We’re calling 2018 the year of Thai food. Here are the local-flavor specialists that dominated Top Tables 2018. 

 

100 Mahaseth (NEW!)

This partnership between chef Chalee Kader (Surface, Holy Moly) and Randy Noprapa (Fillets) has brought nose-to-tail dining back to Bangkok by serving uncompromised Isaan staples in a space that’s right at home on hipster Charoenkrung. Tuck into rice noodles with pig’s brain, a beautifully rich tom kee lek hang wua (ox tail braised in herb stock and cassia leaves) and some of the best pork crackling we’ve ever tasted. It all comes served alongside a buzzing, high-society crowd.

100 Mahaset Rd., 02-235-0023. Open daily 11:30am-11pm.

 

Exclusively for Citi credit card members: :
Get a complimentary dish from selection valued up to THB 360 when spending THB 500 or more /sales slip (limit 1 dish / card /table /sales slip) Today - 28 Feb 19

 

80/20

Bangkok’s most vocal champions of all things local, Canada-trained executive chef Napol Jantraget and his pastry chef wife Saki Hoshino whip up Thai-inflected food that’s contemporary in taste and appearance, and yet deeply rooted in age-old techniques. Using only a minimal number of ingredients in each dish, the kitchen employs traditionally Thai and internationally cribbed fermentation techniques to bring a powerful intensity to proceedings. Snakehead caught from the waterways surrounding Bangkok comes prepared in a green curry made from fish stock and sweet and zesty Isaan mustard green, which has a nasal hit like wasabi. Dehydrated acacia also provides a local stand-in for nori. Dishes are small and elegant—often approaching fine dining in their presentation—though 80/20’s total package provides a laidback and also affordable night.

1052-1054 Charoenkrung Soi 26, 099-118-2200. Open Wed-Mon 6pm-midnight. 

 

 

Baan

The second restaurant from Le Du’s Thitid Tassanakajohn (see below) focuses on the sort of home cooking that Thais have traditionally enjoyed at their grandparents’ tables. Family recipes are crafted out of traceable ingredients sourced from free-range, organic, chemical-free or sustainable suppliers, resulting in creative renderings of traditional Thai favorites such as kai palo (five-spice stewed egg). The surroundings belie the home-inspired dishes, resembling the sleek, minimalist decor of an Aman resort.

139/5 Wireless Rd., 02-655-8995, 081-432-4050. Open Wed-Mon 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30-10:30pm.

 

 

Baan Ice

This standby fave of discerning local gourmands specializes in Southern Thai cuisine, a particular obsession of the Bangkokian foodie with its fiery spices and herbal-inflected flavors. The faux-shophouse interior is nothing to write home about, but the location is in glitzy Thonglor and the kitchen does manage to efficiently churn out crowd-pleasing favorites. The daily crowd comes for traditional Southern ingredients such as sator (stinkbean) and pla sam lee (black-banded trevally).

Somerset Building, 115 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-381-6441. Open daily 11am-10pm. 

 

Bangkok Bold

Nestled in the charming Old Town, this cooking school-slash-chef’s table adds unique touches to typical Thai comfort dishes, resulting in extraordinary flavors. You must gather a group of 6-10 people in order for the chefs (all of whom come from impeccable Thai cuisine backgrounds, including work at Nahm) to walk you through seven courses showing off sophisticated techniques, as in a nam prik platoo (minced mackerel chili paste) for which the mackerel is grilled and stirfried for extra bite.

503 Phra Sumen Rd., 095-696-1946, 098-829-4310. Open daily 9am-10:45pm.

 

 

Benjarong

Lately, reliable five-star hotel dining has fallen out of favor with the type of Bourdain-like foodie intent on ferreting out squalid holes in the wall. But there is always something to be said for an elegant Thai restaurant that turns out carefully-crafted renditions of traditional Thai favorites alongside creatively modern degustation menus featuring seared foie gras with tamarind or basil ice cream with a salty meringue. Not surprisingly, the service, presentation and decor are similarly five star.

Dusit Thani, 946 Rama 4 Rd., 02-200-9000 ext. 2345. Open daily 6-10pm; Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm. 

