Those who frequently follow the movements of Bangkok’s chic eateries would have already known about Vanilla restaurants which are run by the same family operating the cookie-cutter S&P chain. However, there’s something about Vanilla that makes a meal there a bit more special. The decor is always special, the menu always surprising and the overall pleasant ambiance always the reason why we are happy to pay a little more eating similar dishes served here than other places.
At the basement of the newly renovated Silom Complex, Vanilla Home Cafe is located next door to its big brother S&P, but the ambiance is totally different. More somber and cool in mood by comparison, Vanilla Home Cafe looks like a small Japanese traditional cafe with wood panels and a lot of cat drawings. Seatings are available both outside and inside with rows of more secluded wooden booths and obscure lighting from the ceiling lamps.
The menu here is also interesting with good varieties. I expected to find fusion, perhaps, or Japanese-inspired dishes at this hip place. Instead, I found a lot of Thai dishes, and many are from the past, with some offering delicious reminiscences of my own childhood. Memories of small hand-stuffed pork dumplings served in a sun-dried banana leave basket with dollops of crispy garlic and pounded chili vinaigrette and soy sauce? And here, instead of using the ready-made wrapper for the dumplings, they boast ‘hand-made’ wrappers, and that’s a big attraction for me. The dumplings came in 8 pieces (Bt130++), beautifully on a woven bamboo tray lined with fresh banana leave, a plate of aforementioned sauce, twigs of cilantro and lettuce. A good plate to order to start an afternoon meal.
We also ordered a plate of crispy vermicelli (meekrob, I guess Bt130++) that was evenly coated with the sweet and tangy sauce, typical to the dish with a good sprinkle of somsa peels – a type of green lime used especially to scent this dish. With the lovely crunches from fresh bean sprouts and garlic chive and fresh squeeze of lime that gives a lovely contrast to the mixed-in bits of sweetened pork, this was a lovely dish to share.
Since we decided to stick to the old tastes, we ordered another old time favorite of mee krati – seasoned vermicelli with sliced omelette, flavoured tofu, bean sprouts, chives, toasted peanuts, granulated sugar, and toasted chili – all supposed to be mixed together. Be warned, though, that the chili was super hot. Although this dish looks a bit childish (I mean with those thick slices of omelette and tofu :), the taste was good and equal to the chic presentation.
Our last order was their honey cheesecake (I think about Bt90++) that was good but much much smaller than its menu picture :(. It would take me only two bites to finish it if not for the presence of the two guys sitting with me. The cheesecake was a nice, soft and spongy and full of honey scent. They also bothered to serve it with a big scoop of whipped cream and a jar of honey on the side.
All in all, I think this would be another place I go back when in the area. The prices, although not cheap, are payable for the ambiance and I guess the running costs in the area. I also appreciate their creativity and attention to details. This is not a place I go look for the real traditional dishes, but I have not been totally disappointed by their takes either. Also, you will find many more dishes tempting when you peruse their menu in which they pair dishes together with Thai desserts. Just for an idea, so you know what to eat and order among their varieties.
Vanilla Home Cafe, Basement Floor, Silom Complex, T: 02-231-3168. Daily: 11.00-21.00.