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Our first new kid on the block this month is also the largest — Ministry of Sound, the only branch of the famous London club that opened in 1991 and has been one of the worldwide leaders in modern dance music. Bangkok’s version is on Sukhumvit Soi 12 and just opened on December 14. The 3,000 square meter space is on two floors and an enclosed indoor balcony overlooking the main dance floor. The capacity is officially 2,600 when all of the areas are fully utilized.
The ground floor, accommodating about 800 people, will focus on the latest house and garage music while the second floor will offer trance and other progressive styles of music to 1,400 people. The gallery, as the enclosed balcony is known, is reserved for up to 400 Ministry Members and special guests.
About one hundred and fifty million baht was spent on the whole project and the rumor is that 30 million alone went to the sound and lighting system which is rather impressive.
You can actually feel the music as well as hear it and the lasers and lights create some pretty spectacular effects also. The club claims to have the largest sound system in the city and they’re probably right.
DJs Andy Chow from Hong Kong and Fubar from the U.K. will be the resident DJs and will be joined by guest DJs from time to time. Both Andy and Fubar started their careers in 1988 and both have played in some of the major dance clubs in the world. They will be joined on January 18 by Danny Rampling, the internationally renowned DJ and producer, so if you’re in town then, stop by for what should be a great performance.
Our second new kid is a completely different type of place that caters to a slightly older audience with a totally different musical genre: classic rock from the 60s and 70s. The name of the place is The Office Bar & Grill and their goal is to present the finest selection of classic rock in Bangkok and they’re well on the way towards doing that. A few more visits are in order before a verdict is handed down but it looks like they’ll take the cake.
This three-level place is not really large but has more of a cozy atmosphere and features a pool and snooker table on the mezzanine as well as an international and Thai menu in the second floor dining rooms. The owners are a pair of genial Aussies with lots of food and beverage experience and their professional attitude has resulted in a well-run club that has good service in addition to the other positive attributes that are here.
Speaking of positive attributes, we can’t overlook the large number of beautiful women who are on hand to serve the food and drinks and generally provide good company. And a word about the prices, which are very reasonable especially the draft Carlsberg which is priced at only 59 baht all day and is the lowest price we remember seeing for it anywhere. Check out The Office only if you’re interested in pretty women, good food, cheap beer and great rock and roll.
Our last, but not least, new kid is La Nina, a rebirth of El Nino, one of the city’s first big Latino clubs that opened two years ago. The overall theme is still present but there have been some significant cahnges also.
First, the food is new with a mix of Asian influenced dishes along with western cuisine that leaves diners with lots of interesting choices. Second, the live music is different, with a pop/jazz/funk band known as The Return Of Jackie Wow playing every night starting at 10 PM.
The music starts out with some somewhat quieter material such as “Smooth Operator” by Sade and “Killing Me Softly” by Roberta Flack in the first set and then winds up a little more into dance material as the night progresses. Their treatment of all the songs they do is tinged with bits of Latin, jazz and funk that gives pop songs more of an interesting slant to them than normal.
The layout of this large club is quite well thought out with the long rectangular room presenting a quieter atmosphere on one end with the bandstand and large dance floor at the other and a bar in between. You can be near the band if you want or in a quieter area near the back.
And upstairs, which is connected to the lower level by a central spiral staircase, is a very nice cigar room that is presenting Nicaraguan cigars along with a good selection of brandies and ports. You can relax in comfort here and still hear the music below. This place could turn out to be a good “supperclub” location where you can go for dinner and stay the whole night listening and dancing to the music or relaxing upstairs with a fine cigar. A fresh start has certainly made La Nina an interesting destination.
Livening up the entertainment scene on Sukhumvit Road are two relatively new bars that present distinctively different atmospheres for their guests. Wall Street on Sukhumvit Soi 33 and Living Room in Clinton Plaza on Sukhumvit Road have both opened or restyled themselves in the last several months and all are doing well.
Wall Street is a basic bar with plenty of hostesses, good music, an upstairs karaoke/pool room and a genial owner named Rick.
A novelty here is the lighted display on the wall that quotes market prices froWall Street.jpgm the “stock market” that determine what the drink prices will be for each 20 minute period. It’s actually a computer program that changes the prices either up or down so if you time your drinking right you can always be ordering during the “bull” run when prices are lower. It’s like a happy hour that lasts all night. This is a great place for a relaxed drink or three beofre you move on to other pursuits.
Move on over to Clinton Plaza between Soi 13 and Soi 15 on Sukhumvit Road and you come across Living Room, a place that has come under relatively new management and has prospered since. Living Room features a lot of different attractions starting (in our minds, anyway) with a great sports viewing room which is easily the best in Bangkok. The huge projection screen is exceptionally clear, there’s surround sound and the seating is all comfortably upholstered booths. So if you don’t want to miss any Premier League games, the NFL or whatever, here’s the place to watch them. Make sure you call ahead and book a booth, however, because for important matches there’s usually quite a crowd here and seating is limited.
You can also play pool here, get something to eat or just have a drink and listen to classic rock from 5-9 PM or modern dance tunes from 9 onwards.
There are also plans to present live music on a regular basis in the near future (and it may be there by now, however, at our press time it was not confirmed).
For a different nighttime club and dining experience, there’s a reliable place worth visiting that is a bit of an oasis in the storm of Bangkok’s swirling nightlife scene. Woodstock offers guests good rock and roll, food and pool as well as a comfortable, friendly atmosphere in the midst of the Nana Entertainment Complex on Sukhumvit Soi 4.
Woodstock has been a fixture in the Bangkok nightlife scene for almost 17 years now and is popular with tourists and expats alike, offering guests an interesting mixture of rock music, American-style food and pool tables, along with a foosball table and three TVs for sports viewing.
The menu at Woodstock is large and covers a lot of ground but the specialty here is burgers, big, juicy ones in particular. There are 15 different varieties including Thai and Italian versions as well as the Black ‘n da Blues entry. You’ll have to visit to find out what that one’s all about, but they’re all good and have won some awards from local publications as being the best in Bangkok. They’re the reason why a lot of locals visit on a regular basis.
Also on the menu are a number of Tex-Mex dishes, steaks, stews and lots of sandwiches. The Tex-Mex dishes include burritos, enchiladas, chili and several others. There’s a good T-Bone steak here also, that’s literally one of the best in town and at a price (430 baht) that can’t be beat. And the chef can either grill it or blacken it Cajun style. Speaking of Cajun, you’ll find a decent gumbo here as well with oysters and sausage. And if you go in with a Thai companion, you’ll find plenty of Thai dishes too, if that’s their preference.
And while you’re eating or playing pool, you can listen to some of the best rock music in the city spiced up with a little blues and R&B here and there also. Most of the music seems to come from the 60s and 70s but there’s also a fair amount from later on, so it’s not a complete nostalgia trip, but don’t look for and disco, techno, boy bands or rap crap here because you won’t find any. The place does have standards after all!
The overall atmosphere here is just like a neighborhood bar (or pub) back home, friendly and relaxed, and the cute female servers are warm and hospitable.
This place will provide you with a good time and give you good value for your money, too. There’s a happy hour from noon til 7 PM when you can get beer for only 60 baht and the prices are reasonable all the time. Drop in and have some fun.