Soi Thonglor today sn't just 'another street', having gone through renovation and a thorough facelift with restaurants, pubs, spas and wedding studios lining both sides of the street, each trying to woo customers with their unique presentation.
Soi Sukhumvit 55, commonly referred to as `Soi Thonglor' is part of the district of Watthana in Bangkok and a popular meeting place where restaurants in this part of the city are designed to woo the 'high-end' clientele. This is also a favorite spot with Bangkok's expatriates as it is conveniently located in the heart of the city and served by public transport including cars and 'sky trains'. People who frequent Thonglor vary from students meeting on 'unhurried days', office workers passing their time reading books in coffee shops, and expats enjoying meals in plush restaurants.
In the early hours of the morning, Soi Thonglor may revert to its more mundane pace with only a few fruit stalls that start arranging displays of stunning, imported fruits at the top of the soi; a sight ihai is increasingly rare in Bangkok where neighborhood groceries have given way to superstores. Nevertheless, the very sight of people carefully choosing their purchases against a backdrop of flowing traffic serves to remind both commuters and pedestrians of the simplicity of early-morning Soi Thonglor that has always been part of the Bangkokian lifestyle.
Mainly due to the hustle and bustle of city life, Bangkok residents tend to seek a less hectic environment these days. Thus, as a response to the lifestyle of the younger generation, the Market Place, a modern and convenient shopping center, was set up. Nophpon Witounhat, executive chairman of Siam Future Development Plc, which is behind the emergence of the shop¬ping center, explained the concept behind Market Place is its design as a `cormunity shopping center' founded to respond to the needs of city dwellers as a substitute for conventional markets and shop houses.Market Place in Soi Thonglor 3 has much to offer with international restaurants, fast food outlets and a supermarket. The clientele includes office workers who lead a very active and energetic life as can be seen during a coffee break at Starbucks where colleagues exchange opinions on the latest movies before they rush back to work or after-office-hour socializing amongst friends at Pola Pola Cafe on the 2 Floor of Market Place, or a visit to the pizzeria where pizzas are served fresh from a large, wood-fired oven.Another shopping center in the Market Place family, J Avenue, in a nearby location, sits on four-rai (about one-and-a-half acres) of land in Soi Thonglor 15 opposite Thong Lor municipality police station. It was built based on the Japanese ideas of shopping centers where size comes second in priority to convenience, cleanliness and outdoor shade for those who like to stay close to nature; an approach that proves to be particularly popular. The pleasant evening breeze and colored fairy lights that hang from the trees in the compound gives the place a romantic ambiance ideal for lovers.
Another factor contributing to the attraction of J Avenue is the ready amenities available to customers with different needs. These include a supermarket, fashion outlets. a music school,home-made bakes and ice cream and high-end restaurants, especially the Japanese restaurant located there to accommodalit the local Japanese community.The varied and well proportionate, coupled with chic interior design, tends to be the cutting edge for business operators competing in Soi Thonglor. Moussesberry is an integration of a cool, home-made ice cream shop in the fashion of iberry and great bakery at Mousses & Meringues where mouthwatering desserts in the coziest of atmospheres proves to be a favorite with both the young and old as they keep dropping in. Ootoya, the Japanese restaurant that is known for its health food, is particu¬larly popular with lady patrons who, while health-conscious, are reluctant to sacrifice tasty cuisine. At Ootoya, patrons have the double pleasure of enjoying both the food and J Avenue's beautiful surroundings if they happen to be sitting next to the huge glass windows.Soi Thonglor has more to offer than chic shops. Simple eateries offer such basic dishes as exquisite chicken risottowhich is delicious beyond words and popular with customers of all genders and ages, including movie stars.Opposite J Avenue Shopping Arcade is a Hainanese restau¬rant called Buntongkiat also made -famous by its chicken risotto arid Singaporean lak cha. The restaurant at the top of Soi Thong lor 16 is obviously another popular venue given the long queue of customers, thanks to its signature dish and the beautifully beige rice. The secret of the exceptional taste of khao man kai is the ingredients and butter that lends the yellowish hue to the rice. Likewise, the chicken is beautifully yellowish, the skin particularly greasy as the whole chicken is cooked in the same kind of broth used in boiling rice. The signature dish is served accompanied by a choice of three condiments - Thai-style fermented soya beans, red, pounded chili and blended ginger with salt. to please ail taste buds.Even at night, Soi Thonglor is a world of lights with people thronging the street as they spend hours relaxing after a long day at work. Lovers enjoy one another's company in the romantic ambiance of an Italian restaurant under a big canopy; friends hang out together once a month at the home-made ice cream joint. The street welcomes visitors from dusk to dawn, and never retires until the last visitor has departed. Only then will the lights dim on Soi Thonglor as it anxiously waits to greet the first visitorsof a new day.