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.
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.
Price range: $$$$
Issaya Siamese Club is a paradise for foodies. The kitchen is headed by celebrity chef Ian Kittichai, who has appeared on various episodes of Iron Chef America, Iron Chef Jaand Iron Chef Thailand. It offers modern Thai dining in a beautiful 100-year-old colonial villa. The chef does a great job in combining creative tweaks with tradition, inspired by Thailand’s different regions. There are a few outstanding dishes here, but one particularly good is the Yum Hua Plee, which is a banana blossom and palm heart salad combined with crispy shallots and roasted peanuts in a chilli jam dressing.
Issaya Siamese Club is located at 4 Soi Si Akson, Khwaeng Thung Maha Mek, Khet Sathon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10120, p. +66 2 672 9040. Open daily from 11:30pm -2:30pm; 6 – 10:30pm.
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 use century-old cooking techniques. The restaurant is inside a shopping mall, yet here I understand why Bangkok is a serious food territory. The menu can change from time to time, but two incredible signature dishes are the char-grilled langoustine salad with northern Thai forest ingredient and the beef rib, served with long pepper, roasted tomatoes, and mushroom soy.
Paste is located at 999 Phloen Chit Rd, Khwaeng Lumphini, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand, p. +66 2 656 1003. Open daily from 12pm -2pm; 6:30pm – 11pm.
Sorn is the response to Bangkok’s insatiable hunger for southern Thai cuisine. The chef-owners, Khun Ice, and Yodkwan U-Pumpruk have a refined and sophisticated style and focuses on traditional Thai cooking techniques. Sorn is an elegant and understated space, featuring long tables and a see-through kitchen. The two-degree lobster and Gems on crab stick are incredible dishes.
Sorn is located at 56, Sukhumvit 26 Soi Ari, Klongton Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110, p. +66 99 081 1119. Open Tuesday to Friday 6pm -11pm, Saturday and Sunday 12pm – 2pm and 6pm – 11pm. Closed on Monday.
Price range: $$ – $$$
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. Sri Trat’s menu carries dishes that follow old family recipes, which includes the signatures pork curry with chamuang leaves and barracuda pieces tossed in vinegar.
Sri Trat is located at 90 Soi Sukhumvit 33, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, p. +66 2 088 0968. Open Wednesday to Monday 12pm -11pm. Closed on Tuesdays.
Supanniga Eating Room is an excellent place for a tasty and fun lunch with the best of the traditional Thai cuisine. Over three floors, this restaurant is a combination of brushed concrete and wooden fittings, inspired by the hotel of the same name that the owner’s family owns in Issan. It feels a lot more spacious than it looks outside. The dining room is a great option for groups – it’s lively and casual. Here you can enjoy authentic dishes inspired by both the owner’s grandmother’s hometown in Trat and Khon Kaen (northeast of Thailand). I especially loved the crab curry, and the deep-fried catfish – both signature dishes.
Supanniga Eating Room on Thonglor is located at 160/11 Soi Sukhumvit 55, Klong Tan Nuea, Wattana 10110, p. 02 714 7508. Open daily 11.30am – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 11pm.
Phuket Town offers traditional southern Thai cooking in a charming shophouse which transports guests to the colonial Southern town’s old quarter. It’s not to be missed. Here you find rare southern menu items, such as sataw (stink beans, cooked with chili paste and shrimp) and kua kling (chicken or beef saturated with curry paste, chilies, garlic, shaved lemongrass, and lime). Signature dishes include delicious kanom jeen rice noodles served with spicy coconut.
Phuket Town is located at 126/2 Thong Lo 4 Alley, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, p. +66 2 714 9402. Open daily 11am – 10.30pm
Soul Food Mahanakorn is undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in Bangkok, and, surprisingly, it is run by an American. The philosophy of Soul Food is to offer comfort, satisfaction and care when it comes to both food and setting. It’s a good idea to come here in a group to have the opportunity to share and try many delicious dishes. The restaurant serves up popular regional dishes such as the sticky tamarind ribs, pork belly curry, and crispy sea bass.
Soul Food Maharakorn is located at 56/10 Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, p.+66 2 714 7708. Open Monday to Friday 5:30 – 11pm, Saturday and Sunday 11:30am–3:30pm and 5:30–11pm.
