The city and its people are openly obsessed with food — it’s a 24/7 occupation. What’s changed though, is that alongside the established and still-vibrant street food and local restaurant scene, Bangkok boasts a raft of more sophisticated, original dining destinations. It’s finally grown up to become more than a match for the big beasts of the Asian food world such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.
Leading the charge has been chef David Thompson — Australian by birth but so deeply immersed in his adopted country’s culinary culture as to be recognised as a Thai food scholar. At Nahm — which currently sits atop the S. Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards list — he produces interpretations of traditional dishes that mesmerise diners, while frequently shocking unsuspecting Westerners with their heat in the process.
Elsewhere, at Gaggan Bangkok, chef Gaggan Anand reinvents the street food of his native India using clever contemporary techniques, with theatrical results. Meanwhile, chef Bo Songvisava continues the nation’s tradition of strong female cooks at Bo.Lan, her contemporary Thai restaurant. Celebrity chef Ian Kittichai’s flagship restaurant, Issaya Siamese Club, as well as his latest opening, Namsaah Bottling Trust, are simultaneously classy and great fun.
Eating out in Bangkok remains relatively affordable, hugely varied and deeply unpretentious. As Nahm’s David Thompson recently said, “Bangkok has always been a great eating city, but it’s only just becoming a great restaurant city.” And that’s a pretty compelling combination for food-loving travellers.
Sukhumvit Soi 38
Published in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)