Lofter, the subject of this week’s review, takes over the 7th floor of Central Chidlom, which for the past 18 years was home to FoodLoft.
When it launched, I had no idea why the new successor to Bangkok’s very first luxury food court was called Lofter.
Maybe that’s to signify a new loft dweller, or, to be grammatically correct, an iron golf club. None seemed to have any good gastronomic sense.
I visited Lofter for the first time last week, on the second day of its operation. And after an hour of having lunch there, I came to a confident realization.
Lofter is a significant improvement over FoodLoft.
Not only is it newer, but it’s also immensely brighter, more airy, more lively (Food Loft was known to be dark and slow), and attracting younger crowds.
Simmered Chicken Feet and Wings from Betong Chicken Noodle Shop.
In fact, the clientele when I visited during the week was a seamless mix of different ages, careers and lifestyles. There were teenagers, office workers, occasional groups of sixties, and families with young children – locals and expatriates.
But the most remarkable thing for me was that the 1,800 mÂ² hall, which can accommodate 360 ââdiners in different seating areas, was packed to capacity.
Before I continue to share more details about this nine day old food court with you, I have to say that I have been there three times since.
As a longtime regular at Central Chidlom (which opened in 1974 when I was three years old), I find Lofter a very rewarding new thrill when I visit the department store.
The food on offer is varied in price but really reasonable and affordable – most dishes cost less than 100 baht.
Egg noodles with wonton, roast pork and crab meat by Bamee Guichai, a century-old noodle shop in Klong Thom.
Now let’s talk about the culinary point of view.
Unlike the old FoodLoft which celebrated Western cuisine, Lofter evolves around casual Thai fare.
If you’re familiar with Eathai, an upscale food court located near the central embassy, ââyou’ll say Lofter is a minor league replica but fresher of that.
Rather than offering a wide range of local dishes from different parts of Thailand, Lofter focuses on the crowd-pleasing dishes offered by long-established street food stores in Bangkok and its suburbs.
They range from authentic restaurants and noodle shops to street vendors and dessert masters.
The current program includes 26 restaurants, the oldest of them being a century old, and in total they are 900 years old.
The braised beef combo by Yee-Jay, the beef noodle specialist in Lat Phrao.
They are categorized into six themes: local legend, rice dish, noodles, snacks, fried foods, and dessert.
The selection of local legends features popular restaurants, some of which have moved or moved away from Bangkok’s central business district due to the city’s expansion. Among them, Iata, a Chinese restaurant which opened its doors in Siam Square in the 1960s and which has experienced some relocations until recently settling in On Nut; Lai Ros, a five-decade-old Thai restaurant serving royal-style and home-cooked food; Tong Peng, a 40-year-old Cantonese-Teochew restaurant specializing in roast duck at Soi Choke Chai 4; and Maverick Suki, a food stall selling wok fried noodle dishes from the Yot Se area.
My family used to hang out with Tong Peng and Iata. It has been over 10 years since my last visit to Tong Peng and at least five years for Iata.
Tong Peng turned out to bring back a great gastronomic memory. The roast duck (180 baht per plate) dipped in a tasty and sweet soy sauce was very tasty, tender, juicy and addicting. Its menu also offers rice dishes and dim sum options.
Roast duck by Tong Peng, a 40-year-old Cantonese-Teochew restaurant.
Iata, one of my coveted restaurants, has turned out to be one of the more expensive brands in the food center.
My all-time favorite restaurant meals are Peking Duck, Jellyfish Salad with Sesame Oil, Shanghai Noodles, and Beef on a Griddle.
The last three dishes are offered at Lofter and cost 250 baht, 200 baht and 300 baht respectively.
From the noodle area, I was amazed by the ecstasy of the taste buds from the first bite of guay tiew tom yum (sour and spicy rice noodles) by Pleaw Nakhon Pathom restaurant.
Indeed, Pleaw was considered the most successful store in the food court for its always busy business and the acclaim of its customers.
a dish of yum yum the pork noodles (70 baht) generously feature slices of pork loin, pork dumplings and minced pork on a bed of tangy rice noodles.
Roti Street Cha Chuck’s variety of fried snacks and tea.
Adding shrimp and squid – both of good quality – only costs an additional 20 baht.
Pleaw’s yen ta fo the noodles with red sauce and seafood, priced at 100 baht, are among the best sellers.
I also tasted chick feet, drumsticks and chicken wings cooked at Betong Chicken noodle shop and was very satisfied.
The chicken pieces were braised in a tasty brown sauce until the meat became tender and absorbed the tasty sauce, leaving the skin very soft and sagging.
You can have the chicken a la carte (120 baht per dish) or with rice or noodles (90 baht per dish).
If you are in the mood for fiery fun and pla ra (Thai-style fermented fish) is not forbidden, a dish or two of Abb Zaab, a super popular Something Don Muang District Commune, are highly recommended.
I was satisfied with his tum sam men, a salad crushed with three stinking foods namely cha-om, med kra-mince (white lead seeds) and pla ra (150 baht); and crispy papaya salad (120 baht).
A basic Something freshwater crab salad with or without the pla ra the sauce is only 80 baht.
Another dish that made a good impression was a braised beef combo (150 baht) from Yee-Jay, a beef noodle specialist in the Lat Phrao neighborhood.
It’s an assortment of braised beef shank, skirt, tendons and tripe masterfully prepared with a spicy dip.
Bamee Guichai 100 Pee, a former Klong Thom noodle shop, is the oldest food brand offered by Lofter.
Its egg noodles and shrimp wonton with roast pork and crabmeat (100 baht) are very popular.
My meals there always end deliciously with a crispy roti “handkerchief” topped with sweet egg yolk thread and whipped cream (95 baht) from the Roti Street Cha Chuck store in the snack area.
The delicacy at first looked like a fanciful snack that didn’t promise any culinary finesse. But that turned out to be one of the very tasty and heartwarming reasons I had revisited Lofter three times in nine days.
A classic roti (45 baht) would also be a bestseller. The soft and chewy multi-layered pan-fried bread that I ordered to go is now in my freezer. I plan to grill it again for breakfast tomorrow.
There are also flame-toasted buns with a lava-like topping from the Yaowarat Toast store. It’s a phenomenal culinary craze among young urban diners and millennials, but not quite my cup of tea.
A selection of healthy and delicious smoothies impressively represents Lofter’s wise choice of drinks. Let an in-house mixologist whip up one for you and you’ll be delighted.
The Lofter’s vibrant and cheerful dining room, with live music, is manned by a team of 50 service staff.
The service was beyond expectations and charming. An employee, named Freshy, particularly stood out during my visits by his efficiency, his genuine cordiality and his attentiveness.
By December 31, new visitors who register through Line’s official account: @happylofter are eligible for a 100 baht discount on a minimum spend of 300 baht. Offer is limited to the first 2,000 registered guests.