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With upscale options complemented by tried and tested local favourites, Bangkok is by far the best place in Thailand to sample the Kingdom’s legendary cuisine
There are many who would argue that its cuisine is Thailand’s greatest gift to the world. Thais are obsessed with food; they might as well be, given that their nation boasts a culinary culture that has as much zing as one of its spicy salads. The best introduction to Thai cuisine can be found in Bangkok where every nook and cranny of the country’s abundant larder can be explored – often in exquisite style, and (perhaps even more rewardingly in our view) in traditional venues where a lack of aesthetics is balanced by an overload of flavour.
There is no better place on the planet to splurge on Thai cuisine than in Bangkok. We are long term fans of Nahm, frequently voted one of the best restaurants in Asia. Chef/founder David Thompson recently announced his departure from the venue, but diners are in safe hands with new head chef Suraja “Jan” Ruangnukulkit. The cast list of dishes is ever evolving, but we’ve adored fiery creation such as spicy stir-fried frog legs with chili, turmeric, basil and cumin leaves and a thick, creamy blue swimmer crab curry with coconut, calamansi and turmeric.
For a more inventive take on classic Thai cuisine, Le Du is a great choice, a restaurant with a modern Thai-inspired eatery. Although owner Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn insists the restaurant is Thai, the intuitive approach to flavour combinations in creations like beef with pickled and raw Chinese cabbage and octopus with crab mayo and chorizo make the venue difficult to categorise. For sure, Le Du actually comes from a Thai word which is a synonym for the word “season” in Thai. The name reflects an emphasis on our culinary creations out of seasonal produce.
We are also huge fans of Paste. Signature dishes include Andaman lobster with crispy fish skin and watermelon and ground salmon with betel leaves and shallots.
Visitors looking for great Thai food at a reasonable price and a rarefied atmosphere have plenty of options in Bangkok. A fine place to sample a range of regional specialties in a stylish setting is Supanniga Eating Room on Thong Lor. The restaurantoffers the equivalent tastes of home cooking to the people of Bangkok in a price of everyday. Withkhunyai’s recipes, it is an experience for diners to revisit their own family’s kitchens, recollect an old but familiar savour, and reunite with their own heritage. The menu encompasses often hard-to-find dishes from the eastern Trat Province, from where the owner’s grandmother comes such as kung phad sator (prawns fried with stink beans).
An authentic taste of the south, meanwhile, can be savoured at Khua Kling Pak Sod, which does a particularly vibrant yellow curry with fish. Soul Food Mahanakorn started off with a pretty simple idea: to serve authentic regional Thai food – mostly the sort eaten on the street – in a comfortable setting. Homey Thai dishes are for example, yam makrua yao, a smoky eggplant salad topped with boiled duck eggs, along with excellent (and potent) cocktails. They source their ingredients from small farms in the northeast of Thailand, the rice is organic and fair trade, the meats free-range, and the menu is seasonal with daily specials.
For those seeking out a heady hit of authentic Bangkok food culture it pays to go back to the classics. Run by 70-year-old Jay Fai, Jay Fai specialises in stir-fries such as pad kee mao (drunkard’s noodles) and other dishes like a fluffy khai jiew poo (crab omelette) and a complex tom yam kung (hot and sour shrimp soup). Premium ingredients justify steep prices.
Dowdy but delicious dining options proliferate in Bangkok. We also adore Sanguan Sri on Wireless Road (try it’s gaeng kia wan nuea (beef green curry).
Soei is located in the north of the city in the fashionable Ari neighbourhood and is known for extremely flavourful, spicy creations such as shu shee plaoo tod (fried mackerel in fresh coconut curry) and gung chae nam pla (shrimp in fish sauce).