The tropical ambience you experience when visiting Zanzibar feels more like a relaxed beachside location than in the busy metropolis of Bangkok. It is also perhaps the inclusion of pizza and pasta on the menu which lead to it often being called an Italian restaurant, but do not be fooled, this restaurant specialises in Thai fusion style cooking.
Head out of exit 3 of Nana BTS, and wander a few minutes along Sukhumvit Soi 11, and the renovated 1920s home with its twinking lights is easy to spot on the left hand side of the soi..
Although there is seating inside (the second storey is exclusively for non-smokers), we opt to eat outside in the spacious terrace. The umbrellas, lanterns, tall palm trees and foliage help create a real holiday vibe and makes the hustle and bustle of the street food sellers and VW vans of Soi 11 feel far removed. Do try and choose a table that has – or is near – a fan as it is still very warm in the early evening.
The setting and relaxed atmosphere means this is the perfect place to enjoy a meal with a loved one or a catch up with friends. The staff are helpful and friendly and are as attentive as required or content to leave you to enjoy your evening in peace.
The soft lighting, although adding to the overall feel the venue is trying to achieve, does not make it easy to see, but the waiters helpfully provide a small flashlight to read the menu. We opt to share a mixed platter of Thai appetizers for 690 baht. The menu does not elaborate what is included, but we are treated to an assortment of chicken satay skewers, calamari, Thai fish cakes, fresh prawns with cashew nuts wrapped in banana leaf, spring rolls and miniature chicken wings with a selection of tasty dipping sauces.
Our main courses equally do not disappoint as we share a deep fried whole sea bass with chilli lime sauce (490 baht) and chicken and cashew nuts (300 baht) with steamed rice. The sea bass is cooked perfectly with the fish just falling apart and the accompanying sauce is tangy and delivers a real kick! The chicken and cashew nuts is visually appealing and is a good mixture of taste and texture – the chicken is tender whilst the cashews retain their crunch.
The deserts on offer did not really tempt us, but the signature cocktails are a fun addition to the menu and although I am tempted with a Bangkok-tini, I select a Thaijito (290 baht) which is fruity but not too sweet (I had been worried by the inclusion of peach schnapps) and contains just the right amount of Sang Som rum, while my companion chooses a Bangkok Sling – the lychee liqueur is deliciously evident. They also serve classic cocktails starting from 230B, beers for 150 baht and a wine list is available on request.
The atmosphere changes somewhat at 20:30 when live music begins. A different band play each night, but some nights are better than others. It’s maybe a little on the loud side for some people, but the music is in fact a draw for a lot of regular customers. We enjoyed finishing our cocktails and singing along to classic covers.
Soi 11 on Sukhumvit Road is one of Bangkok’s most popular entertainment streets and with bars and restaurants lining both sides of the soi (street), there is stiff competition. Zanibar does not disappoint, as shown by its popularity on a Monday evening. It is not the cheapest place to eat in the vicinity, but one word sums Zanzibar up: ambience. The place is just full of it and is certainly worth a visit.
- Opening Hours: 17:00-02:00 daily
- BTS: Nana
- Address: 139 Sukhumvit 11, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok
- Tel: 080-778-2250