The Deck Restaurant Bangkok: by the river
Down an alley along the Chao Phraya River sits Arun Residence; a Sino-Portuguese wooden house (ca.1920), transformed by Dr Piyanuch into a boutique hotel, alfresco restaurant & rooftop bar, with teak furniture & colonial charm. Two terraces offer dramatic views of Wat Arun, and when illuminated at night, the porcelain encrusted pagoda radiates a golden glow across the water. That alone could grant The Deck status amongst the most romantic restaurants in Bangkok, yet the cuisine, if possible, rivals the view with tamarind king crab, pomelo salad, duck confit, New Zealand lamb and desserts like panna cotta lod chong and crème brulée. Exotic vistas, gourmet dishes and old-world Thai grace is reserved for those who can find their way to The Deck Restaurant Bangkok.
address: 36-38 Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong, Maharat Road
Getting to Arun Residence & The Deck Restaurant from the Grand Bangkok Palace
Before being able to take one bite of steamed sea bass or dipping a single morsel of “confit de canard” into ginger-honey or sipping a single lychee cocktail from the Amorosa rooftop bar, you have to get to Arun Residence where The Deck Restaurant is located, which is easy… so long as you know the way. Get out a Bangkok map or mobile app and follow Sambawalker… it’s a 3 minute drive (or a 15 minute walk) from the Grand Bangkok Palace gate on Thanon Na Phra Lan. Remain on Na Phra Lan about 300m until the dead-end, then turn left onto Thanon Maharat and continue about 850m, passing alleys near Tha Tian Market. When you pass Thanon Chetuphon on the left, continue a little further to Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong and turn right. It’s a tiled alleyway (in a Chinese residential neighborhood). Follow Pratoo Nok Yoong to the wrought iron sign on the right. Once inside, climb the wooden stairs and see for yourself why this is the best restaurant in Bangkok for Thai architecture, tasteful décor, exotic scenery, unpretentious ambiance and gourmet Thai cuisine as well as French, Italian, Australian, New Zealand and other European dishes.
(Another way to reach this romantic Thai restaurant is from nearby Wat Pho. When exiting the Wat, go west on Thanon Thai Wang for 300m, turn left onto Maharat, continue 200m to Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong and turn right.)
The Deck by the river menu – Thai food (with & without prik kee noo)
When deciding where to eat in Bangkok, it’s often necessary to choose between a Thai restaurant with authentic Thai cuisine or one that specializes in European fare. But Dr Piyanuch has brought together an authentic Thai ambiance and a chef skilled at preparing both Thai food and high-end international gourmet favorites.
The Deck’s Thai cuisine menu includes yam neua – a beef salad with thinly sliced grilled sirloin atop a bed of crispy greens, mint, cilantro and lots of prik kee noo (Thai chili peppers). If you don’t enjoy raw cayenne, ask the chef to hold the prik kee noo. Another excellent dish is the yam som-o pomelo salad – not available at every Thai restaurant – with chunks of pomelo & crab meat plus cilantro, garlic, shallots, coconut flakes and a coconut milk, fish essence & lemon dressing. What’s peculiar about this Thai food is that it’s a “salad” yet the only raw ingredient is pomelo. This dish comes with prik kee noo so beware or ask the chef to omit it. The yum pra hmik squid salad with lychee is another example of superb Thai cuisine; strips of fresh squid are sautéed with lemongrass & ginger, tossed with lychee and served with lettuce, mint, cilantro, scallions and a tangy dressing.
A way to know you’ve found the best restaurant in Bangkok is when a common Thai food you’re familiar with has a little extra “je ne sais quoi”. This is true of several dishes on The Deck’s Thai Restaurant menu, like: Tom kha gai – one of the most popular soups in BKK (and around Thailand) made with coconut milk, lemon grass, galangal, chicken, roasted peppers, dill weed / cilantro – and The Deck’s version is scrumptious. Another dish that shines despite its commonness is pad thai. The chef makes a tangy tamarind sauce and instead of thick sen lek noodles he uses woon sen (clear cellophane noodles; like vermicelli). There’s a massaman beef curry – nuea nam phrik kaeng massaman – with a hint of its Moorish origins in the cardamom, cinnamon and star anise, but also Thai zest with tamarind, coconut milk and cashews. Massaman curry makes for lip smacking roti dipping. Another dippable entrée is kaeng kiao wan made with green-curry and coconut milk; great for pita bread dipping. Of course no Thai restaurant can be without satay or stir-fried chicken, like kai phat khing, which comes with seasonal veggies, sweet peppers and spring onions. Yet another treat on the Thai menu is king crab with sweet & sour tamarind sauce.
The Deck’s International menu & fusion treats
The international menu at The Deck Restaurant Bangkok starts with Chinese spring rolls stuffed with prawns. Then there are Italian classics like caprese with cherry tomatoes, basil & fresh mozzarella; wild mushroom risotto with porcini sauce and spaghetti allo scoglio with fresh frutti di mare. A non-spicy seafood option is steamed sea bass, which goes well with Mediterranean grilled mushrooms basted in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Grilled red snapper with dill sauce is excellent despite being an unusual item for a Thai menu in BKK (red snapper is native to Mexico & Atlantic USA). Even more impressive are the New Zealand tenderloin steak, rack of lamb, greenshell mussels (served in tomato sauce) and the Australian sirloin steak. The chef that Dr Piyanuch acquired from one of the best French Restaurants in Bangkok – Le Vendôme Sukhumvit (no it’s not Nicolas Joanny; he’s still in Singapore) indulges guests with French specialties like duck “confit de canard” grilled until the outer skin is crispy, but with a Thai honey-ginger sauce.
Romantic restaurants in Bangkok – shared desserts, jazz & a spectacular view
Aside from Le Vendôme (which Sambawalker recommends) The Deck by the River at Arun Residence is one of the top romantic restaurants in Bangkok…and it serves desserts ideal for sharing. Split a lavender crème brulée with your sweetie, or sample a fusion creation: panna cotta lod chong – with Italian cream-gelatin pudding (panna cotta) blended with Thai green-rice pandan noodles, coconut milk & ice (lod chong). When fused, the dish has chunks of panna cotta (instead of noodles) topped with ice and coconut milk. Complete the evening on the romantic 4th floor Bangkok rooftop bar: Amorosa. Try an Arun surprise cocktail (the house specialty with lychee & a splash of vodka) while relaxing with jazz and absorbing the illuminated Wat Arun temple complex over the Chao Phraya River (preferably from one of the 4 front-row tables with perfect views). The Deck Restaurant Bangkok is open Monday to Thursday from 8am–10pm & Fridays and Saturdays until 11pm. Amorosa rooftop bar opens at 5pm; in time for early winter sunsets. In December, the sun is down by 5:48pm; the rest of the year BKK sunsets can be enjoyed from rooftop bars between 6:00 and 6:50pm.