Reena Karim revels in Bangkok’s café culture, and discovers a brand star on Sukhumvit.
Bangkok residents have long gotten over the novelty that once surrounded the arrival of international coffee chains, and these days independent coffee shops and delis provide the answer for those looking for something more than a regular ol’ cup o’ Joe.
Over the last few years, ever since café culture took hold of the city, lots of new java joints have been popping up, often dotting the areas where you’d least expect to find them. This issue we head to Zorse, a new hipster hotspot tucked away on Sukhumvit Soi 24.
A distinct, life-size wooden horse and a botanical patio welcome us into this charming eatery. Hidden behind a veil of plants, the all glass-fronted café has a very organic vibe to it. Inside, this high-ceilinged restaurant’s main highlight is the open deli counter that entices you with freshly baked goodies. The long communal table situated in the centre is a great way to make new friends, but you could also opt for the comfy leather couch in the corner, which is sheer relaxation. We choose a more intimate spot by the window that looks out onto the quiet Soi.
Owner Preechaya Sittipunt, a professor of architecture at Chulalongkorn University, took a minimalistic approach when she went about designing the place, but included plenty of eye-catching details, such as a zebra print couch and a saddle-inspired chaise lounge – symbolic inspirations derived from the word ‘Zorse’, a mix between a zebra and a horse – as well as several black and white artsy photographs. Subtle touches, such as the turquoise blue in the staff aprons, ceramic stools, candles, and interesting crockery don’t go unnoticed either, while old world French light fixtures, blonde wood furnishing, and mix and match chairs serve to cement the whole retro vibe she is going for, and this wonderful casual chic ambiance makes it an ideal hangout.
The menu specialises in breakfast and brunch, but has a great variety of light bites, soup and salads, sandwiches and mains as well. The focus here is on fusion dishes that blend familiar flavours of the east with touches from the west.
Heading the kitchen is Chef Peerasut ‘Job’ Nilawat, who was previously at Long Table, as well as large hotel chains in Vietnam and Cambodia.
We began our meal with paté of chicken and pork (B170). The paté came with its signature crust of thick butter film, which you have to go through to get to the creamy spread underneath. The paté arrives on a wooden platter accompanied by homemade bread, sweet onion jam, and a salad with vinaigrette dressing. We were barely through with it when our miso grilled salmon salad (B290) showed up. The dish appeared less like a salad, and more like a steak, as the salmon comes in fillet form, pan-seared and laid over a bed of pomelo, cucumber, and pomegranate, all topped with a sweet and spicy sauce.
We also helped ourselves to a light ciabatta sandwich (B150) that came lined with garlic aioli and was accented with an unusual pairing of fresh pear slices and charcoal grilled chicken fillets – a recipe I am definitely trying at home. Chef Job had also insisted that we try the restaurant’s signature BBQ pork ribs (B390), which are slow cooked in a tangy, smoked barbecue sauce. The ribs were soft and tender and went perfectly with side of coleslaw made from shredded cabbage, carrots, and granny smith green apples. I admit that at this point we were way beyond calling this brunch, but who’s complaining.
The treats at the counter made us salivate for dessert, and we just couldn’t resist ordering the banoffee smash (B130) when the time came. Our treat arrived in a long tumbler, with layers of fresh banana slices, vanilla ice cream, coffee cream and biscuits, all topped with butterscotch sauce. The chef also tried to seduce us into trying out the freshly baked white chocolate tart (B130), but we somehow resisted.
The beverage menu listed a bit of everything, from coffee and tea, to cocktails and some decent wines. My companion opted for the Tamarind Kiss (vodka, Cointreau, tamarind, lime, mint and a sugar icing – B270), while I decided to skip the booze and go for a refreshing Lychee and Lemongrass iced tea (Thai tea, basil, lime juice, lychee and lemongrass – B90).
35/2 Sukhumvit Soi 24
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10am-10pm
pdf Beyond Brunch