 

 

Bo.lan

Since 2009, chef couple Duangporn Songvisava and Dylan Jones (“Bo” and “Lan”) have constantly pushed Thai fine dining to uncompromising extremes through untold hours spent researching royal recipes and tracking down rare ingredients. This year, on top of receiving their maiden Michelin star, the long-time proponents of a zero-carbon footprint have thrown their weight behind a series of initiatives dedicated to spreading the good word on sustainability, most notably the {Re} food forum. With no a la carte available, groups sign up for a degustation menu where all the dishes are served simultaneously. The sharing experience is akin to a Thai home-cooked meal, but expect something above and beyond your usual comfort food. Bo.lan’s menu changes quarterly based on the freshest seasonal produce sourced both from local farmers and the veggie patch on-site. These combine with complex, labor-intensive techniques for aromatic curries, multi-dimensional salads and fiery stir-fries that both tantalize and challenge. 

24 Sukhumvit Soi 53, 02-260-2962. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-1am

 

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Get 10% discount on food only for lunch or or get 2 complimentary glasses of signature mocktail valued THB 660++ for dinner (limit 2 glasses /card /table /sales slip) Today - 28 Feb 19

 

 

Err

At this riverside shop-house in the shadow of Wat Po, chef couple Duangporn Songvisava and Dylan Jones of Bo.lan curate down-to-earth street-food favorites and one-plate specials, but with quality ingredients and expert culinary techniques. Ignore the tourists and focus on the simple stir-fries, pickles and sausages with organic rice and careful cooking. A bonus are the drinks—original cocktails featuring hard-to-find local spirits—and the kitschy, retro ‘60s and ‘70s vibe.

394/35 Maharaj Rd., 02-622-2291. Open daily 11am-9pm.

 

Exclusively for Citi credit card members: :
Get 5% discount on food only when spending THB 1,500 or more /sales slip or get 2 complimentary glasses of signature mocktail valued THB 500++ (limit 2 glasses /card /table / sales slip) Today - 28 Feb 19

 

 

Issaya Siamese Club

Amid the splendor of a beautiful old mansion reinvented with bold colors and wallpapers, chef Ian Kittichai (TV personality, cookbook writer, restaurateur) constructs menus that reinvent Thai classics using premium produce. A whole Maine lobster adds protein to a classic kapraow (here made with cumin leaves, not basil), while a condensed presse of crispy-on-the-outside-moist-in-the-middle veal cheek sits in a mild gaeng kua (red coconut curry). Its position in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants makes it one of the city’s most-checked-in venues.

4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chuaphloeng Rd., 02-672-9040-1. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm, 6-10:30pm. MRT Khlong Toei.

 

 

Le Du

Since bursting onto the scene in 2015, chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn has become synonymous with modern Thai cooking. Follow-up restaurants Baan and Backyard by Baan have since played the comfort-food card, while a stint as judge on Top Chef Thailand has reinforced Ton’s reputation for meticulous detail. But it’s back at his original restaurant, with its contemporary reinterpretations of Thai classics, that his creativity comes to the fore. Across four- or six-course tasting menus, chef Ton applies techniques picked up at Michelin-star restaurants in the U.S. to Thai food, with extra emphasis on seasonality. Local produce, sourced from suppliers nationwide, provides the backbone for dishes like a deconstructed pad kaprao made with strips of 30-day dry-aged tenderloin, barley and a sous-vide egg or a hefty river prawn daintily accompanied by pork belly jam. Topping it all off, Ton is also himself a certified sommelier with a taste for organic and boutique outfits. 

399/3 Silom Soi 7, 092-919-9969. Open Mon-Sat 6-11pm.

 

 

Khao (NEW!)

Chef Vichit Mukura, who headed the Mandarin Oriental’s Sala Rim Naam for 28 years, helms this bright and airy venture complete with chef’s table. The traditional Thai dishes use fresh ingredients right out of Vichit’s favorite market, Or Tor Kor, resulting in a pomelo and prawn salad that walks the line between sweet and sour, and a holy basil-laced seafood soup rich with umami flavors. A master class in Thai cooking from one of the cuisine’s best.

15 Ekkamai Soi 10, 098-829-8878, 02-381-2575. Open daily noon-2:30pm, 6-10:30pm. BTS Ekkamai. 

 

 

Khua Kling + Pak Sod

Sometimes the very best Thai restaurants are characterized by the number of customers willing to put up with indifferent service and packed tables for great food. Here, this family-run Southern Thai specialist proves this to be true: the boisterous dining room can result in the occasional distracted server and long wait. But the persistent crowds show that the food makes it all worth it, thanks to the kitchen’s uncompromisingly volcanic levels of spice and deft cooking of fresh ingredients. 

Other branch: Sukhumvit Soi 23

Sukhumvit Soi 53, 02-259-5189. Open daily 11am-10:30pm. 

 

Exclusively for Citi credit card members: :
Get a complimentary khua kling moo sab valued THB 180 when spending THB 2,000 or more /sales slip or get a complimentary moo hong valued THB 240 when spending THB 3,000 or more /sales slip (limit 1 dish /card /table /sales slip) Today - 31 Dec 18

 

 

Nahm

The flagship restaurant of Western Thai-food champion David Thompson now stands under the stewardship of new head chef  Suraja “Jan” Ruangnukulkit. Jan keeps up Nahm’s stellar reputation for sharing, family-style Thai menus that move with local seasons. Dishes constantly adapt as Nahm’s chefs come across esoteric new ingredients, whether it’s a sour leaf for the coral catfish curry or a wild mushroom to turn into soup.

Como Metropolitan, 27 Sathorn Rd., 02-625-3388. Open daily 6:30-10:30pm; Mon-Fri noon-2pm.

 

Paste  

In order to bring new attention to forgotten Thai recipes, chef couple Jason Bailey and Bee Satongun have combed the old cookbooks from King Rama V up until King Rama VII (roughly 1870-1930) and scoured the countryside for just the right ingredients. It’s this level of detail, combined with the chefs’ own restless creativity, that sets Paste apart from other revivalist kitchens. And the world’s taking notice: the restaurant just scored its first Michelin star, while Bee was named the region’s best female chef by Asia’s 50 Best. Don’t expect molecular or fusion flourishes, as Bailey and Satongun stick to the authentic textures and flavors of Thai cuisine. Across increasingly sophisticated tasting menus, the chefs introduce a plethora of rare herbs and ingredients: from edible hummingbird flowers in your smoky Southern yellow curry with red spanner crab all the way down to salt from Nan province that they say is smoother than sea salt. No longer confined to the history books, these vibrant, complex dishes also manage to offer something new and beautiful.

3/F, Gaysorn Plaza, 999 Phloen Chit Rd., 02-656-1003. Open daily noon-2:30pm, 6:30-10pm.

 

 

Prai Raya

With the arrival of Phuket’s celebrated 21-year-old restaurant, Bangkok’s smattering of authentic Southern Thai restaurants got stiff competition. The owner’s niece runs things in the big city, and has retained Raya’s reputation for full-powered Southern flavors—a kua kling (stir-fried minced pork) that grows with a slow burn, a crabmeat yellow curry chockfull of big crabmeat chunks. About the only thing that’s not authenticis the Sino-Portuguese pastiche interior.

59 Sukhumvit Soi 8, 02-253-5556, 091-878-9959. Open daily 10:30am-10:30pm. BTS Asok.

 

 

Rarb

Sporting his iconic beard and golden earrings, chef Van Rohitratana prepares authentic Isaan cuisine that doesn’t get bogged down in “concept.” The singlepage, handwritten menu highlights skewers and other dishes made with secondary cuts of meat—think pig velum (soft palate) that’s parboiled in a herb-rice soup or nam tok gaem moo, a spicy salad made with pig cheek. For all the talk of offal, Rarb also does delightfully approachable comfort food.

49 Phra Athit Rd., 081-406-3773. Open Tue-Sun 5-11pm.

 

 

Sala Rim Naam

The longtime go-to for Thais with out-of-town guests, the jewel-like pavilion on the river is a showcase for not only some of the city’s best Thai cooks, but the country’s best classical Thai performers. Expect multi-course “royal Thai” set menus meant to echo the pageantry of the surroundings.

Mandarin Oriental, 48 Soi Burapa, Charoenkrung Rd., 02-659-9000 ext 73302-659-9000 ext 7330. Open Thu-Tue noon-2:30pm, 7-10:30pm. 

 

 

Saneh Jaan

Fine Thai dining for Thais is the central premise of this sprawling restaurant that forms part of the Glasshouse@Sindhorn. The mostly-local crowd gets to try out old-fashioned gaeng ranjuan (a shrimp paste-based soup) and gai baan kua bai jan (stir-fried chicken with wild basil) in a modernist dining room with vaulted ceilings and red design touches.

