We all know Bangkok as the place of cheap shopping and amazing food, but there’s another side of Bangkok that locals know better – the Bangkok cafe culture.
Which cafes do they frequent? What do they order? I was lucky enough to have a few local friends to accompany me in cafe-hopping and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with them.
Here’s my take on the top four cafes in Bangkok:
White Flower Factory seems to appeal to a wide age range from teenagers to older members of a family. Perhaps because it has received a stamp of approval from the oldest princess of Thailand. In fact, she was the one who named it and wrote the name in her own handwriting! Pretty cool, eh?
Good ambience? Check – The place buzzes with energy and the staff are polite but not intrusive. Good decor? Check – Spacious and minimalist with lots of wooden furniture, White Flower Factory feels like your rich grand uncle’s living room – comfy and fancy at the same time. Good food? Definitely yes!
One of the highlights was the Miang Kum, an extremely aesthetically-pleasing platter of Thai appetisers. Take a Thai herb leaf, fold it so that it resembles a cup and then fill it with any variation of lime, onion, ginger, chilli, dried shrimp or pork; then top it off with a healthy dollop of addictively sweet sauce. Proceed to shove the entire thing in your mouth!
The beauty of it is the explosion of flavours in your mouth! Plus, the different components amalgamate so well, leaving you feeling satisfied, yet are light enough to entice you to reach for another leaf.
The Spicy Bean Salad was another winner that had me polishing off half the serving before I touched anything else. Spicy minced meat sauce with crunchy chopped beans and firm prawns thrown in, it had a very unique texture as a whole. Of course, we had to order the Tom Yam Goong which turned out to be spectacular, rich and chockfull of ingredients.
Not forgetting the tempting array of cakes that’d be the first thing you see when you step into the eatery. My top two recommendations would be the Thai Tea Fudge Cake and the Original Crepe Cake. I loved that the flavours of the Thai tea weren’t overpowering, and the fudge was pretty light as well. The original crepe cake featured a feather-light cream which beckoned me to buy the entire cake after that one slice!
This gem is hidden down a tiny little street in Pratunam but there is a surprisingly large number of foreigners there together with the locals. The feel of this cafe is a little more rustic than its more polished counterparts.
Going by the name of ‘Once Upon a Time’, the al fresco seating area does feel like something out of a fairy tale especially if you visit the eatery at night. The quiet little garden with fairy lights strung up on the shady trees above you is the perfect place to simply unwind and end the day.
As for the food, we were pretty impressed by the authenticity of their flavours! The Tom Yam Soup was spot on and we could only describe the Green Thai Curry with Chicken with one word – “Shiok!” The aroma of the coconut tied in wonderfully with the spices, while the chicken kept its succulence.
Another interesting dish was the Kangkong which came in a clear spicy, garlicky sauce that packed a punch, but seemed a little bland compared to the Sambal Kangkong, a South East Asian delicacy commonly found in Singapore.
Kuppa encapsulates the spirit of most Bangkok cafes with its sprawling premises and generous dose of natural light. With their wooden tables and sofas, it’s no wonder they’re a popular brunch spot on the weekends, particularly with the expatriates!
Although the cafe serves Western food, my advice is, unless you’re craving for some pasta, to stick to the Thai dishes. However, I have to admit that their Hoisin Crispy Duck Pizza was pretty darn good.
My favourites were the Papaya Pok-pok and the Moo Yang (Grilled Pork) which completely blew my mind (or taste buds)! The Papaya Pok-pok is a tangy and spicy traditional papaya salad that jump-starts your taste buds with its light and refreshing flavours. The second dish, Moo Yang, was marinated to perfection, with each strip of grilled meat tasting so sinfully good. Both were served with sticky rice in little bamboo holders.
The Greyhound cafe seems to be where the “atas” (or high-class) locals go to, which isn’t surprising since it’s located in Thonglor (the Gangnam of Bangkok). The café has a relaxing ambiance, made comfortable with couches and tables near the full-length windows. If you want a good seat, I would recommend making a reservation since the locals would usually do that.
For a start, I found their drinks fascinating. We tried their version of the Thai Milk Tea and a strawberry-flavoured variant, where both were served with crushed ice. I liked it because it allows you to taste the Thai sweet milk with a lot more clarity than you would usually be able to. Their Iced Lemon Tea was equally sweet and refreshing. A word of caution: in Thailand, Iced Lemon Tea usually refers to Iced Lime Tea.
The establishment is known for their fusion food so we decided to try the Thai-style Chicken Pasta and the Pasta with Corned Beef. The Chicken Pasta was well-flavoured and had just the right amount of spice. However, the Corned Beef one was slightly disappointing as the meat came in stringy and chewy fried strips and was overall rather dry.
Another dish that I recommend trying is the Thai-style chicken wings. The wings served were suspiciously small, until we realised that they had already done the dirty work of separating the joints off the flesh for us. Additionally, there was a hint of fish sauce in the batter which made it an interesting and enjoyable dish.
Truly a relaxing cafe with some hits and misses but overall a great concept!
Do you know any F&B outlet that tops these four? Let us know on our Facebook page!