|29 years of earth dwelling was cause for these crazy kids to fly in from Hong Kong, Singapore and Jakarta to celebrate. I was responsible for their culinary odyssey.|
One of the greatest advantages of moving from Jakarta to Bangkok was that it was amazing to be in a city where people actually wanted to visit you. Jakarta, for all its high potential growth as Indonesia's capital, is still off the beaten track (and frankly a terrible polluted and infrastructurally crippled place). In sum, I rarely had friends come through town. Bangkok, on the other hand is a hub of fun and full of great places to eat that I took great pleasure in taking my homies to.
But hey, every Tom, Dick and Harry who he ever stepped a toe in Thailand will have their own restaurant recommendations. And honestly, the food here is an ambrosial a-bomb so you'll do okay almost anywhere you go. But of all the choices, here are a couple of the staples I've found that makes living away from Toronto (food court of the world?) acceptable.
For new expats in Bangkok needing to step back from spicy Thai food a bit I have listed key life staples, from the best sushi in Bangkok to bomb ass brunch spots with quality coffee and chic vibes.
What is this "best" I speak of?
If you have read my other guides you'll know what I look for—small, cozy spots ranging from stylish and sexy to hole in the wall mom and pop shops. What threads my list together is a nose-wrinkling disdain for overly commercial chain restaurants or mega mainstream tourist traps. I'm pretty obsessed with humble settings, authentic flavours, great taste not diluted for tourist palettes and at a good price. This is not a regurgitated list of Michelin Starry finds, but an attempt to be the homie that shows you their feeding grounds that have helped shaped my personal experience living in the city for the last 3 years!
1. Thai Food & Street Markets
2. Best Places Ever
3. Brunch & Coffee
4. World Foods
5. Vegan Pick
1. Thai Food & Best Street Markets
Supanniga Eating Room, Thong Lor or Silom (Vegan friendly)
Four words: best crab curry ever. Certainly the best Thai curry I've had in Bangkok with succulent chunky chunks in a rich tasty, albeit spicy, sauce. The restaurant is small, cute and made for young hip Thai people. Expect Issan food not toned down for weak paletted westerners and for vegetarians in Bangkok there is an extensive menu of vegan friendly Thai food. Despite its micro-aggression kneejerk of a name, this is the first place I take everyone who visits. Side bar: maybe consider reserving in advance if you're a large group as it has limited seating.
My fav: Crab curry with rice
Location: 160/11 Sukumvit Soi 55 Thonglor
Lek & Rat, Street Seafood Market in Chinatown
I love Thai seafood more than anything in the world, not hyperbolic I swear. Go to this spot for the lime sauce steamed snapper and make sure to get the spicy sauces to dip the succulent white fish into. I usually order it with a crab fried rice and a side of calamari or prawns. But more than delicious food, this is the ultimate Bangkok experience- sitting on plastic stools on a narrow side walk as tuk tuks whir past in a frenzy. Street food in Bangkok is famous and I thank my old journalist homie for showing me (you may remember him as the guy who took me into the middle of an exploding volcano in Indonesia). Chinatown is also a must see, it has old buildings and a bustling charming vibe of what I imagine the 70s in Bangkok must have felt like. If you are in the area go check out the quiet street of hidden bars, here, especially Teens of Thailand.
My fav: Steamed white snapper in lime sauce with crab fried rice
Location: Intersection of Yaowarat Road & Thanon Phadung Dao Street
No.1 #bangkokstreetfood recommendation is in Chinatown. Every chance I get, I order the steamed snapper in lime sauce with crab fried rice and some other #thaiseafood appetiser ! No better place to take your tourist friends for the heart of Bangkok experience 💪. (Ps. The place is not t&k seafood but the rival next door!)A video posted by Lil'Fel Rocks the World (@lilfelrockstheworld) on
A bit out of the centre but worth it if you want a good open-air atmosphere with live Thai bands and a variety of food stalls to choose from. Lots of affordable and varied Thai and western choices. I like to get the grilled Salted fish. I know, I'm obsessed with seafood, but seriously it's so expensive in western countries and so wonderfully abundant and cheap here how can one not take a stroll down gluttony lane? The burritos and oysters are also a good call in this arty hipster Bangkok night market.
My fav: Grilled salted fish
Location: Corner of Sukumvit 71, behind the buildings, 5 minute walk from Phra Kanong BTS
Train Night Market (Rot Fai), Ratchadaphisek
Haven't been here yet but I hear this Bangkok night market is a great bazaar style market with food and vintage clothing with an arty vibe. It is also a smaller version of the original Rot Fai Night Market.
Location: Ratchadaphisek Road, close to Esplanade Shopping Mall.
Cafe Bangrak, Silom (Vegan Friendly)
Hipsterific, looking like an edgy startup office or Brooklyn cafe where you can enjoy an intensely good vegetarian menu and other Thai delights. Personal fav here is the red curry because it's spiceful and a glass noodle salad. Ate here constantly when I was a vegan in Bangkok.
My fav: Mushroom red curry (vegan)
Location: 4-6 Soi Saladaeng, off of Silom Road, Saladaeng BTS
One of my fav #vegan friendly spots for delicious #thaifood in #bangkok. Super cool cafe ambiance with very tasty non-touristy flavours. Recommend the mushroom red curry and papaya salad!A photo posted by Lil'Fel Rocks the World (@lilfelrockstheworld) on
Sala Rattanakosin Eatery & Bar, Chao Praya River
Apologies if this is a mainstream spot but it's riverside location and fancy Thai food make it the perfect place to take your parents, out of town colleagues or a date. The food is delicious, well prepared Thai food. Discovered there after my company's annual off-site dinner there with our out of town c-levels. I don't remember the price (too expensive) but it was great because of the sunset on the temples and wonderful Chao Praya River glittering as you ate!