130-132 Wireless Rd., 02-650-9880. Open daily 11:30am-2pm, 6-10pm. 

 

Exclusively for Citi credit card members: :
Special price THB 950 (adult) and THB 650 (children) for Thai buffet lunch on Mon-Fri and special price THB 1,150 (adult), THB 800 (children) for Thai buffet lunch on Sat-Sun and special price THB 2,450 (adult), THB 1,950 (children) for Thai set dinner with dance show and book 4 pay 3 for Citi ULTIMA, Citi Prestige, Citi Preferred and Citi Select card members (limit 12 persons /card /table /sales slip) 1 Apr - 30 Nov 18

 

 

Somtum Der

Well-executed Isaan food in a more polished setting isn’t a groundbreakingly novel idea, but few places do it as well as this friendly eatery in the central business district. Owner Thanaruek Laoraowirodge (also of Supanniga Eating Room) brings the strong, vibrant flavors of his native Khon Kaen to Bangkok with the help of chef Kornthanut Thongnum, resulting in a parade of varied som tam, laab and tom sab that rival anything to be found on the street. 

Other branch: Thonglor Soi 17

5/5 Sala Daeng Rd., 02-632-4499. Open daily 11am-2:30pm, 4:30-10pm. BTS Sala Daeng. 

 

 

Soul Food Mahanakorn

Now a veteran of the Bangkok dining scene, this “Thai-style izakaya” excels in the type of creative spins on traditional street food favorites that set expat and tourist pulses racing. Set in a spare, Scandinavian-style two-story shop-house on still-buzzy Thonglor, the brainchild of former food writer Jarrett Wrisley and wife Candice Lin keeps things fresh with weekly specials, a laid-back vibe and a signature cocktail list that remains one of the best in the city.

56/10 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-714-7708. Open daily 11am-10pm. BTS Thonglor. 

 

Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin

Undoubtedly the city’s first truly modern Thai restaurant (it opened to huge fanfare in 2010), Sra Bua is still arguably its most advanced. The luxuriously teak-paneled, double-height dining room still packs in a crowd of both locals and tourists. The food, now presided over by Thai head chef Chayawee Sutcharitchan, is also just as show-stopping, characterized by curries turned into ice-cool powder by liquid nitrogen and crab laksa served as a Cornetto.

Lobby/F, Siam Kempinski Hotel, 991/9 Rama 1 Rd., 02-162-9000. Open daily noon-3pm, 6pm-midnight. BTS Siam. 

 

 

Sri Trat (NEW!)

Even in its first few months, it was clear this former home-turned-eatery was a rousing success. Featuring delicious-yet-underrated Eastern Thai dishes such as chamuang leaf curry and creamy lon chili dip, this restaurant has even been known to turn back hungry customers if their reservations are made too late in the day. One look at the high-end crowd thronging the colorful, stylish dining room amply illustrates this restaurant’s popularity.

90 Sukhumvit Soi 33, 02-088-0968. Open Wed-Sun noon-11pm; Mon noon-11pm; Fri-Sat noon-1am. BTS Phrom Phong. 

 

Exclusively for Citi credit card members: :
Get a complimentary Thai dessert platter valued THB 350 when spending THB 3,000 or more /sales slip for Citi ULTIMA, Citi Prestige and Citi Preferred card members (limit 1 dish /card /table /sales slip) 1 Apr - 30 Sep 18

 

 

The Local

A new generation of Thai restaurateurs is amping up the local food scene by presenting thoughtful reinterpretations of old classics. Among them is the secondgeneration owner of Naj, who has combined hard-tofind Thai court recipes with a ux-museum of antiques and old photos showcasing Thailand’s rich heritage. The real draw, however, is the century-old recipes like beef in spicy herbal soup and Thai mackerel in coconut milk, served in a 100-year-old house.

32-32/1 Sukhumvit Soi 23, 02-664-0664. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30-10:30pm. BTS Asoke/MRT Sukhumvit.

 

Exclusively for Citi credit card members: :
Get 10% discount on a la carte food menu Today - 28 Feb 19


Top Tables 2018 is BK Magazine's guide to Bangkok's best fine dining. See the full list of 100 restaurants here or download a PDF version here