Thai Guan is a small café that contributes to the bustle of Talad Noi market district. An old wooden house was renovated into a coffee and bakery shop, with a modern and contemporary Chinese twist that fits in well with the surrounding area.
"First of all, we both like coffee, so when we saw this house, we contacted the owner asking to rent it to open a coffee shop,” recalled Surasak Jatupornpirom (Khun Mix) of the decision to start up the enterprise with his girlfriend.
Originally, this hundred year old house was named "Tai Nguan Eng Ki". It has served as a residence for three generations of Chinese magnates who have settled in Thailand since the reign of King Rama V.
The top floor is currently rented as an office by the "Pan Mueang Group or the “School of Change Makers" which works towards the goal of conserving the old town. The landlord felt that having a coffee shop downstairs would add to the liveliness to the house and accepted Khun Mix’s proposal.
"At first, I thought that it would be easy just to name it “770”, after the house number, but in the end, we thought the house itself is a real draw for many of the people coming to the cafe, so we called it Tai Guan Cafe," Khun Mix said.
Something that helped at the start of the project was the fact that the two entrepreneurs are good friends with the architects and designers of the Lhonh 1919 project. Not surprisingly, therefore, Tai Guan Café is characterized by strong colourplay, contrasting with the colourful shrine behind the house. The paintings and decorations are artsy, as well as photogenic, perfect for taking instagram pictures. Fresh flowers from Pak Khlong Talad market are selected to decorate the cafe every week. The cafe has certainly brightened up the old house, as the landlord intended.
The shop owners wanted the atmosphere to be a combination of two cultures. "We don't want to be too traditionally Chinese,” they added. “We would like it to have the worldly personality of a modern Chinese person who has graduated in the West."
This intention is reflected not just in the cross-cultural design motifs of the shop but also in its menu. The cafe offers a number of delicious fusion dishes that combine Chinese and western cuisines, such as making a Chinese dessert into a jelly, mixing espresso coffee with plums, pairing Chinese steamed buns with chocolates, etc.
"We want our customers to feel at home, enjoying snacks together in a warm and friendly atmosphere."
Tai Guan Cafe
770 Charoen Krung Road, Talad Noi Market (behind the Lao Pun Tao Kong Shrine),
Open 10am to 8pm.
About 800 meters from the Hua Lamphong MRT Underground Station