Bangkok is full of restaurants that advertise their sophistication via glittering fit-outs. The logic, supposedly, is that if the shell shines brightly enough, people will be convinced that there’s a glorious pearl inside. That’s all well and good but few of these places succeed as spectacularly as The Local, which encouragingly goes for authenticity over glamour and still ends up with one of the most attractive premises in the capital.
It’s a gorgeous old Thai house, split into a couple of buildings. Within, there are several private rooms as well as a collection of old Thai cookbooks and a small museum. It’s impossible not to be charmed by the whole set-up and the willingness to diverge from the template for Thai restaurants.
That said, it’s still about the food and, judging by the booming Thai clientele, The Local is doing a lot of things right. Thai food has undergone a revolution in recent years with a growing embrace of modern techniques and innovative combinations. However, at The Local, there is a salient reminder of what makes Thai food so satifying, even when unreconstructed.
The starters set the bar high – a combination of five comes for B250. Chicken in pandan leaves are on the menu at pretty much every place but the flavours here are particularly refined, with a delicious smokey edge.
There’s great value on offer when it comes to the mains. Try the salad with sueda leaves, chicken and coconut cream (B280) for a lighter option, delivered here with sweeter notes offset by the more explosive Thai flavours. The stir-fried beef with cumin leaves (B280) is similarly bold, but with more bitter tones ramped up.
But the real highlight may be the homemade yellow curry with fish and orange leaves (B250). Much of the menu at The Local is familiar – that’s not a criticism – but this dish shows they can also produce more surprising signatures. The addition of orange leaves works brilliantly and introduces an underused flavour.
For anyone who loves Thai food and wants something between street food and the most high-end places, The Local is likely to become a favourite.
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32-32/1 Sukumvit 23 | 02-664-0664
thelocalthaicuisine.com | 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-11.30pm