Thursday, November 8, 2007

53 and rising.

Thonglor has been the hippest street in Bangkok for many a year now.
Everybody knows the many delights to be enjoyed on Soi 55, from the
funky eclecticism of Playground to the mainstream hipness of J Avenue
to the old school charm of Don Kreung and other 50s relics that sit
very comfortably among the more contemporary offerings.

One street west, more hidden attractions await. Soi 53 is shaping up
to be perhaps the city's most interesting and upmarket thoroughfare.

Leafy and quiet in a way that is all too rare in Bangkok, Soi 53 feels
intimate and private, quite an achievement just one block away from
the frenetic atmosphere of Thonglor.

A few places in the soi have been established several years. Books 53
is a quirky place to spend an hour or two, flicking through magazines
and picking up some obscure printed titles. Up the road, the
imaginatively named 53 has been serving up excellent ice-cold mojitos
in tastefully lit glassy surroundings for many a moon now.

The soi's hip credentials were cemented a couple of years back when
homegrown fashion label and cafe chain Greyhound set up its HQ there.

Now, a few newcomers have entered the scene, and suddenly Soi 53 is
quite the place to be.

Bacco, a new Italian restaurant opened by the same entrepreneur who
brought us both Basilico and Limoncello, looks as if it might be
another of his successful additions to the Bangkok Italian dining
scene. (The pizza campagna, featuring potato, bacon and cheese and
tasting like wood-fired fondue, is a particular highlight.)

Next door, The Core offers yoga, pilates and other physical
disciplines in an interesting space.

Red, Bangkok's newest and least traditional Indian restaurant, has
quickly established a faithful following with its innovative take on
subcontinental cuisine in a dramatically art-directed setting.

And the gorgeous little pink cafe with its quirky furniture
overlooking a perfect little lawn is a lovely place for an afternoon
cup of Earl Grey.

Add to these ingredients a couple of authentically intimidating
Japanese restaurants catering mainly to Nipponese (but in reality
quite welcoming to Thais and gaijin), and you have the beginnings of
what could soon be Bangkok's most consistently tasteful neighbourhood.

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