Angel City Diner – Bangkok

My rating:

Angel City Diner is the latest attempt to replicate the old-fashioned American Diner experience in Bangkok. It’s been tried a few times before, but hasn’t quite taken off. Angel City seems to be a good attempt, although the new restaurant just opened at the start of 2013 may still have some fine-tuning to do. In fact, I’m going to spend more time than I usually do talking about the ambiance of this place, because it might just be what makes or breaks the experience for you.

The restaurant does a good job of replicating the look of the classic diner, with black and white checkered floors, big leatherette booths and even jukebox controls at each table. The room is brightly lit as well, but the lighting is almost all colored, which is a bit of a problem. Colors can have a surprisingly strong effect on how we feel, and these effects are amplified when the colors are from lighting rather than just paint and fabric. Red is a particularly powerful color. “Seeing red” is more than an expression. Red is a very aggressive color. A little splash of red can add excitement to the decor, but red lights can be almost dangerous. Flashing red lights can cause seizures in some people, but even red lights that aren’t flashing can still cause feelings of anxiety or aggression. The booths at Angel City Diner are lined with red LED lights, and the overhead lights have orange-ish filters in them, giving the entire place a heave reddish cast (which is why the color is so off in the photos for this post). I was feeling on edge not long after sitting down.

The music didn’t help. While not ear-splitting, the classic rock-and-roll was still being played too loud to comfortably carry on a conversation. One of the first lessons in restaurant management I learned some 40 or so years ago was about how music can be used to manage customers. My first job way back in high school was at a family restaurant and ice cream parlor that sported an 1890s theme. The restaurant had its own soundtrack of innocuous music to fit the theme, featuring things like barbershop quartets, banjo tunes and the like. Volume could be turned up or down, but never too loud. The place also had an old fashioned player piano. Kids could bug their parents for a quarter to turn it on, but what they didn’t know was that there was a switch in the back to turn the thing on without putting any money in it. There was a very good reason for this: if the restaurant was full and there was a queue of people waiting to be seated, the manager would turn on the piano, which was loud, and a little obnoxious. Unable to carry on a conversation, people who were finished eating would quickly ask for the check. It was a simple and effective way to manage turnover, and it’s a lesson many managers never seem to learn. Given how few customers there were in Angel City Diner – at around 7:00 pm on a Saturday night – there wasn’t really a good reason for the music to be so loud.

Angel City Diner

Angel City Diner

The menu at Angel City is a very good attempt at a classic diner menu, with a variety of foods from soups and salads to burgers, sandwiches and blue plate specials. For my meal, I decided on the roast turkey blue plate special, since it’s something you don’t usually see in Bangkok outside of the holidays.

Roast Turkey

The roast turkey Blue Plate Special

The presentation was a little fancy for a diner, but it looked good. It also tasted good. The stuffing ‘sausage’ cakes were really delicious, as was the mashed potatoes. The turkey was also good, although not prepared in any special way. It may have even been a pre-cooked roll. All in, it was a good meal and a nice change from the usual Bangkok fare.

As western food restaurants go, Angel City Diner is certainly competitive. Most main dishes are 200 to 400 Baht. The blue plate specials are on the more expensive end of that range. So, the meal is going to be pricey, but certainly not expensive. The restaurant hours are expanding to eventually be open 24 hours, or close to it. Currently, they’re open before lunch time until very late at night.

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More Sweets – Bangkok

My rating:

More Sweets is a small pastry shop in the little restaurant complex of Baan Khanitha on Sukhumvit 53, which also includes Curries & Co. and the Moon Glass Wine Bar. Unlike the restaurants, the sweet shop is open all day, with a case full of cakes, crepes and what-not as well as coffee. The café wraps around an old banyan tree that sits in a little pond, with two small enclosed areas linked by an outdoor seating area.<--more-->

White Chocolate Mousse

White Chocolate Mousse and a cappuccino from More Sweets

Selecting what to have for my afternoon coffee break was a tough choice, but I finally settled on the white chocolate mousse with a hot cappuccino. The mousse was nice and light, which was exactly what I was looking for. There was a crunchy layer of almonds on the bottom as well as a delicious crust.

The prices aren’t cheap, with most of the desserts topping 100 Baht, excluding tax and service, so my little coffee break came to more than 200 Baht. See the Curries & More web site for more information.

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Chico – Bangkok

My rating:

Chico is well hidden at the end of a small lane near the very end of Sukhumvit Soi 53. The converted house holds a small Thai handicraft shop as well as the tiny café. Like many places along this street, the restaurant caters to a mainly Japanese crowd. The place was almost full of Japanese housewives with their kids when I arrived. Read more ›

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Steve Café & Cuisine – Bangkok

My rating:

I’ve noticed this restaurant on my last several trips on the river. There’s something about a Thai restaurant called “Steve” that just appeals to my penchant for quirkiness, and so when I found myself in the area, and hungry, I decided to give it a try. The restaurant is set right on the river next to the Tewet Pier, although it’s across the canal from the dock. It’s largely open-air, although there are a few inside tables and it’s all covered. Read more ›

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Kitsche Cafe and Bar – Bangkok

My rating:

Kitsche is one of several bars, coffee shops and food outlets that have taken a risk and opened at JJ Green, the latest addition to the Chatuchak market area. If you haven’t heard of JJ Green, don’t be embarrassed. It’s not a place that a foreign visitor to the market would easily stumble across. The development is somewhat removed from the market, on the other side of the Children’s Museum, in a corner carved out of Queen’s Park. It occupies half of what was once the main parking area for the market, before JJ Mall was built. Read more ›

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Dialogue Coffee and Gallery – Bangkok

My rating:

Dialogue is a new little café on Phra Sumen road not far from the Panfa Bridge and Golden Mount area. It joins the relocated Brown Sugar in what seems to be an up-and-coming neighborhood. The tiny shop-house has one wall of shelves full of books and small works by local artists, with seating for around a dozen people. Read more ›

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re-cafe – Bangkok

My rating:

This little café in an old house is one of those places you’d never know about or find unless someone tells you about it. In this case, I have a post from Nomadic Notes to thank for cluing me in about re-cafe. Read more ›

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Bangkok’s Best Sandwiches

Sandwiches are the Rodney Dangerfield of the food world, they don’t get no respect. Even burgers get ‘gourmet’ attention these days. But really, a good sandwich is a true work of art, getting just the right ingredients to go together out of what seems like a million possible combinations of bread, meat, cheese, vegetables, spreads, dressings and so on. Sure, anybody can slap together some peanut butter, jelly and white bread, but it takes real culinary genius to create something memorable. Read more ›

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Café Bicycle – Bangkok

My rating:

Café Bicycle is a new breakfast and lunch venue at the very front of the row of shop-houses that surround the Mahatun Plaza office tower. It occupies the former space of the Royal Porcelain showroom, which in fact is still there, sharing the space in a greatly reduced format. Read more ›

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New eGuide: Bangkok Museums

My latest ebook guide (the eighth AsiaForVisitors.com eguide) is now available in most on-line retailers: Read more ›

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