Big city greens
Outdoor oases in a concrete jungle
Bangkok, the urban concrete jungle, and its 'burbs are not known for its green... more for the lack of it. The parks in the city are, at the best of times, the only green relief city slickers have for any respite from the towering spaces. However, with the current pollution looming over the city, it has been difficult to spend much time outside. Fear not! To make sure we make the most of the outdoors once the smog has lifted, Guru has made a list of quaint places, new and old, to make sure you make the best of the sunshine and unadulterated air!
New kid on the block
This family-friendly "urban resort" has a restaurant, cafe, juice bar, bakery retail store, studio and a playground for children. Perhaps the only snag is that it is half an hour away (via the expressway) from the city centre in Nichada Thani, Nonthaburi. Owners John and Belle Popovic wanted Sweet Poppy to be a green community space, designed to bring people together. Good for lazy summer days spent on the couches in the open terrace.
Inspired by the Australian cafe culture, Sweet Poppy serves healthy dishes, organic wherever possible, the highlight being a separate kids menu. Expect Avocado toast (B310), naturlich, with tomato, basil and feta; Charred cauliflower (B320), caramelised onions, sunflower seeds, pomegranate, dill yoghurt; Vietnamese slaw (B390), perfect for the Bangkok weather and "The Baco" (B410), herbed flatbread filled with pork meatballs, chorizo, mozzarella and rocket. Treat yourself to the BBQ buttered prawns (B750) with lemon, garlic, parsley and smoked paprika butter. Wash it down with "Hello Gorgeous" (B250), a delicious smoothie (spinach, alfalfa sprouts, grapes, kiwi and almond milk) made fresh at the juice bar and finish off with a Pavlova (B260) passion fruit, mango curd and coconut sorbet or a Chamomile panna cotta (B260) with roasted pineapple and candied pistachios. Don't be fooled by all the green stuff, they do offer cocktails for you thirsty souls.
Open for parties (they do all the work, even send out the invites), and weddings or baby showers… you get the drill.
90/10 Samakee Road
Tambon Tasai, near Nichada Thani
Open Monday to Thursday 8am-10pm, Friday to Sunday 8am-11pm
THE GARDEN BY P LANDSCAPE
Hot off the mall
Deep in the heart of concrete jungle central, Sukhumvit 21, is a brand new green mall. So new that it hasn't even been completed yet… well the shops part hasn't. What is complete is the green "landing strip" with loungers in the centre, surrounded by shops on one side. "The garden by P Landscape" is Bangkok's newest community hub and green space.
A bubble tea kiosk caters to your bubble tea cravings, while an Artisan coffee shop feeds the coffeeholics. The only restaurant in this small space is Kiew Kai Kha, a Thai eatery serving the likes of Herbed crab curry with wild betel leaves (B390), Streaky pork and egg sweet soup (B190) and Leaf wrapped bite sized appetiser (B140). The small mall even has a Moomin cafe, which will open shortly.
Located bang smack on Asok, one of Bangkok's busiest areas, The garden by P Landscape is an oasis with lush greenery, seasonal flowers and a carefully curated selection of eateries and stores. A bit of green among the high-rises, this mini mall is a welcome relief.
The Garden by P landscape
68/2-3 Soi Chulin, Sukhumvit 21
Chan And Yupa Tearoom
Little Britain in Bangkok
This quaint private home-turned-cafe on Sukhumvit 10 will take you back to the English houses with gardens. My favourite place to spend a quiet weekday afternoon, Chan and Yupa is the calm in between the storm that is Asok. Best seats in the house are the ones in "sunroom alley", which face the garden.
This spot is best during the week, so you don't get slammed by the weekend crowds, as it's a brunch favourite for families in the area. If you're a tea aficionado like me, then you're in for a treat. But it isn't the actual teas that hit the spot, it's the tea pots with matching cups and saucers. Reminds me of my gran's Wedgewood collection. The afternoon tea set for two is served all day, from 9am-5pm (B450 for one, B850 for two and B1,100 for three). The set comes with warm scones, plain and fruit, served with cream cheese and strawberry jam, assorted sandwiches and pastries. From the section of teas, my favourites are the signatures Yupa's Tea (black tea with rose, mint and caramel) and Chan's Tea (black tea with bergamot and vanilla), which can also be ordered separately (B150). Of course, tea is not all they serve and you can order breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thai and Western dishes cover the menu at average Sukhumvit prices.
