Aug 02 2012

Review: Bug & Bee Cafe, Silom

Published by at 6:32 am under Food

Bug & Bee Cafe on Silom Road offers standard Thai dishes, Italian and Japanese inspired vegetarian fare, French-style crepes with a Thai twist, and a host of fusion dishes that aren’t afraid to test the limits of cuisine-blending experimentation. Add a host of baked goods and extensive coffee, bubble tea and smoothie menus, and Bug & Bee makes for an experience so eclectic it can be dizzying, but somehow it all seems to fit.

A portrait of the cafe's founders?

A portrait of the cafe’s founders?

Located right below Sala Daeng BTS station and a short stroll from the touristy Patpong night market, Bug & Bee occupies three floors in one of the city’s liveliest settings. Embracing rather than trying to escape its busy surrounds, the cafe features an open-air front that allows the intoxicating outside atmosphere to carry inside. Yet classic jazz music and a comfortable interior with rows of booths and plenty of polished hard woods also make Bug & Bee a fine place to break from the frenetic energy of Silom. The upstairs rooms, in particular, beg to be lounged upon with a laptop connected to the cafe’s free WiFi.

There's a decent selection of magazines up there too.

There’s a decent selection of magazines up there too.

The cafe’s extensive and exclusively non-alcoholic drink menu is expensive (we paid 65 baht for an Americano coffee), but everything we’ve tried has been delicious and served in generously large glassware. The bubble teas and smoothies make for excellent pick-me-ups on a hot day; try a “blue blossom” (a blending of kiwi, passionfruit and blueberry) or an iced lemongrass tea. We’ve also sampled the cafe’s cakes a couple of times, and although they look good in their brightly lit glass display case, the expensive prices and plastic-y textures leave something to be desired.

Bug & Bee’s signature offerings are its crepes, which come in a sweet form, such as the roti-style “banana and peanut butter crepe”, or as a savoury meal — crab curry crepe anyone? The sweet crepes run between 80 and 130 baht, but the savoury ones can cost up to 280.

We had mixed feelings about the “massaman chicken curry crepe” we tried. Although the particularly thick massaman filling was rich, well seasoned, and seemed to have been slow roasted, the “crepe” it was stuffed into amounted to little more than a plain pancake. Still, with a side of mild beet soup, it made for a decent meal, and we have to give them extra points for creativity.

It's a massaman pancake!

It’s a massaman pancake!

Although the crepes are an interesting touch, we’ve found Bug & Bee to consistently shine in its salads, appetisers and vegetarian offerings. On a recent visit, we went for the pesto and mushroom pasta vegetarian main for 120 baht. It wasn’t exactly bursting with flavour — the pesto sauce was on the creamy side and was more earthy and subdued than is typical of pesto — but with a few different types of mushrooms, fresh basil leaves, and a healthy dollop of cashew nuts mixed in, the dish had just enough substance to make it enjoyable.

Not a bad way to go if suffering from rice overload.

Not a bad way to go if suffering from rice overload.

Sticking to the vegetarian theme, we also ordered the tofu with eggplant miso sauce wrapped in seaweed appetiser (95 baht). Though we had hoped to receive it before the pasta dish, we ended up pleased that it came out a good 10 minutes later — it blew the mushroom pesto stuff away in terms of flavour and ended up making the meal. Soft tofu came wrapped up Japanese style in thin slices of nori seaweed along with a creamy mild but tasty miso sauce, flakes of seaweed, small hunks of fried eggplant, and a couple of broccoli crowns for some extra vitamins. The flavours and textures fit together perfectly, and it was large enough to be a lunch all by itself.

Now this one is a winner.

Now this one is a winner.

Bug & Bee’s menu enters some fusion territory that we’re admittedly a tad scared to enter, especially considered most of the fusion mains run up to 300 baht. If seeking something totally different, the Asian-style duck confit in cranberry ginger sauce or barbecue spare ribs, in spicy tomato black olive sauce with Thai herbs, should do the trick.

One thing we can say with assurance is go elsewhere for Thai food. What we’ve tried of Bug & Bee’s Thai menu has been inconsistent (sometimes too salty, sometimes bland), and there’s no shortage of solid Thai available in this neighbourhood for less than half the price.

Bug & Bee as seen from the BTS station.

Bug & Bee as seen from the BTS station.

Also consistently inconsistent are the young staff — especially if you sit on the top floors, be prepared to go searching for a server at least once during the course of your meal. To be fair, though, this seems to have more to do with under-staffing than lack of effort, and we’ve often found them to make up for slow or forgetful service with pleasantly cheerful attitudes. Open 24 hours a day seven days a week, Bug & Bee also makes a solid late-night hang out spot, but keep in mind that the kitchen shuts down at 22:00.

Bug & Bee Cafe
18 Silom Road, Bangkok
T: (022) 338 118

BTS: Sala Daeng

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