BKK underlings may not know Sukhumvit Soi 8 for much more than the infamous Lolitas Bar that has anything but food and beer on the menu. This is the reality of living in Bangkok, but when taking a closer look at this spunky little soi you can see it slowly transforming from a seedy alley to one offering live music, sports pubs, Indian restaurants and Det5.
Det5 has developed a loyal following, mostly as a beer bar on the Sukhumvit Soi zero sprawl underneath the expressway during its wild adolescent years. But when the BMA, in its infinite wisdom, decided to turn the underpass area into a preschool resulting in the bulldozing of such historic bars like Mad Dogs and Turtle, Det5 had to find a new home. Det5 is the last remaining business from those heady days, relocating to Soi 8.
16 years ago, when Det5 was first established, there were a lot of US troops and embassy staff that called this bar home. The name Det5 supposedly stands for “detachment”, a sympathetic nod to those who were far away from home getting befuggered. While the new Det5 is still casual, the vibe is far from beer bar. Det5 actually looks more like one of those converted house bars so popular around Thong Lor and Rajadamnoen, with ample outdoor seating, several plumerias and even outdoor pool tables. The new location is something of a blessing for co-owner Bob Van Es, as the authorities let Det5 close after 2 am if customers stay inside and turn down the music, an option several bar owners would love to have.
Det5 has always been known for its music and the bar has a wide range of CDs in case the DJ left his hard drive at home. There’s a pretty eclectic mix, but if you had to choose a genre classic rock is probably apt. Mondays are open mike night and enthusiasts are free to play anything they like, which can either be a lot of fun or a more painful than a 5am border run to Poipet.
There’s a full kitchen as well, churning out Thai and Western favorites with equal aplomb at reasonable rates. There are a handful of Dutch specialties such as bitterballen (120 baht), which is similar to deep-fried meatballs, which no one at your table will say no to. Every Friday night there is a free buffet with one Thai dish, one Western and a dessert, plus every day happy hour runs to 7 pm with local beers from 60 baht. Everyone leaves happy.
Det5 has four pool tables so it’s also a destination on the wannabe pool shark circuit. The bar’s vibe fits in with that of the soi, a relaxed place to sip while you talk, where music is meant to accompany conversation, not overpower it.
As you can tell by our review Det5 is not a destination bar so don’t go out of your way to visit, but if you are in the neighborhood and looking to wet your whistle and relax with friends then Det5 will surely meet your needs.
Location: 41 Sukhumvit Soi 8, about 100 meters down the soi on the left
Mass transit: BTS Nana
Hours: 10 am-late nightly