Stickman's Weekly Column April 24th, 2022

The Best Breakfast


I know my morning muesli is good for me but it’s hardly an exciting start to the day. I’d love to start the day with a good old-fashioned fry up, a real cooked English breakfast, but while I enjoy cooking, I don’t care to spend mornings in the kitchen. So for me, trips to Thailand are when I make up for lost time and enjoy a cooked breakfast, usually a couple of times per week. When it comes to a good cooked breakfast in Thailand, you’re spoiled for choice.

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Robing Hood, big breakfast, 399 baht.

Robin Hood, Sukhumvit soi 33/1, big breakfast, 399 baht.

A couple of weeks back a friend sent a snap of the big breakfast at the Robin Hood. He was delighted with it and suggested that I ask readers to send in a snap of their favourite breakfast. Plenty of you responded.

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Irish Rovers American brekfast, 119 baht, Soi LK Metro, Pattaya.

Irish Rovers American breakfast, 119 baht, Soi LK Metro, Pattaya.

The first snap came from Reader Tim who enjoyed the American breakfast at the Irish Rovers on Soi LK Metro. Tim mentioned that it included juice and a choice of coffee or tea – and that the pancakes were really  good.

I really like the setting outside the Irish Rovers in the middle of Soi LK Metro, watching the soi wake up. What a great way to start the day!

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Big breakfast at The Kilkenny, 165 baht, Soi LK Metro, Pattaya.

Big breakfast at The Kilkenny, 165 baht, Soi LK Metro, Pattaya.

Reader Andrew sent in this snap from The Kilkenny, also on Soi LK Metro, directly opposite the Irish Rovers. (see the photo above and you can see The Kilkenny in the background). The packaged hash browns aside, this looks like a great breakfast – good sized portion and the sausages and bacon look decent. I’d wolf it down in no time!

Andrew mentioned that this breakfast in Pattaya works out ~30% cheaper than the equivalent at your typical ‘greasy spoon’ cafe in Northern England.

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O'Brien's Sukhumvit soi 33/1, Bangkok - choose any 7 items, 199 baht.

O’Brien’s Sukhumvit soi 33/1, Bangkok – choose any 7 items, 199 baht.

Reader Paul sent in a shot of his breakfast from O’Brien’s, one of a few Irish and British pubs in Bangkok which offers 7 choices for 199 baht breakfast, a novel idea which allows you to choose the things you like and avoid those you don’t. In my case, it would be black pudding, followed by commercially produced hash browns. I know many don’t care for baked beans. It’s a great way to get what you like and not what you don’t.

Paul mentioned it is nice to be able to sit outside and watch the office ladies going to work. He also mentioned that O’Brien’s has very friendly staff. And he made an excellent point about the fully stocked condiment tray, noting that there is nothing worse than having to find a waitress for every little thing.

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Breakfast at Royal Oak, Sukhumvit soi 33/1.

Reader Y enjoys breakfast most weeks at the Royal Oak, also in Sukhumvit soi 33/1 and also offering the 7 breakfast options for 199 baht with a coffee included.

I’m not sure I would go for French fries for breakfast but if that’s what reader Y enjoys, all power to him. And is that black pudding? Reader Y, you’ve got to be a Brit!

Reader Y noted that the breakfast was good value for money and tasty.

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Breakfast at The Brickhouse, Udon Thani. 220 baht.

Breakfast at The Brickhouse, Udon Thani. 189 baht.

Reader G (Khun G and Khun Y mentioned above both have less common names, hence I have not used their full name, so as not to reveal their identity) enjoyed this breakfast at The Brickhouse in Udon Thani this past week and said it was pretty good. It looks filling!

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Breakfast at the old faithful in Udon Thani, The Irish Clock. 220 baht.

Breakfast at the old faithful in Udon Thani, The Irish Clock. 220 baht.

Reader G is obviously a big fan of cooked breakfasts and sent in this snap from the old standby in Udon Thani, the Irish Clock. The bar used to include breakfast free with the room, if my memory serves me right. The last time I stayed there must be 10+ years ago. It was a nice place to stay – and I distinctly remember the bed was very comfortable and the breakfast very good.

