Bangkok is famous for its street food, the vendors line every road and exotic aromas fill the city air. In recent years the ‘hi-soc’ (high society) and expat presence has meant a steady stream of contemporary and international restaurants have been welcomed into the burgeoning areas of Bangkok.
Nahm – Voted Asia’s number 1 restaurant Nahm is the first stop for serious foodies. It is all thanks to Australian chef David Thompson, whose flair with Asian ingredients wows locals and tourists alike. The décor is inspired by the temples of the ancient Siam city of Ayutthaya while the menu encompasses techniques and ingredients from every part of Thailand. The delicate and delicious starters, flavoursome and creamy curries and daring desserts make Nahm an unforgettable culinary adventure.
Gaggan – I had no idea what to expect from this creative and crazy Indian eatery. Housed in a whitewashed colonial-style wooden house in the heart of downtown Bangkok, Chef Gaggan presents progressive Indian cuisine with a twist. The food is brave and bold, expect odd concepts like samosa-flavoured white chocolate. The Chicken Tikka Masala was the best I’ve ever tasted, marinated chicken in a creamy spiced tomato sauce.
Bo lan – Founded and run by two of David Thompson’s disciples, and chef couple, Bo and Dylan promise to serve truly authentic Thai cuisine. The Balance set menu is the best bet, changing seasonally, it is a vibrant and exciting experience for the palate. Beginning with a shot of the odd Thai spirit, yaa dong, the meal then continues with an array of colourful and complex dishes. The presentation is immaculate, each mouthful is packed with a powerful combination of ingredients. I loved the flavours and passion shown in the cooking here, but be warned the food is fiery.
Sra Bua – experimental and exciting Thai cooking by Danish chef Kiin Kiin, whose restaurant in Copenhagen has a Michelin star. The set menus offer an individual and unique interpretation of familiar Thai recipes. Particularly memorable was the speciality Cold Lobster Red Curry Ice-cream and the Beef Braised in Oyster Sauce which is served with whole stems of green peppercorns and fragrant Thai basil. Sra Bua even conquers the conundrum of the Thai dessert offering a magical melting candyfloss construction containing coconut and frozen egg yolk. Be sure also to try their own-brewed beer with lemon and lime.
Quince – Offering casual European food in a cool contemporary dining room. Indulge with a fresh juice and crisp spiced lamb cigarillos whilst admiring the vintage design. Located in the trendy Sukhumvit district, they are plenty of places to shop nearby.
Salt Aree – venture out of the centre of town to the leafy and quiet Ari District where you’ll find this super hip restaurant and bar. With design conscious furnishings and an al fresco seating area you could be in New York or London. Enjoy a drink at the wine and cocktail bar, or choose from a varied menu which includes sushi and sashimi, pizza (cooked in the wood fired oven) and tempting desserts. I recommend the Bangkok Mule cocktail, made with rum, ginger and lemongrass.
Soul Food Mahanakorn – despite being run by an American, Soul Food offers authentic and stylish Thai food and strong tasty cocktails. Located on busy Thong Lor road this petite restaurant is cosy and inviting with a warm wooden interior and original artwork on the walls. Sit at the bar, order a spicy, tequila based Bung Bang Fai cocktail and some crispy chicken wings and samosas. I’m salivating at just the thought of it!
Rocket – this Sweden owned and run café has a typical Scandi look, which stands out amongst the Bangkok venues. Offering delicious coffee, made from carefully sourced exotic beans, no two cups are the same. Pop next door to Lady Brett (owned by the same brothers) for weekend brunches.
Thip Samai – this famous Pad Thai outlet lives up to expectations, it is always full for eat in and takeaway. Order the classic, or the egg wrapped speciality, then personalise with the condiments at the table: chilli flakes, sugar, fish sauce, crushed peanuts and lime. Sweet, sour, salty and super tasty, and costing the equivalent of £1 a plate, this pad thai is unmissable. Order a coconut ice or fresh orange juice to wash it down with.
Nai Soi – impossible to find, but worth the struggle. This little indoor canteen offers steaming hot bowls of delicious beef noodle soup with tender meat and flavoursome watery vegetable filled broth.
Sompong Cooking School – this lovely little cooking school takes students to a local food market, explains the vital ingredients for key Thai dishes, and teaches you to make an authentic and delicious food.