When Nahm clinched the top spot on San Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2014, Bangkok was officially crowned Asia’s foodie capital.
Hot on the heels of its win, the city became a hot spot for new restaurant openings with Michelin stars-decorated chefs joining the fray with outposts like J’aime by Jean-Michel Lorain (which we did not get to visit), Ginza Sushi Ichi and the soon-to-open L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon.
For those who are willing to venture beyond Nahm, here’s what’s hot and haute in Bangkok.
|Gaggan: Foie gras mousse, onion “baguette”|
The best Indian restaurant in the world resides not in India but in a white washed colonial house smack bang in Bangkok. But make no mistake; this is not where you go for your butter chicken fix. Gaggan Anand, chef-patron of Gaggan, propelled to international stardom when he landed the 17th spot (and highest new entry award) on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2014 and his meteoric rise is best explained by a dinner feast on one of 3 multi-course tasting menus (1,800 bht, 2,800 bht and 4,000 bht). Leveraging on his 6-month stage at el bulli, the Kolkata native takes creative liberties with his progressive Indian cuisine, dispatching a series of small plates that tease the palates with a mélange of Indian and international flavours inspired by his travels. Yoghurt is served on a spoon as a sphere while onion chutney makes an appearance with foiegras mousse sandwiched between light-as-air onion “baguette”. Gaggan’s passion for all things Japanese also comes to the fore with his matcha tea cake with mascarpone cream, vanilla salt and a hint of fresh wasabi. Advance reservation is required. 68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Bangkok 10330; 66-2- 652 1700; www.eatatgaggan.com
|Issaya Siamese Club: Lamb shank in Massamam curry|
Issaya Siamese Club
Thai fare cooked with western sensibilities is the bill of fare at Issaya Siamese Club by local celebrity chef, Ian Kittichai, whose vast F&B consulting empire spans from New York, Thailand to India. Set in a storied 100-year-old colonial house surrounded by a beautifully manicured garden in Sathorn, the food – like the colourful interior – is a kaleidoscope of flavours that are unapologetically rich in spices and herbs. If you are here in a small group, opt from one of two tasting menus (1,500 bht for 8 course Issaya Menu. 2,500 bht for 10 course Chef Ian Tasting Menu) while larger groups are recommended to pick signatures from the a la carte. Highlights include salad of duck leg confit with cashew nuts and starfruit in plum dressing perfumed with red chilli peppers; slow-cooked house cured salmon doused in red curry paste with locally farmed Jerusalem artichoke and sunflower sprouts; and the gargantuan lamb shank cooked via sous-vide in Massamam curry sauce. For dessert, ask for the “broken bucket”.4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chua Ploeng Road, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120; 66-2-672-9040; www.issaya.com
|Bo.lan: Tumeric fried fish|
At its new Sukhumvit address set in a reclaimed wood-decked Thai house complete with a swimming pool, chef-owners Duangporn Songvisava and Dylan Lan Jones dish out rustic Thai flavours based on their unique interpretations of Thai classics. To experience the true essence of Bolan, we suggest you come at dinner for the quarterly-changing chef’s tasting menu (1,880 bht for 7 courses, 2,280 bht for 11 courses) that feature hearty Thai flavours – sans espuma and foam – in dishes like squid and banana blossom salad with chilli jam and Tumeric fried fish. A limited a la carte menu is also available in case you wish to sample more from the chefs’ repertoire – try the Northern style duck noodles with duck sauce if it’s available on the menu. House number 24 in Soi Sukhumvit 53, (Soi Pai dee ma dee) Klong Toey Nua， Wattana, Bangkok 10110; 66－2－260 2962； www.bolan.co.th
|Sra Bua: Deconstructed tom yum soup|
Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin
If you ever tire of formulaic Thai, Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin comes to the rescue with progressive Thai cuisine courtesy of Denmark-based Kiin Kiin by Henrik Yde-Andersen, the only Thai restaurant in the world to lay claim to a Michelin star right now. While the restaurant offers a limited a la carte menu, the fun is to partake in one of two tasting menus (2,200 bht for 7 courses and 2,700 bht for 11 courses) that feature the restaurant’s playful take on streetfood (like miang kham cornette) and Thai classics (think deconstructed tom yum soup). To put the restaurant’s iconoclastic instincts to the test, order the signature dish of frozen red curry with lobster salad (available on the a la carte only). Poached lobster is served with a deliciously spicy red curry ice cream and lychee foam alongside herbs, chopped cashew nuts, lychee and served complete with smoky fanfare.Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, 991/9 Rama 1 Rd., Bangkok 10330; 66-2-162-9000.
|Ginza Sushi Ichi: Keiji salmon|
Ginza Sushi Ichi
Sushi aficionados n Bangkok now have another place to call in. Ginza Sushi Ichi recently opened an outpost in the basement of Erawan Mall where Tsukiji market-fresh fish flown in daily features on the various set menus at lunch and dinner. If the parade of sushi – like hotate, maguro, seabass and flounder – does not excite you, ask about the daily specials such as the keiji salmon (available from October to January) or the in-season crab promotion. Come with thick wallets. 494 Ploenchit Road, LG Fl. Erawan, Bangkok 10330; 66-2-250-0014; www.ginza-sushiichi.jp
|Benjarong: Crispy pork ribs with fermented cabbage in Sriracha chilli sauce|
6 years after cutting his teeth with Kiin Kiin (2007 to 2010) and then Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin (2010 to 2013) chef Morten Boejstrup Nielsen took the helm at Benjarong at Dusit Bangkok in late 2013. The decades old Thai restaurant re-opened in June after a makeover to unveil a revamped menu that marries classics (some comes with a twist) with inventive Thai. Don’t miss Nielsen’s signature tasting menu (1,700 baht) that features a beautifully deconstructed crispy catfish salad resting on tom yum custard with crabmeat. For those who prefer something hearty, Nielson also serves a homey crispy pork ribs with fermented cabbage tossed in Sriracha chilli sauce (320 baht on a la carte). 936 Rama 4 Road, Dusit Hotel, Bangkok 10500; 66-2-200 9000.
Where to stay
Dusit Thani Bangkok
A Bangkok icon since its inception in 1970, this 517 rooms and suites hotel with distinctive Thai furnishings of silk and teakwood is located a stone’s throw from Lumpini Park and adjacent to two rapid transit stations. All guests of “Club Room” and the various suites have access to the Thai-styled Club Lounge that serves breakfast and refreshments throughout the day. 946 Rama IV Road, Bangkok 10500; +66-2- 00-9000; http://www.dusit.com
Siam Kempinski Hotel
This resort-like property of palatial proportions boasts 303 rooms and suites (including 21 pool access rooms) and 98 serviced residenceskitted in contemporary elegance, a strategic location next to shopping malls like Siam Paragon and easy access to BTS Skytrain (Siam Interchange Station). For guests who booked the Executive Room (and above), help yourselves to the Executive Lounge, which comes complete with a small meeting room, complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, evening cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. Rama 1 Road 991/9,10330 Bangkok; +66-2-162-9000; www.kempinski.com
© Evelyn Chen 2013
Please note that the reviews published on this blog are sometimes hosted. I am under no obligation to review every restaurant I’ve visited. If I do, the reviews are 100% my own.