April marks the beginning of summer in Bangkok, and while many of us have already planned a getaway to escape the heat, there are plenty of reasons to stay in town for Songkran, and the tastiest among them is Khao Chae.
An elaborate summer delicacy adapted from a Mon (an ethnic group from Myanmar) dish during the time of King Rama II (1809 to 1824), Khao (rice) Chae (to soak) literally means rice soaked in cool water and was only available to the royal family due to the fine ingredients, culinary craft and painstaking preparation process. Today, the refreshing flower-scented rice dish served with an array of condiments has become a summer delicacy readily served in upmarket Thai restaurants during the Songkran season.
To help you stay cool in the Bangkok heat, we’ve rounded up a list of the best places to get your Khao Chae fix around town.
Khao’s chef Vichit Mukura has created a set of hand-crafted condiments to complement the all-time favourite summer Thai dish of steamed jasmine rice with chilled, jasmine-scented water. Here, the Khao Chae dish includes fried shrimp paste balls, fried stuffed shallots with ground fish, crispy fried fish, pork or beef threads and more. A Songkran treat you shouldn’t miss, Khao’s Khao Chae set for two requires booking two days in advance so reserve yours now before it’s gone.
Available daily until 15 May, a Khao Chae set for two is priced at THB 680.
Khao, 15 Ekamai Soi 10, Khlongtun Nua, Bangkok, +6698 829 8878
Head over to VIU at The St. Regis Bangkok for an array of traditional culinary treats expertly crafted to beat the heat this Songkran. The extravagant Thai Songkran sharing menu offers royal Thai Khao Chae with chilled, jasmine-scented soaked rice, shrimp paste balls, sweet fried pork, crispy sesame fish, sweet turnip with egg, and green mango, cucumber, turmeric and chili. Don’t miss out on the Thai classical musical instrument khim performance and a complimentary hand garland class on 13 April only, from noon until 3pm.
Available on 13-15 April only, the summer specialty is priced at THB 650++ per set.
VIU, 12/F, The St. Regis Bangkok, Bangkok, +662 207 7819
Siam Tea Room
Available throughout April and May only, Siam Tea Room at Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park is offering a traditional Thai culinary experience with homemade Khao Chae. The Khao Chae set features rice soaked in cold water infused with Thai flowers, together with various delicious condiments, such as the tasty look kapi (bite-sized fried grilled fish, shrimp paste, lemongrass, shallot and coconut milk), deep-fried shallots stuffed with stir fried chicken and herb, capsicum wrapped in luxurious egg net and more, with fresh fruits to be enjoyed last to refresh the palate and balance the flavours.
Available daily at 11am-4:40pm, the secret recipe Khao Chae is priced at THB 480++ per set and THB 555++ per set for takeaway.
Siam Tea Room, Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, +662 059 5999
Treat yourself to traditional Thai treats alongside breathtaking views of the Chao Praya River at Thiptara, The Peninsula Bangkok. The hotel presents recipe originated from the royal kitchen in ways of aromatic chilled jasmine water served with a range of delectable condiments, such as sweet dried fish, stuffed shallots with fish, fried shrimp paste balls, fried sweet pepper, sautéed sweet dried turnip and more. Stay cool this Songkran can’t get better than a Khao Chae experience by the river.
Available daily until 15 April at The Lobby and Thiptara, the Khao Chae set is priced at THB 520++.
Thiptara, Garden Level, The Peninsula Bangkok, +66 2020 2888
Award-winning restaurant, Celadon at The Sukhothai Bangkok, invites diners to indulge in the traditional Thai summer dish prepared by Chef Rossarin. Served with exquisitely steamed jasmine rice infused with chilled jasmine water, Celadon’s Khao Chae features a lavish array of traditional condiments, including fried shrimp paste balls, ground steamed stuffed bell peppers with minced shrimp, sweetened shredded fish, fried stuffed shallots with ground catfish, crispy beef or pork threads, sweet preserved radish, watermelon with sweet ground fish and shallot. When you are done sampling the savory delicacies, go for the homemade marian plum in syrup.
Available daily throughout April, Celadon’s Khao Chae is priced at THB 990++ per set and THB 1200++ per set for takeaway.
Celadon, The Sukhothai Bangkok, 13/3 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok, +662 344 8888