According to some metrics regarding total numbers of international arrivals, Bangkok is the most visited city in the world.
Bangkok is also one of the world’s most popular cities in the world for travelers in search of a fun local bite. Indeed, food is often the first interaction someone might have with a country; with the exotic of appeal of the mere mention of the word Thailand, you can take a temporary trip to Southeast Asia no matter where you are in the world.
On the other hand, you can also take a real trip to the flavorful capital. On that note, I’ve got five recommendations for Thai — or Thai-tinged — eats for you.
Somewhat obscured by a small shopping center and situated in a gated community between Phra Kanong and On Nut BTS stations, Lao Garden is easy to accidentally skip by.
After the waitress turned the fan on as a nice temporary respite from the humidity, I ordered a minced dried catfish salad, and a pork and friends laab. The catfish salad wasn’t anything like I had expected (I was hoping for chunks of fish with chilies liberally sloshed around), but the pork laab was on point; note: if you’re not a fan of offal (hence, pork and friends), you may want to ask the kitchen to lay off.
Portions for both were a bit small, but the quality was there in the pork laab, that’s for sure.
With a tacky name like Flavorful, I’m not sure why I tried this place. Close to the On Nut BTS, it just looks like your standard issue casual Bangkok Thai place.
Ever in the mood for spicy, I always pepper (awful pun) the order with “phet phet,” or “very spicy.” This time, I got mixed seafood, and chicken with cashews. It was spicy but not to the point that it overwhelmed anything, and there were no weird or mysteriously chewy bits anywhere.
(Sorry in advance for the photo for this place, I forgot to take a photo until after a couple of bites.)
Ooh, as a major seafood fan, this place was choice. Ruepoh, or Ruepoh Seafood, nowhere near the center of Bangkok, is close to Central Bang Na shopping center. (it’s temporarily closed in early 2023 because they’re moving to bigger digs nearby) Central Bang Na is a big bus hub, but it’s not near any other transportation. From Sukhumvit, you can take the 48 bus, and then walk to the restaurant. n.b. They’re now in a shipping container, but I understand that they’re moving to a larger location next year.
If credit cards were accepted here, I’d be in trouble. Nearly everything on the menu sounded good — crab this, lobster that, river prawn whatever — almost all joyfully accompanied by chilies, Thai herbs, and garlic.
I had the mixed seafood salad, and rock lobster stir-fry. They may have diluted the mixed seafood salad with fish balls, but I thoroughly enjoyed the just right shrimp, calamari, and fish. And the rock lobster? Bring on a thimble of melted butter, and then we’re really in business.
Peppina is a small local pizzeria chain, though I only tried the Sukhumvit 33 outlet.
In fairness to readers of this brief review, I’m a bit picky about pizza, having grown up (and outward?) eating it … on the other hand, it’s also about appreciating where one is at the moment. Southeast Asia is not the first place you’d think of when someone quizzed you on world’s best places for a pizza, is it? Last I checked, Thai mozzarella hasn’t quite caught on.
Nevertheless, I ordered the Chiang Mai pie: (from their online menu) “Chiang Mai: Mozzarella fior di latte, San Marzano tomatoes, sai oua sausage, eggplant funghetto & mint.” A lemongrass and kaffir lime pork sausage on a slice? Sure, whatever. And you know what, it worked. The sauce was a bit sweet, and the flavor of the fior di latte wasn’t entirely there, but holistically it worked. The strong lemongrass flavor of the sai oua sausage was quite good, especially when enjoyed in the same bite as the glutinous crust and dried red chili flakes.
I actually returned with a friend for another pie; that time, it had scamorza, pancetta, and black mint as the primary flavor profiles, with mozzarella (but no tomato sauce) to boot. Quite good, but I must try a burrata pie next time!
Hmm, something sticky was quite a suggestive post title for a Bangkok write-up; now you know why I went with it.
Another blink and you’ll miss it-type of place, even though it should have been obvious the first time I walked by, given the numerous mangos out front, sirens of the Thai dessert world. Stay on the southern side of Sukhumvit by Soi 18, and you’re golden.
One of those quintessential Thai sweets, khao niao mamuang, or mango sticky rice, is a must every time I’m in Thailand (the joke is on all of us non-Thai speakers, since it’s a tonal language. Have fun trying to pronounce it at a restaurant … I’ve failed many times). You’ve got the mango, so you pretend there’s some health benefit, but then the coconut milk and sticky rice remind you that you shouldn’t be eating it daily. Throw on some dried mung beans, and you’ve got a fun sweet, slightly salty, yet thoroughly Thai meal.
Have you tried any of the above five places in Bangkok? Or, maybe you’ve got a personal recommendation for your fellow readers?