Shopping Guide - Fastfood Outlets, Coffee Shops and Bakeries
Fast food, bread and the like :
McDonald's can be found all around town. Other burger fast food restaurants have not fully developed, so you will have to stick to this one. Prices are in our opinion quite low, but have increased faster than inflation the last few years. There are many Pizza outlets around town, the two most available being Pizza Hut and the Pizza Company. Their wares are very similar, and when compared to McDonald's their prizes are much higher. Burger King has some outlets in Bangkok.
The Thai diet is based on rice. Bakeries are kind of there for foreigners. As far as we know there are few bakeries where one can purchase standard 'usual' fresh bread. At most 7-Elevens you can buy very soft industsrial bread, we will not mention the brand, but it is rather awful. Furthermore, standard bread bought can be palatable, but often is sweetened with honey and sugar.
Possibly the best choice for your daily shopping for bread and rolls, is the Central Food Hall at Central Chitlom. The Food Hall way up at Central World PLaza (Ratchaprasong Intersection), offers a similar variety of rolls, croissants, bagels, bread etc. Bagels are slightly sweetened. Specialty bread items like Foccacia are a bit salty.
Bakery outlets at Tops supermarkets offer a reasonable selection. Although mostly junk Danish (with often mayonnaise on top) is sold, you can find fresh bread products, bagels and rolls.
Some branches of Villa Market (like the original one opposite Emporium Shopping Complex) also have fresh bakery products.
The Gourmet Markets both at Emporium and Siam Paragon sadly have very little to offer. Granted, a lot of 'bread' products are sold outside Gourmet Market at Siam Paragon, but most of it belongs in the junk food category.
Almost by accident we found a reasonably good bakery in Sukhumvit Soi 19. It is called Grottino, and located in the first small soi to the left when entering soi 19. Basically the soi behind Robinson Department Store. This soi is a bit crowded and less than appealing, but you will find Grottino on the left after just 100 meters. Just go into the restaurant, and ask for the breadlist. They have a fair selection of rye bread, multigrain bread, and various rols. Basically they supply pubs and hotels, but will be happy to sell you their wares. It is not what they call a 'warm bakery' in Europe, where the bread is made overnight and fresh in the morning, and the bread invariably comes out of the refrigerator. Anyway, it is quite good.
Good bagels can be found at Au Bon Pain outlets. Au Bon Pain nowadays has many locations around Bangkok.
Cookies and the pastries at Au Bon Pain do not contain trans fatty acids, and thus are healthier than what is available at other bakeries. However, you still have to beware of the fat contained in the generous sandwich toppings. Au Bon Pain has an ABP Privilege Card, which is actually good value if you are a regular customer. You have to pay 200 baht to get it, but afterwards you are entitled to a discount of 10% on what you buy (and there are some added small discounts or promotions from time to time).
Coffee at Au Bon Pain is quite good, though not as cheap as it once was.
Reasonable, somewhat sweetened bagels can be found at Villa Market (close to Phromphong skytrain station). They can last for up to five days (if your lucky), likely they contain additives to prevent early spoiling.
Danish rolls and baked goods (except at outlets of Au Bon Pain) are a bit of a disaster. Just looking at the contraptions will make you loose your appetite. Somehow though, they seem to be popular with Thai people. You will find Danish with mayonnaise spread out on top. One of the few times we got a stomach upset in Bangkok, was after eating some pastry with custard inside, so just beware a bit. We understand heart disease is on the rise in Thailand. Some bakery shop owners are accumulating bad karma by providing less than wholesome products.
Subway has a few outlets in Bangkok. There is one at Siam Paragon, one at the entrance of Sukhumvit road Soi 23, one at the lower end of Sukhumvit Road.
Sandwiches with meat, turkey, chicken, and with a choice of fresh vegetables. Variety of egg sandwiches for breakfast. Not too bad cheap coffee. Daily promotions. Weak point is the soft bread sandwich bread, 5 varieties, but with similar textures and taste. Salads (without the bread) are a bit more expensive, but a better option. Some menu items have been developed that contain less than 6 grams of fat.
Actually good fresh bread can be found at certain Indian and Arab restaurants. If you walk around soi 3 or soi 5 of Sukhumvit road, where lots of Arab restaurants are located, you may find a place where they bake flat Arab bread outside. Get some portions of hummus and you will have a decent meal.