Bang Rak is a historic district with many colorful stories from the past scattered within people and places. The streetscape is unchanged according to many visitors, with many shophouses still lining the main Charoenkrung Road and secret sois. Inhabiting these shophouses are businesses from days of yore still operating from a bygone era. It is no wonder that this is becoming Bangkok’s Creative District with the new generation moving in to settle next to the older residents, preserving elements of the past while creating new ideas. The Creative Economy Agency, Thailand’s government arm promoting creativity in practical application, is located in Bang Rak and working hard to uncover hidden gems of the area. One of these is Harmonique, a hidden restaurant with stories untold that has been providing patrons with years of comfort dining.
Located in Soi Charoenkrung 34, Harmonique has an entrance that is blink-and-you-will-miss-it. Lush flora flanks the sides of the main door. Looking in is like staring into the tunnel. It is only when you venture inside that you enter a hidden world. After your eyes adjust to the lighting, a courtyard appears before you with a massive banyan tree rising in the middle to provide much needed shade in a tropical country. Around you is the interior of old shophouses decorated with homey items. There is a definite Chinese motif – stone top dining tables and wooden chairs often seen in old family homes, red lanterns, a large golden deity statue, and more. These are peppered with more Thai items, resulting in the feeling of entering someone’s lived-in abode.
The menu is a mix of Thai and international dishes. The story goes that Harmonique is founded by Boonma Vattana and her partner Jacques Deen from the Netherlands. The couple combination may be the reason that the dishes here have rounded-out flavors that perfectly satisfies both local and foreign tongues. Slightly milder for the locals, slightly adventurous for those traveling from distant lands. It is no wonder that the clientele is always a healthy mix of the two groups. Today, Boonma Vattana and her sisters run the restaurant. It is said that Harmonique hasn’t changed in decades, to the delight of older fans, and that the next generation can enjoy it the menu and locale the way they were from inception.