Best Places to Eat in Bangkok, Thailand — Restaurants, Street Food
Although Bangkok is a city steeped in history, I have found that it is becoming more forward-thinking than ever, especially when it comes to food. In my last 10 years of living and working in the Thai capital, I have constantly tried new restaurants as a guidebook writer and travel journalist, and have seen the scene blossom with new talents and tastes.
Thailand’s capital will always be known for its no-frills street food, but lately I’ve also noticed a new generation of forward-thinking restaurants pushing the boundaries of flavor while paying homage to Thai identity.
Here are some of the restaurants where you can experience some of Thailand’s most exciting contributions to world cuisine.
Cloth is my favorite restaurant in Bangkok right now. I have been to fine dining restaurants all over the world but was blown away by an experience here unlike anything I have ever had before.
The 18-course menu here is the definition of “food as art”. Each dish is arranged, caressed or stamped on the plate like paint. Among the most impressive is a mix of 33 different vegetables reminiscent of a Pollock masterpiece. An art book (painted by the chef himself during the pandemic) also accompanies the meal.
I loved how a wide geographical area of Thailand was represented through the meal with rare ingredients such as caviar from Hua Hin and candied coffee flowers from Chiang Mai. Request a seat at the bar overlooking the open kitchen to watch the cast of chefs work with these ingredients – including live Phuket rainbow lobster – while zigzagging between burners and plating stations.
I am going to Umi when I want an amazing omakase experience led by a Japanese-trained Thai master chef. Of all the omakase menus in Bangkok, this one is known for sourcing some of Japan’s best hard-to-find ingredients and seafood every week. In my personal experience, this is a great restaurant for solo dining because there’s so much to see, like the sushi master slicing fish and pounding fresh wasabi like a choreographed performance. The lunch menu is a more modestly priced (and less filling) alternative to the 20-course dinner experience.
Since its opening in 1958, Normandy has been at the pinnacle of classic French cuisine in Asia. With stunning views of the Chao Phraya, I think a special occasion dinner in Thailand is no better than sitting next to the restaurant’s golden chandeliers and opulent flower arrangements.
Since December 2021, a new French chef has taken up the great traditions of Normandy with divine dishes such as wagyu beef with truffles and pan-fried Canadian lobster. Dinner is an iconic moment, but I prefer the three-course lunch menu for its more economical price and bright daytime views of long-tail boats on the river.
sorn, a fine dining space serving Southern Thai cuisine, is what I consider to be the most exclusive restaurant in Bangkok right now. With 20 seats reserved for dinner, it is constantly booked and only 10% of reservations are recorded for international diners, so you will need to email your request to the restaurant. I managed to get a table after a last minute cancellation, so if you’re flexible, be sure to mention that.
Unlike what seems like most contemporary restaurants in the capital these days, Sorn offers a menu of just five courses instead of more than a dozen, and it’s all served family-sharing style. You’ll learn about dishes and techniques including a yellow curry with mangosteen and gu fish and ingredients like sugar palm and coconut milk prepared from scratch daily on site.
If you are looking for a chance to enjoy Michelin starred Thai food in Bangkok, this is where I would go. Based on Thai royal gastronomy, DoughDishes feature sumptuous local ingredients in rare but well-worn recipes, such as watermelon and fish roe soup and Northern Shan curry with beef cheek.
The restaurant is located in prime real estate in Bangkok’s fanciest shopping mall, Gaysorn Village. My favorite seats in the house are the booths along the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Ratchaprasong neighborhood. From here, I think all the taxis and tuk-tuks bustling frantically around each other look eerily peaceful.
Jua is my casual-chic spot for a dinner with friends. Tucked away in a small industrial shop in Chinatown, this modern izakaya exemplifies Bangkok’s affinity for Japanese cultural influences with grilled skewers and shared plates.
The intimate yet buzzy atmosphere, set to an old-school hip-hop soundtrack, is a real treat. Jua’s cocktails, based on Japanese liqueurs, are also particularly successful (the bartender also makes a nasty espresso martini). For my team, it’s usually a pre-game stop before a night of bar hopping in Chinatown at places like Teens of Thailand and Maggie Choo.
I didn’t expect one of the world’s most creative (and Michelin-acclaimed) German restaurants to be in Bangkok, but it is. To Suhringchef-owners Thomas and Matthias Sühring, twin brothers from East Berlin, experiment with the refinement of traditional German cuisine and many dishes from their childhood.
Chefs elevate classic German dishes like chicken salad, reimagined as a bite-sized tart topped with head lettuce jelly. Other dishes come with fascinating stories that were new to me, such as Leipziger Allerei, a vegetable and fish dish for everyone, and Hungarian Roast Duck, which was a typical Christmas dish for chefs who were growing up.
GaahThe restaurant’s menu runs the gamut of inventive Thai and Indian delicacies, but is always focused on local produce (no wonder since chef Garima Aurora has already cut his chops at the famous Noma in Copenhagen) . Dishes such as Mango Soup with Vanilla and Dehydrated Fruit and Crispy Pomelo, Chutney and Trout Roe Snack are inspired by Indian street food with a twist.
Although Aurora originated in India, the restaurant is a Bangkok original and, in my opinion, brings much needed exposure to the country’s large Thai-Indian minority that has existed for generations.
Jay Fai is Bangkok’s most legendary street food stop. Dining at this unmarked boutique is a rite of passage, because 70-plus-year-old Jay Fai, who throws flames high all day while wearing ski goggles and red lipstick, is a superstar. Since there are no advance reservations, foodies start waiting at 10 a.m. for a table. One benefit I found, at least, is that there’s no real queue but a sign-up sheet, you can walk around and chat with a diverse crowd of travelers who also eat in Asia (and usually they’ll have good restaurant recommendations too).
If you’re lucky enough to sit down, