One of the weirdest things I struggle with as an expat in Bangkok is deciding where to go for Thai food. I realize how strange it sounds - this is Thailand, after all. The food is amazing. I have a whole list of amazing places to eat authentic Thai food. The problem is that the best places to eat authentic Thai food are somewhat lacking in, well, ambiance.
If you want to sit on a plastic stool, sweating under florescent lights and eat some rockin' som tam for less than two dollars a plate, I've got you covered. If you want air conditioning, a leisurely dinner, and a cocktail, I get totally stumped.
So when Frank offered to take me out for dinner on Saturday night before he left for a work trip in Bangladesh (that's right - he's in Bangladesh for ten days....and likely sitting in gridlock as I write this), it took some time to think of a spot.
But I wanted ambiance and cocktails and Thai food. I decided we should try Face.
(Apparently they have a spa, too.)
I loved the spot from the moment we walked in. Designed like a group of traditional Thai houses on stilts, filled with candles and koi ponds, we jumped at the chance to get drinks in the bar before dinner.
I had the "Face Cocktail" - a sour, sweet concoction of mint and tamarind. Frank had a gin and tonic (he's become a G&T connoisseur since we moved to the tropics).
For dinner, they gave us a table in a room with tall, vaulted, wood ceilings and lots of candles.
Dinner started with my favorite Thai-style amuse-bouche. To eat it, you fold betel leaves into cones and fill them with sweet tamarind paste, dried shrimp, peanuts, ginger, coconut, chills, shallots, and slivers of lime. Sounds like a lot, but it is a perfect bite of flavor. And fun to assemble, to boot.
For dinner, we had Frank's favorite - yam-sam-o. A spicy salad with pomelo, shrimp, and coconut. And minced chicken cakes with chili and makrut lime.
I also was totally pulled in by the Pad Thai. I order it so rarely in Bangkok, but something about the sweet peanut flavor (that you surely know) was calling my name. I love that skinny egg omelet they put on the top.
I have to be honest. The Thai food at Face couldn't compete with my plastic stool, florescent-lit spot down the block. But the cocktails, candles, and company were hard to beat.
29 Soi 38 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok
I think I'm going to have to plan a visit to Thailand. Love your posts Jessica!
Prontip S Larson
It sounded like a perfect evening. Everything looked yummy!
All the food is so colorful and interesting looking! Glad you had a great evening!
xoxo from Trinidad
I agree. The meals we had at high end places in Thailand were just okay, the best were the little holes in the walls, often with not even a menu. The ambiance of Face looks amazing, though.
It's such a challenge, but I'm glad to hear that you had the same experience. Thus far, it seems like we are choosing one or the other (great food or great ambiance)...but I feel certain that we'll come across a place that blends them one of these days! I'll let you know if we do (so you can go there on your next visit)!
Claire @ Claire K Creations
We might just have to check this place out when we're there on our honeymoon. Would you recommend it or are there other places you'd go over this (apart from markets of course!).
It could be an option, just for a change. But I agree with you, the best authentic thai food you can get is anywhere along the streets outside the tourist routes, close to the condo, where only thai eat and where ambience is not the keyword. I've got a couple of recommendations from a thai colleague, two thai restaurant south of BKK, Samut Prakan area, https://www.rabiengta-le.com/ and https://www.moohin.com/trips/samutprakan/baan_maysha/
Both seem to be both authentic and in a nice location...
Thanks so much, Marina - I love getting recommendations! These will go on my list!
The Thai restaurant across the river at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok has ambience, great food and Thai dancers. The journey starts as you board the beautiful boat that takes you across the river , as you cross your troubles are left behind. You can sit outside which is my favorite because it is relaxing, so romantic and beautiful. The service is amazing and the food is second to none.
I agree that the thai food is not amaazing for the price but their indian food is absolutely amazing.
For great thai food in an atmospheric environment, I would heart warmly recommend the bo.lan restaurant on sukhumvit 26 that offers reinvented old fashioned thai receipes prepared with organic and local produce. It is pricy but really great for a special occasion. And please share your preferred plastic street stall locations 😉