At a hip Bangkok diner, foodies with an adventurous palate tuck into a bug-based menu that includes a watermelon salad sprinkled with bamboo worms, nachos with silkworm cherry tomato salsa, and pasta made from ground crickets.
Abundant and stacked with protein, insects have long been a favorite snack among Thai farmers. But they have often carried a negative image, perceived as “food for the poor” in a country with profound class divides.
Now, bugs are creeping onto the menu of some of Bangkok’s high-end restaurants as the capital’s gourmands leap on the latest global food trend with a sustainable agenda.
Ratta Bussakornnun, a 27-year-old who works in the cosmetics industry, admitted she was initially skeptical. She sat for a meal recently at Insects in the Backyard, which offers Bangkok’s first insect-themed fine-dining menu.
Many wealthier Thais, she said, think of insects as “unappetizing and dirty.” But by the end of her meal she was won over.
“I just ate scallops topped with bamboo worms and a fish fillet with an ant egg sauce. It was delicious,” she beamed, a gentle jazz track playing overhead in the dimly lit restaurant. “The food is well-presented,” she added. “This gives an impression of sophistication.”
The restaurant is located in Chang Chui, an artsy district in western Bangkok filled with vinyl record stores and local fashion designers. Feed the world Co-founder Regan Suzuki Pairojmahakij says insects are more than just a gastronomic trend—they are a potential panacea for an increasingly crowded and meat-hungry world.
The Canadian national used to work in the NGO sector with remote rural communities, many of whom incorporated insects into their cuisine.
Fried bamboo caterpillars on a watermelon salad