Little Bao, 72 Courtyard
HOT & NOT
Hot-Nots is a topical weekly column that runs near the front of BK Magazine. It usually gets written in a mad rush two hours before the magazine closes, which leads to quality ranging from really on-point to pretty funny to regrettable.
Hot: Sushi royalty // Not: Croissant royalty
Sorry, Monsieur Chatenet. Your croissants may have won over the pastry buffs at Paris’s Chambre professionnelle des Artisans Boulangers-Pâtissiers, but over here, where our knowledge of how good croissants should taste began and ended with Big C not all that long ago, they manage to play second fiddle to a local label. Let’s hope we don’t go mistaking New York fish-filleter extraordinaire Masato Shimizu’s perfect edomae sushi for Oishi.
Hot: Old-school burgers // Not: Gourmet burgers
As if Daniel Thaiger’s salty, buttery original burgers weren’t good enough, the man who sparked Bangkok’s food truck revolution has gone and done it again—this time in collaboration with Seenspace nice-guy-in-residence Chris Foo of Brew. The result is a three-pattie, cheese-oozing beast that laughs in the face of anything so fancy as even a slice of tomato.
Hot: Dentists in journalism // Not: Dentists in America
If you choose to stare into people’s mouths for a living, you must be weird. If you choose someone who chooses to stare into people’s mouths for a living to run a public-interest news corporation, you must be even weirder. That’s exactly what Thai PBS’s Policy Board did when it appointed dentist and former Thai Health Promotion Foundation bod Dr. Krissada Ruang-areerat as the station’s top man—in complete contradiction to the station’s own law that says only media pros need apply. With this nation’s opinion of dentists currently at rock bottom, let’s hope he doesn’t blow it!
Hot: Mangmoom cards // Not: Rabbit Cards
Did you ever use your Rabbit Card to pay for McDonald’s or cinema tickets? Of course you didn’t. You’re normal. But finally, the one thing you have been dreaming about using it for is about to happen. The BTS and MRT will soon merge their payment system so that one card works on both networks—just like in civilized cities. Only it won’t be called a Rabbit Card. It’ll be a Mangmoom Card, and it’ll also let you hop on the ARL, BRT and something else with a logo we don’t recognize.
Hot: Appearances // Not: Reality
The government made in-roads towards ending Kanchanaburi tourist attraction and Tinder profile pic generator Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yanasampanno’s tiger petting enterprise recently. Officials from the Department of National Parks swept into the facility in the dead of night and spirited away five tigers as though they were Hong Kong booksellers holidaying in Pattaya. Five whole tigers! Do you know how many tigers are at Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yanasampanno in total? Maybe 147, possibly more like 200. Good work, boys.
Hot: Islanders // Not: Us
We, the cultured city kids of Bangkok with an encyclopedic knowledge of trending gua bao recipes and what sort of filament bulbs they’re using in the cooler parts of Ekkamai, demand an end to restaurants from Koh Bumblefuck coming here and stealing our shop space. In the past few weeks, Bangkok has been invaded by salad-dodging Koh Chang tourist fave Barrio Bonito and Dressed looky-likey Farm Factory from Phuket. First sign of a nitro-coffee shop from Koh Phayam and we’re moving.
Hot: Monkeys // Not: Goats
According to BK’s resident feng-shui master, people born in the Year of the Goat are “weak-willed, shy, pessimistic, moody and poor.” So hard luck if you just had a baby before Feb 8. You missed out on a Year of the Monkey kid, which she tells us are “clever, ambitious, charming and likely to study a strong core science subject at uni. One with a proven career path.” Poor you.
Hot: Phra Arthit // Not: Banglamphu
Khao San is the worst. Right up there with extra-judicial punishments, terrorist atrocities and Wine I Love You as things this country could really do without. Which is why we need to keep it between us and not let the tourists (who are right now making Banglamphu Airbnb’s second biggest-booming neighborhood worldwide) know that the street just around the corner is one of the coolest in town. For the latest hot-spots worth leaving Sathorn for, see page TK.
Hot: Apathy // Not: Participation
Vote for the charter and you get a fourth power on top of the elected government; don’t vote for the charter and you get Dear Leader and the DPM Gens for the rest of the decade. We’re beginning to see why so many Bangkokians have given up caring about politics so long as their favorite bars get to stay open late again. Hot tip: Sugar Club till 4am.
