Thailand’s capital has always been known for its incredibly cheap, but insanely delicious street food served up from the city’s many roadside vendors. However, while street food
is the lifeblood of the city and an obvious don’t miss for any visitor, if you live to eat rather than eat to live, there’s even more still in kitchens behind closed doors that you shouldn’t overlook.
Here are three contemporary Thai restaurants to put on your Bangkok bucket list.
On the forefront of Bangkok’s contemporary Thai cooking, and arguably one of its most exciting kitchens, is this modest restaurant by exceptional young Thai chef, Thitid ‘Ton’ Tassanakajohn, and charismatic restaurant manager Khun Tao. Building on experience gained at world-class restaurants like Eleven Madison Park and Jean Georges, Ton focuses on the use of seasonal Thai ingredients in modernised, progressive Thai dishes – khao chae (90RMB), a traditional dish of rice cooked in jasmine water and served once cooled, here is reinvented as a scoop of jasmine ice cream with a shrimp and pork ball, salted fish and pickled radish. A poached oyster (90RMB) is served with chilli paste, spicy green mango relish and swimming in a Thai rice wine sabayon.
Order a la carte or choose from two tasting menus – four courses for 340RMB or six courses for 600RMB. With a menu that’s inspiring and thrilling, Le Du is reason enough in itself for a weekend trip to Bangkok. 399/3 Silom Soi 7.
Helmed by Executive Chef David Thompson, nahm showcases traditional Thai fare reinvented with modern takes. He may be Australian, but Thompson knows his stuff – cooking Thai cuisine for three decades and widely considered as a top authority on the subject. Originally opened in London in 2001, nahm quickly racked up a Michelin-star. This Bangkok branch, inside the chic COMO Metropolitan hotel, opened in 2010 and has been recognised year after year as one of the world’s best restaurants. Known for digging up classic-but-nearly-forgotten recipes, Thompson and his kitchen turn out exceptional, modern renditions of traditional Thai that you won’t taste elsewhere. There’s a wonderfully simple but sophisticated scallop salad (160RMB) with coconut and lemongrass or a rich panaeng curry (144RMB) with wagyu beef, topped with peanuts, shallot and Thai basil.
If you’re looking for a plush stay to complement your eating holiday, the COMO offers a 'nahm Experience' package starting from 1,450RMB, which includes overnight stay, breakfast and a tasting menu for two at nahm. 27 South Sathorn Road.
Issaya Siamese Club
Set on an unassuming backstreet, this gorgeous, century-old Thai villa with a sprawling garden is home to Issaya Siamese Club. The menu at Issaya is rooted in Chef Ian Kittichai’s Bangkok childhood – memories of wet markets, of cooking with his mother, of pushing her food cart through their working-class neighbourhood. The restaurant is named for the old Thai word 'issaya' meaning rainy season, but inspired also by Kittichai’s professional life working in kitchens around the world.
Sink your teeth into exceptional spice-rubbed baby back pork ribs (76RMB) glazed with a houseblended chilli paste or lamb shank (144RMB) simmered in massamun curry and served with pickled cucumber while sitting on the villa’s expansive terrace or lush heritagestyle dining room. Or let the kitchen do the choosing for you with an eight-course Issaya set menu (300RMB) or ten-course tasting menu (500RMB). 4 Soi Sri Aksorn.
How to get there Return fl ights from Beijing to Bangkok start from around 1,500RMB on ctrip.com.
Where to stay With rates starting from under 300RMB and housed in the former home of a Thailand Supreme Court justice, Baan Pra Nond Bed & Breakfast (8/1 Thanon Charoen Rat) offers a cosy urban retreat. The owners are an affable Thai-American family, complete with a house beagle, that are as much of a reason to stay as the historic, atmospheric vibes.
For a more upscale, five-star stay, look to The Sukhothai Bangkok (13/3 South Sathorn Road). Tucked off a busy road, this expansive, elegant property is a tranquil garden paradise away from the hustle of the city. Rates start from around 1,300RMB.
By Cat Nelson