My fav: everything
Location: Sala Rattanakosin Hotel, Maharaj Road
2. Best places ever
El Mercado, "The Chef's Market"
!!! Go here. Delectable quality cuisine at an affordable price in the cutest terrace garden patio. Done in an unassuming renovated house, El Mercado has a delicious fresh bakery, wide meat and cheese selections and most importantly deliciously fresh seafood. The ingredients are chosen with an artisanal care you can taste. Their wines are good and go for 100 baht per glass for house wine. Recommend this Bangkok gem for a light French style brunch or dinner and drinks. Beware, it is closed on Sunday!
My fav: Fish and couscous entree
Location: 490 Soi Phai Sing To (Between Sukumvit 16 and Rama IV area)
Uncle John French Food, Sathorn
This place is a paradox. It's French cuisine done in ratty Thai street food setting. Uncle John was a top chef in a hotel, quit his job and opened this haute cuisine French place with a very Bangkok vibe. I was shocked when the CEO took all the visiting executives from out of town to this ratty place, but once we got the food, I totally got it. Recommend everything but especially the pan seared foie gras. There are 2 spots next to each other, make sure you do the French one, not European.
My fav: Pan seared foie gras and duck salad
Location: Suan Plu Soi 8, Sathorn
3. Brunch & CafesNothing like waking up on a Sunday morning with old homies visiting to grab delicious brunch. Bangkok expat community is ripe with good selection. Surprisingly, can find decent coffee too!
Casa Lapin, Sukumvit 26
There are multiple locations but this one is big and has the best food and ambiance. It has a beautiful garden and delightful wooden decor and cute design. This is a weekend haunt for me especially for brunch or when I want to lounge around for hours working because of the cozy and cuteness. More importantly, they actually do decent coffee! The coffee brings me memories of Melbourne's strong flat whites. I always go for the poke tuna salad or pumpkin quinoa salad when I'm trying to infuse health into a vice filled weekend. They have great eggs and juice too! The place is home to hi-so (high society) Thais and young professionals.
My fav: Flat white coffee, tuna poke salad and pumpkin quinoa
Location: 300 meters down Sukumvit 26, Phrom Pong BTS
Cafe Tartine, Soi Ruam Rudee
This is the Bangkok brunch spot because the legit French bakery that seduces with fresh croissants, delightful pain au chocolats, as well as charcuterie platters and an eggs florentine to kill for. They serve the always good, albeit expensive, Illy coffee to tap that Saturday morning caffeine into the veins. It's a cool and maybe sometimes award community feeling there. Expect to see everyone you saw at the big party the night before on their/with conquest from the night before. I don't care though, I am croissant and cappuccino obsessed and this place always delivers!
My fav: Shrimp eggs florentine, pain au chocolat for dessert.
Simple Natural Cafe, Sukumvit 31
So many quinoa options paired with super coffee and located in a small alley, how could this place not make it into my heart. Food is fresh, organic and tasty!
4. Other Eats from Around the WorldSri Ganesha, Sukumvit 13 (Indian, Vegetarian)
I've lived a while in Bangkok and I love Indian food, so I can say with sincerity that they have amazing dosas (thin pancake with curries inside). My fav is the Mysore masala dosa and I always get the special South Indian style samosas. Oh yea, it's also vegetarian! Don't let that scare the carnivorously inclined because the food is so tasty you won't notice.
My fav: Mysore masala dosa with South Indian style samosas
Location: Sukumvit Suites Building on Sukumvit 13, Nana BTS
I realise this looks like baby shit on a plate but of all the #indianfood places I've tried in Bangkok, this one wins for tastiest, especially the masala dosa and the #southindian style samosas. Ignore the fact it's on a sexpat infested Soi, the resto itself is full of Indian families so you know it's legit and spicy. #lilfeleats #lilfelrocksbk
ISAO, Sukumvit 31 (Sushi)
When you're craving Toronto / US style maki and sushi rolls, this is my #1 sushi spot. Not super cheap though.
Location: 5 Sukumvit 31
Bamboo Lebanese Food, Sukumvit 3 (Vegan friendly)
My go to for the least touristy and super sketchy but legit as Lebanese food. Of the many on Soi Arab this one stands out for its super tasty beef schwarma, home made baba ganoosh, falafel a for the vegans. They also serve Russian and Uzbec food. Great place to people watch the crazy sleazy fat dudes and smoke sketchy sheesha. It's seediness epitomises the Bangkok underbelly and I love it!
My fav: Falafel sandwich, beef shwarma with a side of baba ganoush
Location: Soi Nana, Nana BTS
Top Vegan Pick in Bangkok
May's Veggie Home, Sukumvit 16
BEST MASSUMAN CURRY ALERT! Vegan Thai and western food here. Personal favs are the massuman curry (my meat loving friends even come to may for this, it's that good), with brown rice or a May's veggie pattie is done so well. The fresh Vietnamese spring rolls are also winners. But to be honest, all the Thai curries are scrumptious!
My fav: Massuman Curry (if it wasn't clear) and May's Veggie Burger with homemade vegan mayonaise.
Location: Sukumvit 16, BTS Asok