I recently had a friend ask “What are your top 5 restaurants in Bangkok”. I’m a big fan of ‘Top 5’s’ as you’ll if you’ve read the cheat sheet. But boy, when it comes to food in Thailand, and specifically Bangkok, that’s a tall order indeed.
Think cuisine, budget and then location.
Firstly, decide WHAT you want to eat. Bangkok caters to all tastes and budgets. From street food to 5 star and everything in between. This will largely dictate your budget. Lastly think about WHERE you want to eat. Somewhere local, not too far from home? Maybe you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore a new part of the city.
Bangkok is spread out and it can take some time to get from one place to another. If you’re based around Khao San road you’re unlikely to venture to Sukhumvit for a meal and vice versa.
Different areas of the city will often cater to a certain ethnicity and the cuisine on offer will reflect this – i.e. Sukhumvit Soi 3 has a plethora of Middle Eastern restaurants. If you’re hankering for some kibbeh or tabbouleh then make that your destination.
Thonglor is more ‘hi-so’ and the types of eateries there will reflect this (as will the price.)
As you venture further from the tourist areas your choices for non-Thai food will diminish. These areas, however, will contain restaurants where you will have an authentic ‘Thai’ experience and pay local prices.
The Tawandang Brewery near Chong Nongsi, is an excellent choice for a group and they produce a great Wheat beer! They have live entertainment, every time I’ve been there I’ve enjoyed myself. As you leave, exit through the gift shop where you can buy merchandise including beer glasses.
A rough guide to some of my favorites:
- Monsoons on Sukhumvit Soi 8 is consistently good.
- Oskar Bistro on Sukhumvit Soi 11, ditto.
- Tacos & Salsa Sukhumvit Soi 18 (Mexican) THB 750 p/p
- Bourbon Street, Ekkamai (Creole/Cajun) THB 600 p/p
- Heiroku Sushi – Sushi train done right. THB 500 p/p (Fuji also good – but a la carte)
- Yoshinoya – can’t beat it for a quick bowl of beef and rice. THB 150 p/p (in the malls)
- Banh Mi Bo – cheap and tasty lunch. THB 120 p/p
Thai Street Food
Unless you’re prepared to move out of your comfort zone, navigating street food as a tourist may prove difficult. Menus are not in English, if they exist at all. At the very least you will need to speak ‘some’ Thai to get by, otherwise you’re in ‘point and grunt’ territory (hey, I was recently there myself in Beijing). The key is to laugh it off, it’s all part of the adventure!
Having said that, you’ll get some amazing meals sitting on the side of the road with an icy cold bottle of Leo in hand and watching the world go by – drag a Thai friend along to do the ordering for you so that you don’t miss out on this experience!
Food Courts & Malls
All the big malls such as T21, Central, Paragon and Emporium have a multitude of dining options. Food courts for the more budget minded right up to 4 star restaurants, some of which can have cult-like followings.
Check websites and with hotels directly. These generally run somewhere between THB 1000 to 2000 p/p and can be seasonal (the Novotel has an Octoberfest buffet coming on Sep 24th for 1500 p/p – shame I’ll not be here for it).
I remember being at an excellent Dim Sum buffet at the Nai Lert Park Hotel last year for under THB 900 p/p. The food, as was the location, truly amazing!
NB: Look at a menu before sitting down. Most have then on display at the front so you can check prices and available dishes.
Bon Appetit !
Photo credit: asiawebdirect