Thai food is so famous for its flavours that it tends to eclipse other Southeast Asian cuisines. The number of eateries and restaurants serving specialties from other ASEAN countries are unfortunately limited. There aren’t any sophisticated Cambodian or Burmese restaurants in Bangkok, for example, only market-based eateries targeting construction workers. The Philippines is represented by one decent Filipino restaurant in the Pratunam area. Only Vietnam seems to have made a name in Thailand. And even then, sometimes Vietnamese food served in Bangkok, although delicious, retains strong Thai flavours.
It does not come as a surprise then that Malay and Indonesian cuisine is also not easily found in the Thai capital. For newbies to Indonesian and Malaysian flavours, however, there are a few good places to “makan” (meaning “eat” in bahasa melayu and bahasa indonesia), from the most popular street food to the finest gourmet dining.
Some of the most authentic Malay food is found around Ramkhamhaeng University, along Ramkhamhaeng Road. The university welcomes many students from Southern Thailand, including a large number from the four Malay-speaking provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Satun, and Yala. A student association has even been created to promote their unique culture and language.
Ramkhamhaeng night market, located next to the University, along the entrance to Rajamangala Stadium, has a few outlets serving authentic Malay-style food. Inside the market, look for stalls selling barbecued chicken coated in a red-orange coloured dip. This is the equivalent of Ayam Percik, a typical dish from Kelantan, a state located near the border with Thailand in northern Malaysia. The chicken is marinated in a slightly sweet and creamy coconut sauce flavoured with herbs such as coriander, turmeric, and lemongrass. There are two outlets selling it in the market.
Another outlet in the neighbourhood sells a kind of blue-coloured rice with fresh herbs. This is called nasi kerabu and is also a specialty from Kelantan. In Ramkhamhaeng Soi 53, after crossing the canal in Lane 1, a small food outlet exclusively sells the blue-coloured nasi kerabu.
A few proper restaurants also serve authentic Malaysian food. This includes Cili Padi, the iconic Sri Mariamman Temple on Soi Pan in Silom. A team of Thai–Malays, mostly from Pattani, cook nasi lemak, a dish of rice flavoured with coconut milk and generally served with rendang daging (beef) or rendang ayam (chicken), a meat simmered for many hours in coconut milk, shallots, spices, and chilli, which gives the meat its tenderness and inimitable taste.
For a more Indonesian food experience, Rhasa Khas Indonesia behind EMQuartier promises the most authentic taste of Indonesian food in the city. Particularly good is the Gado Gado Salad, a refreshing and light dish of boiled and semi-boiled vegetables generously covered by a peanut- and tamarind-laced sauce with chillies. They also offer typical dishes such as Ketoprak (salad made of steamed rice cakes, tofu, and vegetables) and tender and juicy satay. Not to mention typical Indonesian desserts and drinks, such as the iconic Avocado Shake mixed with chocolate sauce or Cendol, a rather sweet treat made of palm sugar, coconut milk, and rice flour sweets. Best of all: both Cili Padi and Rasa Khas are reasonably priced. A meal will cost between B250 and B500 on average.
Malay Street Food
The Ramkhamhaeng University night market (in front of Rajamangala Stadium) and in nearby soi 53 and 55, across from the market
107/3 Pan Road (Soi Wat Kaek), Silom | 0 2635 1167, 08 7864 1234
86 Sukhumvit 23 | 0 2108 5437, 08 2223 6239