Hong Kong’s a great food city but we could all use a change of scenery every now and again. Our resident foodie expert Beate is here to give you the lowdown on the best eats in another foodie heaven!
Bangkok glitters with accolades for its restaurants – most recently claiming five of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants (Gaggan, Nahm, Eat.Me, Bo.Lan, and Issaya Siamese Club) with the jewel in its crown being Gaggan named #1 in Asia. Add in the mouthwatering street food of sweet, sour, salty and spicy deliciousness and you can see why Bangkok is a gourmand’s dream destination.
David Thompson of Nahm fame (#7 on the List), once said “It’s almost impossible to recommend a restaurant in Thailand that’s actually a restaurant. They don’t have a restaurant culture, it’s all about market food. In a fancy, poncy restaurant, the food will be nowhere near as good as the markets”. That was seven years ago, mind you, and a lot must have changed since then but if the street food is that good, it gives you a sense of the overall calibre of food on offer in Bangkok.
Stay – Metropolitan by COMO
If you arrive at midday, grab a taxi from the airport into town and if you’re lucky, the traffic won’t make you want to hit the bar immediately for multiple G&Ts to take the edge off. Yes, the traffic is that bad.The choice of amazing (and affordable!) hotels in Bangkok is mindboggling. Metropolitan is our foodie hotel pick for a number reasons:
Firstly, hotspot Nahm is on the ground floor; secondly, breakfast (the most important meal of the day and all that) is tiptop notch. They do a wonderful buffet of mini pastries like almond croissants, pain au chocolat, jam doughnuts, chocolate muffins and banana cakes. Then there’s fresh fruits, healthy salads of tomato, avocado, ricotta and salmon, plus a la carte orders of Coconut Pancakes with Poached Pineapple or Eggs Benedict.
As breakfasts are served at healthy organic restaurant Glow, there’s a separate section of the menu dedicated to healthy options like Raw Nut & Seed Granola with Banana, or Berries & Yoghurt to go with your shot of homegrown wheatgrass. Glow also serves a clean-eating lunch menu (the third reason for being a foodie hotel if you’re still counting).
Set off a side street in the bustling Sathorn business district, Metropolitan is all serene airy interiors and clean, minimalist lines. There is a list of room types from the more compact City room to the bling Penthouse and COMO Suites. We had a Metropolitan, an open-plan room with a seating area and en suite bathroom with a huge beckoning limestone bath and power shower. As it’s COMO, there is always the comforting knowledge that a beatific massage is a booking away at Shambhala Spa downstairs. There, you can take a dip in the pool post-lunch, and feel remarkably Zen for being bang in the entre of busy Bangkok.
Metropolitan by COMO, 27 South Sathorn Road, Tungmahamek Sathorn, Bangkok 10120, Thailand, Tel: (+66) 2 625 3333, www.comohotels.com/metropolitanbangkok
If you’re going to one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for dinner you’ll want to go easy on lunch beforehand. Metropolitan’s restaurant Glow serves up COMO Shambhala Cuisine — that’s healthy organic food, often served raw and designed for inner wellness. Think delicious clean eating (vitamin full, low sugar, salt and fat) concoctions inspired by both Thai (Sour Orange Curry of Kingfish with Organic Rice Noodles) and Western dishes (Green Goddess Soup, or a Lentil & Seven Grain Burger with Avocado & Tomato Salsa).
Don’t miss their healing juices; if you’ve had a heavy night try the Liver Cleanser (orange, pomelo, tangerine, lime, garlic, ginger, cayenne & flax seed oil), or for something un-sinfully sweet the Mumbai Mango of mango, honey, yogurt & cardamom. The only slight drawback to this healthy hidden gem is that there are no windows in the restaurant, giving it a slightly oppressed feel.
For lunches, also try:
- Mathavalai Sorndaeng, Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd., Bangkok, Tel (+66) 2 224 3088 — A retro institution with waiters in starched white jackets, cronies singing classic Suntaraporn songs, and great food like Som Tum with meaty Soft Shell Crab.
- Supanniga Eating Room, 160/11 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), Bangkok, Tel: (+66) 2 714 7508
- Soulfood Mahanakorn, 56/10 Sukhumvit 55, Bangkok, Tel: (+66) 2 714 7708
Fine Dining Dinners
For dinner we weren’t in Bangkok long enough to justify not eating Thai food, so instead of Gaggan’s modern Indian we went for Nahm – for which you’ll need to make reservations. Order the chef’s tasting menu (2300 Baht each), then loosen your belts for the feast that awaits. Dishes are for the table to share and include tasty treats like canapés of Pork and Lobster with Shredded Ginger, and Thai Citron perched on betel leaves; mains like Coconut Turmeric Curry of Blue Swimmer Crab (crampacked with crab meat – sweet and delicious in the coconut curry sauce) or Duck Curry with Banana Peppers and Shallots.
Then there are salads like the mouthwatering Green Mango Salad with Grilled Pork and Sour Leaves (nothing like the mango salad you’ve tried before), relishes (Nam Prik of a dip served with veggies), a soup, sides and a dessert. Food is exceptional; dishes are reinterpreted but the essential flavours stay true to traditional Thai. It’s pricey (for Thailand) but Nahm was really a highlight of our trip.
Nahm, Ground Floor, The Metropolitan Hotel, 27 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok, Tel: (+66) 2 625 3333, www.comohotels.com/metropolitanbangkok/dining/nahm/reservations
For dinners, also try:
- Gaggan (#1-ranked restaurant in Asia) 68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Bangkok, 10330,Tel: (+66) 2 652 1700
- Eat Me (#25 on the list) Soi Pipat 2 (20 metres off Convent Road), Silom, Bangkok 10500, Tel: (+66) 2 238 0931
- Bo.Lan (#37 on the list) Bo.Lan 24 Soi Sukhumvit 53 Klongtonnua, Wattana Bangkok 10110, Tel: (+66) 2 260 2962
- Issaya Siamese Club (#39 on The list) – 4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chua Ploeng Road, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120, Tel: (+66) 2 672 9040
Next door to Metropolitan is the Banyan Tree’s Vertigo and Moon Bar on the 61st floor. This stunning rooftop bar is the perfect spot for pre- or post-dinner cocktails, though they serve food too. Other good spots for drinks with a view include Sirocco and Long Table.
Now as David Thompson points out, if you’re in Bangkok you really must make like a local and get yourself some street food. Street food is all about checking out the spots packed with locals, the spots that often serve only one dish and do a quick trade. Instead of sending you on a wild goose chase hunting down little carts that often have no name, we will just say trust your gut and follow your nose.
If you’re a newbie to Thai street food you could go on a food tour, or do some advanced research on Thai street food dishes whilst in Singapore by heading to David Thomson’s newly opened restaurant Long Chim at MBS, which (ironically) serves up the very Thai street food Chef Thompson said you couldn’t beat!
Stalls are everywhere, but a few areas with enhanced odds of stumbling onto something great include Chatuchak Weekend Market, Chinatown, the area around Victory Monument, and Sukhumvit Soi 38. Notably all are convenient to train or boat stops, meaning you can mercifully avoid Bangkok’s brutal car traffic. Just note that Bangkok does citywide street cleaning on Mondays, so about half the city’s vendor carts take that day off.
Gin khao reu yung
If there’s one greeting you’ll need to learn before packing your bags for your eating extravaganza it’s “gin khao reu yung”. This is a standard “How’s it going?” Thai greeting but it literally translates to “Have you eaten rice yet?”. And the Thais actually care what your answer is. Because if it’s “no” or “not yet”, there is a deliciously easy solution, and it’s found on every street corner in Bangkok.