Silom is worth braving the crowds if only to satisfy your eating and drinking whims, do some shopping, and maybe visit to an art gallery or two.by Dave Stamboulis
Silom Road and the small sois in its vicinity are home to an array of great eating and drinking options, from high-end to cheap. Rivaled only by Thong Lor and Sathorn, Silom has long been a gourmet ghetto that is ever on the upswing. While most tourists know it for the infamous Patpong nightlife and night market, it’s worth braving the crowds to satisfy your eating and drinking whims, do some shopping, and maybe to visit a gallery or two.
Here are some of the top spots:
Namsah Bottling Trust (Tel. 02 636 6622, www.namsaah.com)
This is Iron Chef Ian Kittichai’s latest endeavor. The building is a bright pink old manor that in former times served as both a soda bottling plant and a bank. Now it’s all done up in colorful pinks and pastels, warm and homey, with the decor matching the delightful food and drinks. Fusion creations like pink krapao burgers or duck confit noodle salads, pair with Sangsom salted caramel whisky sours, and there is even DJ spinning music sometimes.
Somtum Der (Tel. 02 632 4499, http://somtumder.com)
While most folks equate good Isaan food with hot and sweaty carts on the street or smoky hole-in-the-wall cafes, Somtum Der sticks to the owners’ love of pure northeastern cuisine yet serves it up in a homey wood-filled cafe that has air conditioning to help battle the heat of somtam chilies. The chef is from Sakhon Nakhon, so originality is guaranteed, and there are a wide range of spicy somtam offerings, grilled meats, and larb salads to go with baskets of sticky rice. Prices are higher than on the street of course, but well less than you’d pay for other far-less gourmand eateries around here.
Maggie Choo’s (Tel. 091 772 2144, www.facebook.com/maggiechoos)
Drink Venue designer mogul Ashley Sutton brings his latest adventure to Silom. To get into Maggie’s, you need to go through a wooden door, descend into a Shanghai 1930s noodle shop, and then into the bar, which is hidden behind a vault and looks like something from Alice in Wonderland meets Harry Potter. Velvet sofas, swings on the ceiling, and you will really question what city, if not what century, you are in. The finely-crafted cocktails aren’t cheap, but you come here for more than just the alcohol.
661 Silom (Tel, 02 266 8662, www.661silom.com)
What do you get when you merge a Dom Perignon lounge named MEET and a New York-style steakhouse called MEAT? This upscale and stylish eatery dishes up Black Angus, Miyazaki ribeye, and Rubia Gallega rib, some of the finest meat cuts you will find in Bangkok, along with gastro bites to go with extensive selections of fine wines and champagnes. This is the place for a big business deal or after you’ve won the lottery, as it ain’t cheap.
Hong Teong Long (Tel. 02 238 3379, www.hongteonglong.com)
This tiny hole in the wall hidden in a small soi behind the ITF and Ocean Insurance buildings parallel to Silom may be nothing to look at, but from the tiny kitchen come the best xiaolongbao dumplings in town. The extensive menu covers all sorts of Shanghai treats, everything is dirt-cheap, and the restaurant stays open until 4 a.m. every night so there is no excuse to miss out. Why stand in line at Din Tai Fung, when you can come here for Chinese dumpling heaven?
Kathmandu Photo Gallery (Tel. 02 234 6700, www.kathmanduphotobkk.com)
This humble Chinese shophouse is home to Bangkok’s most esteemed photographic gallery. Downstairs, renowned photographer and owner of the gallery, Manit Sriwanichpoom, displays his works. Upstairs, there are ongoing exhibitions, tributes to forgotten Thai photo masters, and even an excellent book store with art photo books as well as collections on Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shamanism among the eclectic titles.
Le Du (Tel. 092 919 9969, www.ledubkk.com)
The name is not French but comes from the Thai word for “season,” and the gourmet menu focuses on Thai culinary creations made from seasonal produce done with a very modern flair. The master chef, Ton, studied at the Culinary Institute of America and has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, so you know what to expect. You can order a la carte but to do the place justice you need to go for the 4- or 7-course tasting dinners. The menus change every season of course, but you can guarantee you will get some truly superb slipper lobster, shrimp mousse, some local corned venison, along with plenty of nouvelle surprises.
Sirocco/Distil (Tel. 02 6249555, www.lebua.com/sirocco)
While pundits argue about the value for the price here, as well as the fact that they’ve both been over-featured in every Bangkok guide (one could say “Hangover II’ed to death”), this is still the premiere sky high destination in Bangkok. Situated on the 63rd floor of the Lebua State Tower under the golden dome, you have the absolute best view in the city from either the upscale Sirocco restaurant (which serves Mediterranean fare) or just above it in the Distil Bar (home to the famous Hangovertini named after the Hollywood film shot scenes up here). For an unforgettable panoramic view, get here at sunset and gape at the Chao Phraya River below. There’s a dress code and reservations, at least for the restaurant, are essential.
Nandimos (Tel. 02 266 9081, www.nadimos.com)
It doesn’t have to be all Thai or Asian food when it comes to Silom. This long-running Lebanese establishment serves up authentic versions of all the best Lebanese favorites. Meze (antipasti) dishes include hummus, baba ghanouj, falafel, and stuffed grape leaves, and mains include shawarma and barbecued lamb plates, as well as kebabs. After dinner, you can even enjoy a shisha pipe on the terrace.