How Bangkok’s food and beverage scene is coping with the New Normal

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January 29, 2021
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January 29, 2021

– On Bangkok’s world-renowned food and beverage scene, hip night-time bars are transforming into daytime cafes, restaurant menus are promoting more home-grown produce, and the use of home food delivery apps is surging.

With restaurants and eateries already dealing with COVID-19 social distancing measures; such as, spatial seating, there is now also a ban on dining in at venues between 21.00 – 06.00 Hrs. and a blanket ban on serving alcoholic beverages until at least the end of January. Many venues are offering a takeaway service beyond 21.00 Hrs.

It is indeed a time for innovation, not least of all among individual establishments untied to the bonds of chain or group membership and which are able to adapt quickly to changing – albeit enforced – market dynamics.

To help survive these unprecedented times, a number of Bangkok’s hip bars have temporarily transformed themselves into cafes, switching their focus from night-time to daytime operation. Bartenders have put aside the liquors and mixers to instead blend caffeinated drinks and craft sodas for their customers to enjoy along with scrumptious snacks and sweet treats.

The following restaurants are referenced as examples of social distancing, sustainability or safety and hygiene best practices; however, these mentions are not meant as promotional or commercial endorsements.

Among these is Playroom, the classy 50-Shades-of-Grey-inspired bar in Ekkamai, which now serves up coffee and pastries during the day under the concept of the Playroom Cafe. It’s still a stylish hangout, and now also offers Playroom’s signature drinks as non-acholic beverages, or so-called ‘mocktails’.

Vesper, which was recently ranked No. 11 on Asia’s 50 Best Bar list, is now an all-day ‘mocktails & bites’ destination.

The people behind the popular ‘Teens of Thailand’ and ‘Asia Today’ bars have meanwhile launched DSI or Dim Sum International, an ad hoc project using recipes for old-school shumai (pork dumplings) to help unemployed bartenders who now find themselves preparing plump, porky dumplings by hand for delivery.

The food and beverage scene is also seeing more use of social media and broader utilisation of mobile apps, as more people stay at home and order in. Launched in 2020 with a free download for Android and iOS, the Yindii’s mobile application enables customers to order and pay for food boxes from restaurants at discounted prices of 50-70 per cent, which they can pick up or have delivered.

Yindii, which is a Thai anti-food-waste start-up, allows customers to still enjoy their favourite foods, while providing another much-welcome revenue source for food that might otherwise be wasted for the participating restaurants and eateries. It offers 50 restaurants and cafes to choose from, including the Broccoli Revolution plant-based fast-casual outlets, vegan outlet Veganerie, and dairy-free healthy dessert bar The Banana Warrior, as well as brands like Delifrance and Sunshine Market.

Numerous restaurants have themselves also taken to using home delivery apps, as have many taken to regular postings on Facebook and other social media platforms to highlight special deals and discounts on offer.

With international and interprovincial travel restrictions affecting supply chain logistics, home-grown produce is receiving more attention among the city’s restaurants; such as, the Rong Sabiang, an all-day dining venue in the Phra Khanong area within the mixed-use T77 Community. The menu at this greenhouse-themed restaurant serving Thai and international dishes highlights cabbage, papaya, and other ingredients grown in an adjacent organic farming garden.

For those who would rather eat outside in the open air in this current time, and who relish great Birria tacos and L.A.-style tacos, Cholos BKK is a taco truck nestled inside Sukhumvit Soi 12. While the obvious option is takeaway, there’s also a small socially-distanced outdoor dining area where the food can be enjoyed at its best – piping hot and straight off the grill.