I have to say that I really like the look of this. The bacon looks good, as does the sausage. The eggs are cooked the way I like them and call me odd, but I just didn’t like the look of eggs dropped in to one of those round shapes so they come out in a perfect circle. The potato looks like a homemade hash brown (which is always so much better than a commercially produced version) and the coffee looks like a big mug. This looks really good to me – probably the pick of all the breakfasts here to my eyes – and I’d be delighted if I ordered this.

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15 Palms, Ko Chang, 235 baht.

15 Palms, Ko Chang, 235 baht.

Reader Steve is a keen fan of cooked breakfasts and sent this snap from Ko Chang. It looks decent but again – and feel free to call me fussy – I don’t care for that triangular-shaped hash brown.

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Robin Hood, early riser special, just 99 baht.

Robin Hood, early riser special, just 99 baht.

Reader Andrew who enjoyed The Kilkenny breakfast in Pattaya also sent in this snap of the early bird special from The Robin Hood. All of this is just 99 baht and that includes coffee or tea, which makes it a fabulous deal. Remember, this is central Bangkok. The quality looks good and this plate would be more than enough to fill me up. It should be noted that Robin Hood also has a medium breakfast option, at 299 baht.

Don’t let the idea of early bird special put you off – this deal is actually available through until midday. Amazingly, it has been this price for as long as I can remember – must be 10 years or so that they’ve kept it at this price. 99 baht is a bargain, and a reminder that Bangkok has some great deals and you don’t have to head to Pattaya for a sub-100 baht bargain fry up.

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The best local cooked breakfast in my part of NZ. $NZ 25 = about 560 baht. Coffee not included and would be 100 baht more!

Cooked breakfast in my part of New Zealand. $NZ 26 / about 585 baht. Coffee not included.

To put these breakfasts in perspective, here is my favourite local cooked breakfast. I only go out for a cooked breakfast here about once a year. I don’t think any of the British pubs are open early so when I do feel like a cooked breakfast, it’s off to a local cafe.

This photo is a little deceptive in that I don’t think it shows just how big the plate is – it’s a LOT of food and can be a struggle to finish it. Its top notch quality with bacon and sausages from an award-winning butchery. The downside is the price. This plate will set you back $NZ 26 which at current exchange rates is about 585 baht – and that does NOT include coffee. Add a cup of coffee and you’re up to $NZ 31, or about 700 baht. This is not a fancy place and a similar breakfast will cost you much the same elsewhere. It’s a reminder of just what a bargain cooked breakfasts in Thailand are.

*  A special thanks to all readers who sent in these photos.

 

 

Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken near the corner of Sukhumvit Road and soi 11, looking back towards the Nana BTS station. You can assume any photo included in this section is somewhere in central or downtown Bangkok, unless otherwise stated.

 

Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails Of The week

Banning Songkran celebrations in Thailand is like banning fireworks on Independence Day.

In the United States, many 4th of July fireworks celebrations were canceled in 2020. What did Americans do? Private citizens went out and bought enormous amounts of fireworks. Our neighborhood looked like WW III had erupted with all the fireworks going off. It was insane! It would have been safer had the city just put on the normal fireworks display. I’m not surprised many Thais seemed to ignore the government’s ban on water battles. Songkran is a very important celebration for the Thais, just as the 4th of July is a very important day for Americans.

Quietest Songkran ever.

Songkran here in Udon Thani was extremely restrained. Visiting relatives south of Udon the other day was ONLY rot nam and sai sin. Only one 6-year-old kid in the family even tried tossing water. Nary a single person out tossing water along the roads and streets. Nary a night-time thump thump thump of parties in the evening. No drunken wai loon racing by on unmuffled motorbikes. Quietest I’ve ever seen it in 24 years living between Udon, Bangkok and Vientiane.

Snow and Songkran, what a mix!

