Taking the streets to the skies
It’s fair to say that Bangkok’s street culture now stands at the precipice of a tipping point. Food vendors have been swept off popular sidewalks—from the footpaths in front of Pak Khlong Talad to the central stretches of Sukhumvit Road—and nightlife hasn’t been spared the axe, either. Even the love-’em-or-loathe-’em streetside haunts and van bars on Soi 11 have long since served their last. The upheaval at ground level hasn’t just threatened the institutions, though. At risk of disappearing are the city’s unique culinary traditions and its drinking culture.
But The Continent Hotel has devised a novel solution to the matter at hand. Bangkok Heightz, a semi-alfresco lounge that takes over the rooftop alcove where one half of Axis & Spin once stood, offers upscale takes on street food and a menu full of cocktails inspired by Thai culture—from Muay Thai, to khan thong, to creamsicle-coloured Thai tea. While the lounge isn’t a surrogate for the metal tables, plastic stools, and battered tarps on the sidewalks, it’s hard to find fault with a venue so devoted to the blue-blood spirit of
Upon first impression, Bangkok Heightz just looks like a comfortable, low-key lounge—it’s filled out with dark wood and metal accents and is the very definition of low-lit. A closer look, however, reveals faux powerlines and circuit breakers, as well as a mural of the street serving as a feature wall. And this isn’t the only proof they’ve done their homework.
A narrated history of Bangkok (including a self-referential guide to the highest heritage sites in this pancake-flat city—the Golden Mount, Wat Arun, Victory Monument) prefaces the food menu. Page after page provides interesting factoids about life in the city before finally ceding way to street-inspired dishes. Of these, the tender prawn cakes known as Tod man goong (B290), Snowfish gaprao (B590), and Lamb Massaman curry (B690) stand out. Well-executed and -presented, not to mention significantly larger than the versions found at street stalls, the food here makes for great date-night fodder for those looking for an authentic taste of Thailand.
The cocktails (all B320) offer a more interesting take on traditions. Try the Muay Thai Mule, a mix of chilli-infused gin, lime, and galangal. The lime leavens the spiciness but doesn’t knock it out completely, leaving the drink with a pleasant kick. Brighter flavours make up the Mai Ya Rap, a riff on the whisky sour that blends Thai whisky with Cointreau, fresh lychee, and kaffir lime zest and leaf. For a mellower option, try the easy-drinking Khan Thong, a fusion of rum, homemade jasmine syrup, strawberry, lime, and egg white served in its namesake metal bowl.
While Bangkok Heightz might not singlehandedly save the city’s street culture, it makes for a fun evening steeped in the city’s folklore—and in a more fashionable atmosphere.
39F, The Continent Hotel, 413 Sukhumvit Rd.
Open daily: 6pm-1am | Tel: 02 867 7000