10am-7pm.) Tel: 095 568 9372.
8. The terrace at Cactus
You’ve probably noticed that there’s no shortage of open-air hangouts around Yen Akat. Cactus, the soi’s landmark bar on the second floor of Cagette, has a brilliant terrace for a little al fresco tipple. It doesn’t boast the 360-degree rooftop skyline view that Bangkok bars are famous for, but that’s kind of why we love it here. There’s a chill, homey feel to being at balcony level, watching life down below on Yen Akat road go by. And you’ll soon find out that the regular crowd at Cactus is indeed a bit like family.
Cactus Bar. 15 Yen Akat, Bangkok 10120 (6pm-12am). Tel: 02 249 1451.
9. No-frill steaks at Don Asado
A good quality steak isn’t that hard to come by in Bangkok. That is, if you’re willing to fork over at least B3000 and sit in a glitzy white-table-cloth restaurant for hours. So the unique thing about Don Asado in Yen Akat 2 is that they serve the highest quality cuts — including Tomahawks, T-bones, and Sirloins — in a completely chill and friendly setting. Don’t get us wrong, the place is pretty stylish, having converted a large warehouse into the high-ceilinged, single-room, open-kitchen restaurant it is now. There’s also an extensive wine list featuring some excellent imported grapes. But here, trendy definitely doesn’t mean superficial and quality definitely doesn’t mean pretentious. All dishes come hot, unadorned, generously portioned, and incredibly satisfying.
Don Asado. 1 Yen Akat Soi 2, Bangkok 10120 (6pm-11pm. Closed Mondays.) Tel: 02 005 6627.
10. Every single bite at Suhring
There’s certainly no introduction needed here. For all its homey vibes and love for comfort food, Yen Akat is also home to one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, a 2-Michelin starred German fine dining house run by the famed Suhring twins. But it only makes perfect sense that Suhring found a home on Yen Akat. Not only does its house-style design blend in perfectly with the almost exclusively residential properties on Yen Akat 3 — its food and warm service also gives you the comfort of being at home. The tasting menu celebrates traditional German flavours and culture, filling every bite-size dish with that rich, more-ish flavour we love about comfort food. The staff too will always make you feel comfortable, relaxed, and snug — a rare thing to feel in such a prestigious venue.
Suhring. 10 Yen Akat Soi 3, Bangkok 10120 (5.30pm-11pm). Tel: 02 287 1799.
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok on 28 September 2019.