Happy Easter, happy Songkran. The Thai temples in Chicago all have events planned for today but I’m told none include water splashing events. It’s still fairly cold in Chicago this year…we even had snow a couple of days ago. Not a good time to have a bucket of water thrown at you!

Thailand is still Thailand.

I set up a ThaiFriendly profile just before my flight from Europe. Had 50 likes before I was out of quarantine. Got out just before midnight so had to schedule a girl for the next day. Instead, I walked into one of the Hillary bars. In less than a minute I heard, “I go with you?” Only did beers the first night. Second night was with the TF girl (let it be known she expected a “tip” but amount “up to you”). And have seen her every day since, including normal dates. I’ve stayed faithful to the TF girl, but walking around lower Sukhumvit the opportunities for a naughty are relentless. Everything is available, often on the down-low (still blatant by the standards of the rest of the world). BJ bars have the door open but nobody outside. Gogos are upstairs only but at least at Crazy House you can still play gynaecologist with the girls, or barfine them. Normal bars switch to serving “coffee” after 11 PM, but for example there are farangs sitting outside Lek’s Last Stand directly on Sukhumvit Road, not a side soi, at 5 AM drinking pints of “coffee” so it’s hardly a secret. Pharmacies still don’t need a prescription for Sildenafil. People are still sitting side-saddle on two-wheelers with no helmet (they do wear Covid masks to “stay safe” though). Anyone for whom this isn’t enough is just jaded.

What happened to Madrid?

I read that Madrid in Patpong has closed and relocated. If this is true, would you know where they are now located? I’ve been drinking and eating (Madrid Special pizzas) there since the mid 80’s on my bi-annual trips, however Covid stopped that. Part of Madrid’s attraction was its ambience late evenings. When you walked inside the big door, stepping in to the air-conditioning and dimmed lights from all the outside madness, there were the same friendly faces. <Madrid in Patpong soi 1 closed several months back and moved down to Charoen Krung Road, a short taxi ride from its previous location Stick>

The future of soi 7.

Regarding the soi 7 bar complex, I’m sure it was only supposed to be a temporary thing and those bars look more permanent than was envisaged, especially by those building the big structure on the opposite side of the road! Pre-Covid, I heard the soi 7 bar area was to be a condo-block once the paperwork etc. was completed.

Billboard and Twister on fire.

I can report that Billboard’s recruiters did an outstanding job recently. Yes, they were open but it was barely worth going in if your main reason to visit is to see beautiful women. Suddenly, right about the start of Songkran, the place was packed with gorgeous new faces. Now you can hardly find a place to stand. Having said that, Twister is currently the place to go, in my opinion, to see beautiful, young, friendly Thai women. I don’t know what the count is but on any given night there must be at least 50 ladies on stage dancing and working the crowd, probably more, and they definitely have an appearance standard higher than other joints. The place is swarming with talent.

 

Find her at Whiskey & Go go.

Find her at Whiskey & Go Go.

 

This Week’s News & Views

This week Thailand took a big step towards attracting more visitors when it announced that as of May 1st, no tests will be required before or on arrival for vaccinated tourists, with antigen tests recommended only if a visitor develops symptoms in Thailand. Unvaccinated tourists will still have to quarantine for 5 days and take an RT-PCR test on the 4th day. All tourists, however, will still be required to register and obtain a QR code from the Thailand Pass website and pre-purchase US$10,000 in health insurance. It’s expected that these last restrictions will end, possibly as early as May 15, but, more likely, June 1. More details can be found here.

In addition to the Thai government killing off the confusing Test & Go / Sandbox schemes this week, it was quietly announced that alcohol can now be sold until midnight in restaurants – and bars masquerading as restaurants. This starts May 1st. It’s welcome news, obviously, but the reality is that many bar areas are already open until midnight, if not later. Local police currently allow Soi Cowboy bars to stay open until 1 AM (with Penny Black open much later) and Nana Plaza has been partying until 12:30 AM some nights. Permission to stay open until midnight should be a big positive for the likes of the British pubs and sports bars.

Nana Plaza’s rebirth continued apace this week with the reopening of Mandarin, the opening of new bar Rainbow 69 and the relaunch of Geisha.

