For the first time, the best restauarants in Asia have been voted and ranked and Bangkok emerges with more than its share of bragging rights.
Words by Tom Sturrock
The results were eagerly awaited by the who’s who of Bangkok’s fine dining set. For the first time, a list of the top 50 restaurants in Asia was to be released, sponsored by San Pellegrino and compiled from the votes of over 900 foodies from across the continent. When the results were finally released last month, Narisawa and Nihonryori Ryugin, both from Tokyo, filled the top two spots but further down the list, there was plenty for Bangkok’s epicure obsessives to celebrate.
In many ways, Australian-born chef David Thompson has fundamentally altered expectations of Thai food – his London restauarant, also called Nahm, was the first Thai restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star. And he has made a splash in Bangkok since opening his second venue, a smart space with bare wooden tables and raw brick pillars, echoing Siam temples.
Despite his reputation as an innovator, Thompson remains anchored in traditional Thai methods, having scoured ancient cookbooks to find obscure dishes long forgotten. His menu is all about sharing dishes and big flavours – there’s the grilled mussels smoked with coconut husks and the tamarind relish blended with minced prawns, pork and shrimp paste and spread over braised mackerel. Or the signature dish: smoky Chiang Mai-style chilli relish with quail eggs and pork crackling. Sold.
Metropolitan, 27 South Sathorn Rd | 02-625-3333 | www.comohotels.com | Mon-Fri 12pm-2pm, Daily 7pm-10:30
The success enjoyed by Kolkata-born Gaggan Anand has been truly remarkable – by making over classic Indian recipes and updating traditional street food, Anand has become one of the most celebrated Indian chefs in the world and his slow-cooked Iberian pork neck topped with a vindaloo curry reduction a taste sensation.
“I was emotional, shockingly surprised and happy, since the restaurant has only been open for a little over two years. And it was an incredible honour to be recognised alongside so many top chefs whom I have admired for years,” Anand said of his top-10 finish.
“It has definitely put the spotlight on the dining scene in Thailand and Asia. It also inspires me to do even more.”
68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Rd | 02-652-1700 | www.eatatgaggan.com | Daily 12pm-2:30, 6pm-11pm
Eat Me #19
While Bangkok’s other entires in this list have been lauded for offering delicious twists on familiar, the menu at this artsy Silom staple goes a step further, defying any easy categorisation.
New York chef Tim Butler has introduced some obscure ingrdients and some genuinely surprising combinations – Eat Me is billed as “modern international regional”, which basically means there’s a lot going on. Mostly, it’s dishes from the Pacific Rim, with added touches from Southeast Asia and the Middle East. It’s not an obvious fit but black chicken with red papaya, toasted coconut and chili and betel leaf salad sounds like it works pretty well, as do the grilled Tasmanian Pacific oysters with miso and spring onions.
1/6 Soi Pipat 2 (off Soi Convent), Silom | 02-238-0931 | www.eatmerestaurant.com | Daily 3pm-1am
Sra Bua By Kiin Kiin #29
Molecular Thai cuisine, put together by a couple of intrepid Danes, certainly promises plenty of surprises and this luxuriously appointed venue delivers a unique experience.
The Thai red curry with lobster is served frozen with a jug of liquid nitrogen which is administered at the table, while the tom yum soup involves diners making their own noodles by squeezing a dough-filled syringe into hot, fragrant stock. Or try the grilled shrimp with frozen satay ice cream sauce and coconut pearl.
As much as any restaurant in Bangkok, Sra Bua is reimagining and forging new frontiers for what will work on paper and, more importantly, on the tongue.
SRA BUA BY KIIN KIIN
Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, 991/9 Rama I Rd | 02-162-9000 | www.kempinski.com/en/bangkok | Daily 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm
More than ever, restauarants are keen not just to serve food but to create a story, and Bo.lan, the brainchild of a husband and wife – she’s Thai, he’s a westerner – hits all the right notes.
The food is classically Thai with some artful, creative additions from across the spectrum. The signature dish is the stir-fried pork with chilli and dried prawn relish but Bo.lan is also well-known for its sharing platters, with combine bite-sized portions from different parts of the menu, meaning fiery street food is served alongside palace fare.
It’s irresistible for indecisive lovers of Thai food who want to try it all.
42 Soi Pichai Ronnarong Songkram, Sukhumvit 26 | 02- 260-2962 | Facebook: Bo.lan | Tue-Sun 6:30pm-10:30pm