This would be the perfect opportunity to purge a few gripes that have been haunting the industry, but also highlight the positive trends and movements that are changing the face of the culinary scene in Thailand.
If you haven’t caught on by now, single-use plastic is bad, like—really bad. How often have you been in a tug of war with the store attendant trying to triple bag your cat food or dry pasta, or find that the straw ninjas at 7-Eleven slipped in three straws with your lightener bleach, only to add them to the growing pile of plastic under your sink at home. Previously only found at vegan cafés or eco-resorts that adopted a no-plastic-bag policy or invested in eco-friendly packing, food and beverage giants in Bangkok, such as Villa Market, Coffee Club, and even a celebrity campaign at 7-Eleven branches, have been guilt-tripped into doing the same. The move might appear to be a drop-in-the-ocean compared to global plastic pollution woes, but let’s take this as a great initiative to start a New Year.
LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR
I may be as patriotic as the next person, but some Thai food zealots often forget to give food culture props where it’s due or are simply unaware of the many roots and origins of Thai food. Michelin Guide Thailand in sponsorship with TAT, previously ran a campaign competition that promoted Pad Thai, but more widely consumed by the locals are dishes like Larb, Sticky Rice and Som Tum (Papaya salad) from Isaan region (Northeastern Thailand) that shares a lot historically with neighbouring Laos, at least until borders went up. Recent years have seen a global “reclaiming” of Laotian dishes, in a movement to avoid being bundled with Thai cuisine. There’s even a viral hashtag #LaotianFoodMovement, pioneered by Laotian Chef, Seng Luangrath of Thip Khao in Washington DC, who won the James Beard award. Funky Lam Kitchen in Thonglor is a fine example of Lao food declaring its independence in Bangkok, with its edgy style and French-Lao touch. Let’s not forget the now-famous Sorn restaurant that bagged a Michelin and an Asia’s 50 Best ranking in the space of six months and in doing so brought Southern food into the international spotlight. Yet, Southern Thai food is also heavily influenced by the ethnic Malay people. The New Year is about sharing the love around and it’s about time we show to the world, the true roots and diversity of Thai cuisine.
THE CHOSEN ONES
Hallelujah! We can go for a fancy or smart dinner once again without the obligation to choose from a menu that’s either pricey or very pricey, avoiding a list of complicated bites that go on for an eternity. Not to say, they aren’t some of the best and worthiest meals I’ve had in my life, but I do miss the old school form of going to a restaurant and selecting whatever the heck I wanted. In the last two years, tasting menus have become the norm at finer or casual fine dining establishments but now the humble a la carte is making a comeback with restaurants like Nan Bei at brand-spanking-new Rosewood Bangkok and Front Room at The Waldorf Astoria which offer both menus styles and Thaan 31 Bangkok, Tenshino and 100 Mahaseth mostly dedicated to a la carte. Because, with a New Year comes New Year’s resolutions, it’s about the choices you make, so make them quick—we’re hungry!