The Best Thai Restaurants in Bangkok now

The best Thai food in Bangkok is found on its streets, in private residences and luxuriantly restored mansions.

My selections were co-curated with my local, food-savvy, designer friend Moo Chulalux Piyasombatkul. She has dined in her hometown more broadly than any Westerner can muster, tried all the voted best as well as up-and-coming restaurants, and guided me to her Thai favourites in Bangkok. Each visit, she takes me to different places, her family’s old favourites as well as into the most talked about (or not yet known) openings in town. She reigns confidently on her home turf.

Thai architectureThai forgotten ingredients

Thai food in Bangkok then and now

From when I lived in the Thai metropolis almost two decades ago, times have changed quite dramatically on the local dining scene. Luxurious shopping malls are not the only, surgically clean, design driven, high-end locations for new fine restaurants to settle. Now, you can sit at the chef’s table in her grandmother’s private house or tuck into a discreet dining room in a narrow soi in Sukhumwit. More money in the local pockets, new luxury hotels springing up like flowers in the spring, and well-heeled visitors beyond the backpacking Europeans that have traditionally flooded the capital, opened the gates for more culinary diversity. The always smiling Thai chef Ian Kittichai has done his laudable deal in modernising his country’s food in the Thai capital and beyond. Our favourite from his large family of restaurants is Issaya Siamese Club set up in an old Thai mansion. With his gastronomic empire growing, traveling to food festivals (we encountered him in St Moritz), consulting and frequent Tv appearances, it is unlikely that he will cook where you eat though.

Thai fine diningBangkok Michelin

My following recommendations include purely restaurants where the founding chef is in the kitchen.

Ever since the local tourism board sponsored Michelin to come to Thailand to rate its dining scene, Bangkok levelled up its gastronomic reputation with other global cities. With the stars awarded to for-decades-established street eateries, elegant classic restaurants as well as to more contemporary experiments, the mouths of international travellers opened up to new possibilities of eating out in Bangkok.

waiting listMichelin star BangkokBangkok MichelinJay-Fai in Bangkok

Best Bangkok street food

The crowds flood to the famous spots and create hard to book stand-offs. Clogging the street in Chinatown, the cameras snapping a septuagenerian cook stirring giant woks over direct fire in goggles and a wool skullcap in the tropical heat of Bangkok. Jay-Fai runs with her family one of the must try street eateries. Book by email months ahead or queue, but my advice is to get the first seating at 2pm as the busy cook tires from her daily marathon of Chinese-influenced Thai cooking. Seafood rules over the menu. Her giant crab omelette is a must. A whiff of egg rolled into flaky, generous chunks of Southern Thai crab is served with spicy chilli sauce. Simplicity made into perfection! Share the Drunken noodles, Dry Tom Yam of stir-fried seafood, and the Rice porridge with hard boiled egg, giant prawns and squids for comfort. Jay-Fai’s relatives chop and serve the wok-fired bounty in a well-maintained, superbly clean environment.

Thai street foodThai sweets

Still, the street food as in most of Asia is even more exposed to the dangerous, ultra heavy pollution from the ever crazier traffic threatening the reputation of Thai food in Bangkok. Be mindful of unprotected roadside offerings by the busy thoroughfares.

Nested in the clean environment of an indoor mall is my Thai friend’s favourite som tum served at SOM TAM NUA. The North-Eastern Thai staple of shaved raw papaya marinated in spicy sauce with peanuts has won awards. There are several branches, but The Central Embassy Mall’s (5th floor) convenient location in the shopping and hotel-saturated Phloen Chit area won us over. There many other plates, often with pork, but the varieties of the papaya salad are fun to compare.

For Thai-style chicken over steamed rice khao man gai (ข้าวมันไก่head downstairs to Eathai, the Eataly-style grocery store cum food court of Thai provenance in the basement. Without queueing in the street food section find Thai signature dishes from all regional cuisines – central, southern, northern, and the easan food. The Traditional Thai crispy pancakes here are my friend’s mum favourite.