Mandarin reopened with a soft launch with ladies decked out in dresses or a revealing shorts / bra combo. They had about 20 girls on Friday and so many people that they had to turn customers away. No seats. But apparently the mamasan got all the girls so drunk on Friday night that half of them didn’t show up for work on Saturday!

Getting dancers and service staff remains difficult and Mandarin plans to continue a slow ramp-up before throwing a grand re-opening party in a few weeks’ time.

Mandarin’s owner has the lease for Shark and was a partner in the defunct Lighthouse on Soi Cowboy. He also owns the now-combined Mandarin Table Dance and Mercury gogo bars. That space is currently a hollow shell and is being used to store all the fixtures and furnishings from their closed bars.

New bar Rainbow 69 is located in the space which was the Casanova ladyboy bar. Its majority owner is Tee, who also owns all or part of Twister BKK, Rainbow 3, Rainbow 4 and Rainbow 5. Tee actually bought Casanova two years ago and had just begun renovations when Covid hit. Work was suspended during the pandemic. No doubt many will be pleased that what was for so long a ladyboy bar is now a bar featuring ladies born female. Rainbow 69 hit the ground running with ladies wearing exactly what you would expect them to wear in a gogo bar.

 

Rainbow 69, another new bar opening up in Nana Plaza.

Rainbow 69, another new bar has opened in Nana Plaza.

 

Geisha reopened this past Thursday night under its third owner since the start of the pandemic. Its most infamous owner, the “Crazy Korean”, gave the keys back in 2020. The bar is being renovated again and will be reopened by the fellow who created Alcatraz in Pattaya 15 years ago and the short-lived Jail Birdz in Nana Plaza, which he sold to the owner of Billboard who then turned it into Butterflies. It was thought that Geisha’s new owner had retired from the game, but, with a number of partners, he is now back and is not only redesigning and reopening Geisha, he has combined the defunct Rainbow 2 and London Calling bars on the plaza’s ground floor. Construction is underway in that spot, but it could be a while before it will be finished and ready to open. It’s not clear that the Alcatraz architect is actually back in the bar-running game or working with Nana Plaza management to get bars renovated and reopened.

Tenants in Nana Plaza have been given incentives to reopen their bars as quickly as possible, with the goal of having the entire plaza humming when the Thai government finally does away with the last of the entry restrictions. This is part of the reason that Nana Plaza seems to be doing so well while Cowboy and Patpong meander along.

Another bar that feels like it has been closed forever that many punters are keen to see reopen is Angelwitch. Plans have been afoot for nearly two months to reopen Angelwitch. The problem reopening any gogo bar right now is not closing time rules or money. It’s girls. Bar owners do not want to reopen with a skeleton staff or, worse, a troupe of fat and / or ugly women. That might fly in some Pattaya beer bars but no way is it ok in a big-name Bangkok gogo bar. Despite Bangkok’s gradual reopening, many former bargirls remain upcountry, no doubt a few living off contributions from foreign sponsors. Some have even taken jobs considered respectable.

 

Geisha, Nana Plaza, another bar is reopening as the plaza springs to life.

Geisha, Nana Plaza, another bar has reopened!

 

In the case of Angelwitch – and Spanky’s, right next door – there’s the added burden that their respective reputations are built on choreographed shows, which legally cannot be performed until the government approves the full reopening of nightlife.

Spanky’s has been open for a while now and its entrance is blocked with balloons which don’t allow passers-by to peek inside. I am reliably informed that the bar is humming and little different to how things were pre-Covid.

It’s not only Nana Plaza that is racing towards a full reopening. The operators of Sugar Club and Levels Club & Lounge on Soi 11 announced this week that each of these two large-scale discos will reopen on June 1 and June 29, respectively. They cannot reopen now and have been closed for more than a year, but the owner is confident nightlife restrictions will be lifted by then. VIP tables for the entire first week at Sugar have already sold out.

