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Suvarnabhumi » Dining at Suvarnabhumi Airport (Guide / Article)

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

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Dining is one of the new airport’s highlight features with a range of sophisticated sports bars, trendy restaurants and world-class gastronomy available.

Thanks to the Thai sanook (Fun) attitude, the new airport has unintentionally become the city’s newest and, of course, biggest recreational site.

While the airport terminal lures crowds of curious, fun-loving visitors who want to check out the modern facilities, departing Boeings grab people’s attention just like spaceships blasting off. And the airport’s futuristically designed building itself has become a favourite backdrop for streetside picnics for many locals.

Situated some 30 kilometres to the east from downtown Bangkok, the one-week-old Suvarnabhumi Airport that sprawls across 20,000 rai may be what we should to get to know better.

With concerns like where to eat and what to do while there, totally unprepared passengers may expect a muddled start to their trip. But that should never encourage any of us to visit the airport for leisure, unless you are a passenger.

From its ritzy “international” interior to its plethora of global brands, the 15 – billion-baht-invested Suvarnabhumi is definitely inspired by overseas airports, making it hard to distinguish it from other big city airports. But look on the other side and keep your mind open, the good thing is that Suvarnabhumi is trying to offer what Don Muang lacked and perhaps that means an international flavour and diversity.

Perhaps you can say that Don Muang didn’t need such things. Just a stone’s throw from the parked airbuses are shopping centres, restaurants and markets. But here in the middle of nowhere, where would a passenger at Suvarnabhumi go for food, especially with the potential of a delayed departure? Well, that’s one thing they’ll never have to worry about.

Rest assured, dining is one of the selling points at Suvarnabhumi. Gone are Don Muang’s humdrum dining atmosphere and odds-and-ends snack bars. Sophisticated sports bars, trendy restaurants and world-class gastronomy are what Suvarnabhumi features proudly. And if you want to dodge the crowds of visitors or are looking for a four-star hotel service, just step away from the airport terminal and walk through the parking lot, and you’ll find the Novotel Suvarnabhumi where more dining choices await.

Fascinating numbers, sufficient choices and, perhaps, mundane flavours

Some 50 dining venues dot the 25,000-square-metre airport terminal. While more than 30 of them offer comfortable seating areas, only half a dozen are proper dining restaurants.

Here, the dining business is well-planned and restaurants are carefully selected according to the preferences of the clientele and the destinations they are flying to.

For example, the eastern concourses (A, B, C and the east side of D), with gates occupied by Japan Airlines and Thai Airways, house several Asian eateries, while the western concourses (E, F and the west side of D) offer more European-style cuisine because that’s where the gates to Europe and the US are situated. And while most shopping stores close at midnight, all dining venues operate 24 hours.

Proper restaurants

Departing passengers can have gastronomical pleasure from Kinramen located on the far left side of concourse D. With Japanese noodle dishes – ramen, udon and soba (150-250 baht) – as its highlight items, the restaurant also offers a wide variety of choices including rice with various toppings, several sushi selections as well as a kids’ menu and desserts. Spare some room for refreshments, too – Kinramen features an irresistable list of smoothies. Try ginger, raspberry or kiwi smoothie – they are very delicious.

Run by the same management as Kinramen is Asian Corner which is situated just across the hallway. The place looks like an Asian buffet joint with selections from every cuisine of the region ranging from Thai som tum, Chinese dim sum and Vietnamese spring rolls to Japanese lunch boxes and Korean BBQ. Prices range from 80 to 180 baht. More like a bite-and-go eatery, you may expect less comfort seating here than at Kinramen.

At the other end of the terminal lies Mango Tree, a Thai restaurant managed by Coca restaurant group. This is its sixth branch following Bangkok, London, Tokyo, Korea and Malaysia. Best-selling dishes include pad thai noodle, fried prawn with tamarind sauce and noodle soup with roast duck. While they tasted ordinarily good, their prices are extraordinarily high – expect to pay 170 baht for a duck noodle dish.

Opposite Mango Tree is Volare. Unfortunately, the day that we visited the place it was still under construction. Nearby at concourse F there are The Traveller: Pizza & More and The Traveller: Sports Cafe & Bar.

�Fastfood joints

Other than international brands like Burger King, Dairy Queen and Siamese pizza chain The Pizza Company, there are several other venues where you can grab a quick meal before your flight.

However, some of the places offer what you may only consider as a stomach-filler rather than a palate-pleaser.

Chow and Haru seemed to serve up quick Chinese dishes served by scoop, while Pitcher and Plane is more of a sandwich corner, and the mini food-court-likeBillion Zone is the place where you may find a porkballs noodle stall among a few other stalls.

Wine bars and lounges

Along concourse D are what Don Muang never had. Four stylish looking bars dot the middle of the 500-metre-long hallway.

Managed by the Accor hotel group, Reef Bar, Glass Bar, Light Bar and Seafood Bar are places where business travellers can enjoy good wine and champagne while relishing oysters and other seafood.

In the morning the bars offer breakfast but from 11am onward they feature more substantial fare.

Snack and deli corners, coffee shops, juice bars and ice cream parlours

Caffeine-addicted travellers will never feel drowsy thanks to these coffee joints. Proudly representing Thailand are local favourite homegrown brands Caffe Nero by Black Canyon, Doi Tung Coffee and Coffee World, among others.

There’s also the world’s most popular cafe, Starbucks and the British high quality tea and bakery shop Whittard of Chelsea.

For ice cream fans and kids, Iberry and The Cream & Fudge Factory are where you can enjoy wide varieties of fruit sorbet as well as counter-fried ice cream – that’s what Bangkok teenagers currently cherish.

The Miracle by Louis’ Tavern, Bakery Chic and Cafe de Suvarnabhumi are among several other places to be checked out.

Main terminal

Featuring more than a dozen eating venues, the main terminal is an open area where non-passenger are allowed. Among the well known restaurants are Tate Cafe by Le Notre, S&P, Daily Suki, Lee Cafe and China Town.

Yet, as long as the new airport remains popular among meddlesome locals, the main terminal is a hectic ground with packed restaurants. (Martin Score/Vanniya Sriangura)

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