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 around Asok and zooming into one of the major arteries of central Sukhumvit: Sukhumvit 20 and Sukhumvit 22, the two bustling streets that are gifted with soulful culinary delights.
We love that Asok is a lively hive peppered with all the things Bangokians love. It’s customary to say that this zone of Sukhumvit area is very cosmopolitan and what people consider ‘the real CBD area’ — notoriously posh and notable for its vibrant nightlife. Asok proudly stands as a multicultural community, a darling amongst locals and expats, and there is no doubt that it is a hotspot for all must-visits and must-tries.
Whilst Asok is home to a couple of sois, we are heading towards the two peas in a pod — Sukhumvit 20 and Sukhumvit 22. Stylishly seated in the heartbeat of Bangkok, the two streets are easily accessible to other mini sub-sois and skytrains. You’ve heard about Asok’s rich of-the-minute shopping and luxury hotels. But what we also treasure here are the hidden gems straddled in the corner of each sub-soi that capture the cool and trendy appeal of this perky, clustered district. Read ahead for our top 10 reasons to visit this neighbourhood.
[Hero and Feature Image: A Bar]
1. The German Beerhouse and Delicatessen at Bei Otto
Did someone say authentic German food? Bei Otto is a long-standing staple that serves a remarkable selection of homemade delicacies and German sausages that really don’t sacrifice on taste, and gracefully touch German flavour like few others. No questions asked, if you haven’t paired your German beer with the juicy bratwursts and potato pancakes, then you haven’t really grasped the comfort of German cuisine. It’s a ritual. Try their pork schnitzel and you won’t be disappointed.
Seeking some baked goods? We don’t really find German bread that easily in Bangkok, so consider Bei Otto’s deli as your wonderland for freshly baked hearty German loaves. Whether you head for the Pumpernickel, Swabian pretzels, or the famous farmer’s bread, you might just go into a bread coma with the intense selection of choices here. Of course, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the cheery Danishes and plum cake either. A quick tip? You will also find the ultimate gingerbread cookies right here during the Christmas season, too.
Bei Otto Restaurant, 1 Soi 20 Sukhumvit Rd., Klongtoey, Bangkok (8am -midnight) 02-260-0869
Bei Otto Delicatessen (8am – 11pm)
2. A lifestyle community mall at the end of the soi
Located at the end of Sukhumvit soi 20, this secluded three-story lifestyle mall called Mille Malle is often left unnoticed with only a few passersby who recognise the place. First, you will see a homey restaurant in the front — our beloved Wine Connection. On the second floor of this community mall, you will find the premier centre for golf, Shane Wilding Golf Centre, which involves everything from coaching to true-to-life golf stimulation zones. Need to pamper yourself? Then there is the Glitterati Nail Lounge and Theo Living Yoga centre to truly embrace your zen mode. We promise you won’t run out of things to do at Mille Malle. Keep an eye out, as the community mall often also organises a carnival during festive seasons.
Mille Malle, Sukhumvit Soi 20 (11am- 10pm) 02 663 7593
3. Rooftop cocktails
Classic dark wooden decors, dark spirits, and dark modern jazz, this enigmatic kind of vibe is the character you’ll find at the Victorian-themed A Bar perched at Marriot Marquis Queen’s Park. On the top floor at A Bar Rooftop, you’ll also find one of the best gin selections in the city, and a cool and sophisticated spot to try some wild new cocktails. Go for their in-house infused gins and be there for the stunning view outside every time you need an escape from the city.
A Bar Rooftop, 37th floor, Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, Soi Sukhumvit 22 (5pm-1am), 02 059 5555
4. Soulful street food
If we are talking about the neighbourhood’s culinary culture, we are talking about soulful street food and abundance of fresh fruit vendors dotted on every block of the street. Nothing beats the scrumptious Bha Mhee Moo Daeng pork noodles that we love from the street, the hot and crunchy fried chicken with sticky rice, or even the barbecue grilled squid. Stroll around the two leafy sois, and you’ll find plenty of options to satisfy your meaty and even sweet cravings.
See the orangish-yellow bright sign, and you know it’s Saras. This charming Indian staple houses everything from irresistible south Indian food to Indian-Chinese cuisine and Indian street foods. We go here for the Masala Dosa (crispy crepe with seasoned potatoes) and Dal Kachoris (deep fried bread with ground daal). Definitely also try the famous Pani Puri (stuffed potato fillings in puri with spicy tangy water), and, of course, the endless selection of homemade sweets.
Saras, Sukhumvit Soi 20, Klongtoey, (9am-10:30pm), 084 433 0020
6. Kosher food paradise
Comfort food for a kosher dietary regime is rare in Bangkok, yet J Café is one of those hidden gems on the third floor of Mille Malle that does it. The eatery is quite new in the dining scene, yet is already making waves with its impressive range of Israeli cuisine. Treat yourself with the Israeli breakfast for an intense cream cheese omelet, or try their Mediterranean Bruschetta served with salmon tartare. This kosher food paradise also houses a bakery with freshly baked delicacies, as well as a grocery section.
J Café, 3rd Floor, unit 302, 66/4 Mille Malle, Sukhumvit 20 Alley, Monday – Thursday 10am-8pm, Friday 8am-5pm , Saturday closed, 02-106-4930
7. Unwind with massages
Also known as Washington Square, Sukhumvit 22 is one long, buzzing street that is dotted with massage parlours calling all city dwellers to enjoy a therapeutic afternoon. Unwind with Orchid Spa & Massage’s signature milk oil massage or head to Baan Sabai to get a foot massage by the experts who have honed their skills at Wat Pho. One way or another, you are going to be tempted, given the line of massage places in this street.
8. New York Style Steak and Burger
New York Style Steak and Burger quite possibly makes the best hamburgers and steak in the neighbourhood. Freshly imported beef, in-house sauces and condiments, and dishes named after New York districts – what’s there not to love about this steakhouse? Grab the juicy Manhattan Monster with the must-have fries, or order the Crisp Bacon for that extra dose of deliciousness. Yes it’s a mess — but it’s a glorious one.
New York Style Steak and Burger,28 Soi Sukhumvit 22, (11:30am-11pm) 02 262 0920
9. Vegan Cheese Pizza
The name may sound like an Indian staple, but you’d be surprised that Govinda is a fully-fledged Italian restaurant that is pure vegetarian. What’s more, the long-standing restaurant also serves some gluten-free dishes, soy-free and vegan options as well. Our recommendation? Head for the home-made Canneloni, and their delicious Quattro Stagioni pizza that is infused with truffle sauce, soy sausage, artichoke, and mozzarella – a combination of all the best ingredients. Also don’t leave without trying their unbeatable chocolate mousse.
Govinda Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, 6/5-6 Soi Sukhumvit 22, Bangkok, +662 663 4970; Open: Wed-Sat, 12-2:30 pm for lunch and 6-11:30 pm for dinner; Sun-Mon, 12-3 pm for lunch and 6-11:30 pm for dinner. 02-663-4970
10. Akira Back
One of the truly bright stars in the world of gastronomy art, Akira Back serves Japanese cuisine twisted with a Korean accent. Coming from a Michelin-starred background in Seoul, iconic Chef Akira Back highlights artisanal ingredients and exotic presentation here. Kick-off your evening with a Yuzu sour, and grab a slice of that infamous Tuna Pizza. Definitely also get the AB tacos to grasp what Korean wagyu beef tacos are all about. Could there be any better location than a sushi bar overlooking the panoramic vista of Bangkok’s stunning skyscrapers? You already know the answer.
Akira Back, Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, Sukhumvit 22, (6pm – 10:30pm), 02 059 5999