Cafe 390/20 Sukhumvit Soi 18 Open 7am-10pm 02-261-1778 facebook.com/theunusual.brand
Set right on the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 18, the cute premise seems almost as if it were designed to have a cafe placed in it. Outside is a small area, enough for a few tables to sit at, sip a coffee and watch the world go by. The only problem is an ongoing dispute with the landlord has seen the area unceremoniously taped off from the street, blocking access and aesthetic resolve. Hopefully it will be sorted out soon, giving the cafe a chance to reach its potential. Inside, the industrial mood is offset with timber and creative details. The narrow space has been decked out by design students who have had fun with small details such as space invader characters, plenty of wall art and a signature mannequin curiously with handlebars as a head. The feel is cosy without being cramped, perfect for a 20-minute caffeine pitstop.
The tiny kitchen puts out around 20 dishes, all with fun names (probably the most and maybe only unusual aspect of the place). We tried The wanderer (B170), which was a basic fold of fried egg, ham and salad in a crispy thin bread that had texture if nothing else.
The miss merry berry (B180) from the crepe section of the menu was more appealing with its nutty crepe and sweet fruit, if it's not a little overpriced. The breakfast sets (B150) are cutely presented and continue the home-style charm but lack the quality ingredients of other cafe menus in the city. The coffee, however, is pretty decent and comes in a range of forms, from a latte (B64) to a caramel machiato (B80) to an affogato (B95), catering to the sweeter local palate.
Don't be scared to skip the menu and head straight for one of the dessert selections in the glass counter, washed down with a cup of the decent coffee. Combo specials such as Ice vanilla latte and cake (B169) seem to be the way to go.
Social Media Moments
The design elements of the interior make for good photos, particularly the toilets (if it isn't too creepy getting busted taking photos in there). "Like" the place on their Facebook page to receive five per cent discount. Every baht counts, after all.
Value & Verdict
As Bangkokians get their coffee on, it's great to see such local cafe spots opening up. The coffee is good and the service is sweet. But the brunch competition is tight these days, and with venues such as Gastro and Simple just round the corner, The Unusual needs to sort out the outdoor area dispute if it's going to become a usual staple. G
- Richard Mcleish
The miss merry berry
Japanese 3/F, Nihonmura Mall, Thong Lor Soi 13 Open 11am-3pm, 6-11pm 084-438-3892, 082-993-1193 (Japanese)
When yakiniku grilling, izakaya glass clinking and shabu shabu dipping become blase, maybe it's time to consider a more high-brow Japanese dining experience. Brought to you by S&P, Umenohana (plum blossom) has just opened its only branch outside Japan in Bangkok to serve you a multi-course Japanese feast called kaiseki. Decor-wise, Umenohana makes you feel like you've set foot in a Japanese inn. After taking off your shoes, you can feel the tatami under your feet as an attentive and courteous waitress leads you to your table. There are five rooms for private dining and two rooms with tables that accommodate two to four people each. The serenity and tradition in the air make me feel like I should have worn brand new socks. The lunch crowd is largely Japanese, with housewives at lunch and families at dinner.
There are four kaiseki sets on offer, each containing more than 10 items from appetisers to dessert. People with a hankering for tofu should try Umenohana zen (B1,050++). It opens with a bouncy cube of Mineoka tofu that breaks into mild sweetness. Get several textures in one roll with Zuwai kani yuba maki. Let Fuku fuku tofu simmer down in its pot then add either veggie or pork gravy for a moderately flavourful result. Umeyu zen (B2,850) offers better variety with some of the same tofu dishes as well as crab dishes. Wield a crab fork like a tiny samurai sword as you tackle Hon taraba seiro mushi and Zuwai kani su. The delicate flesh of both crabs is enhanced with a zesty sauce. Umenohana also offers a la carte menu and lunch sets.
Tofu and crab dishes are their specialties. They operate on a first-come-first-served basis so we recommend booking a private room (without extra cost) a few days in advance.
Social Media Moments
Every dish in the sets deserves space on your Facebook timeline as they are presented with style. The piece de resistance of the place is a fake sakura tree that greets you in the corridor so your gang should gather around it for a snap (V hand gestures optional).
Value & Verdict
Banknotes may fall from your wallet like sakura petals blowing in the wind if you go for the kaiseki experience at Umenohana. However, each set is packed with enough dishes to satiate a sumo so the pricing isn't outrageous. It's well worth the spend if you have the means and motivation. G
- Pornchai Sereemongkonpol
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