With its ping-pong and pool tables, post-industrial open kitchen and stretch bar, Chinois furnishings and original Thai-Chinese modern artwork hangings, CHOW Café Bar feels like the common room of an internet start-up.
New York loft and SOHO bar styles are referenced in the publicity blurb, as is the pithy “bistrotheque”, acknowledging both its dining and all-night audio cred.
Doubling up as the in-house diner for the boutique Metropole Hotel, commanding the corner of Thonglor and New Petchburi, an essential element in Bangkok’s boho-chic pleasure firmament, and a potential venue for parties, the place never closes.
The official culinary catch-all is “Continental Pan Pacific Social Food”, a style rooted in the San Francisco Bay Area Amerasian multi-culture, with predominantly Koreans, Thais, Chinese and Latinos all borrowing from each other. Hence curious, yet undeniably delicious, kimchi quesadillas, Sichuan steak bombs and on.
You can snack on small plates with bevies or make it your whole breakfast, lunch, supper or dinner with salads, soups, main dishes, desserts and all-day breakfasts.
With most dishes Bt150++-250++ baht, it’s affordable indulgence.
If the label is a bit of a mouthful, there’s nothing complicated about the actual food, emphasizes GM Michael Lin, himself a Bay Area homey.
“CHOW’s style is Asian inspired with American influences — you grow up with it on both the west and east coasts.”
Lucky them — and us too, given these bold, fresh, subtly layered flavours.
Asian Nachos (220) pit wonton chips with a hot, mildly spicy and cheesy tomato dip.
Crab Rangoon (250) pairs won ton chips with melted cream cheese and marinated crab meat in a sweet spicy sauce.
Salmon Avocado Cups (300) blends fresh salmon and avocado slices with chili, lime and black sesame, with tortilla chips to scoop up the riotous cocktail of texture and flavour.
CHOW’s signature Lo-Mein Noodles is a one plate wonder of thick egg noodles, shitake mushrooms, bell peppers, carrot, onion and bok choy, added with spicy chicken, Mongolian beef, pork or shrimp.
Creamy Chili Pasta (240), with its baby clams, light cream, chili paste, basil, and cherry tomatoes, is a fine rendition of a familiar favourite.
Pot Stickers (250) are outsize, American-style Japanese gyoza or Chinese Jiaozi (literally “stuck to the work”). With their succulent minced pork, leek and scallion dumpling fillings, they are steamed then lightly fried before serving with soya vinegar sauce.
Beef Broccoli (280) is another revelation with its multi Asian herb margination, simmered in rice wine and fine soya sauce.
The lady chef, Ms. Pairoh ‘Joke’ Arunnam, is ever-inventive. Recently added is a fancy kind of rice soup with chicken and quail egg and a long, doughy Chinese donut stick for dunking. A fish taco is imminent and don’t be surprised to see trendy noodle burgers soon.
The bar is well stocked with vodkas, rums, tequilas, gins, blended scotches, single malts, bourbons and whiskys, plus craft beers like Japanese kirin.
Cocktails, especially punch bowls for four-six, combining whole bottles of a spirit and wine, served in a chic Chinese blue and white china bowl with a ladle, at around 2,000 baht, outperform. Napalm Bowl (2,300) muddles Beefeater 24 dry gin, orange juice bitters, elderflower syrup, passionfruit, lime, fruit slices, and prosecco.
DJs spin varied soundtracks from 9pm to the wee hours every evening except Mondays.
Tel. 02 318 2273, 083 601 0009.