Anytime a new mall opens in Bangkok, it’s certain to be overcrowded with lookey-loos who think there’s something new about a mall and just want to take pictures there without actually buying anything (see Terminal 21).
Asiatique is not immune to this behavior, if anything it’s more of a draw because of its location on the riverfront and catering to Thais’ fondness for nostalgia.
Asiatique has been open a few months now, but that hasn’t stopped elbows-out aggression when trying to overcrowd it’s free shuttle boats from the pier below BTS Saphan Taksin (we took our jet ski). This mall is going to make tons of money, mainly because it does a fine job of giving Thais what they want.
Asiatique is often branded as the new Suan Lum Night Bazaar, whether it’s because of its hours of operation (5 pm to midnight daily) or that it vacuumed up several of that erstwhile retail complex’s old tenants, including the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre. But KohSpot doesn’t view it in that vein; Asiatique has more in common with Dreamworld than Suan Lum. Here is why.
There’s an old-school street car that only travels about 100 meters, and Calypso’s ladyboy cabaret will call Asiatique home as well. Whether it’s statues of old coolies near the river or the restoration of a 100-year-old home, this place has something for most Thais to feel it is “their” mall.
That doesn’t mean a farang would feel out of place here, and this place has all the usual favorites to draw in the crowds, with the exception of a movie theater. A lot of the eateries are pretty paint-by-number, but KohSpot opted for Kacha Kacha, a Japanese option located in wharf 9 near the ferry pier. It was slammed with customers so we chose to sit at the counter in front of the grill.
It was like watching short-order cooks who watched Cocktail: ingredients were flipped in the air and there was a fire show. All the employees yell a greeting at you as you sit down and there’s a chandelier made from sake bottles and spatulas. We love it, but we can also see how it might get old after a while.
Kacha Kacha is a teppanyaki joint that focuses on meat rather than seafood, and you should follow its focus. Choice dices of beef run 600 baht, while fruit-flavored sochu is 120 baht and hot sake 270 baht for a small.
KohSpot’s prognosis is that Asiatique is going to make gobs of money, especially the high-rent bars and restaurants next to the river that offer sunsets, a great view of the city skyline lit up at night, and some of the best people-watching in Bangkok. Time to party like E.T.
One final note: there is ongoing debate about whether to close the Saphan Taksin BTS station at city hall, which was intended to be a temporary station when it was built, as wrangling over the new BTS contract flares. We expect someone will be paid off and this problem will disappear like it normally does.
Location: Charoen Krung Sois 72-76. If you don’t take the shuttle boat, it’s just south of the intersection with Chan Road and has ample parking.
Mass transit: Free shuttle boat from BTS Saphan Taksin and several buses traverse Charoen Krung
Hours: 5pm to midnight daily, bars stay open until 2am or later