Into the Hood: Ari
Hipster haven with more restaurants and street food stalls to be discovered
If we were to undertake a survey of Bangkok residents as to which city suburb immediately springs to mind when we say ‘Instagram-worthy hipster hangout cafes’, the answer would probably be Ari.
This charming neighbourhood, located less than ten minutes from Siam, with its very own BTS station. It has long been known for countless cafes and bars. It is a firm favourite for both expats and locals to hang out and chill, whilst providing eminently insta-worthy or Instagrammable (are these really words?) locations.
Filled with a unique mix of upscale residential developments and trendy bean-to-bar outlets offering all-day breakfast fare, hidden within are some truly authentic offerings for lunch and dinner, and yes, even some unrivalled street food and several world-class bakeries.
Exiting BTS Ari, proceed towards the Esso station and just beyond, you will reach Thanee Khao Moo Daeng (1) offering legendary crispy pork, stewed pork and melt-in-the-mouth pork belly truly to die for. Turning right into Phahon Yothin Soi 5, you will come across a vintage café, Tham Ma Da (2). Then walk towards Ari Soi 1 and turn left, you will see a neon light indicating the modern Cantonese Dai Lou (3) and before reaching the second Chinese outpost, Mae Yui (4), a short detour to the right will reveal Landhaus bakery (5), a homey white house with raw-cement walls, natural wood furniture, and a giant wooden table loaded with freshly baked German and Austrian goodies.
Almost opposite of Mae Yui, turn right into Rama VI Soi 30 and you will reach the elegant Khua Kling Pak Sod (6), the Ari outpost of a Southern Thai restaurant, popular with hi-so and worthy of their Sukhumvit Michelin Bib Gourmand, curiously absent from its sister. Continue walking for a few more minutes, you will stumble across a wonderfully engaging aunty serving up deep-fried tofu, taro and corn from her unnamed street stall (7).
Take a slight detour down Ari Samphan Soi 6 and discover Yoong Chang (8), describing itself as neo-Chinese and serving up one of the best handmade noodles in Bangkok.
Returning to the main road, Ari institution of Pla Dib (9) is located where it has been for the past decade. The owners grow their produce on their local farm to provide the freshest ingredients for their fusion of Thai, Japanese and Italian cuisine.
At the corner of the main road with Ari Samphan Soi 9 is an unassuming street restaurant, Lert Ros Kai Yang (10), which serves up super tasty Isaan grilled meats and Som Tum. A short walk further and well worth a visit is the truly authentic Thai dessert shop, Kanom Pan Sib–Khun Tik (11), located in Phibun Wattana Soi 5, near the Ministry of Finance building.
Now we grab a tuk-tuk for a short ride to Phahon Yothin Soi 7, popularly referred to as Soi Ari. Get off between Soi 3 and Soi 4, you will find two firm neighbourhood favourites, Salt (12) and Joha (13), both serving up a popular fare. The former is Korean, and the latter is Japanese/Italian.
Continue past Soi 3, specialising in Som Tam, Hua Hin seafood and Isaan influences lending a kick to certain dishes is Lay Lao (14), a deserving recipient of a Michelin Bib Gourmand. Further along, on the corner of Soi 2, Pad Thai and Kuah Gai are served up from an unnamed collection of stalls (15). These are both truly yummy and, in themselves, well worth a visit.
Carrying on down Soi Ari is a plethora of street food stalls (16), offering a multitude of Thai snacks. These stalls sit in front of three hidden gems, the first, Guay Jub Ratchawong Ming (17), the second, Ong Tong Khao Soi (18), a hotspot with unending queues. It originated in Chiang Mai and justly awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand. Lastly, One Dee (19), a tiny two-storey café serving up Thai-inspired coconut desserts and homemade ice creams.
Before boarding the SkyTrain home, do take a right turn into Soi 1 to visit V’lacha Siam Dessert and Tea Room (20), a cosy traditional tea parlour where one may enjoy authentic Thai desserts in a tranquil and comfortable ambience.
Ari has proved to be a pleasant surprise. Being known as the leading suburb in numbers of fashionable cafés is not necessarily a bad thing, however, with a little effort, one can find a burgeoning tally of authentic restaurants and street food stalls, perhaps not so insta-worthy, but definitely yum-worthy!