Tag Archives: pizza

Will the pop-up pop off?



I stopped by a pop-up pizza joint in the Silom area in Bangkok recently. Not a bad pizza, though running out of fresh tomatoes and onions in a pizza joint seems a little out of order – I’m calling it teething troubles.

But making a proper pizza in a wood-fired pizza oven mounted in the back of a truck isn’t such a bad idea – even if the ingredients are mostly imported.

This lack of local produce should kill any claim Pizza Massilia may have to being a hipster business – any self-respecting hipster joint sources ingredients locally, didn’t you know? – that and the fact that it is a joint venture by a couple of Bangkok’s brand-name chefs.

Hardly livin’ the hipster dream then.

But just as the whole hipster look was easily appropriated from elsewhere, the hipster image can just as easily be appropriated by any corporate entity. MacDonald’s is already giving it a shot.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the food at Pizza Massilia, and for a parking lot it is an awfully attractive setting, but it does raise the question about why it isn’t in an actual building. There is not going to be any business conducted at all if it happens to rain, and rents are hardly at Singapore levels in this town (less than a third, in fact, so if you ever wondered why a coffee in Singapore requires a mortgage, the ‘landlord tax’ may well be the answer).

But the hipster trend may offer an answer to why a pop-up is actually a good idea.

Last year Alex Proud wrote a piece in The Telegraph about being ‘Shoreditched’; the UK version of Brooklyn or whatever other area around the world has been taken over by the bearded set and the process that entails:

“You find a previously unnoticed urban neighbourhood, ideally one that’s a bit down on its luck. Pioneer hipsters move in and coolhunters ensure it starts trending on Twitter. A year later, the mainstream media notices and, for the next 12 months, the neighbourhood is byword for urban cool. Soon property prices soar pushing the original residents out, the bankers (always a trailing indicator) begin to move in and a Foxtons opens. Finally, the New York Times runs a piece in which it “discovers” the area and the cycle is complete. The last hipsters move on and find a new neighbourhood to play with.”

So if you’ve actually got a hipster business – or even one that looks like a hipster business – it helps if you can relocate it easily enough to the next trending neighbourhood. And a pop-up is perfect for that.

In Bangkok nailing down the cool areas is rather difficult – they seem to change from one month to another, so not quite enough time for the New York Times to ‘discover’ it.

But there is one thing that the pop-up trend in Bangkok has failed to notice, and that’s the fact that just about every street in this town features a pop-up restaurant or two, or twenty.

pop up

Not a pop-up, apparently

My local corner restaurant is set up and completely pulled down and carted away six days a week. The greater irony is that they’re probably using local ingredients too (they’re cheaper, after all). All they need are beards and fixies and they’re set.

Until the next trend arrives.

In the meantime pop-ups are the height of fashion, and hawkers are not. Go figure.








It’s Thailand FFS – try some local food


Cold weather? It’s all yours, though a flying trip to Queenstown in August is bound to be somewhat chillier than I’ve got now. I’m hoping there will be lamb ragù on the menu. Will keep you posted.

We were passing by and stopped at The Library on Chaweng Saturday for a meal by the beach. It’s not the view we have, or want really, but interesting to see every now and then. When the megayachts come in (it’s the one in the background, below, you may just be able to see it behind the longtail boat) you know it’s the end of the neighbourhood.


There are so many beautiful places to anchor around Samui. I wonder why you’d choose Chaweng? Unless you’re desperate to be seen. Sadly, it’s this sort of tourist the place attracts these days.

There’s a story being told in that picture that is playing out around the island too. No sooner do I mention Khun Play’s seafood fried rice  on the beach than the pace gets taken over by a bunch of Italians who have set up a pizza oven.

Now I like pizza, don’t get me wrong, but in my local Thai village it’s starting to get hard to find Thai food. There’s something deeply, horribly wrong with that. It hasn’t quite happened on our island yet, the one loser French restaurateur notwithstanding. I hope we can resist any further incursions.

But really, it’s Thailand FFS – why don’t you try some local food? Why travel all the way from Europe for what is bound to be a second-rate pizza? What’s wrong with people? Ah well, I did once see a bunch of Singaporeans off to a Chinese restaurant in Rome (I went elsewhere for pizza. ‘When in Rome’, goes the saying) so it cuts both ways.

Naturally, the menu at The Library does have some local dishes, though they’re fancy versions thereof. A pad Thai goong and a khao pad talay (that’s a seafood fried rice – just displaying my superior Thai language skills), were actually pretty good, and not watered-down too much on the spice for those sensitive European palates. Shame the beer is served in flat glasses.

Pad thai

I fear this is the future though. Unless I want French or Italian I’m going to have to go to fancy restaurants in Samui to get a local meal. At least they’re available somewhere. I do wonder why people bother travelling at all if all they want to do is replicate home though. If they’re not willing to actually eat the local food as a bare minimum of experiencing the place what are they gaining by travelling at all?  They could do us all a favour, cut their carbon emissions and make Samui more beautiful to boot if they just stayed at home.