pungdet grilled cheese sandwich

Bangkok Bites 1: A gastronomic tour of Soi Convent

This is the first in a regular series of posts about great food in Bangkok. Each week we’ll focus on an area, restaurant or cuisine and explore the endless Bangkok food landscape. Subscribe to stay up to date with Bangkok Bites and regular posts from around Thailand.

Most of the restaurants featured here are included with locations in our map of the best restaurants in Bangkok so you can easily find them and other great spots around Bangkok.

Soi Convent is my favourite road in Bangkok. Is it weird to have a favourite road? Probably. But my, what a road. As Bangkok lurches into a lockdown that’s not a lockdown but has many of the features of a lockdown, I’ve come to thinking about food and how packed Bangkok is with amazing eateries that I can’t wait to visit again in (hopefully) a few weeks.

For my money, nowhere is this better illustrated than Soi Convent – properly Thanon Convent – in Silom. Perhaps known for its slightly less salubrious charms, Silom is nevertheless home to some exceptional eats and Soi Convent houses a whole host of them. There really is something for everyone on Convent – from breakfast patonggo and jok to Thai favourites to high end international cuisine. Whatever your budget, preferences and meal time, Soi Convent has something for you.

Except on Monday, loads of stuff is closed on Monday.

So today, from the comfort of our sofas, we’re going on a little tour of Soi Convent.

Street eats on Soi Convent

Coming from the MRT at Silom or the BTS at Sala Daeng, you won’t miss the mass of carts that gather from the corner of Soi Convent.

Although the corner of Soi Convent is now a giant building site, the carts keep coming and dishing out all manner of goods from morning to night. In the morning office workers grab their breakfasts and lunches from the stalls.

There are a few good carts to pick from – I enjoy the patonggo cart in the morning for a fat-laden breakfast. Off Soi Convent on Sala Daeng 2 (behind Silom Complex) is another bread-based treat in the form of Pungdet BBQ Grilled Cheese sandwich. They serve up charcoal-grilled bread buns stuffed to bursting with your choice of sweet or savoury fillings and are sumptuous. Exhibit A is a Nutella stuffed bun which costs the princely sum of 30 baht.

The blue and white chicken rice stall on Soi Convent is also very good, whilst the real pick of the carts lies a little further up the street. Setting up from morning to early afternoon, Guay Teow Khae is an absolute treat of a noodle cart. They serve up tom yum noodles to seemingly endless hordes of punters lined up along the pavement.

Guay Teow Khae sets up alongside the outer wall of the eponymous convent of Soi Convent, with a few tables strung out under an awning. 50 baht will net you a hearty portion of the springiest noodles in a spicy tom yum sauce and with a range of pork-based accompaniments. I eat mine dry because I am a savage, but usually it comes as a noodle soup.

Guay teow khae also has a pork rice stall next to it that you can order from and which is also very tasty.

In the evening, a few hotpot restaurants pop up on the side road of Sala Daeng 2, dishing up BBQ meats and big clay pots of soup to packed tables.

Cheap and cheerful restaurants

The street carts on Soi Convent are generally fighting for space with the actual restaurants, many of whom set up tables outside. Towards the Silom Road end, Hai is an excellent choice for Isaan food and is known for the grilled salted fish which usually sells out by the afternoon. At night, enjoy a decent som tam and some garlicky Isaan sausage with a cold beer on the pavement outside. Hai is dependably good food at great prices.

Walking up past the convent and right down Soi Pipat is another Isaan favourite in the form of Som Tam Jay So. If Hai has a tendency to make their som tam farang-friendly, Som Tam Jay So is giving it to you exactly how they want you to have it – spicy, spiky and delicious. Fire-smoked chicken wings and grilled meats make an excellent accompaniment. The owner and her staff are an entertainment in their own respect – if you eat at Jay So you are going to get conversed with whether you like it or not. Roll with it.

Back on Soi Convent towards the hospital end is one of our big favourites in the form of Yellow Rice. For anyone who remembers Home Muslim Cuisine in Bang Rak, Yellow Rice is a more modern cousin with a link to that restaurant. Thai-Malay and Indian foods abound at Yellow Rice. Gorge yourself on crispy roti murtabak stuffed with spiced minced chicken, but save room for the excellent khao mok biryanis with melting chicken or mutton. Excellent slow cooked curries like beef shank masala and massaman curry plus some Indonesian favourites like nasi goreng make for a broad and exciting menu that we visit a lot.

At lunchtime, Yellow Rice now runs a khao gaeng setup where you can pick 3 dishes and rice for just 95 baht – an excellent deal.

Treat yourself time

While the range of local, budget-friendly food on Soi Convent is exceptional, it’s matched by a few of the fancier international restaurants.

New among these and taking up the spot formerly occupied by 1919 is La Dotta, a new branch of the popular Thonglor pasta house. An express lunch is excellent value from 320 baht.

Up there with the best pastas I’ve had in Bangkok, and the calamari were none too shabby either.

Once bars re-open it’s well worth checking out Vesper next door, routinely listed as one of Asia’s best bars and with an extremely creative cocktail list.

Tucked down the alley next to these is the French institution, Indigo. Expect crisp white tablecloths, steak tartare and all the French classics done well here, and expect to pay accordingly. The French-run Gargantua butcher opposite is also a purveyor of some of the finest Thai-French beef in these parts. A cote de boeuf to cook at home is a sound investment.

Well worth the stroll up the road and a Bangkok favourite for over 20 years, Eat Me is our pick of the international restaurants. Beautiful food that mixes western and Asian influences. High end cooking but hearty portions, and matched by possibly the best service I’ve ever experienced in a restaurant. The staff at Eat Me make you feel like part of the family from the moment you step through the door and it makes for a really special dinner. The 1500 baht set menu is a steal for the quality and service.

So – Soi Convent really does have something for everyone and is worth a stop for some great food in Bangkok. Morning, noon and night, whatever your budget, you’ll find great food in this corner of Silom.

Thanks for reading!

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