Open since 1979 Pak Bakery has proved popular with those looking for pastries and cakes, but as Mark Bibby Jackson discovers there is more to Pak than a sweet tooth. Photos by Nick McGrath.

Initial impressions can be deceptive, especially at Pak Bakery, which at first sight appears to be little more than a bakery with a few tables added on as an afterthought. Avoid the chilled counters on the left, filled with various tempting cakes and pastries, and you’ll find that Pak serves some fine and well-priced Thai food.

Located just around the corner from our office on Soi 23, it’s a place I have often frequented, initially to grab a hot coffee (B60) to kick start the day, sometimes accompanied by a jam doughnut (B28) if I need sugar boost. Tasting just like the doughy pastries of my childhood the key thing is to make sure it’s served cold — doughnuts were never intended to be warmed up.

From then on leave the bakery alone, unless you particularly want sweet-tasting bread in your tuna sandwich (B95).

For me, Pak is about its Thai food, and judging by the crowds that come here most lunchtimes I’m not alone in this opinion. The one-dish meals afford great value for money (B70 to B110).

I started with the Northern Thai curry noodle with chicken (B80). A rich and spicy soup full of coconut milk, soft noodles and a chicken drumstick, it comes with a tray of condiments including a curry paste for those who like their food really hot. The drumstick had ample meat on it and the serving was generous enough to be a lunch on its own, especially if you like slurping the sauce at the end of your meal.

This I partnered with a spicy beef salad (B150). The thin slices of beef were extremely tender having marinated in the salad’s juices which contained lemongrass, shallots and chilli as well as a host of Thai herbs, helping to create the most flavoursome of dishes. Those who do not like their food too hot should not be scared off by the “spicy” label as in truth it lacked the punch of the soup.

My only criticism of Pak is the service, which can be on the slow side, especially when busy. But with a pumped-up air-con interior and a few roadside seats for those who like their dining environment, as well as their food, hot, there really is no reason not to take some time over your meal.

Pak Bakery, 96/8-9 Sukhumvit Soi 23, Tel: 02 258 1234. Open 7am to 10pm.