Bangkok is always a good idea. And with the Thai visa on arrival and generous visa fee exemption currently on offer for Indian passport holders, a last-minute weekend plan is that much doable. If you’re anything like me, then every holiday revolves around food. So, as soon as flights are booked, before even the hotel room is reserved, restaurant research kicks off. And Bangkok’s several thousand restaurants are sure to leave you spoilt for choice. We recently opened a South-East Asia inspired restaurant in Mumbai called Miss T, and this was our first trip back to Bangkok since the opening. As one who is always looking to be inspired by authentic flavours, I was going to be experiencing the local fare with a completely different hat on. But on a semi-vacation, it’s not all about research and one can’t help but indulge in some all-time favourites. Here’s my Bangkok food guide of new discoveries as well as the crowd pleasers we always return to.
Helmed by German identical twins, Mathias and Thomas Suhring, this fine dining restaurant offers contemporary cuisine inspired by traditional German recipes. The award-wining restaurant (read 2 Michelin stars and No. 4 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list) is housed in a charming villa in a residential neighbourhood; remodeled into a dining space, surrounded by lush gardens. You can choose between a 10 or 14 course seasonal tasting menu with a few add-ons for good measure, which changes roughly every three months. Hard to achieve in tasting menus, every course is a flawless surprise here.
A fruit shop, its claim to fame is one dish, the only dish on the menu. Thailand’s quintessential dessert, Mango Sticky Rice is being served since 1987. You can’t sit here; it’s only open for takeaways in very unglamorous plastic boxes. But it’s guaranteed to leave you craving for more. Which is why I ended up going back for seconds the very next evening. The perfect balance between coconut, savoury flavours, sticky rice, and the particular breed of Thai mangoes makes for a true happy ending to any meal in the city.
Forget about Thai Green Curry and Tom Yum Soup. This family-owned restaurant focuses on reviving long-lost Thai recipes, served in a contemporary and comforting format.
Definitely start with the rice crackers & dip, and the blended crabmeat and pork, seasoned and steamed inside crab shells. And follow that up with the simple and uber comforting fried omelette with crab meat. You can’t go wrong with the great selection of grilled meats and fried rice and (spicy) curries.
They have three locations in Bangkok, and prior reservations are highly recommended. I went to the Thongor branch on Soi Sukhumvit 55, down the road from Mae Varee (you can see where I’m leading you with this).
I’ll admit I’m one of those people whose first (and if possible, also last) meal on a trip in Asia will involve Xiao Long Baos (XLB or soup dumplings, as they’re popularly referred to). And if it’s Din Tai Fung, you’re sorted with the best, as confirmed by Michelin. Once you get over the fact that this is a chain restaurant with a presence all over the world, you must try the selection of XLBs and their signature Dan Dan Noodles served with a peanut sauce. Equally addictive is to stand in front of their open kitchen and watch chefs make the dumplings by hand with ultimate precision.
Regardless of where I am, brunch for me is synonymous with pancakes, eggs, and waffles. And if you have kids in tow, this is a no-brainer. Of Manhattan fame, there’s a small outpost of this breakfast joint in the Siam Paragon mall. Get ready for cheat day and how – their famous buttermilk pancakes and Spanish chorizo omelette are irresistible. I’ve never seen my daughter look at anything with so much love, as she did her chocolate milkshake, which we all proceeded to ‘share’ with her.
These are just some of the highlights of my most recent trip. Previous excursions to Bangkok have thrown up other gems – Katana in Wattana is an all-time favourite for the best Shabu Shabu. And, of course Gaa and Gaggan, fine dining fare by India’s very own culinary stars. Bangkok has something for every mood and occasion, and there’s little that you can’t find in this city, which boasts of being one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. So don’t even think about it, just book that ticket.