Err has been created by renowned Chefs Dylan and Bo, the couple behind the popular fine-dining Thai restaurant Bo.Lan. Its casual dining concept is combined with delicious Thai dishes that run through expertly prepared street-food favorites, single dishes, and some more filling curries. It offers excellent value for money, and the entire menu is equally delicious – every dish is a highlight. 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.
Err is located at 394/35 Maha Rat Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, p.+66 2 622 2292. Open Tuesday to Sunday 11am-4pm and 5pm- 9pm. Closed on Monday.
Namsaah Bottling Trust is a fun pink century-old house in the busy financial district of Si Lom – a restaurant and bar equally funky and stylish on the inside. Local celebrity chef Ian Kittichai puts a new spin on Thai food with eclectic influences. Fun-loving diners will enjoy his famous yellow tuna ceviche marinated in coconut milk and green chilli. Make sure you don’t miss their remarkable cocktails.
Namsaah Bottling is located at 401 7 Khwaeng Silom, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500, p. + 66 2 636 6622. Open daily 11 am – 8 pm.
Price range: $-$$
Padthai Ekkamai is where you find arguably the most authentic Pad Thai in town, which is Thailand’s most famous dish among foreigners. Their signature ‘Pad Thai Ekamai’ is a hearty dish that comes with fresh squid, two large king prawns, and a few juicy muscles – it is an absolute must-try. Ekkamai has a casual vibe and a favorite for the late nights after the clubs in the neighborhoods are closed.
Padthai Ekkamai is located at 303/4 Soi Sukhumvit 63, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, p.+66 64 262 6245. Open daily 11:30 am – 4 am.
Yen Ta Fo JC is often pretty packed, so we recommend you come here little before 11:30 to avoid the crowds. Chewy boiled noodles in a clear soup topped with fried garlic and red sauce is the dish you should try here. Portions are quite small, so better to order more than one serving in the case you are hungry.
Yen Ta Fo JC is located at Sala Daeng 2 Alley, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, p. +66 81 814 9547. Open Monday and Saturday 10 am – 1:15 pm, Tuesday to Friday 6am – 2pm. Closed on Sunday.
Son Thod is an old school Thai establishment, and it is a very unique experience dining here. It offers one of the best Cantonese-style roast pork and crispy pork belly in town. These are one of the most popular street food dishes in Thailand for its tender and juicy meat as well as a special sweet sauce.
Son Thod is located at 34/19 Chokchai Ruam Mid Alley Viphawadee Rangsit Bangkok 10900, p 02 277 2157. Open daily 10:30 am – 5 pm.
Soei serves some of the most intensely flavorful Thai food in Bangkok and is exceptionally authentic. It sits right beside Samsen Train Station and is always, always busy. Waiting time can be very long, but when you finally have your meal here, you will be sure the waiting is worth it. The signature dish – gung chae nam pla – designed by owner and chef Soei Honed is a sort of shrimp in fish sauce that will blow you away.
Soei is located at Phibun Watthana 6 Alley, Khwaeng Samsen Nai, Khet Phaya Thai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400, p. +66 81 563 3131. Open Monday to Friday 10 am – 9:30 pm, Sunday 10am – 9:30pm. Closed on Saturday.
Someday Everyday is affordable as it may be, but this humble khao rad gaeng (curry and rice) spot is far from simple. After their exit from Thai fine-dining institution Nahm in 2018, founder David Thompson and head chef Prin Polsuk introduced a new restaurant concept that is a short win motosai ride from Sathorn’s business hub. There are about 20 dishes on the rotating menu and almost all of which take plunges into modern Thai cuisine. Some favorites are permanent, like the deep-fried semi-sun-dried pork and the gaeng ran juan, which is a fall-off-the-bone pork rib soup with a sour, fresh hit of madan leaf.
Someday Everyday is located at 52, 60 Charoen Krung Rd, Khwaeng Bang Rak, Khet Bang Rak 10500, p. + 66 61 435 6658. Open Wednesday to Sunday 11am – 8pm.
We traveled to Bangkok in November 2018. We flew from Singapore to Bangkok with Singapore Airlines and stayed at the fabulous 137 Pillars hotel.