As the last wine and cold cuts evening in popular fetish bar Demonia (Sukhumvit soi 33) was such a success, management has decided to organise another one this coming Friday, April 29th. 450 baht gets you a big plate of cold cuts (salami, chorizo, raw ham, ham, terrine etc.) and one glass of red or white wine. Subsequent glasses of wine are just 150 baht. There is no entrance fee for those who choose this promotion. This is a great opportunity for those who are not familiar with the concept to be able to see for themselves what it’s all about and whether they like it or not.

 

It's a great chance to see if Demonia is for you.

It’s a great chance to see if Demonia is for you.

 

The owners of the land on which the soi 7 beer bar complex sits sent communication to all the bar operators via the LINE app late this week saying that the complex will be allowed to reopen after a 45-day closure period has expired. This is back-dated to March 21st which means that, fingers crossed, the soi 7 beer bar complex will reopen around Thursday, May 5th.

It’s still a few weeks away but you can watch Liverpool’s march towards an unprecedented 4 titles as they take on Chelsea in the FA Cup Final on May 14th. Kick-off is 11:30 PM Thai time – and that’s a problem because bars are supposed to close by midnight. The Old English Pub in Thonglor and The Game at the mouth of Sukhumvit Soi 9 will show the entirety of both matches, authorities permitting.

It’s a case of monkey see, monkey do, down at Rawai, Phuket. Has Stumble Inn group opened a new venue at Rawai, a bar and eatery with rooms upstairs? Said establishment features the very same signage as Stumble Inn on Soi Nana. The name “Stumble Inn” is hardly unique and there are bars with that name all around the world. But, no, this is not part of Bangkok’s Stumble Inn Group. Some wise guy operating a venue with the same name has borrowed the signage design.

 

Stumble Inn, Rawai, Phuket.

Stumble Inn, Rawai, Phuket.

 

A friend sent me this amusing email this week. “I bumped into our maid at Country Road in Soi Cowboy! Please don’t tell Khun Dang, she said. I told her Khun Dang was the last person on earth I would tell, given our maid folds my underpants under Khun Dang’s forbidding shadow every day.” It reminded me of something that happened the best part of 20 odd years ago. The Mrs had arranged for a maid to come and clean the condo a couple of times per week. One day the maid turns up, smiling and cheerful as always, resplendent in a Club Electric Blue t-shirt. It’s a small world.

An Australian reader visited the local branch of Flight Centre keen to book an air ticket to Thailand on Thai Airways. His preference was to fly Thai but he was told that this branch no longer deals with this particular national carrier. The explanation was that given the airline’s financial situation, Flight Centre did not think it was appropriate to expose customers to a situation where there was a real risk of them not being reimbursed if things did not go according to plan. Many people who booked flights on Thai Airways back in 2019 for travel in 2020 still haven’t received refunds. Some are especially annoyed given that it recently took delivery of two new aircraft.

When I was wasting time on Facebook this week I came across the curiously named Fats And Angry. It is a chain of 3 small American-themed burger joints / diners with branches at Ekamai, Ari and Charoen Krung. From the photos on Facebook, the burgers look appealing.

 

It's party time at Patpong.

It’s party time at Patpong.

 

Thailand-Related News Articles

This is what happens if you test positive for Covid on arrival in Thailand.

Mango and sticky rice soars in popularity in Thailand after a Thai rap artist talks about it at a concert in the US.

Fantastic news as Thailand drops on-arrival testing from May 1st.

 

Find them at Whiskey & Go Go, Nana Plaza.

Find them at Whiskey & Go Go, Nana Plaza.

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There was lots of good news out of the bar industry and from Thailand in general this week. First, there was the announcement that the government is removing testing requirements for visitors from May 1st meaning no need to test on arrival or even before departing for Thailand. And from the bar industry, it seems every week that old bars are reopening and new bars are springing up. There is much optimism about, especially in Nana Plaza where it’s all go. I said to myself when I resumed writing the column that this time around I wanted to be positive – and it’s easy with all of this good news to relay. The Covid nightmare really will soon be behind us!

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Stick can be contacted at : stickmanbangkok@gmail.com