BANGKOK’S BEST BITES
Tick off these Thai taste sensations
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Bangkok’s Chinatown is the best place to sample the country’s wide variety of street food.