I cannot think of a better way to spend an afternoon amid the hustle and bustle of the city, in the heart of the city.
Chan & Yupa Tearoom
12 Soi Sukhumvit 10
THE GARDENS OF DINSOR PALACE
Dine at the palace
Not just a name, The Gardens of Dinsor Palace used to be the royal residence of HRH Princess Ramphai Prapa, daughter of Prince Bhanurangsi Savangwongse. Known as "Wang Dinsor," the restaurant offers an extraordinary dining experience unlike any on Sukhumvit. And it's not just the food. The 85-year-old colonial house is divided into five zones: outdoor garden, outdoor by the pond, indoor cafe, indoor dining and private rooms on the second floor. The main dining room has ceiling to floor windows perfect for viewing the white Indian peahen and peacock frolicking in the garden (fear not, they are in a massive aviary). Sharing the view of the garden is the botanical library cafe zone, good for a morning or afternoon coffee or tea. The outdoor pond and canal are home to a white swan and two black swans, just be careful the kids don't lean in to pet them. Swans nip!
Greek chef Vasileios "Billy" Vasileiadis has only been at the Gardens of Dinsor Palace for two months and is in the process of changing the menu. Fear not, if you have been here before he intends to keep the favourites, untouched. Like the Espresso BBQ pork ribs (half B450, full B750), which are marinated for 18 hours with herbs espresso essence and slow roasted for five hours, served with potato wedges and cilantro chill slaw. The new menu will see half of the old one cut, with a focus on elevating each dish. A few vegetables and herbs also provide a farm-to-table experience since they are handpicked from the restaurant's garden. New on the menu (and hence not yet priced) is the Green salad, a delightful mix of lettuce, radicchio, crispy bacon and shredded boiled egg, in a honey dressing. The new Tiramisu is also one of the best in the city.
A mini zoo in the city, will keep the kids entertained while you kick back and relax. Good for weddings and bar mitzvahs.
The Gardens of Dinsor Palace
Soi Chumbala, Sukhumvit Road (between sois 59 & 61)
Call 02-714-2112 or 093-124-7730
ISSAYA SIAMESE CLUB
Be a part of history
I always save the best for the last and this is where everything comes together -- food and ambience. Chef Ian Kittichai's Thai culinary flagship restaurant, Issaya Siamese Club is in a historical 100-year-old Thai villa, complete with tropical gardens. The ground floor has an air-conditioned dining room for those who can't deal with Bangkok's humidity, offering views of the beautiful green and an outdoor terrace. The upstairs has a dining room and lounge area, perfect for private parties.
Though the menu features chef-patron Ian's signature Thai dishes, executive chef Andrew Martin's innovative and playful style with local ingredients will leave you wanting more. Minus ordering the signature dishes like chef Ian's famous Massaman curry with lamb shank, must orders are Nam prik "Dalat" (B290), market-inspired relish of grilled aubergines and chilli, sweet and sour pumpkin, peanuts, green mango and herbs. My favourite is the Mushrooms in the rice field (B300), which is fried mushroom sausage, Thai fermented rice nam jim, pickled cabbage and cha-om. I shamelessly ordered two! The Kradook moo ob sauce (B380) never fails to impress and is a delicious spiced rubbed pork baby back ribs glazed with Issaya house blended chilli paste. If you must order rice, there is only one to order -- Khao ob mor din (B280). This is a dish inspired by chef Ian's dad and is a yummy mix of wok sautéed Asian multigrain, Chiang Mai mushrooms and garlic sprinkled mushroom scented oil. Since it's the Year of the Pig, do order the Piggy bank vacherin (B290), a little sweetie piggy served with exotic sorbet and Chantilly cream. Makes a good boomerang for your IG stories!
What's better than dining in a hidden gem, in a beautiful old house with bold colours and delicious food in Bangkok? Right, nothing comes to mind.
Issaya Siamese Club
4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chua Ploeng Road
Dinner 6-10.30pm, the bar closes at 1 am
Call 02-672-9040 or 02-672-9041.