Hot: Judge rage // Not: Media ethics
It wasn’t one week ago that we were wishing for the next incident of someone parking badly or fighting with a taxi driver to give us a news story worth reading in the morning. And our wish came true! Only this time, the road-rage comes from someone who could well be suffering genuine mental health issues—a point about which our media has shown as much restraint as they did with Por’s funeral. If you need us, we’ll be rifling through Nadech’s bins.
Hot: Glico ice cream // Not: Fish-shaped croissants
The Japanification of our diets moved one step forward recently with the arrival to these shores of Glico ice cream. Think of it as Wall’s only in packaging that’s stuck in the same time warp as most of the haircuts on Soi Thaniya—something about as exciting to Bangkok as a free Garrett popcorn giveaway at an H&M x Versace launch. So get out of that Croissant Taiyaki queue head to your nearest Family Mart now!
Hot: Burmese hackers // Not: Thai hackers
So long, F5 system takedown. Over the past couple of weeks, a hacking group thought to be operating from Burma has been showing us how to do this thing properly with a series of attacks on the RTP and Thai judiciary’s websites. DPM Gen Prawit “Tubby Funster” Wongsuwan has come out guns blazing with talk of how our tech-savvy police force will bring the perps to justice any day now. We wait with baited breath.
Hot: ISIS in SE Asia // Not: ISIS in Thailand
Funster was in the news again recently to reiterate claims that there’s definitely no Islamic State in Thailand. No sir. No how. This is despite Russian intelligence citing the exact opposite and the alarming signs of IS activity across the region. But then this country has a track record of being totally cool in the way it treats Muslims, so why would we have anything to worry about (see page TK)?
Hot: Political calendars // Not: White to Win
We’re sorry, but that Thaksin calendar looked terrible. Like the unofficial fan production of a minor celebrity cobbled together from whatever’s knocking about rights-free on Google. Having it banned is this government’s first smart move in the name of culture since… well… ever. Now if we could only start showing the same level of taste over blackface we might be getting somewhere.
Hot: Thai tourism festivals // Not: Thai airline safety
Last year’s Discover Thainess festival was just adorable. We discovered all about royal barges, magic monkey gods and cutely dressed hill-tribe minorities while chomping Pad Thai and being smiled at. Even Dear Leader came out to remind us what a happy-go-lucky, lovable bunch we all are. And now it’s back, with two more full days of Thainess to be discovered at Lumphini park. It’s enough to make tourists brave our airlines to get here, four of which just ranked among the most dangerous in the world on AirlineRatings.com.
Hot: Corporate pop-ups // Not: Artisanal pop-ups
You’d think from the number of artisanal coffee roasters and gourmet burger stalls that we’d have plenty of reasons not to need Nespresso and McDonald’s anymore. And you’d be right. Which is why those very same brands are now pretending to be like the businesses which stole all their customers. Visit Nestle’s delightfully rustic-industrial Nespresso Boutique and McDonald’s premium produce-toting My Burger pop-up at a shopping mall near you (see New and Noted).
Hot: 2016 // Not: 2015
What did 2015 give to anybody? Another year of military rule, some Korean shaved ice desserts and a cafe where you can stroke fennec foxes. Thanks, but we’ll happily do without any of that stuff (except maybe the mango cheese bingsu at Seobinggo). To find out what 2016 has in store (or, if our predictions from this time last year are anything to go by, what it doesn’t), flip to page 6.
Hot: Festive lights // Not: Public spending
Now that Christmas is over, we thought we’d seen the last of LED light displays intense enough to give a five-year old a seizure. But when you’ve spent nearly B40 million in public change on your festive decorations, it stands to reason you want people to see them till long after the holiday season is over. So we’ll excuse our rosy cheeked governor for keeping his latest purchase up till long after Jan 1. Let’s hope it doesn’t bring him bad luck with the ombudsman. (Our prediction: it won’t.)
Hot: Charging Reds // Not: Charging Yellows
Just as the NACC announces it has dropped all charges against Abhisit, Suthep and the trigger-happy soldiers of May 2010, out comes news of one more malfeasance case for the man in Dubai and his family. This time, it’s the Shinawatra children in the Criminal Court’s firing line courtesy of some dodgy share deals back in ’06. Good luck with that one.
