The opening of Terminal 21 in 2011 completely rejuvenated Asoke, injecting it with new energy, and it has thrived ever since. In fact, Asoke has become my go-to location when I do staycations with my family in town. What I like about Asoke over other lifestyle spots (eg. Thong Lor) is how compact it is. Nice eateries, massages, hotels and watering holes cluster within walking distances from each other, mainly along the little streets connecting Soi 19,21 and 23 together, unlike at the long wide street of Thong Lor where you might struggle to get from one popular spot to another without a car.
With the help of my Asoke local, here's my first instalment of the hidden eateries within walking distance from the BTS station:
1. Ping's Sharks' Fin: Fish maw soup I would drink everyday
|Picture with lady boss Mrs Ho, look out for my sticker if you do visit!|
This is the flagship store of the Ping's Restaurant Group, owners of Ping's Thai Teochew Seafood Restaurant at Pathumwan Princess Hotel, which I reviewed with a "Wah Lau Eh!" last year. You can enjoy the same menu (and cheaper drinks) plus some authentic Singapore curry puffs at this outlet in a more old-school ambience.
2. Uma Uma!: Focus your calories on Ramen
Like any typical Sarawakian, I love noodles. From the over-hyped Ippudo (I certainly wouldn't queue for it), to the delicious but wildly inconsistent Yamagoya and Chabuton (it has way too many branches), ramen is something I consistently go for when I need a quick meal.
|Uma Uma Ramen, right beside Lawson 108 Convenient Store|
|Work of art|
|They are supposed to be big on gyoza too|
3. Paris Mikki: Exquisite French cakes and pastry
For some reason, the excellent Let Them Eat Cake closed permanently last October. I am relieved to rediscover top-class French-style cakes and pastry at a little bakery called Paris Mikki near Asoke BTS station.
|Just a very small space|
|Similar offerings as Let Them Eat Cake, but less colourful more down-to-earth|
I will personally recommend the Mille-Feuille and croissants, though I think most of their desserts should taste pretty good. If you feel like pampering yourself with delicate desserts sprinkled with a bit of class, you can't go wrong with Paris Mikki.
|Mille-Feuille, simplicity at its best|
4. Bharani: 66-yr-old boat noodle with live jazz
Some of my friends swear by having boat noodles when they come to Thailand, but I wonder if ther know that the soup of boat noodles gets its unmistakeable deep hue and cloudy viscosity from a mixture of cow/pig's blood and salt? Because of this, I am not too big on boat noodles except for a select few, and this is one of them.
|You have found the right place if you see half a boat sticking out of a restaurant|
Looking at the chalkboard of specialties inside Bharani, I was surprised to find international favourites like Paella, but if you are visiting Thailand for the first time, my recommendation would be to go for their Sansab boat noodles, which they have been selling since 1949.
|Clean-tasting broth, not a description you will normally associate with boat noodles|
|You get to enjoy this taste of tradition in comfort|
5. Khua Kling Pak Sod: Southern classics done the right way
|Khua Kling Pak Sod offers ample parking space|
|Toughtful touch: Deliberate introduction of natural light into the dining area|
|Fried beehoon with crabmeat, more like fried crabmeat with beehoon|
|Stir-fried pork with shrimp paste|
Despite the obvious glut of Thai eateries in Bangkok, I would say it is quite a rarity to find a good restaurant completely focused on Southern Thai dishes. Khua Kling Pak Sod is certainly worth a try if you are adventurous, or just simply curious to find out what Thai food has to offer outside Tom Yum Soup and Pad Thai.
So there you go, the first instalment of my BTS Asoke series, enough to keep your tummies satisfied for a good 2 days. Do you have any other recommendations? I will definitely check them out!