A blog about food in Thailand
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Where to eat in Bangkok 2010

Posted date:  February 15, 2010
7 Comments


View of Bangkok from the top of the Banyan Tree Hotel

I often get emails from people en route to Bangkok asking me to recommend the best places in town to eat. I reply to these when I can, but sometimes the volume of mail can get overwhelming, so back in 2006 I put together a blog post to address this problem. I recently stumbled upon the post, which by now is somewhat out of date, and thought it was high time to provide an updated version.

Again, this isn’t a definitive list of Bangkok’s best restaurants, but rather a general guide aimed at first-time visitors trying to make sense of the city’s food offerings.

If you’re fresh off the plane on your first trip to Thailand, I still feel that the best place to dip your toe in the water of Thai food is a mall food court. They’re clean and cheap, the menus are written in English, you have a wide range of choices, and actually, the food can be pretty good. My favorite food court is probably the one on the sixth floor of Mah Boon Krong (also known as MBK). There you’ll find most of the Thai standards, a huge variety of Thai-Chinese food, and there’s even a stall selling Thai-Muslim food and a good vegetarian stall. The food court in the basement of Siam Paragon is a bit more expensive and mostly Chinese-Thai, but is also a decent and convenient choice. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you could also try one of the slightly more downmarket food centres such as the two huge food halls at the end of Silom Soi 10 that serve the area’s hungry office staff, or Food Plus, the alleyway between Soi 3 and Soi 4 at Siam Square.

At this point you’ve found a dish or two that you like and are likely at least somewhat familiar with the flavours of Thai food. Assuming you’re on vacation, you’ll want to hit up at least one upscale Thai restaurant. Unfortunately I haven’t actually been to many upscale Thai restaurants in the years since I wrote the first version of this post. The only one I’m really familiar with right now is Bo.lan, which despite having eaten there at least five times, I’ve yet to blog about (they’re open for lunch on weekends now, so I’ll get around to it soon). The restaurant is owned and run by two former chefs of David Thompson’s London restaurant Nahm, and their dedication to great ingredients and obscure old-school Thai recipes combine to make it a worthwhile investment. Another alternative, although it’s upscale in the Thai sense, is the delightfully old-school Sorndaeng.

Once you’ve downed a few plates of food court nosh and have consumed the requisite nice Thai meal, I reckon you’re ready for the next step in Thai dining: a good food neighborhood. In my opinion, this is the highest level of Thai dining, and a good food ‘hood will have mix of good stalls, specialist shops and a good all-around restaurant or two.  The downsides to this are that you’ll need a bit of experience to recognise what’s on offer, and language can be a barrier. If you’re game for a bit of adventure, one of Bangkok’s best is the area around Thanon Tanao:


View Thai Eats in a larger map

a strip of road teeming with legendary Thai eats, including several specialised vendors including my favourite khanom beuang the excellent Paa Thong Ko Sawoey, and a few good all-around restaurants such as Chote Chitr, Poj Spa Kar, Kim Leng and a couple blocks away, Krua Apsorn.

At this point you’ll have sampled a cross section of Thai cuisine and you’re most likely ready for the final step: Thai street food. These affairs are generally only open at night, are not the cleanest restaurants you’ll ever see, very little English is spoken and are located in inconvenient parts of town. But the food can be outstanding and the experience fun. In this regard, I wholeheartedly endorse Bangkok’s Chinatown:


View Thai Eats in a larger map

Simply walk down Thanon Yaowarat, avoid the annoying touts at touristy seafood restaurants, and pay attention as you reach the intersection at Soi 6. There you will find virtually every form of Chinese-influenced Thai street food. In this area I particularly like the egg dishes at Nay Mong, the kuaytiaw khua kai vendor and Nay Uan’s kuay jap.


7 Comments for Where to eat in Bangkok 2010


Hi Austin,

your report comes just at the right time! I love to eat in BKK, and will arrive from Germany in a few days.

I know bo.lan and also Sorndaeng (really delicious, specially the banana flower salad), and some of your other recommendations too.

Looking forward to explore all the others!

Thank you,

Dorrie

After hearing some enticing comments on this and other blogs, I did try Bo.lan, and found it a huge disappointment.

The menu selection is quite sparse with a very small range of items. The ones we tried, were average at best. The duck massaman was coal black in color, lacked flavor, had two small pieces of duck and the potatoes were fossilized (I thought they might be taro at first taste). We had a few other dishes, which were too bad, but utterly unmemorable.

The staff was also very amateur. They were nice and tried hard, but in a restaurant like this one expects some basic familiarity with the menu.

I had figured that the reason you hadn’t followed up with more reviews is that you had the same experience. But maybe I was wrong.

The only thing that stood out in my mind is that when we left the Sukhothai Hotel everyone working there knew the place, so they have done a good marketing job at high end hotels.

On a slightly positive note, it wasn’t all that expensive compared to other highly touted restaurants.

[…] who are new to Thailand and are wondering where to eat Bangkok should check out “Where to eat in Bangkok 2010,” a new post by Austin Bush. I can tell you from personal experience that Austin has a great […]

Thanks to your recommendations, I came to know about Krua Apsorn and Soi Polo famous fried chicken and have tried both during my trips to Bangkok.

I also highly regard Bangkok’s Chinatown. I think that it is an incredible environment to indulge in some wondrous Thai-Chinese foods with the added ambiance. Thanks for the other suggestions of places and areas to eat!

[…] also mentions Chote Chitr favored by the New York Times. I’d also check out Austin Bush’s excellent food blog. 4) I’ve never been to Love Scene, but I’ve tried Kin Lom Chom Saphan, Ban Klang Nam and a few […]

After a number of years I went back to Chote Chitr yesterday, and that was the last time for me.

The fish I had was soaked in fat, and I had to use two little bowls of prik nam pla to make it taste at least a little bit Thai. The green mango salad was OK, but just that.

Overprised and overrated – but proud of all the articles published about them (years ago).

There are so many so much better restaurants in this area, so don’t waste time and money.

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