Hot: Buying Cars // Not: Preventing traffic
Good news, comrades! The Ministry of Industry reports that output from Thai car factories is going up, up, up. Though the outlook’s bleak for all our other major industries—plastics, electronics, unlicensed Minion merchandise—we continue to put enough new Toyota Fortuners on the road every week to ensure none of us will ever get anywhere in time. So do your bit and head to the Motor Expo this weekend to keep our economy in motion—if the traffic around Din Daeng’s not too bad.
Hot: Sriracha // Not: Hua Hin
It’s official. The industrial port on Thailand’s eastern seaboard might soon be as cool as it’s namesake Californian condiment. OK, that might be stretching it a bit, but there is a new shopping complex where branches of Bangkok’s favorite pizzeria (Peppina) and izakaya (Shakariki 432) have opened shop, as well as a Japanese mall by the people behind Nihonmura. First news of a Mediterranean-themed Sansiri condo and we’re selling the place in Cha-Am.
Hot: Chicken rights // Not: Human rights
Another week, another independent labor investigation making us look bad. Turns out labor practices in Thai chicken farms might be as crooked as an immigration bureau in the Southern provinces, which spells bad news for a country that exports some 270,000 tons of chicken to Europe every year. How was this not spotted sooner? Apparently investigators were too concerned about the welfare of the chickens to notice the condition of the people slaughtering them.
Hot: TCDC lives // Not: GTH dies
“Creativity and quality” weren’t the first words on our lips after watching I Fine Thank You, but they’re the reasons being cited by founding GTH partner Heb Ho Hin as to why they’d rather take the film studio to its grave than float it on the Thai stock market. And on the topic of creativity, the junta debated in parliament last week whether the TCDC really warrants B50 million in public spending every year, thus setting light to a fire of social media anger. You can take our freedom, but you’ll never take our Eames coffee-table books!
Hot: Coincidence // Not: Questioning
We’re really not supposed to talk about this one, so we better tread carefully here. When two out of the three… wait, that’s not it. We can’t help but hear alarm bells when the guys who… OK, no, we’re on risky ground here again. The thing is, you’d think they’d be keeping tighter watch on such high-profile… no, no, no, no, no. On second thoughts, probably best we keep quiet this time.
Hot: Public drinking // Not: Public masturbation
Take a low-budget, seedy reality TV format from Japan, reduce the budget even further and what do you get? Thailand’s Memo 7 Sisters, in which local “web-celebs” took to Siam Square and convinced men to do the five-knuckle-shuffle in public. What’s more, these guys weren’t even drunk. Which really they have no excuse for since we’re heading into peak beer park season, when publicly leering at girls in tight nylon mini skirts practically becomes a national pastime.
Hot: Instagrammers // Not: Journalists
The Thai Journalists Association has done some research and thinks it’s figured out the problem with journalism in this country. Their conclusion: we sometimes wear shorts at press conferences, and that’s very disrespectful to the people who’ve asked us there to listen to them. But who really cares what we have to say anyway, when a person posting pictures of their dessert can get twice as many followers as a 30-strong news organization.
Hot: Beef // Not: Vegetables
Did you realize that for the past 20 years you’ve not been able to get British beef in Bangkok? No, nor did we, we were too busy tucking into Aussie wagyu at half the price. But now it’s back and it couldn’t have picked a better time since dead cow is apparently all anyone wants to eat right now. Just look at the crowds at any of the restaurants on page 6. Nice knowing you, Jay Fest.
Hot: Asia’s 50 Best 2016 // Not: BK’s Top Tables 2016
Just as TAT officially announced it was gearing up to officially announce the announcement that Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 will happen in Bangkok, someone else let the cat out of the bag. So this Feb 29, expect a culinary star-studded spectacle to roll into town as a new champion of the Asian dining scene is crowned—thus robbing our fine dining guide one month later of any anticipation.
