I have been spending quite a bit of time on this trip in Ekkamai. First I dropped by the Gateway Japanese lifestyle mall with its various attractions: a wealth of Japanese food options, the curious “Snowtown” mini indoor themepark with artificial snow (and more Japanese food), a branch of Daiso and some interesting art choices – the colourful Bangkok Anytime murals in the foodcourt and a bizarre rabbit statue.
Next up was the adjacent Mediplex plastic surgery mall which has a little-known but highly recommended Northern Thai vegetarian restaurant, Khun Churn. Everything I ate there was delicious. ( I had originally suggested the faux-Khmer-ruin beer garden across the road under the Skytrain, an easily recognisable landmark with its artfully crumbling brick walls, but was told the food there is distinctly average.)
A short taxi hop away on the corner of Soi 10 is the Ekkamai Community mall, a charming and usually sleepy two-storey complex centred around a carpark with liana-covered tropical trees and home to the Blue Door Cafe, as well as a vinyl store, several chic vintages stores to root around in, laidback bar Happy Mondays popular with local indie musicians and a bakery called “Perhaps Rabbits” with a whimsical Alice in Wonderland interior and cupcake popsicles in the shape of My Little Pony Unicorns. Healthland is just across the road for massages too.
A new addition is the (un)fashion cafe, a super-cute little coffee shop housed in what can best be described as a caravan-like 1970s pod.
Also in Ekkamai is one of my favourite restaurants anywhere, Tuba. Its an over-the-top rabbit warren of kitsch furniture and clashing artworks – one alcove sports a “lifesize” Yoda doll and oil painting of Medusa with a 1960s chandelier. There is a pool table, movable mannequins in the bathroom and an intimate terrace surrounded by lush greenery. As though these are not attractions enough, the food (mostly Italian) is also delicious, the mojitos huge, and the clientele goodlooking and relaxed – when I was there almost the whole cast of Thai Gossip Girl was kicking back on one of the couches. Its just a few doors down from fashionisto bar Moose and one of my favourite Bangkok temples, Wat Pharsee, as well.
♥ Tuba! ♥ Ekkamai!
A great end to the night, even if its not in Ekkamai but Thonglor next door, is Studio lam, the bar/ music space owned by Zudrangma Records, just a few doors down fro mtheir record store, and on the same street as popular bar WTF with its evolving public artworks suspended in the alleyway above its door (past favourites included floating neon monks and a giant beating heart. The current installation of text messages speech balloon is cute but not so great.)
The events here have included Nigerian funk nights, Tanzanian taraab music parties, Thai roots music of course and Indonesia dangdut – there is always something interesting and funky Going on and definitely a place to keep you eye on (and ear out for).
In a city as vast and complex and ever-changing as Bangkok you are never going to be able to do everything. This trip, here are the ones that ‘got away':
Hako town – an outdoor faux-Japanese food village near Lad Phrao’s Crystal Design centre. I called to confirm opening hours only to discover thatthe whole concept has relocated to Chiang Mai, where the “Japanese village” has resettled on the banks of the Ping River.
Pun pun bike – Bangkok has joined the list of cities with a municipal bikeshare scheme. The concept is that you register and pick up the bikes at any of the ranks spread througout the city, returning them when you are done to any other rank. I had greatly enjoyed using the citybikes in Melbourne and was looking forward to giving Bangkok’s version a go despite the obvious twin perils of (a) Bangkok traffic and (b) heat stroke. Still, I thought, I could get up early and take a spin around Lumphini park. The problem here is that you have to register first on the website which costs 300 baht (not hugely expensive by international standards, but for perspective, the cost of about 4 cab rides.) Still, i would have done it – except there is no English on the website, and no staff at the bike ranks. Oh well.
PTT Urban Eco-forest – I also wanted to see this little-known new development, a manmade rainforest in the Bangkok suburbs sponsored by Thailand’s biggest company. I had seen it featured in Monocle magazine with gleaming timber walkways, but elsewhere, there seemed to be little information about it and even an hour spent trawling its remote location in Prawet turned up nothing: until I stumbled on to it, and it was closed.
On the plus-side though i did discover a cricket restaurant nearby. That’s Bangkok.
The YenakArt gallery is an impressive new space in an angular modern mansion in Sathorn, open only by appointment, and exhibiting up-and-coming thai artists. Its more a place for serious collectors than casual drop-ins, but I perused the wesbite and fell in love with these pieces by Chamnan Chongpaiboon.
Lavana, on Sukhumvit Soi 12 between the Korean mall and the Cabbages and Condoms birth-control restaurant (!) is pitched squarely at high end Asian tourists. I went there for a dreamy 1500 baht shirodhama treatment …because its fun to be a tai-tai sometimes.