These mouth-watering Isaan restaurants in Bangkok have a whole lot more to offer than grilled snakes and fermented fish
The food of Isaan is rich and distinctive, perhaps a reason why it is so greatly missed by those who leave the north. The Northeast is one of the main rice-growing areas of Thailand, so the cuisine is often centered around rice, which is typically prepared in the morning so the workers can take it into the fields with them; sometimes transported by stuffing into small bamboo containers. Likewise, fermenting is a popular technique in order to prolong and preserve fish. Much of the food is hot, flavoured with pungent herbs and seasonings, producing some of Thailand’s spiciest salads.
Staples of Isaan cuisine include som tam, gai dtai naam, dtom jeaw pla, and kor moo yang, all delicious examples of food from this ancient region. Here are just some of the places in Bangkok where homesick natives from the north can find their Isaan food fix.
A collaboration of friends and family who have close ties to Isaan region. Caters authentic northern Isaan food in a comfortable friendly atmosphere, which guarantees to offer more than tasty true food but also a lifestyle that can be enjoyed.
Open: 11 am-12 pm. Closed on Sundays
5/5 Sala Daeng Rd, Silom
This Ari restaurant specialises in som tom salads that harmoniously blend the freshest seafood from Hua Hin with a pungent, North Eastern-style kick. Many dishes are the owner’s own creations, as she hails from Hua Hin and sources prime cuts of beef from a special farm.
Open: Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, 5-10pm; Sat-Sun 11am-11pm
10400 2/1 Phahon Yothin 7 Alley, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai
Kaiyang Suayai by Mangmoom
A restaurant specifically designed to cater to the needs of urbanits wanting real Isaan food within a relaxed and comfortable ambience. All ingredients are sourced from insecticide-free farms in the north-eastern provinces of Thailand, without MSG or any artificial additives.
Open: Open daily 11am-10pm
Khlong Tan Nuea
Tor Um Tum
A favourite Bangkok spot for classic Isaan cuisine, serving authentic dishes such as spicy som tam to laab ped (spicy minced duck salad) and yam nuea yang (spicy grilled beef salad). A popular spot to sit and have a beer while knocking back some northern spiciness.
Open: Daily 11am-9:30pm
1221/, 24 Sukhumvit Rd, Khlong Tan Nuea
Two top Thai chefs bring the nose-to-tail trend back with a focus on Isaan and Southeast Asian food. Chef Chalee Kader and Chef Randy Nopprapa veer away from the refined cuisines they’re used to and revive the global food trend with a nod to its humble Asian roots.
Open: Daily 11:30am-11pm
100 Maha Set Rd, Si Phraya, Bang Rak
A popular local Thai restaurant in the Ekamai neighbourhood—and a bit of a hidden gem— serving northern Thai cuisine, such as pickled fish and salted egg, and soft shell crab.
86/1 Sukumvit Soi 63 Rd, Ekamai
The Kitchen at Yenakat
The Kitchen serves a wide variety of dishes, including some “hard-core” Isaan farmers food—not easy to find in Bangkok restaurants—all cooked as fresh as possible with the best ingredients. Menu items include roasted bamboo salad and laab chicken, crispy pork kale, and grilled wild mushrooms salad—Isaan style!
Open: Daily 10am-10pm
26, 2 Yen Akat Rd, Thung Maha Mek
Horm Pla Phao
A spacious, outdoor restaurant in a relaxed atmosphere, cooking mostly northern-style Thai food from the Isaan Provence. Grilled chicken and fish is a speciality, cooked slowly over charcoal in an outside pit—simple and delicious! An extesntive menu offers Isaan staples from som tam to moo ping and Isaan sausage.
Open: Mon-Fri 4pm-11:30pm; Sat-Sun 11am-11:30pm.
Pracha Rat Bamphen Rd
As a national dish, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this chain restaurant serves a staggering 29 varieties of som tum, made with almost anything imaginable—crab, pork skin, salted egg, coconut sprouts, prawn. The menu also showcases Isaan cuisine, from with bold and generous spicing and the liberal use of chillies.
9/1 Soi Pramuan, Si Wiang Rd, Bang Rak