Hot: Galleries // Not: Gallery bars
We know. Pretending to look at art while drinking Beerlaos and hooking up with drunk designers can be a whole lot more fun than actually looking at art. But hopefully Bangkok’s latest wave of art spaces—which place more emphasis on the exhibitions than they do on a nice selection of craft beers—can make us think otherwise. If not, then there’s still the relaunch of Soy Sauce Bar to try and get lucky.
Hot: Game // Not: Vegetables
OK, we give up. Jay Fest was great for a week, but now we want back our prison trays of barbecued ribs and bacon-topped wagyu burgers. Looks like this city’s fine-dining scene thinks the same. To coincide with Europe’s autumn, Savelberg, L’Appart, Water Library have blessed us with menus focused on pheasant, grouse and other buckshot-peppered beasts to sink our teeth into.
Hot: French Chinese // Not: American Chinese
So Opposite’s American-Chinese experiment at Maggie Choo’s is gone and we’ve yet to make it out of bed in time for Little Beast’s dim-sum brunch. Too bad, because now Chef Man’s Man Wai Yin has decided what we should really be eating is French-style Chinese food: lots of set courses, minimal choice for the customer, and chocolate rather than mung bean for dessert. We’re in.
Hot: Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit // Not: Mez Tharatorn
GTH has finally done it! Produced a movie that’s worth going to see. And all it took was getting on board one of the most widely acclaimed indie directors in the country. Will Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s Freelance turn into the smash they had last year with I Fine? Probably not. But then that one did have a Japanese porn star in it.
Hot: High culture // Not: Nu-metal
Every week somewhere in Bangkok, there’s a night dedicated to cover bands playing music it’s surely impossible to have any nostalgia for. This week it’s the turn of nu-metal, a genre so awful that even the people who played it hid behind masks. No thanks. Instead, we’ll be watching the musical antithesis to nu-metal at this year’s International Festival of Dance & Music.
Hot: Contradiction // Not: Investigation
Just three days after the bomb, we’d already had the police saying they’d requested international help and Prayut saying we don’t need international help; one general saying the suspect probably isn’t in the country and another saying he definitely is in the country; and the finger pointed firmly at pissed-off Uirghurs and then retracted and pointed at organized crime. Military and police spokespeople, repeat after us: “This is an ongoing investigation. We can’t comment at this time.”
Hot: Korean desserts // Not: French bakeries
So far, we’re yet to see any ham, lettuce and cheddar croissants in the windows of Paris’s boulangeries, nor mountainous slices of chocolate fudge cake wrapped in plastic. All this makes us think this city’s young business owners are a whole lot better at doing authentic Korean desserts than they are French. For the latest pastel tofu jelly specialist you’re almost guaranteed not to get a seat at, see bit.ly/1LakvB1.
Hot: French Thainess // Not: Thai Frenchness
The TAT has announced that roughly 657,500 travelers from France are expected to “come to Thailand to experience Thainess” this year. Let’s hope they leave before we pick up any more of their culture, because France is decidedly the worst thing that has ever happened to Thailand. First it was macarons. Then the name Emquartier. And finally the news that our very own Section 44 was pinched from the French Constitution of 1958. Sacrebleu.
Hot: Mink eyelashes // Not: Fur coats
It’s a hard world out there for cute, furry creatures: one minute you’re being turned into a coat for Chompoo’s Paris Fashion Week ensemble, the next you’re being shaved for the latest Korean beauty craze—mink eyelashes. At least with the latter option, you live to see another day. Find out about Bangkok’s hottest new mink-fur beauty parlor on page 22. It sure beats whitening powder made from snails.
Hot: Sex in Bangkok // Not: Sex in Singapore
For all the martial law, at least we can still screw pretty much whoever we please in this town. That’s not the case everywhere in ASEAN. Our Singapore neighbors are reportedly losing millions of pink dollars in tourism to Bangkok’s more liberal LGBT attitudes. We’ve even got the 2nd Asia LGBT Milestone Awards coming here in April. For all the other reasons to celebrate our rich and varied sex lives, turn to page 10.
Hot: Charoenkrung // Not: Phra Arthit
The party’s over on the Old Town street we love to talk about. Grumpy burger flippers, backpacker overspill and an endless string of middle-of-the-road jazz festivals mean the in-crowd have moved downtown to Charoenkrung. Act fast if you want to live the shop-housed dream while you can still afford it.