Soi Thai & Dusk Till Dawn – Siamese Dreams Mask Cyber Punk Club

By Sophie Steiner, July 30, 2021

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The Place

Just next to UP Shanghai, and still in soft opening, Dusk Till Dawn is a new speakeasy hidden behind an also brand spanking new Thai street food cover restaurant called Soi Thai – with legit Thai food. Both venues are brought to you by seasoned restaurateurs Ina Yang (Heat, Botanical Basket), Eric Almazov (Botanical Basket) and Nico Yang (La Mezcaleria, Bonica, La Barra).

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The fast, casual food focus is pan-Thai cuisine, meaning that instead of finding more niche plates like northern khao soi and laab, you’ll find solid mainstays. Think stir-fried chicken with cashews, pad Thai, papaya salad and pineapple fried rice – the kind of thing you’d grub up on while covered in neon glow paint before heading to a full moon party on Koh Phangan. 

If you’re looking for a culinary Thai immersion, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for fast, casual Thai in a shotgun-style venue, this is your new favorite lunch hangout. Bonus, they are open late – we’re talking 2am on weekends. So sip up and tuck in, this is a place to hang out at for a while.

Image courtesy of Soi Thai

A semi-hidden Buddha-painted black door then leads you from Thailand to Amsterdam’s red-light district – with a Tokyo twist – at Dusk Till Dawn...

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Here, all cocktails focus around cult movie classics or TV characters, with drinks chosen from gaming cards. There are laser lights, cyber punk leather studded trunk tables, vampire glyphs, electronica music and glass skulls full of various infusions lining the wall. Basically, it’s every teenage boy’s fantasy come to life, with the welcomed addition of ingenious alcoholic libations. 

The Food 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Traverse Khaosan Road in one hit with the Street Thai Snacks Platter (RMB80) – a bamboo basket filled with all manner of fried nibbles – crispy fish and shrimp balls, chicken wings, fried spring rolls stuffed with curry-seasoned ground pork, succulent chicken satay skewers, crackling shrimp chips and Thai sweet chili and plum sauces for dipping. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Heavy on the fish sauce in the best of ways, the Green Papaya Salad (RMB38) is the closest rendition of this dish outside of Bangkok we’ve found lately. Pulsing with equal parts chili heat and pungent dried shrimp, the fresh shreds of young papaya and carrot are studded with crushed peanuts, herbs and cherry tomato halves. We’ll take two please. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Like a wrapped-up salad, the Fresh Prawn & Mango Rolls (RMB48) sees raw shrimp, mango slivers, julienned cucumber, basil and loads of lettuce in a rice paper wrapper. An order comes with four half-wraps, serving as a (very) light lunch or an app for sharing. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A verdant Green Curry Chicken (RMB58) is thick with coconut cream. Bobbing green beans and chunks of chicken in various sizes float along the top, swelling with the curry’s lemongrass-forward spice.

Reinforcements of crunchy bean sprouts and slivers of gumball-sized Thai eggplants transform the bowl into something more aligned with what you’d find on an actual Thai island, despite being a four-hour flight away from one. 

DSC07302.jpgClassic Thai Style Basil Sautéed Prawn (RMB58), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Choose between chicken or prawns for your Pad Thai (RMB58) – a textbook rendition of this street side classic. Springy rice noodles, house stir-fried tofu, scallions, beans sprouts, fried egg and a pop of citrus. Albeit a bit under-seasoned compared to our Bangkok preferences, this can easily be remedied by asking for more spice and lime, as the potential is already there. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

While Mango Sticky Rice (RMB58) is always a surefire go-to, the real standout is the Coconut Pudding (RMB58) – a hollowed out coconut filled with cold, luscious coconut custard. The walls of the coconut are still lined with the fruit’s meat, so the alternating crunch and slippery pudding make for the ideal textural contrast. Thoughtful yet simple, this dessert is what a Thai vacation is all about. 

The Drinks 

If you’re a gaming nerd, a movie geek, a fantasy fiend or you just like whimsical cocktails, you will find yourself beaming at Dusk Till Dawn, a bar named after the Robert Rodriguez’s 1996 action horror film.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Choose from the tarot card looking piles that span four archetype movie characters – vampire, psychopath, priest or queen. Once you’ve made your selection, reveal the cards that fall into that category to pick a corresponding tipple. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Bevvies span the O-Ren Ishii (RMB98), named for the Japanese-American-Chinese badass b*tch in Kill Bill that became the youngest Japanese mob boss. To honor the character, this drinks sees a blend of American bourbon, China’s newest craft baijiu 白8, and Japanese yuzu jam come together in a tart and refreshing sip, accented by shiso leaf. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Served in a flask-like gas can, the Furiosa (RMB118) shares its name with the female protagonist in Mad Max. Smoky Herodes mezcal, elderflower, tea pot bitters, lime and aloe jam (mimicking the cacti of the post-apocalyptic desert world) will have you guzzling it down and ordering another round. 

Harley Quinn (RMB98), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Mixing together alcoholic ingredients that in medieval Europe were used to cure ailments, such as red wine, calvados brandy and chocolate bitters, the Exorcist (RMB108) is a ‘bloody’ twist on a New York sour, with the addition of salted caramel syrup.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Served in a conch shell, the Jack Sparrow (RMB98) is an oceanic play on a martini with seaweed-infused gin, olive bitters and sea salt, a briny sip straight from the depths of Davy Jones’ locker. 

Aiming for something more straightforward? A tight menu of highballs, G&Ts and shooters will be available on weekends to make for easier ordering and cater to the dancing crowd.

The Vibe 

These are two very different concepts housed in the same space. Soi Thai is geared towards takeout for a reason. The 14-seater isn’t exactly the most happening of new openings – unless the weather cooperates and you can spill out into the alley. That being said, service is better than most new openings.

An extra 20% off all food through soft opening is also hard to pass up. Plus, we can really get behind the killer millennial pop playlist that spans KTV faves and jogging jams galore. Hello Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato, it’s been a minute. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

At Dusk Till Dawn, expect dance music most nights of the week, and always on weekends, in collaboration with Sound of Shanghai (previously of Unico). As your night comes to an end, you’re spit out onto the street via a separate yet equally hidden door, only amplifying the lingering question in your mind, does this place even exist? Or, did I just take the red pill from Neo and follow the white rabbit into a vampire-punk-rock-matrix alternate universe? 

Price: RMB40-100 for food (Soi Thai), RMB88-108 for drinks (Dusk Till Dawn)
Who’s Going: The Jing’an lunch crowd, late-night dancers and diners, cult movie geeks
Good For: Fast, casual Thai, to-go orders, late night bad decisions, #instagrammable sips

See a listing for Dusk Till Dawn and Soi Thai. Read more Shanghai Restaurant Reviews.

[Cover Image courtesy of Soi Thai]

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