A dynamic melting pot in a new-old neighbourhood
To most Bangkokians, Charoenkrung Road, meaning ‘prosperity of the city,’ has long been synonymous with trading companies, jewellery, gold and silver merchants whilst also houses many European consulates.
Stretching almost 9km in length, it dissects Bangkok from the Rattanakosin island, continues into Bangrak and ending in Bang Kho Laem.
It was Bangkok’s first major road, built around 1860 during the reign of King Rama IV heralding in the shift from water to road. Many traditional Chinese-influenced food stalls and restaurants have remained fond favourites for Thais but off the main route, new hip hangouts have sprung up alongside some of the finest dining available options.
Beginning at the southern end of the road, walking north, our first stop is easily identified by a crowd who throng in front of Tuang by Chef Yip (1), eagerly awaiting their fluorescent pink numbered tags for the affordable dim sum foodie mecca famed for their lava buns.
Continuing a short walk to the junction of Trok Chan, Khao Tom Pla Kimpo (2) serves up its finest boiled rice soup with fish. Further down, under the bridge and across Sathon road, turn left up the side of Robinsons and on the right, we find Kanom Krok Pa Aew (3), a stall open only in the evenings renowned for traditional crunchy flour shelled sticky coconut milk with a hint of salt. Sitting opposite is Thip Volcanic Fried Mussel & Oyster (4) with their signature crispy fried plump molluscs. Returning to the eastern side of the main road, one finds the unassuming Thotman Guangdong (5) for unrivalled Cantonese buns while a few steps further, Prachak (6), the now fourth generation family have been serving all things duck. Nearby is another fellow legend, Jok Prince (7) for world-class congee, but get there early!
Opposite Soi 44 contains the sparkling gems of Baan Phad Thai (8), somewhat self-explanatory and the newbies of Homu (9) for owner Ying’s take on Japanese confections and Sarnies (10) with its Asian style brunch dishes.
Back on the main road, sample the mouth-watering egg sponge cakes cooked by the ever-present, always smiling lady at Kanom Kai Pa Sri (11). Continue on to Lebua State Tower, where Ryuki Kawasaki delivers his classic hometown Niigata Murakami Wagyu Beef A5 grilled over Bincho charcoal at the two Michelin starred Mezzaluna (12).
The same majestic tower is also home to the recently launched Chef’s Table (13), where Vincent Thierry, a previous holder of three Michelin ‘gongs’ serves up his signature French classics with a nod to Asia such as King Crab Tiramisu. How many stars will he be awarded this year?
One is now temptingly close to The Oriental hotel, which also houses two great restaurants. The first, Le Normandie (14), a two Michelin starred temple of French gastronomy where one can enjoy Arnaud Dunand Sauthier’s sublime speciality of caviar, sea urchin and potato. Also nestled within this grand dame is the Terrace Rim Naam (15), where Chef Pom whose signature Garoupa fish curry is a must-try.
Another addition is the recently launched Supanniga Eating Room Charoenkrung by Khunyai located on Charoenkrung Soi 38 (16), walking distance from BTS Saphantaksin skytrain.
Amble past the landmark Grand Postal Building (17) and continue to the next junction, one head right along alley 43 and in the next lane, visit Hei Jii (18), meaning black chicken in Chinese, a hip venue where you may enjoy chocolate and coffee.
Alternatively, turn left into alley 32 and almost at the end of the road, is Someday Everyday (19); David Thomson and Prin Polsuk’s, value for money curry and rice canteen, while next door, Maison Chatenet (20) offering up super croissants.
Right at the end of this soi is Warehouse 30 (21), the brainchild of Duangrit Bunnag, combining Thai designer fashions with coffee bars, art spaces and real food in a cleverly haphazard layout.
Returning to the main road, our journey is at an end with three super trendy venues; Little [email protected] City (22), equally loud pink flamingoes and green neon announce its location and probably the best burger in town! Close by lies Jua (23) where Chet Adkins helms this uber fun izakaya restaurant specialising in yakitori while Chefs Napol Jantraget and Saki Hoshino serve up modern Thai dishes at 80/20 (24).
New and old, side by side and it seems to me like Charoenkrung is again reinventing itself. Here’s to Charoenkrung version 2.0!