After almost 2 months here in Bangkok, I'm convinced that shopping has to be the national pastime of Thailand. Bangkok has no fewer than 180 malls and shopping centers, including several mega-malls such as the luxurious Siam Paragon, Emporium and Gaysorn Plaza, electronics mecca Panthip Plaza, tourist favorite and budget-friendly MBK Center and the classic Central World. Terminal 21 is one of the newest of the bunch, having opened its doors only in October 2011 and connected to the Asok BTS station on the Sukhumvit line (just two stops away from us). Like most Bangkok malls, it's a modern, multi-floor extravaganza. It's called Terminal 21 because it's supposed to resemble an airport, which each floor having the theme of a different city (London, Paris, Istanbul, Tokyo, San Francisco).
Like most Bangkok mega-malls, Terminal 21 has all kinds of interesting shopping, a movie theater and a gym. But the real highlight here is the food! Up on floor 5 (San Francisco), you can find a wide range of different types of restaurants (Thai, Japanese, American, Mexican, coffee shops). With the occasional exception though, we skip all of these and head straight to the food court, called Pier 21. Like most mall food courts, the food here is cheap, authentic (catering to Thai tastes, not those of expats or tourists) and delicious. It's basically like eating street food, but with the comfort of AC and a nice view. At almost any time of day (opening hours are 10am-10pm), Pier 21 is packed with office workers, schoolchildren, families and food lovers like us.
As is the case at most food courts here, you get a card and charge it what whatever amount you want. Terminal 21 is the cheapest mall food court in town for the moment and even cheaper than most street food (though there are rumors they might raise their prices). On one occasion, we enjoyed some som tam (green papaya salad), 3 main dishes, 2 fruit shakes and a dessert all for 200 baht, which is equivalent to $6.50 or 5 euros. So no need to put much money on your card! Though you can definitely get a refund if you have any money left over.
Pier 21 features an astounding variety of Thai food and other regional favorites. Noodles, fried rice, soups, sticky buns, Thai-style biryani, fried snacks, fresh fruit shakes, iced coffees and teas...you can find it all here.
Like most mall courts, there's a vegetarian stall. It's actually all vegan and features all kinds of delicacies such as curries, sweet and spicy fried mushrooms, larb (minced tofu salad), spring rolls, corn cakes, greens, spicy bean sprouts...all served with your choice of noodles or brown rice. A mixed plate will set you back all of 30 baht, which is about $1 or 75 centimes.
There are lots of other vegetarian choices throughout the food court as well, including different types of fried rice, our favorite som tam (green papaya salad, which Luis insists on having at every meal practically) - be sure to ask for it without shrimp for a veggie version, sesame noodles, dumplings...the choices are endless!
If we have room for dessert, we usually go for the classic khao niao mamuang (sticky rice with mango) - which they do really good version of in the food court - though there's also a frozen yogurt place on the 4th floor called Red Mango that's great too.
So if you're in Bangkok and looking for a cheap, delicious meal...you know where to go. And don't be surprised if you see us there!
Soi Sukhumvit 19 (Wattana)
Wattana, Bangkok 10110