  Eastern Thai foodEastern Thai restaurant

SRI TRAT: traditional spicy Eastern Thai food

For indoor, traditional, no fuss, pungent and spicy Eastern Tai meal head to Sri Trat. Be ready for a serious fire in your mouth! The pungency of the chilli sauce in a pot with tofu is accented by betel leaves wraps even when you say you want it mild spicy. Even some locals cannot handle the level of heat here, beware.

Thai fine diningThai food

PASTE: female push for sustainable local ingredients

Thai female chefs spearhead local, sustainable farm sourcing for the best Thai food in Bangkok. The chef at Bo Lan was one of them, but the level of cooking has evolved as the following ladies head the hyper-local culinary revolution in Thailand.

Paste is tucked in a luxurious shopping mall, but the female chef Bongkoch ‘Bee’ Satongun was recently awarded as the Best Female Chef in 2018 edition of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. As a regional pioneer she has curated the local dining experience for maximum flavours in her elevated, contemporary style inspired by historical aristocratic Thai cuisine. Common dishes, forgotten old flavours revived from her research through old cookbooks and by extensive field trips across Thailand. The Royal alongside simple, provincial recipes continue to inspire chef Bee, whose culinary background was spurred in her childhood when she helped at the family-run food stand. Recently, her second restaurant opened in Luang Prabang and I tried it in its early days. Laotian cuisine is tightly knit with Thai, and the chef further explores the natural bounty of this landlocked neighbour in her signature elegant style.

Bangkok restaurantsPaste Bangkok

BAAN TEPA: New breed of internationally-trained Thai chefs back at home

Soon not-to-be secret, the hardest table to book in Bangkok will be the just opened Baan Teppa.

This is chef’s table only restaurant by the young, first Top Chef-winning Thai female talent Tam Chudaree Debhakam. Set in her grandmother’s house (Baan means home in Thai), where a small garden was planted organically with Thai herbs like lemon grass, various strains of basil, kaffir lime and pandanus leaves. You are for a locally unique, authentic, unpretentious, almost countryside tasting-menu-only experience on a communal table set up right in front of the kitchen. Chef Tam personally sources Thai ingredients grown by small farms in the North. Her culinary stint at Dan Barber’s Stone Barns Upstate New York opened her eyes to these rare, small-scale produce in her own backyard. Her all female team shares her values and includes an experienced sous chef from the Brooklyn’s lauded Blanca.

Thai ingredientsFine Thai dining

Scouting for Thai biodiversity yielded gems unknown even to the savvy locals. Cocoa from Chiang Mai, forgotten fruits and vegetables from Chiang Rai, and herbs accompany the southern seafood like the superb, pour-over fried prawns.

Her emotional approach is in touch with nature, and her experience, memories, as well as the sustainably sourced ingredients form her east-meets-western culinary techniques cooking.

Around you, fermenting in jars is kombucha, Thai fish sauce, and tightly sealed in boxes, the dry ingredients that can pop up on the constantly evolving menu. She embellishes local rice originally, like the black rice berries served in a giant lotus leaf with pan-fried fish and ultra-concentrated fish soup or the Jasmine rice topped with the decadent salted duck egg relish and prawns heads sauce with a custard-like texture. The menu changes seasonally, with March taking up the next shift.

Thai female chefBangkok Michelin

SORN: Traditional Thai food in a fancy coat

Served with a pinch of an attitude (a new wave of service in Thailand, somewhat familiar with the French fine dining snobbism), the authentic Southern flavours at Sorn, spice up seriously your culinary experience in the Thai capital. Moving from his home region to the Thai capital into a restored traditional house in a tiny inlet in the maze of Sukumwit, the chef-owner Supaksorn Jongsiri, known as Khun Ice, comes from a Thai culinary family in the South.

