Running a hip café and concept eatery may be a dream business to many, but operating costs, especially high rentals, usually stand in the way in the pursuit of such grand visions. As a rule of thumb, rental costs should not exceed 20% of the total revenue for an F&B business. However, the irony is that a prime location, critical for café and restaurant business to gain foot traffic, usually commands exorbitant prices, so the economic maxim of utilizing limited resources for full benefits is clearly an ultimate goal for all operators.
At some of Bangkok’s trendiest districts in Ari, Sukhumvit, Silom, and Old Town, Kooper has uncovered eight aspirational small cafés and restaurants that cleverly turn their limited space into a flourishing business, without compromising their unique and inviting character.
Kutte / Ochazuke in an old guard house
Taking the form of a tiny metal kiosk at The Yard Hostel, Kutte utilizes a space the size of a guardhouse to serve ochazuke, a Japanese dish made by pouring dashi soup over cooked rice. A bowl of this wholesome dish, which comes topped with many choices of ingredients such as tempura chicken, teriyaki pork and grilled saba, can be enjoyed in the lush communal garden.
Location: Soi Phahonyothin 5
The Local Canteen / Local eats in a brick shelter
In Soi Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra 3, a short walk from Chong Nonsi BTS Station is The Local Canteen, a street food-inspired concept eatery catering to the residents as well as busy executives working in the Silom and Sathon business districts. A skylight roof lets in an abundance of natural light, while hanging plants add a touch of greenery to the simple yet welcoming space decked out with light-colored wood, white walls and neutral tones. There are two kitchens, one a noodle-cooking station at front and the other at the rear serving Thai favorites.
Location: Soi Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra 3
Flat Marble / Chef’s table in a car park
At this glasshouse restaurant nestled in a parking lot in the back streets of Ari, the dining experience revolves around the white marble counter – the centerpiece that the little restaurant is named after. There’s only room for 10 diners at a time, which makes the dining experience very intimate as guests sip a glass of wine while watching the chefs at work from behind the counter, crafting artfully plated dishes made from a monthly rotating list of premium ingredients.
Location: Soi Pahonyothin 9
Coffee No.9 / Ari’s favorite coffee stand
The passion of owner slash barista Thun Tharntharin really shines at this small café with a great reputation. Located at the corner of A-One Ari in Soi Ari 1, this compact kiosk serves up coffee for caffeine lovers in an informal setting— you can either stand and sip your espresso by the windows or sit down with a cup of cappuccino and watch the world go by. As well, its tiny size offers plenty of opportunities to strike up a conversation with the barista.
Location: A-One Ari, Soi Ari 1
Table X | Fine dining behind a car park
Tucked at the rear of Piyawan Tower in Soi Ari is Table X, a 16-square-meter private dining restaurant that serves only six guests a day, so advance booking is highly recommended. Chef Moo – or Chepvut Kupsirikul – who owns this tiny glass spot creates seasonal French and Chinese specialties from an eclectic selection of premium ingredients. The intimate setting also sparks good conversations that are as memorable as the food created by the highly experienced chef.
Location: Soi Ari 1
Banya Honten / An Izakaya famed for its shellfish
With a menu spanning more than 300 choices of dishes including shellfish and odeng, it’s no wonder that Banya Hoten is never short of patrons. Advance reservation is highly recommended to nab a seat at this small izakaya, which also features a cool bar that welcomes walk-in guests.
Location: Soi Sukhumvit 26
Mother Roaster, a pocket coffee bar for old-town lovers
What’s astounding about Mother Roaster is not only its diminutive size (it has just two barstools) but that it’s helmed by a 70-year-old barista and owner who takes care of everything, from roasting and grinding beans to dripping and brewing cuppas. The plus side of the tiny space, though, is that you can chat and share stories with the seasoned barista – if she’s not too busy taking orders from the long queues.
Location: Maha Phruttharam road, near Hua Lamphong station
Paco Smoothie, a petite café for healthy hipsters
Made from carefully selected imported ingredients, every bowl of smoothie at Paco Smoothie Café is jam-packed with healthy goodness – sugar-free, gluten-free and contains no additives. The combination of vibrant colors and creative plating turn each bowl into edible pieces of art, and certainly add ‘flavors’ to the superfood experience.
Location: Soi Sukhumvit 31