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.
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? saawaan.com; 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. karmakametconveyance.com; 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. fb.com/funkylam 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.hilton.com; 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. capefahnhotel.com; 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.