Best Thai restaurants in BangkokMichelin Bangkok

Sorn made international headlines as foreign foodies snap the almost impossible to book (the phone lines rarely get through) experience. We were lucky to sit at one of the two tables fronting the kitchen. Clay pots of rice, seafood and meats simmering over direct fire. The service a mixed bag, unlike our sour female waiter, the cooks serving some of the food are very friendly. Particularly my Thai friends were taken aback by the sour attitude and the distant feel of the head chef. There is a rumour that locals are discriminated from the reservations, and for the rating glamour foreigners are put ahead on the table list. The food is great though and the creamy coconut Tom Yum was the best I have ever had!

Best Thai restaurants in BangkokBest Thai restaurants in Bangkok


The Best Thai Restaurants in Bangkok seek inspiration beyond the old Siam’s borders. A merge of Thai ingredients with Western cooking techniques at Le Du grew into delicious renderings of jackfruit, crab, coconut, durian and other local highlights as snows, crumbles, creams, jellies, and purees. Do not expect the level of breadth of the previous chefs’s menus, as Le Du offers a compact menu of seasonally sensitive Thai plates. Although the name suggests French seriousness, the vibe is the most fun and lively from my non street food picks.

Bangkok MichelinBangkok Michelin

For the sugar lovers, my friend Moo knows the cure. This is the treat of her childhood memories that she still, occasionally craves today. Mont Nom Sod has since 1964 pleased the sweet tooth of Thai families, but also provided a rarity back then – fresh milk. Still, today some get the glass of dairy with their crunch, but it is the warm steamed white toasts spread generously with condensed milk, coconut custard, butter, pandanus, and other jams that fill up the original location across the City Hall until late at night.

Tea in Thailand

Last, you cannot visit Bangkok without trying a proper Thai tea. The Cha Tra Mue brand has since 1945 provided the Original Thai tea. There are a few branches across town. The Central World location offers sweet Thai lattes (traditional with an intense condensed milk or unsweetened), pure Thai-sourced brews as well as soft serve, while at the international airport you can boost your energy with a more limited selection of their signature beverages. It is as if you visited Colombia or Brazil and did not have coffee, in Bangkok sip Thai tea. Herbal iced infusions I recommend are bael fruit, lemongrass and pandanus leaf. All refreshing and caffeine-free. The nail polish red roselle also known as hibiscus is rich in Vitamin C, but too sour and intense to my taste. The butterfly pea is too blue, even for La Muse Blue!

Erawan Tea Room in Bangkok: serving tea Thai style

Tucked inside the luxurious Erawan Bangkok mall, not far from the Siam Central overground station hub and a lofty line up of five-star hotels, the Erawan Tea Room is one of the most popular hangouts of the high heeled Thai society as well as not just a tea loving expats. It became my regular Thai tea luncheon in the city after a local friend first took me there in 2012.

The tea room and restaurant serves traditional Thai cuisine and Afternoon tea with a subtle contemporary twist. If you fancy your papaya salad less spicy, the kitchen accommodates your preference. So does the sweet sugarcane syrup served on the side of the beverages so you can add as much as you like.

Pandang tea

Thai tea heritage

Perhaps thanks to the modern Redbull empire, Thai tea remains in the shadows of the local energy drinks, yet it is an essential beverage of a daily consumption there. In the former Kingdom of Siam a cup of black or to be more precise red tea is usually sipped with breakfast.
The red-hued leafy beverage got to Thailand from the Yunnan province in China, but later like in Hong Kong a local custom evolved into pouring some sweet milk into it. Like the British, the Thais mellowed the bitter taste of the highly oxidised tea with a creamy textue and softer flavor. At most places a condensed sweet milk is more common than fresh cow’s milk since it is not as sensitive to temperature changes. An average Thai person did not have a refrigerator back then and most street vendors selling it from carts still today do not risk their customers getting sick. In the tropical heat it is now more popular to be served on the rocks, and at nice restaurants you even get the milk on the side.
In the English fashion a selection of miniature desserts and savory sandwiches is served with the Afternoon tea, but here expect a Thai twist of the snacks and not the typical chedar sandwich and and clotted cream.
I also enjoy the caffeine-free freshly brewed Thai herbal infusions of pandan leafs, lemongrass or bael fruit. The first two often poured over the crushed ice, while the later digestive is served hot.
Thai Chicken cups

Thai classic dishes revisited

Thai traditional food goes very well with these local beverages. Acidity and the spices are balanced by either the creamy texture of the milk, the tannins of the tea or by diluting of the herbal and plant infusions.

