Legendary traffic, brown haze covering the city, urban accretion for hundreds of square miles. For all this and more, Bangkok can be something of an acquired taste.

Chao Phraya River

Yet, It doesn’t take long to realize why the Thai capital is one of the planet’s most visited cities. It’s vast, fast-evolving, with many remote corners and newly minted hangouts. It also has impressive monuments and a compelling contemporary art scene. But it’s for the food that many come here. I thought I knew what Thai food was, but now, in Bangkok, I realize I was wrong. I had to go to this unusual city to fully understand that Thai cuisine is one of the tastiest and most versatile in Asia (perhaps in the world), offering a vast variety of flavors, infused with an incredible range of spices.

Here, in the Thai capital, I experience the best of Thai cuisine. Bangkok’s love affair with food is everywhere: from modern fusion cuisine to old-school restaurants, and, of course, renowned street food stalls. This time, though, I leave Bangkok’s iconic street food out of my exploration and focus on the local’s favorite restaurants. I base myself in Sukhumvit, at superb 137 Pillars Hotel – a great location to stay during my 4-day food adventure across Bangkok’s most appealing restaurants:

Sri Trat
Sri Trat is a stylishly rustic Thai eatery that showcases the best of Trat cuisine. Trat is a small province on the eastern seaboard of Thailand. It’s home to one of the most delightful cuisines in the country, thanks to its abundance of seafood, fresh fruits, and rare herbs.

Great place for a tasty lunch with the best of the traditional Thai cuisine. Family recipes have been preserved for three generations, and the dishes are inspired by both the owner’s grandmother’s hometown in Trat and Khon Kaen (northeast) where the family is now based.

Phuket town
Traditional southern Thai cooking to be found here, in a charming shophouse that transports guests to the colonial Southern town’s old quarter.

Soul food Mahanakorn
It is one of my favorite restaurants in town. Soul Food Mahanakorn serves up popular regional dishes in the cozy wood-lined restaurant on Thong Lor, only five minutes’ walk from the BTS.

Casual dining concept with delicious Thai dishes that run through expertly prepared street-food favorites, single dishes, and some more filling curries. Excellent value for money and a great restaurant set up. It’s located next to Wat Phra and other temples. After a tasty dinner here, I have a few drinks at one of the many fabulous bars in the Old Town.

Issaya Siamese Club
Modern Thai dining by celebrity chef Ian Kittichai. It is located in a colored and charming 100-year-old colonial villa. Dishes from different regions of Thailand. The chef does a great job in combining creative tweaks with tradition.

Paste serves modern Thai cuisine that stays true to the bountiful flavors of Thailand. Chef-owners Bongkoch ‘Bee’ Satongun and her husband Jason Bailey design the menu inspired by royal Thai cuisine and uses century-old cooking techniques. It’s located in a mall, but here I understand why the Thai capital is a serious food territory. A restaurant you don’t want to miss when in Bangkok.

Sorn is the response to Bangkok’s insatiable hunger for southern Thai cuisine. The chef has a refined and sophisticated style and focuses on traditional Thai cooking techniques.

Jim Thompson House Museum

We traveled to Bangkok in November 2018. We flew from Singapore to Bangkok with Singapore Airlines and stayed at the fabulous 137 Pillars hotel.