Soi Song Wat, a historic road in the capital’s old town, is also a lesser-known hidden gem great for foodies and arts and culture fiends. The road’s name, which literally means “drawn by the king,” was built during the reign of King Rama V, who assigned the road’s construction (it’s said that the king himself wrote the line with a pencil on the map).
The century-old road runs along the Chao Phraya River for one kilometer and contains a mix of the old and new — from colonial-style shophouses, street food stalls and long-standing restaurants to modern hostels, minimalist cafes and laid-back bars.
The area also recently became more accessible than ever — Song Wat Road can be reached from either MRT Sam Yot or MRT Wat Mangkon, which were opened a few months ago as part of the MRT Blue Line extension.
Sitting on the top of Hostel Urby, this minimalistic cafe is a perfect hangout for cafe-hoppers who want to savor a cup of caffeine with a view of Bangkok’s main artery, Chao Phraya River. The most popular spot here is the balcony area, where stools and beanbags are often occupied by visitors who come to relax and enjoy the homey vibe and river breeze. The highlighted menu items here include the Brook Mountain (milk coffee with crispy cookie and cream for THB120), Wood Woof (milk tea with coffee-flavored black jelly for THB120) and Cloud Sand Cave (warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and caramel syrup for THB140).
Nai Yong Fishball Noodle
There’s never a lack of fishball noodle soup specialists in Chinatown. At this stall hidden in a narrow alley, though, the simple-looking home-style dish has been served for more than six decades and is now run by third generation owners. The bouncy fishballs are made from wolf-herring and yellowtail fish sourced from a market in Chinatown, and they go smoothly with the chewy flat egg noodles and stomach-satisfying broth. A bowl of noodles is priced at THB50 to THB60.
Khanom Jeeb A Liang
Arguably the most popular street snack here, people can hardly resist a hot, steamy serving of good shumai. Only 100 meters from Ratchawong Pier, a street cart named Khanom Jeeb A Liang is well-known among locals, selling pork and shrimp dumplings for over 70 years. The dumplings are served in a banana leaf wrapping before it’s topped with homemade dried halibut, deep-fried garlic, chili, vinegar and soy sauce. Each shumai is THB3.
Urai’s Braised Goose Noodle & Rice
For a good goose dish, we can’t think of anything better than what’s on offer at Urai’s. The restaurant has been serving Teochew-style braised goose dishes for more than 60 years and is still insanely popular. To savor the fragrant and tender stewed goose, which comes soaked in herbal soup, you must arrive early in the morning since the goose usually runs out before noon (!). The goose meat-centric dishes start at THB100 and it’s recommended to be shared among friends and eaten with piping hot jasmine rice.
Lim Lao San Fishball Noodle
Believe it or not, the Lim Lao San fishball noodle joint on Soi Saint Louise 3 has an original branch on Soi Song Wat. The noodle stand — with a sign that reads “dancing fishballs” — is tucked away in a small alleyway and is often packed with customers dining in. It serves THB60 bowls of aromatic clear soup, rice (or egg) noodles and homemade fishballs that are delightfully bouncy and just the right level of al dente.
Yesterday’s Tea Rooms
With a vinyl record player, retro furniture, antique decor and The Beatles’ Yesterday lyrics written on a wall, this coffee shop can easily take its visitors back in time to the good old days. The so-called “tea room” serves a wide selection of beverages and baked dishes. You can come in for a refreshing Espresso Lime Soda (THB80), creamy cup of Coffee Cha-Cha Latte (espresso mixed with Thai tea and topped with steamed milk for THB80) or Japanese green tea latte (matcha or hojicha for THB80).
Ask any of your nightowl friends to recommend a cool laid-back bar by the river, and that list would likely include Samsara. The bar is tucked away in a small soi behind Wat Pathum Kongka and it’s become a widely loved spot to grab some boozy drinks early while taking in a beautiful sunset. To go with the beer, lychee mojito or plum sake on offer, we recommend you to try the kitchen’s tasty tofu gratin (THB180), seared tuna salad (THB220) and Japanese-style deep-fried chicken (THB220.)
Vegetarians in town aren’t usually likely to walk away from eating at a Japanese restaurant totally satiated, since they’re usually all about sashimi, yakiniku and meaty rice bowl dishes. Chijuya, however, is dedicated to all-vegetarian Japanese dishes. There’s vegan sashimi made from sesame, avocado, taro and tofu, while the Unagi with Sesame (THB160) is actually made from deep-fried shiitake wrapped in seaweed before it’s pan-fried with sesame seeds. The Tempura Set (THB120) comes with a big pile of assorted deep-fried veggies such as carrots, bell pepper, taro, baby corn and onion.
Pieces Cafe & Bed
Attractive to a young crowd that embraces the slow living concept, Pieces lies inside a renovated two-floor shophouse. The stylish minimalist space manages to be a sleek cafe on the first floor, serving Breast Milk Bread (THB85), breast-shaped bread with coconut ice cream, and coffee served from a moka pot. On the upper floor lies two rooms that welcome tourists who want a quiet stay in the Chinatown area.
Read more of Coconuts Bangkok’s food guides here: