BANGKOK — Visiting cafés can be more than just having a cup of coffee. In the case of ‘A pink rabbit + Bob’, it’s about an experience.
The deco and mood at this small cafe may evoke an English coffeehouse or even a pub – but it’s located in the heart of Old Bangkok and not Cotswold or London.
This is no coincidence. Designer/owner Siriwan Tharanamithikul of ‘It’s Happened to be a Closet’ café fame is also the brain behind ‘A pink rabbit + Bob’ on Maharaj Road, just opposite Wat Pho. It’s been in business for two years.
“We provided the ambience,” she said. “Some say it’s like eating cakes inside a pub. We bring in natural light and combine it with low warm electric lights. You look good in photos here because of the daylight.”
With just seven tables and seating for no more than two dozen customers, Siriwan said she can easily control the ambience of this one-storey café inside an old, Brit pop-filled shophouse which specializes in cakes and coffee.
“The small-sized café means I can control its charm from all angles and put customers in the mood,” Siriwan said.
Virtually all chairs and tables are vintage, imported from the UK and Europe and part of the owner’s collection. This added an immediate sense of authenticity to the eclectic UK-Euro ambience. One could have imagined it being situated in one of the cobbled alleys in Oxford, or somewhere around Portobello Market in London.
“We named it ‘A Pink Rabbit + Bob’ in order to make it easy to say. Bob is someone who can indeed prepare coffee real well,” said Siriwan.
Don’t bother looking for him here. Here you have a 52-year-old Thai male barista by the name of Jintana Kotsuwan from Yasothon province instead of Bob from the Isle of Man.
However, this imaginary Bob’s two-decades experience in preparing coffee even before Starbucks entered Thailand and coffee became fashionable, or rather indispensable in Bangkok, means you are in good hands. A cup of Lavazza-bean Americano here costs 90 baht and is good, as expected.
“We put the cakes on display up front so people can make a decision right away,” Siriwan said. “Nothing much has been altered to the front of the café in order to blend in with the old town.”
“Also, we don’t serve alcohol here because we’re very close to the temple,” Siriwan said, referring to the famous temple of Wat Pho with gigantic reclining Buddha once visited by U.S President Barack Obama.
Although you can have beef burgundy stew with rice here (180 baht), this place is really about cakes and more cakes. Indeed, instead of scones, jam and clotted cream, you have a variety of 16 cakes and pies to choose from. We must also note here that – gasp – no English tea is sold here.
Princess Scarlet (185 baht) is basically a velvet cake with generous pieces of walnuts toppings and blueberry as well as raspberry.
It’s very satisfying and reminds us of Magnolia Bakery, a well-known cupcake purveyor on 6th Avenue in Manhattan near Rockefeller Building during Christmas, where velvet cupcakes are the choice of the Winter Holiday Season.
“You don’t have to have a velvet cake only during Christmas anymore,” Suriwan insisted. “You can now have it anytime of the year.”
The next order was Shiny Orange (165 baht), an orange cheesecake with pieces of Californian orange toppings. This, said Siriwan, is among a house specialty “invented” from scratch at the bakery in order to offer customers something more than just the standard “old school” cake repertoire.
It was delicate but nothing that we would miss. Shiny Orange with a colourful chintz-printed plate looks good on IG or Twitter though. And taking selfie and cake pornography are what many Thai customers come here for.
Last but not least, I ordered Raspberry Choc Pie (175 baht). This is highly recommended as the thick sweet chocolate mousse balanced really well with the slight acidity and sourness of half a dozen raspberries.
Cakes are made daily from a common kitchen in Nonthaburi province, north of Bangkok, for all its six café and restaurants under various names.
Strangely enough, Siriwan said more Thais are coming to the café since the coronavirus pandemic broke out and they are doing rather well despite the lack of foreign tourists.
Perhaps the government’s boosting of domestic tourism plays a role. Afterall, the café is well-located to serve those who need more than a crude immediate sugar injection.
“With seven pastry chefs, we make 12,000 slices of cakes daily. Thais are eating more and more cakes. They are more discerning. More adults and people upcountry are eating cakes,” Siriwan said. “Delicious is not enough. It must be eye-catching as well.”
A pink rabbit + Bob open every day from 9am to 8pm. It is located at 378 Maharaj Road. Call 062-639-8880 for details. This review is unsponsored and we paid for the cakes ourselves.