Ask Vir Ask Vir

You always eat well in Bangkok

There are only three or four Asian cities that are in the same league as Bangkok when it comes to eating well.

It is a city where you don’t have to go to a top restaurant to eat a great meal. The hawkers serve Michelin star-quality meals (in fact, two of them do have Michelin stars) and at every food court you can get a great meal for next to nothing.


Now that Thailand has re-opened and so many of us are travelling to Bangkok, I am always being asked where to eat. Well, things change all the time. But these are the places I ate at a fortnight ago.


100 Mahaseth: Chalee Kader is the best Indian-origin chef you may not have heard of. Chalee’s father is from South India though Chalee’s food at 100 Mahaseth, my favourite Bangkok restaurant, is largely northern Thai. I go for the Bone Marrow which is a world class dish. But if you like steaks, the restaurant does wonders with local beef. There are two kinds of laarb (the northern salad of mixed pork or beef), astonishing crispy fried pork and other dishes that will make you realise that there is more to Thai food than green curry and pad thai. (Not recommended for vegetarians).


Sorn: This is often described as the best restaurant in Thailand. According to the last list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, this is the second-best restaurant in the continent and it has two Michelin stars.


   It reminded me of an Asian film director’s version of what a Michelin- starred restaurant should be. Service is solicitous, the menu has many, many courses and they come to the table with a trolley full of petit fours at the end.


   Some of the food was very good, especially the main courses. This is southern Thai food, so expect lots of fish. And be prepared to pay. This may also be the most expensive Thai restaurant in the country.


Burger and Lobster: I still remember when the first Burger and Lobster opened in London with a no-bookings policy: You had to queue up to get in. The conceit was that for the same price you could order a burger or a lobster. (The people who bought the burger subsidised the people who ate at the lobster.)


   In its effort to become a great global brand, Burger and Lobster has junked all that and I’m not sure the concept works any longer. The Bangkok branch was dead at lunchtime, perhaps because you can get much better burgers at lower prices elsewhere in Bangkok. The food was fine but the restaurant’s dead energy seemed to me to re-emphasise a greater truth: When in Thailand, eat local. It is a waste of time to go to branches of London restaurants.


Luk Kai Thong: I went to the branch in EmQuartier. Usually, I like the crab omelette (Thais eat a lot of eggs), the fresh crab and some of the stir fries. This time, though, the food was curiously flat so I am not sure I would recommend it to anyone any longer.


Suhring: I first met the Suhrings, identical German twins, when they were cooking at Mezza Luna 15 years ago. I thought they were brilliant then and when they finally opened a beautiful restaurant of their own, the world agreed with me. They have two Michelin stars and appear on lists of the world’s best restaurants.


 "Nusara is a labour of love. Situated in a century-old building in the shadow of the Wat Po Temple, it is super discreet. There is no signage."

   When it comes to high quality European food, this is my favourite restaurant in Bangkok because even though the cuisine is so complex and elevated, they never forget that they are in the business of spreading joy. Service is warm and friendly while being elegant and flawless. A third star must surely be on its way!


Kub Kao Kub Pla: The gracious and sophisticated mall restaurant is a Bangkok phenomenon. Though the food can be very good (think Nara, which is now in India or Greyhound, which has now gone global) the prices are always reasonable.


   This may be the new Nara. There are branches all over the city though I went to the one at the Central Embassy mall. The food was excellent: Authentic, tangy and full of the complex flavours of Thai cuisine. Recommended.


Nusara: Chef Ton (as nearly everyone calls him) is now the most famous Thai chef in the world because he travels and cooks all over the world (I am hoping to get him to do a residency in Delhi this November/December). He is the only chef to have two restaurants in the top ten of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and Le Du, his signature restaurant, is Michelin-starred and much praised.


   Nusara is a labour of love. Situated in a century-old building in the shadow of the Wat Po Temple, it is super discreet. There is no signage. You go to a wine bar and then, if you know what you are doing, you find a staircase at the back and climb to the quirky but exquisitely decorated first floor restaurant which seats, ideally, only a dozen people but can take up to 16 covers at a pinch.


   It is a set menu of food that is inspired by Ton’s grandmother’s cooking which is re-imagined with style and verve. It was easily the best Thai meal I had on my trip.


Biscotti: This is a Bangkok institution. It is an Italian restaurant that serves classic Italian dishes in plush surroundings to the Bangkok elite. For all that, the food is mostly authentic with a nice Naples-inspired pizza and traditional pastas. Yes, they go a little heavy on the pasta sauce (this is Asia) but the chef cares enough about detail to put an Aquarello risotto on the daily set (i.e. cheaper) lunch.


Ms. Maria and Mr Singh: This used to be Gaggan Anand’s steakhouse, Meatlicious, but it is now the only Mexican-Indian restaurant I have ever eaten at. Chef Gabriela is Mexican while her partner is Indian so I guess the combination makes sense. The food is inspired and fun — a Mexican take on golgappas, for instance. But it is also very good and the straight Indian food (cooked by members of Gaggan’s team) is outstanding.


Yu Ting Yuan: The Four Seasons is Bangkok’s newest, most beautiful and chicest luxury hotel. This is its Chinese restaurant which already has a Michelin star. Not only is the restaurant visually stunning, the food is excellent. I liked the Peking Duck, the ma po dofu, the crispy pork and the spicy aubergine. There aren’t many good upmarket Chinese restaurants in Bangkok so this one stands head and shoulders above the rest.


Guilty: This was about to open when I was there but I ate at a preview the night before the formal opening. They are calling it a Peruvian restaurant, but it is really only partly a celebration of the Japanese-influenced cuisine of Peru (where there is a substantial Japanese community) with lots of dishes from the rest of South and Central America thrown in.


   The chef is Carlos Rodriguez, a Venezuelan, who I know from his stint at Gaggan’s Meatlicious and at the main Gaggan restaurant. As you would expect, given his pedigree, the food is delicious and the restaurant is a lot of fun with a happy vibe.


Hinata: There are many famous and/or Michelin starred Japanese restaurants in Bangkok. Hinata is not one of them. But I like it anyway because the sushi is good, the location is central and at lunchtime, sunlight shines into the small dining room.


CDGRE: This bustling coffee shop is advertised as a partnership between the Suhring twins and Gaggan Anand. You can tell Gaggan‘s influence in the chicken tikka burger and perhaps in the coffee, but otherwise the menu is Suhring all the way. This means you get food from two of Bangkok’s greatest European chefs at coffee shop prices. Naturally, it was packed at lunchtime when I went. Recommended.



Posted On: 27 Jun 2022 10:40 AM
Your email id will not be published.
Security code:
Captcha Enter the code shown above:
Your email id will not be published.
Friend's Name:
Friend's E-mail:
Your email id will not be published.
The Message text:
This email was created by [your name] who thought you would be interested in the following Article:

A Vir Sanghvi Article Information

The Vir Sanghvi also contains hundreds of articles.

Additional Text:
Security code:
Captcha Enter the code shown above:

CommentsOther Articles

See All

Ask VirRead all

Connect with Virtwitter

@virsanghvi on
Vir Sanghvi