There’s a road in the old part of Bangkok (now often called Rattanakosin Island), that I enjoy visiting not only for the food but also for the ambiance. This row of old shop houses has stood the test of time and now caters to a young and funkier crowd that I guess would never have crossed the original owners’ mind. Located next to Thailand’s second oldest universities, and adjacent to the backpacker haven of “KhaoSan Road,” students, artists, and those seeking an alternative atmosphere come here to dine, listen to Jazz and walk in the park.
Although it has changed much over the years, some of it still remains the same. The old shop houses most date back roughly a hundred years and the old fortress of Pra Sumen date back to time of King Rama I. It is one of only two remaining from the original fourteen built. It’s ancient yet it stands there towering above the park and Pra Athit Road for all to see and to admire. It’s now part of the Santichaiprakarn Park which occupies an area between the fortress and the Chaopraya river.
It’s one of my favorite parks and when the weather isn’t too hot, I’d sometimes go and sit there looking out across the river during lunch. It’s been awhile since I did that, but it used to be one of my favorite pastimes. It’s relaxing to just watch the water or just simple observe human activity. There’d be people reading, people having a picnic, some practicing juggling, some artists, or couples out for a chit chat. There’d be older people out too on their daily work. In one part of the park, not far from the Sala, there is a little walkway that takes you out towards the river and onto a walkway that runs along the lenght of the river. It’s beautiful.
Okay, so I’ve gone on at lenght about the park, I’ll now mention a favorite few restaurants that are worth visiting if you need somewhere to go for a good lunch. I’ll start from the area neigbouring the Pra Sumen Fortress and run along the road down towards Thammasat University
1. Roti Mataba: This is a classic muslim restaurant where you can have the chicken with saffron rice, mutton curry, fish curry, roti, and mataba. Their menu is a lot more diverse than this, you’d just have to go check it out for yourself. It’s a tiny little shop house, but they have upstairs dining in an airconditioned room. Oh, it’s closed on Mondays so don’t go there 🙂
2. A newly opened Chicken Curry Rice (ข้าวหน้าไก่) shop just opened not far from Roti Mataba and their chicken curry is delicious. Although new, it comes from the original shop that is well-known for it’s chicken curry in the five intersection area near Chinatown. You can opt to have the chicken rice with either rice, steamed yellow egg noodles or friend yellow egg noodles. I like them all.
3. If you want Italian Food in an atsphere that takes you away from local Bangkok, then go to Primavera. They serve lunch sets and for a couple hundred baht you can have soup, salad and a main course. Their food is average but the wooden walls give it a cosy feeling.
4.There’s Gingerbread House on the corner just opposite the fortress that sells cakes and coffee. It’s very small, and has very few seating but I like the way they decorated the shop. It makes you feel like you are really in “old bangkok.”
5. If you want beef noodles, there is the famous beef noodle soup restaurant. It’s not the clear soup kind so it can get a bit “beefy,” but its a good place to go have simple beef noodle shops. It occupies two shop houses so it’s pretty big, but their’s no aircondition so it can get a bit warm.
6. Further along the middle of Pra Athit Road in the area opposite the World Bank’s FAO and UNICEF offices you’ll see a row of shop houses that have been new renovated. One of my favorite shops there is “Saffron” which is a little restaurant and bakery. They serve homemade traditional thai food and delicious cake in a cosy homey feel. My favorite is always the rice with pork fried with green chilli and for dessert I like the banoffee. Mind you, they also have waffles with ice cream as well as another whole shelf filled with different kind of chocolate brownies, blackforest cakes, orange cake, cherry pies, and cookies… There are so many I can never resist the temptation to buy some home. Oh, it’s airconditioned so that makes it even better. There’s only around 4 tables so be sure to make a reservation or go there early.
7. Not far from Saffron is a Thai restaurant called “Hemlock” that only opens in evenings, but it’s a great place to take visitors from abroad if you decide to visit the area for dinner. Their restaurant is minimalist and upstairs also serves as a little art gallery. They serve traditional thai food and the shop is cosy you can spend a good hour or so there.
8. Another place I like is “Ricky’s Coffee Shop.”It moved from it’s original location but that’s because it was doing so well it had to expand. It’s a favorite amongst my colleages and I for it serves both Thai, Mexican, fusion and a number of foods. I like their fried rice with potataoes and veggies, their tuna salad, quesadilla, nachos, sphaghetti with bacon and garlic and various open sandwiches. It also opens for breakfast which makes it my breakfast place when I decide to go on a walking tour of Old Bangkok. They serve omelettes, bagels, croissants and coffee… All taste good and for a very reasonable price too. If you like mango, they do an awesome mango smoothie. I also think they sell on of the best bagels in town. I really do like it more than Au Bon Pain’s version. Now I feel like going there sometime this week..
9. If you are looking for another nice restaurant in the evenings with a view of the river, there is also Navalai River Resort opposite the street. I’ve yet to eat there, but I’ve walked around and the view is beautiful. You sit there on a deck overlooking the river. I’ve also heard that the food there is quite good.
Hmm…I could go on, but I think this post is getting slightly long. 🙂 Hope you all enjoy dining on Pra Athit Road! I really will need to go take some more snapshops next time I visit :)..Sometimes things so close by, don’t get recorded as much as it should!