Chef Sarawut directs his team to use great quality local ingredients in portions that are not too overwhelming but can be shared as is typical for a Thai meal.

If I miss my favorite soup Tom Kha, I start with its mildly spiced version. Although usually the coconut milk with button mushrooms calm the fire of the chili paste, lemongrass and galangal, still ask for less spicy if you are sensitive to extreme heat in your food.

The Som Pla shredded Pappaya salad with peanuts in a chili vinaigrette as well as the Pomelo salad with dried shrimps are both excellent for cooling off in the hot Bangkok weather.

For a meaty starter the Chicken wrapped in banana leaf is not as good as the Chicken lettuce cups or Chicken saté marinated in coconut milk and cubed on thin wooden skewers. Dip each bite into the exquisite slightly spicy peanut sauce and ask for extra if cannot get enough. The Thai marinade and sauce are less pungent than the Mallaysian versions.

As a mid course getting a carb fix of the Pad Thai noodles, stir fried with mungo bean sprouts, shrimps and eggs. At Erawan the noodles are a plate cleaner. Delicious!

Pomelo saladSpicy stir fried fish

Pork is popular in the East Thailand and some dishes highlight this meat. The Pork Belly is beloved by my Thai friend, while my husband and myself generally prefer fish and seafood in Thailand over the meat. 

The Yam Pla Dook Foo, fried Catfish Salad with Green Mango Dressing and the much lighter Pae Sa Isaan, the Steamed Sea Bass and Vegetables with Chilli Dip are both delectable main fish plates. The bass in particular.

For a final sweet touch the exquisite Thai fruits like mango, melon, sweet banana, papaya, pineapple, mangosteen or other seasonal local natural produce are as healthy as they are delicious. I always dream about the swetness of the juicy Thai pineapple, which no other country can merit.

Colonial style meets contemporary interior design in Erawan style

The beautifully appointed smart-casual setting whose panoramic windows overlook the fascinating Erawan Shrine ( shockingly, the site of the horrific bombing early in 2015), offer a spiritual refuge in the midst of the urban sprawl of Bangkok. Now heavily guarded outside you can cosy up in the rich, classic decor of the internationally acclaimed designer Tony Chi who has revived the nostalgic atmosphere of a bygone Siamese era. 

Thai Erawan Tea Room

Watching devote Buddhists bringing and laying the fragrant chrysanthemum and jasmine garlands or leis near the Buddha’s image, praying and singing in the midst of the golden shimmering daylight reflections is a magic spectacle.
It is a shame to swirl through too fast, take time with your tea, a friend or a meal. Before departing, check out the packaged products such as the local taro chips, fruit jams, Thai ceramics, traditional pewter tea pots as well as a wide selection of teas not only from Thailand. Local produce is prefered, yet like with wine tea differs tremendously with terroir, which any serious tea room must accomodate.

 Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, 494 Rajdamri Road, Bangkok

 Daily 10:00am – 10:00pm

The Afternoon tea between 2:30 and 6pm is better to reserve ahead.

  +66 2254 1234

Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin: modern Thai molecular lab in Bangkok

Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin
The conception is directed by a renowned chef Henrik Yde Anderson, who cooks at the first ever Michelin stared Thai restaurant in the world – the Kiin Kiin in Copenhangen. Yde Anderson is not afraid of experimentation. It is not an easy quest with the already complex flavours one finds in traditional Thai food. He managed it very well and the craft of the local Bangkok chefs he trained was rewarded with the 2011 Thailand’s Best Restaurants award. It was his experience in Thailand that had inspired him to purchase the modern adaptation of Thai cuisine he created in Denmark, so now he gives something back.
restaurant Sra Bua Kiin
Atmosphere: Cool, traditional Thai decor with modern twist. Located inside in the fresh and artistic Kempinski hotel in the heart of the Bangkok’s shopping district, the Sra Bua restaurant became the preferred dining destination of  the Thai gourmands. With its attractive modern meets traditional concept it also attracts business travellers and food connoisseurs passing through the town. Dress accordingly to the occasion – modern, fashionable as well as classic and elegant work suits are appropriate.
The set menu starts with the Nibblings – a trio of tiny Soy Roasted Cashew Nut Meringue, Kaffir Lime Leaf Scented Lotus Root and a Prawn Cracker with Chilli Tomato Dip. The meringue was original and sweet in its nature, yet intense with soy and cashew nut flavours. I liked the kaffir lime leaf scented lotus root for its simplicity and interesting taste profile.
A spoon of complex flavours at Sra BuaThe Street Cooking course
Then we moved to The Street Cooking – with a spoon of Tuna Tartar with Lemongrass, Miang Som-O, on a small plate served Crispy Pork Crackling with Nam Prik Num, Prawn Bread with sesame and a spoon of Smoked Chicken Sausage with Pickled Cabbage. The Tuna Tartar with Lemongrass was my favourite for its refreshing properties and juicy pommelo
After all these small tasters we continued with real-size starters. I was intrigued by the Gang Dang Frozen Red Curry with Lobster and Lychee. As its title discloses something temperature-related is different about this dish. Not many of you  have probably tried a frozen curry – sounded like a savoury ice-cream to me at first – yet it was not only a magical dish as the waitress poured a steaming liquid ice all over the dish, but it tasted really great. The lobster was delicate and perfectly matched with the softly sweet lychee, the green garnish and foamy reddish curry created a complex dish. A cup of Thai tea was soothing with this elegant and at the same time powerful starter.
Gang Dang: Magic addition of liquid ice
The Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab with Green Mango and Soft nam Jim is also very nice and refreshing. The green mango adds zest to the crisp fried soft shell crab. This appetiser is better with a glass of white wine, rather than a cup of tea as the previous one.
Getting closer to the finish with Main dish with rice we selected these two mains: Quail in Aromatic Tom Kha with Chanterellle and Crispy Skin and Confit Chicken Leg with Fresh peas, Grilled Asparagus and Peanuts. I loved the chanterelle mushrooms and the creamy Tom Kha sauce, but my hesitation about quail had once again proved that I am not a quail-loving individual. The chicken confit was a meeting point of Thai and French cuisines, where peanuts and green vegetables played the Thai part and chicken leg in confit style was the French co-actor. It was nice, but not mouth-watering.
Quail in Aromatic Tom Kha
Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, the desserts are not to be missed at Sra Bua. My favourite was the Pistachio Cake with Pandan Ice Cream and Frozen Coconut Foam. The greenish sweet pandan is in-all-present ingredient in Thai cuisine. I love the pandan ice tea, but I adore the pandan ice-cream. No need to worry, that pandan is something of an acquired taste. It is mellow, slightly sweet and not very intense so it blends well with almost anything.
Pistachio Cake with Pandan Ice Cream and Frozen Coconut Foam
My friend got the Four Kind of Tea as Dessert with White Chocolate Crumble, but she did not like it much as she found the white chocolate too rich and overall this dessert was over-mixed.
After all that food there is an option to pay extra for Petit fours served with tea or coffee. These are very interesting, tiny, and change all the time, so I would give them a try with a cup of your favourite tea or coffee to help with digestion.
Price: High (five-course menu 1800 THB; add 325 THB for tea and petit fours).
Drinks: Great selection of Thai teas as well as international wine list cater to all palates. I went for a pot of Thai tea this time and was perfectly satisfied.
 Lunch: daily 12noon – 3pm; Dinner: 6pm – 11pm
 Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, 991/9 Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan; Bangkok 10330; Thailand
 +66 (0) 2 162 9000

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