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Bangkok is a VERY busy, hectic city. This sometimes comes as a shock to people who visit for the first time, particularly those not accustomed to city life. It only makes sense that inevitably there will be restaurants that reflect the frenetic pace of Bangkok living. Banrie Coffee Shop is a PERFECT mirror to Bangkok life - its rough, extremely busy, loud, and an assault on the senses, but it is also fun, entertaining, definitively Thai and surprisingly good if you know what you to expect.
If you are seeking 5 star service in an immaculate environment Banrie Coffee Shop is not for you. If you are in the mood for a good time, with great food but don't mind a rowdy environment and having to call (maybe twice) your server when you need something then you should visit.
Open 24 hours this mainstay of the Ekamai area is located on the corner of Sukhumvit road and soi 63. It is a 1 minute walk from the Ekamai BTS station, exit 1. It's right next to a big Honda dealership should you require a landmark.
Thai is the cuisine of choice but Banrie Coffee Shop also has an extensive seafood menu and a small but selective Japanese selection. This being representative of the very large Japanese expat population in the area. Beer and wine are the most popular refreshments but cocktails are available. The beer towers are fun, with Carlsberg, Asahi, and Singha available in large cooled towers but bottles and jugs are available. The wine selection is pretty good and not too overpriced.
We stuck with traditional Thai fare for our review with a little northeastern Thai or ISSAN food thrown in as well. Our menu was an extremely spicy Thai papaya salad (somtum), Grilled Chicken (Gai Yang) with sticky rice (Khow Niew), Grilled Prawns (Gung Ping) with two spicy sauces for dipping, Crab curry (Phoo Pad Pong Galee), Spicy Lemongrass soup with prawns (Tom Yum Gung). Full disclosure - we also had a beer tower of Carlsberg followed by a couple jugs of the same.
The menu is large, featuring pictures of most dishes, so point and order is easy for those who don't speak Thai. Some of the staff can speak English well, just take it slow when speaking and remember to stay calm (jai yen yen) everyone will have a better time for it.
We arrived around 18:00 on a Saturday and it was already getting full. Reservations are recommended on any night just to be safe. Lunch is also busy with most people wishing to sit inside to avoid the hot weather so seats are limited.
The first band of the evening started at 19:00 (7 PM) and played for about an hour. Mostly Thai pop songs with a few classics thrown in. They played 1 or 2 western songs and this particular band was taking requests. Simply flag down your waitress and she will handle this for you. A large screen TV was showing the Liverpool V Swansea match that night. No sound but good enough to follow along if you are a fan. Liverpool lost that night BTW :( A second band started around 22:00 (10 PM).
We had a great time. The entire restaurant was full when we left with diners arriving constantly looking for a seat. The staff accommodate as best they can but our advice is to walk right up to any empty table you see and sit down if there is no reserved sign on it instead of waiting around for someone to help you...not that kind of place.
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