Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia - - THE BEST OF 2018 -

EAT Sorn Fine South­ern Cui­sine, Bangkok

One of the hard­est ta­bles to snag right now is Sorn, a spicy, smoky, lay­ered trip through the Thai south. Each dish has a story, like the Kobe-soft skew­ers made of dry-aged beef from six-year-old cows that's mar­i­nated in milk and grilled in a date-curry sauce. You be­gin with a pa­rade of small plates, but the cli­max is a ta­ble full of shared dishes—cur­ries, grilled meat, soup and seafoods— of­fer­ing the dou­ble ben­e­fit of re-ground­ing you in Thai­land and al­low­ing your party to take a breather from the wait staff and dis­cuss what you ac­tu­ally think about the meal. Then sit back and look at each other in ap­pre­cia­tive awe. in­sta­gram. com/sorn­fine­south­ern; tast­ing menu Bt2,700.

Saawaan, Bangkok

Rice paddy crabs are su­per cute. But chef Aom Pong­morn shows no mercy. She rips them apart, ren­ders their fat with Thai herbs, re­turns the mix to their shells and roasts it on the grill for a com­plex, creamy dip for your sticky-rice balls. Don't look for any fluff, foam or barely there bites at Saawaan. This is sub­stan­tial fare for a set 10 cour­ses, any five of which would sat­isfy your hunger but why stop when grilled, ten­der Iberico Se­creto awaits as the sa­vory de­noue­ment?; tast­ing menu Bt1,950.

Kar­makamet Con­veyance, Bangkok

Go back in time at river­side restora­tion project Lhong 1919, and across Asia via this fine-din­ing mem­ory tour from chef Som Thean­tae. Her take on Hainanese chicken rice is a salve for the soul, a rich broth that will cure any hang­over— which, if you opt for the smart wine pair­ing, would be use­ful the day af­ter. Thean­tae even finds tasty in­spi­ra­tion in some foods she didn't like in their orig­i­nal form, mak­ing for truly im­pres­sive kitchen ac­ro­bat­ics. kar­makamet­con­; tast­ing menu Bt2,500.

Funky Lam Kitchen, Bangkok

Re­ally want to fawn over fish cakes? Funky Lam's trout with pounded prawns will dance through your dreams. You also need their clam soup with meat­balls, charred toma­toes and lemon­grass in your life. A high­lands-food pas­sion project from two Lao­tian princes, the place flirts with its mo­tor­cy­cle theme and play­ful menu: the house-made Isan sausage comes with a doll-sized mini­cleaver.­lam kitchen; mains from Bt350.

STAY Wal­dorf As­to­ria Bangkok

Tow­er­ing over the bus­tle of the Siam shop­ping dis­trict and the seren­ity of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, An­dre Fu's in­te­ri­ors are grace­ful and invit­ing. On the ground is the ho­tel's gun­ning-for-Miche­lin Front Room; up top find a scrump­tious steak­house, a pure-ro­mance cham­pagne lounge, and lofty cock­tail bar whose west­ward win­dows cap­ti­vate at hot-pink sun­set hour. wal­dor­fas­to­ria.hil­; dou­bles from Bt13,000.

Cape Fahn Ho­tel, Koh Samui

What's bet­ter than a pri­vate is­land? Two pri­vate is­lands, ob­vi­ously. Just off the north coast of Koh Samui is all-pool villa bou­tique Cape Fahn. It's a 300-me­ter boat-ride from shore, but at low tide you can walk it, re­defin­ing the phrase bare­foot lux­ury. Fahn Is­land has 21 vil­las, two restau­rants, and the spa; for to­tal es­cape book the two-bed­room pool villa on bitty Fahn Noi next door. Or char­ter their pri­vate yacht. cape­fahn­ho­; dou­bles from Bt14,153. – JENINNE LEE-ST. JOHN

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: Thai fra­grance store Kar­makamet's new fine-din­ing space; the “son-in-law egg” amuse bouche at Saawaan; pri­vate-is­land Cape Fahn sits just off Koh Samui; ad­mire Bangkok's sky­line from Wal­dorf As­to­ria's pool; the lob­ster-claw jor-rang at Sorn.

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