BANGKOK’S BEST BITES

Tick off th­ese Thai taste sen­sa­tions

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - DESTINATION THAILAND - PAUL EWART

Eat­ing and drink­ing in Bangkok is akin to a na­tional sport. As such, the scale of epi­curean fare in the Thai cap­i­tal is un­par­al­leled. The city is fa­mous for its drool-in­duc­ing street food, his­toric shop­house eater­ies and ram­shackle lo­cal bars. Then there are the de­gus­ta­tion din­ners at glob­ally renowned res­tau­rants, hip­ster-filled hang­outs and culi­nary walk­ing tours that en­sure there’s a lips­mack­ing ex­pe­ri­ence around ev­ery corner.

You just need to know where to go.

BANGKOK’S BEST

The re­cip­i­ent of this year’s top spot in Asia’s 50 Best Res­tau­rants awards, Gag­gan is far from a flash in the pan.

You see, this eatery has held the No.1 po­si­tion for the third year run­ning, mak­ing it the most lauded restau­rant in the city.

It serves a mod­ern rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of clas­sic In­dian cui­sine and all din­ers must work their way through a set 22-course “Gag­gan Ex­pe­ri­ence”. Book well in ad­vance as the wait­list here could give Copen­hagen’s NOMA a run for its money. EATATGAGGAN.COM

AN AUSSIE TAKE ON THAI

Nahm is an­other reg­u­lar on Asia’s 50 Best Res­tau­rants and the World’s 50 Best Res­tau­rants lists. It’s the brain­child of Aus­tralian David Thomp­son, a chef who has called the city home for more than two decades and has been hailed for his mas­tery of Thai cui­sine. Nahm can be found in Bangkok and Lon­don where it be­came the first Thai restau­rant to be awarded a Miche­lin star. With the re­cent news of Miche­lin’s en­try into Thai­land, it’s a dead cert that its Bangkok eatery will soon fol­low suit. COMOHOTELS.COM

HIP­STER HAVEN

Eas­ily ri­valling the decor and cocktail cre­ations of Mel­bourne’s trendi­est bars, Nam­saah Bot­tling Trust is as hip as they come.

Set in a two-storey, 100-year-old house that’s painted candy-floss pink and is doused in mood light­ing by night, the place is strik­ing but in­side it’s the cocktail menu that makes Nam­saah a favourite for Bangkok’s bright young things.

While the clas­sics are present (and de­lec­ta­ble), it’s the in-house cre­ations that are the real show­stop­pers.

Try the Sang­som Salted Caramel Whisky Sour (you’ll want to or­der two) and for the­atrics, the rum-based Mekhong Zom­bie, which has the bar­tender de­liv­er­ing your or­der armed with a blow­torch while wear­ing a ter­ri­fy­ing face mask. WWW.NAM­SAAH.COM

AN OLDIE BUT A GOODIE

Salathip ben­e­fits from the adage of lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion.

Part of the re­cently re­fur­bished Shangri-La Ho­tel (a prop­erty that has climbed to the top of the city’s five- star ho­tel pile), the restau­rant sits on the Chao Phraya River. Set in a tra­di­tional Thai-style teak pavil­ion, the clas­sic Thai menu cov­ers the quin­tes­sen­tial favourites, It also has live tra­di­tional mu­sic and danc­ing .

Nab a ta­ble right on the out­door ter­race to en­joy the breeze and watch the steady stream of long-tail boats mak­ing their way up and down the river. It’s a must-visit for first-time vis­i­tors to Thai­land. SHANGRI-LA.COM

EAT, PRAY, LOVE

Want to ex­pe­ri­ence how Thais in the City of An­gels have eaten for gen­er­a­tions?

In the his­toric Bang Rak neigh­bour­hood you can find some of the old­est – and most pop­u­lar – res­tau­rants in the city, eater­ies have been serv­ing the same recipes for, in some cases, more than a cen­tury.

To ex­pe­ri­ence Bang Rak’s high­lights, join a Taste of Thai­land Vil­lage of Love (the lo­cal name for the area) tour.

Tak­ing vis­i­tors on a walk­ing de­gus­ta­tion, the itin­er­ary cov­ers the city’s sec­ond-old­est wet mar­ket, a fifth-gen­er­a­tion restau­rant spe­cial­is­ing in roast duck, and a pre-Word War II tra­di­tional Thai dessert shop where de­scen­dants of its orig­i­nal owner still make tasty treats ac­cord­ing to their grand­mother’s recipes. TASTEOFTHAILAND.ORG

FROM BANGKOK TO NEW YORK

Is­saya Si­amese Club is the flag­ship out­let for in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned chef Ian Kit­tichai whose New York restau­rant has been a long­time favourite with no­to­ri­ously picky Man­hat­tan­ites.

Tucked away from the city’s hus­tle and bus­tle in a pic­turesque Thai villa, the re­laxed lounge-style vibe here is ex­ag­ger­ated thanks to the lush, trop­i­cal gar­den set­ting in which herbs, fruit and veg­eta­bles are grown for use in the kitchen.

Food aside, the stylish mem­ber’s club-in­spired lounge bar is a great spot for a cocktail or two. IS­SAYA.COM

DIN­NER WITH A SIDE OF ART

An­other vet­eran of Asia’s 50 Best Res­tau­rants awards, Eat Me has been a con­stant on the Bangkok foodie scene for years. Sleek in de­sign, the fu­sion menu is pep­pered with Aus­tralian pro­duce, which isn’t sur­pris­ing given that the owner is an Aus­tralian. Set over two floors, the lively restau­rant also has an in-house art gallery (sup­plied with works from Bangkok’s lead­ing con­tem­po­rary art gallery) so you can feed your eyes at the same time as your stom­ach. EATMERESTAURANT.COM

STREET EATS

Rum­blings of a 2018 street stall ban in Bangkok made head­lines a few months ago and while the end is not nigh for the city’s fa­mous street food, the gov­ern­ment will in­tro­duce new reg­u­la­tions that will most likely have some im­pact on the ex­ist­ing ven­dors.

So the time is most def­i­nitely now to bite into the street-food scene while it’s still at its most raw and ex­cit­ing.

Make a bee­line for Chi­na­town (re­ferred to among lo­cals as Yaowarat) which is con­sid­ered the birth­place of street food in the coun­try and re­mains the best place to sam­ple ev­ery­thing from per­fectly grilled sa­tay and fiery wok-fried noo­dles, to bird’s nest soup and sweet milky tea.

THAI MOONSHINE

His­tor­i­cally, a liquor in­fused with medic­i­nal herbs, ya dong was sold on street stalls for next to noth­ing.

Known as a cure-all for ev­ery­thing from sex­ual short­com­ings to back­ache, its po­tency (ahem) didn’t go un­no­ticed by en­ter­pris­ing young bar-own­ing Thais who have since given the moonshine an up­scale makeover and pride of place on their drinks menu.

Mixed with freshly-squeezed fruits, herbs and spices, you can try th­ese tasty cre­ations at one of a hand­ful of new bars that are pop­ping up around the city. Tep Bar of­fers in­fu­sions with a side of Thai tapas and tra­di­tional mu­sic in the evening while at Stu­dio in Sukhumvit, the ya dong cocktail has a side of hip hop.

PIC­TURES: ISTOCK, SUP­PLIED

Bangkok’s Chi­na­town is the best place to sam­ple the coun­try’s wide va­ri­ety of street food.

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