Night out on Sukhumvit 51

7 08 2015

I discovered two great little places right next to each other in the tiny hipster enclave of Sukhkumvit 51 (just up from Thonglor.)

Waka is a Japanese izakaya, fairly nondescript looking from the outside, but within, lined with Japanese vinyl from the eighties and with a real inner city Tokyo shoebox vibe, like the kind of funky place you would find in Koenji or Kichijioji. I had a tasty light meal there with friends, watching the TV mounted on the wall playing an Indian drama on the life of Buddha dubbed into Thai, where all the male characters displayed conspicuously taut bodies under revealing court costumes.

Sadly, a sign on the wall in Japanese and Thai (the two operating languages, they don’t speak English) said that the bar was soon in danger of being evicted. With a hike in rent and competition from other Japanese bars in the area, including the J-expat sports bar “Woodball” and “Rastaman Woodball” ( a rasta Japanese bar, one for the list next time I’m in town!), I hope that Waka can survive too.

Just next door, is Studio Lam, the perfect little bar I have discussed much on the blog for it regular African and Thai luk thuung musical nights. I went on a rainy Tuesday night to sit with a couple of buddies in the cosy, bamboo-lined room, listen to great Nigerian funk and eat satay we brought from a street market washed down with Thai “yadong” liquor, falvoured with rambutan, pandan or tamarind.

If I still lived in Bangkok, I would be here all the time. Its just perfect.

What to do in Ekkamai

20 07 2015

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).