V8 Diner is a retro 1950’s American Theme restaurant that has been getting a bit of attention since it first opened up in November of 2010. Located in Sukhumvit Plaza, it is open 24 hours a day and is just a short walk from the Asoke BTS sky train station. There are some things that are very exciting about this new venue, and other areas that need to be addressed if V8 is going to make a real name for itself in the Bangkok food scene. V8 diner is currently owned by a group of partners that manage several night clubs throughout Bangkok and Pattaya. V8 diner is their first attempt at a full-fledged restaurant and the restaurant is physically attached to Insomnia nightclub. Insomnia opens up at 10PM each night and offers some exciting promotions for people who eat at the restaurant.
The Venue at V8 is cheerful, fun, bright and totally retro. There is plenty of shiny chrome and USA memorabilia all throughout the restaurant and upbeat pop music that sets a really good tone and instantly makes you feel like hanging out for a while. The restaurant is decorated with old fashioned photos, iconic route 66 signs, classic vinyl records, a retro surf board, an old fashioned coke machine and even a vintage pinball machine and jukebox. Although the jukebox and pinball machine are only for show and don’t really work, it can be forgiven because it adds a real sense of nostalgia to the place that makes the ascetics really work. Although the service was acceptable, if not extraordinary, it is the drink specials that are truly amazing and worth crossing town for. Happy hour is daily from 100pm-100am and V8 has drink specials that include beer for as low as 29Baht and Bacardi Rum & Johnny Walker Red for as low as 39Baht a shot, and Jack Daniels for 49Baht a shot among others. Also any purchase from V8 entitles you to free entrance to Insomnia nightclub.
At first glance the menu at V8 seems promising. There is a limited breakfast menu (also served 24hours a day) with items such as blueberry pancakes, eggs, bacon and hash browns. There is also classic American fare such as hamburgers, hotdogs (Oscar Meyer Brand), sandwiches, French fries, sundaes, ice cream floats and pies. They even have root beer and Mountain Dew soda pop which is hard to find in Thailand along with a few classic entrees like fried chicken strips, chicken fried steak, fish and chips and pork chops and steak. According to one of the managers, the menu was developed by a Thai chef who had trained abroad, but is no longer with the company, and the current kitchen staff has little or no experience eating or preparing authentic American food. This is painfully obvious when tasting the cuisine at V8. Items ordered included the Chili Cheese Fries (155Baht) and the Buffalo Chicken wings (110Baht), The Cheeseburger with onion rings (245baht), and the Ruben Sandwich with French fries (245baht). Everything was under seasoned, and tasted as if it had either been pre-frozen, come from a can or out of a box. The portions were somewhat generous in size and the hamburger in particular was quite large. The taste was acceptable, but it was more akin to a meatloaf than a typical American hamburger. The onion rings were actually quite delicious, but the French fries would have been much better if they were fried until they were crispy instead of being served limp and soggy. The chicken wings needed to be deep fried instead of micro-waved and they totally lacked any kind of wing sauce and were bland beyond belief. The chili cheese fries were a bit confusing; as the chili tasted more like a sweet spaghetti sauce and it lacked any sort of cheese sauce- which is such an important part of the dish. The Ruben should have been a sure-fire hit, however the corn beef was chopped into little pieces (which is highly nontraditional) and was overpowered by the taste of the coleslaw on the sandwich. The rye bread didn’t taste fresh and the Thousand Island dressing was undetectable. The management stated that they are in the process of updating the menu and hiring an experienced chef and we look forward to returning to V8 after this metamorphosis has happened and re-trying the food.
At this point in time there is very little to recommend on the menu expect perhaps their onion rings which were crispy and nicely prepared. V8 is another Bangkok novelty experience that is worth checking out mostly because it is open 24hours a day and because of their mind blowing drink specials. The convenience of having Insomnia attached to the venue, coupled with the free cover charge also makes it an attractive spot to visit at least once. Until the management puts as much effort into the food that is served at V8 as they have with decorating the venue and promoting the nightclub, V8 may have trouble establishing itself as little more than a novelty nightclub. V8 diner has a fantastic concept and is well positioned to be successful and it remains to be seen if V8 will make a real commitment to serving authentic American food and carve out a niche for themselves in the dynamic and competitive food scene in Bangkok.
See V8 Diner's Restaurant Page