Humble home taste

The setting

(Photos: Somchai Poomlard)

Down a small residential alley, Zongter presents itself with a quaint look that takes cues from traditional Chinese coffeehouse amid worn-out shophouses. Built in 1962, the house is looked after by Sirapong Supattarasade, the family's third generation, who has revived the space into a stylish cafe.

Inside, the interior is a harmonious blend of rustic elements and 21 century decor. The room is boxed by rough concrete walls that have been painted in dark grey and furnished with sets of dark lacquer chairs and marble tables. Red lanterns and vivid Chinese paintings help give the space an exotic feel, while neon-lit signs add a strong hip vibe.

The Menu

Despite defining itself as a cafe, coffee and soft drinks are more accessories while classic Chinese fare is the main event. Home-style Chinese food served in small bite-size versions, using family recipes that have passed down from Sirapong's great grandmother.

Not to be missed is the deep-fried Cream lava bao (B29), with its golden-crisp exterior and a smooth salted-egg custard filling. But if you prefer things on the savoury side, the Chinese barbecue pork version (B39) is also tasty, as well as the Pork floss with a generous dab of butter (B35). Dim sum fans can partake in Steamed pork dumplings (B45), Rice noodle rolls (B45) and Shrimp wontons (B65).

For something to drink, I'd say chase all that food down with a cold glass of Chinese pickled plum soda (B60). But on a sweltering day, the Frozen plum slushy is definitely the way to go (B80).

The cafe doesn't focus on big dishes and only offers two dishes with rice. You'll find delight digging into their tender Braised chicken thigh (B139) or the sweet Chinese stew with braised pork (B139) -- both are served on rice with the cafe's secret spicy sauce and a soft-boiled egg.

Insider's Tip

With the cafe's inconvenient location on a small alley jam-packed with wholesale food shops, you can expect that there will be zero parking. However, nearby buildings do offer parking spaces, like at Cathay Building (B50 an hour) and Lek Building (B30 an hour). From both places, it takes about a two- to five-minute walk to the cafe.

Value & Verdict

Despite the knowledge that most cafes churn out food that is only good to look at, Zongter's menu pays a tasteful homage to its ancestors' recipes. And despite being just ordinary home food, they are satisfying to eat, without being pretentious or boasting expensive price tags.

  • Zongter 1962
  • Chinese Teahouse
  • 111. Charoen Krung 16
  • Open Monday to Thursday 10am-7pm, Friday to Sunday 9.30am-8pm
  • Call 02-226-3149
  • Visit fb.com/zongter1962