The Raw Bar is an eye-catching curiosity. As you rush into the grocery store in Emporium mall to stock up on milk and bread, you pass by a marble bar where those not plowing through a to-do list sit leisurely and obliviously, sipping wine and slurping oysters while the world around them passes by lugging toilet paper and bagged produce.
It seemed like a bit of indulgent excess, stopping to eat such nice food as a backdrop of people struggling along with carts of more mundane necessities continues around you.
On a recent Friday night, as we were wandering through the mall in search of food, we walked by and thought, ‘Why not?’
Featuring bar seating plus a handful of separate tables, the kiosk makes for comfortable solo dining, since most of it is a cozy bar where you can watch the staff prep food. While eating, we saw a few solo diners stop by for a burger or oysters and a glass of wine.
The setup itself reeks of easy extravagance. The marble countertops, beveled mirrors, oysters displayed on ice, and rows of sparkling wine glasses in overhead racks make for cozy, intimate ambiance making you feel safely tucked away at your little island oasis in the market.
It felt that way when we sat down and ordered two glasses of Bottega Brut Prosecco (THB330 per glass/US$10). We clinked a salute, and looked over the menu, strategizing that we would share the lobster roll and one more dish.
The oysters on display looked tempting and hailed from the US, Ireland, France, and Holland. They could be ordered by the dozen, half-dozen, or as singles, ranging in price from THB165/US$5 for one to THB2,320/US$70 for 12. The Maryland Crab Cake Burger (THB580/US$17.5) and over-the-top Lobster Truffle Burger (THB1,650/US$50) were also potential contenders that we considered, but we were getting ahead of ourselves. This was meant to be a simple dinner for two people who weren’t even that hungry.
We settled on the smaller of the two Maine Lobster Rolls (THB1,200/US$36) featuring a half-lobster and served with fries and a salad. The roll featuring a full lobster goes for almost double at THB2,350. We also ordered the Grilled Seabass (THB560/US$16.9) with salsa verde and garlic cilantro oil.
The seabass came out quickly, in about ten minutes. It was satisfying, tasted healthy, and was just pleasant enough to appease us in the moment, but not striking enough to stay in our memories for long. The lobster took more than twice as much time to arrive, but we weren’t terribly concerned about that since the people watching was excellent.
The lobster roll was worth waiting for. Featuring a light butter dressing and sprinkling of chives atop a rich, sweet, grilled brioche bun, the lobster meat had that ever-elusive melting quality and no toughness at all. The well-sized sandwich was gone just minutes after it arrived.
Yes, the price is nearly double what they charge for the same size sandwich with the same side dishes at The Lobster Lab in Thong Lor’s The Commons. That one is also very good, it’ll hit the spot if you’re craving a roll, but this one is better. Is it double as good? It might be.
The Raw Bar also has locations in Central Embassy and Central Festival Eastville as well as a standalone spot in Thong Lor and a newly opened restaurant in the Erawan building. But it seems that one of the big appeals, for us at least, was the unique mid-grocery store location at Emporium, where you get the satisfying mix of luxury against utility.
The Raw Bar
Emporium Mall, 4th floor
664 Sukhumvit Rd.
BTS Phrom Pong
Open daily, 10am-10pm