The list of restaurants, spas, cafes, and hotels that make this road one you will enjoy visiting.
By Dave Stamboulis
East side Bangkokians tend to rave endlessly about Thong Lor and its fancy dining op-tions, but those in the know have now migrated slightly west, taking in some of the gourmet hot spots that have set up on formerly sleepy sois. Sukhumvit Soi 31 has emerged as one of the frontrunners, with a bevy of truly outstanding joints for dinner, dessert, or drinks, with an eclectic mix of international eats to boot. There are also excellent spas, hotels, and markets to round out this up-and-coming neighborhood. Here are a few of the top spots.
(20/4 Sukhumvit Soi 31; 02 261 2056; www.appia-bangkok.com)
This lovely trattoria started by Soul Food Mahanakorn’s Jarrett Wrisley and Italian chef Paolo Vitaletti brings a slice of Rome to Bangkok and the homey surroundings and personal attention make you feel like you are relaxing in a Lazian home. Chef Paolo’s father was a butcher in the meatpacking district in Rome, and the menu is full of fantastic fine cuts of meat such as the organic porchetta (pork rolled in fennel pollen, garlic, and rosemary and then roasted on a rotisserie), or the oxtail stew rolled with herb gremo-lata and served over hand-rolled fregola, a couscous-like semolina pasta. Add on the fine wine list and cozy ambience and you’ve got the perfect night out.
(5 Sukhumvit Soi 31; 02 258 0645; www.isaotaste.com)
Not many restaurants here can claim guaranteed lines out the door for both lunch and dinner 365 days a year, which tells you all you need to know about Isao. For sushi creations, Isao tops every Japanese establishment in the city and keeps the faithful making the long wait time and time again. The owner studied under the chef at Green Tea in Chicago, and obviously brought back some creative expertise. Signature knockouts include the Volcano, a baked scallop in cream sauce served in its shell resembling orange molten lava, and the Jackie, a caterpillar-shaped sushi roll with egg, boiled shrimp, roe, and tempura. Best of all, prices here don’t break the bank.
(267/2 Sukhumvit Soi 31; 02 662 0530; www.levendomerestaurant.com)
Adding to the list of gourmet cuisine on Soi 31, Le Vendôme brings Parisian chic to the table, located in an old two-story family house with private dining rooms along with an al fresco eating area, and even a swimming pool. The food here is ultra-fine French: think foie gras, pan-fried quail, truffles, rack of lamb, lobster, and king crab, all served at prices to match the haute surroundings.
(261/1 Sukhumvit Soi 31; 02 258 4586; www.sunshinemarket.co.th)
Not only is Soi 31 great for eating, you can buy your food here as well. Sunshine is Bangkok’s first natural foods shop, specializing in organic and dairy-free products, gluten-free breads, and much more. The market also sells natural skin care products and health remedies to go along with all the other good-for-your- body-and-soul goodies.
(29/2-3 Sukhumvit Soi 31; 02 259 4845)
This quaint little café serves up everything from French onion soup to smoked salmon salad, spaghetti tuna, and chicken tacos, not to mention that it whips up some great pies and other baked goods to go with a few cups of coffee.
(64 Soi Sawadee; Sukhumvit Soi 31; 02 262 2122; www.oasisspa.net)
Housed in a beautiful old colonial building, Oasis offers two-hour “King of Oasis” and 2.5 hour “Siamese Therapeutic Wisdom” full massage treatments. These are just two of their elegant signature packages, which combine herbal hot compress, acupressure, and aromatherapy treatments. If you are too lazy or hot to walk here, they will even provide free transport from the BTS!
(33/3 Sukhumvit Soi 31; 02 259 0405)
One of the first wood fire pizza spots in town, Bella Napoli is cute and homey, and a good choice for thin-crust Napolitano pizza. Pastas, salads, and other dishes are on the menu, but the pizzas have always been the calling card here. Although it has received some mixed reviews as of late, the restaurant’s black and white photos on the walls and atmosphere of a bygone era will entice you in while strolling down Soi 31.
(545 Sukhumvit Soi 31; 02 260 1111;
Soi 31 now even has its own boutique lodging, the snazzy S31, where the modern minimalist rooms come with iPod docking stations and freestanding bathtubs. An outdoor saltwater swimming pool and a Jacuzzi, Senses Spa (with en suite steam rooms), and a rooftop wine bar and bistro complete the pampering options for staying in the ‘hood.
(5/2-3 Sukhumvit Soi 31; 02 260 9800)
This charming cafe is full of teddy bears and fairy tale books, but the real fantasy here are the scrumptious chocolate cakes baked by two chocolate-loving sisters. From brownie cheesecake to chocolate blast cakes to creamy hot cocoas, the treats show that this is a serious chocoholic hangout.
Coffeas Coffee Lab & Pub
(Green Connect 31; 081 923 0499; www.facebook.com/Coffeas)
This enterprising spot in the Green Connect Building is home to the city’s burgeoning craft coffee community, and the caffeine-knowledgeable folks here run brew workshops and pairing events (like truffles and espresso!), and serve up fresh Arabica from Chiang Rai to those demanding a good cuppa.