The Temple of Dawn at sunset is one of Bangkok’s best views and a terrific place to catch it is the boutique hotel Sala Rattanakosin, a 90-year-old former Chinese warehouse tucked down the alleys of Tha Tien Market in the Old City.
The restaurant serves traditional Thai and modern European food with Asian touches but it’s best to start with a trek up the winding staircase to the roof bar, an intimate space that’s ideal for a romantic date or pre-dinner cocktails.
With vistas not only across the river to Wat Arun but also towards the spires of Wat Pho and the Grand Palace, everyone here has a drink in one hand and a camera-phone in the other. Later, head down to the two-storey restaurant, and, if possible, grab a window table upstairs or beside the river on the wooden deck outside.
Executive Chef Tony Wrigley describes his menu as comfort food and that pretty much fits the bill. Typical Thai dishes include tempura fried soft shell crab (B290), with a good strong zip of sour and spice in green mango salad that cuts through the crispy batter, and the northern Thai favourite khao soy (B280). The latter, served as a main course, has a thicker, more curry-like consistency than usual and the complexity loses out slightly to the more dominant palm sugar in a heavily reduced sauce.
The menu has fewer Euro items but there were good flavours to the twice-cooked crispy pork belly (B590). It’s roasted for three hours and then finished in the oven for 20 minutes with a tamarind glaze. On the side are roast pumpkin puree, apple and young ginger marmalade, and stir-fried morning glory, which works very well cooked in typical local style, flash-fried with oyster sauce, garlic and chilli.
A major plus is the list of 25 wines by the glass, starting at B190 and a very drinkable standard with the clean, acidic Teddy Hall Chenin Blanc from South Africa.
I only have a single visit on which to judge but my hunch is the food quality here – particularly Thai – will vary nightly. The spectacular setting and wine list alone, though, will get me back. It’s a great spot for Old City tourists and might even make a few townies hot for a river breeze.
Sala Rattanakosin Bangkok
39 Maharat Rd, Rattanakosin Island 02-231-2588 | salarattanakosin.com | 7am-10pm