Food and Fun Stuff: A First Look at The Commons Sala Daeng (Photos)

BANGKOK — As The Commons Thonglor turns four, a new branch of the community space opened recently at Sala Daeng, giving locals a new space to go to barre classes and sip on green smoothies.

Vicharee Vichit-Vadakan and Varatt Vichit-Vadakan, the siblings who co-founded the original Thonglor branch, said they hope their latest venture will be a space for families and friends to get together, and not just shop.

“Bangkok does not need another mall,” Varatt said at the recent opening of the Commons Sala Daeng. “We need a gathering ground where the community can learn and share, not just retail space.”

Varatt and Vicharee Vichit-Vadakan.

The new venue is smaller than its sibling, at 3,000spm and with 20 vendors. But the Commons Sala Daeng has all the hallmarks of sustainability that appeals to urbanites and mixed-use spaces – plenty of outdoor and indoor seating without needing to make a purchase, and free drinking water, donations of which will be donated to Bang Rak district residents in need. 

Leftover food in a community fridge will be donated to food waste foundation Thai SOS. Waste oil goes to Bangkok Soap Opera to make soap for use in the bathrooms, and there will also be a drop-off spot for recycling bottle caps

The Commons Sala Daeng’s architect, Amata Luphaiboon, said the pitched roof structure is inspired by the long-gone Sala Daeng Train Station, which was built 130 years ago. The station was part of the Pak Nam railway that connected to Hua Lamphong station. Its “red pavilion” gave the name to the area.

“The big red pavilion was a landmark 130 years ago, and 130 years later our small little pavilion is a landmark of this place too,” Amata said.

Amata said wooden pallets can be put in the stairs running through the middle for events such as concerts.

What’s Inside

On the top floor is “The Platform,” a multipurpose space for holding a variety of workshops and activities, from barre and smoothie bowl-making to film screenings to daycare, held by different experts who rent out the space.

Vicharee described the concept as a “vacation timeshare” after trial-and-error in having vendors rent a permanent space at The Commons Thonglor.

For example, Little Pea daycare is busy during the day, but closed and empty at night, decreasing use of the space. Similarly, yoga studios operate at only workout times, staying empty for the rest.

With The Platform, every single hour can be stuffed full with activities – yoga and workouts in the morning, then art and cooking classes during the day, skillshare workshops in the afternoon, and evening workouts and jazz concerts at night.

Although a space-efficient idea, it doesn’t mean attending the classes there are accessible to everybody. For a minimum of 2,500 baht, you get enough class credits to attend around three to seven events within three months. 

The second floor, named The Market, is home to a lot of neon light fixtures and local food vendors seemingly picked for their millennial appeal – such as Lykke yogurt, Hunter Poke, pan-Asian stir fries Pad Pad, and Guss Damn Good ice cream. About a third of the vendors are the same as the ones at Thong Lor.

Going together like chickens and eggs coming in the right order are Chirayu “Toey” Na Ranong , 35, and Faifu “Fai” Pataranawat. He sells chicken, she sells eggs.

Actually, the pair both own Fowlmouth, a brand of “Nashville-style” fried chicken which also has a Thonglor branch. They also run the newly-opened Crackhouse, which sells their own rendition of the McGriddle – a breakfast sandwich made up of Sloane’s maple sausages, an omelette, and cheddar cheese tucked between pancakes.

Chirayu and Faifu.

A bar decorated with Mahjong tiles is Hong Kong whiz kid Alex Li’s first culinary foray into Thailand. Yumcha serves Hong Kong-style dimsum and tea.

Bun Meat & Cheese is Taiki Rattanapong Tsubota’s first permanent burger joint. He went viral in 2018 for running an “experimental kitchen” where he took the entire day to serve only a few burgers each day. The concept was popularized via American blogger Drew Binsky’s overdramatic video that reached 10 million views.

Taiki says the burgers he makes here at The Commons are about “80 percent” as delicious as the ones he used to make. The burgers are made of a light bun and the beef patty has some jalapeno.

The ground floor has an expensive matcha drink shop, a plant shop, a branch of Roots coffee and Roast Coffee & Eatery, both of which were founded by Varatt.

The Commons Saladaeng, open 7am to 1am every day, is on Soi Saladaeng 1 and can be reached from BTS Sala Daeng exit 4 or MRT Si Lom or Lumphini.

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Asaree Thaitrakulpanich can be reached at asaree@khaosodenglish.com and followed on Twitter at @Asaree.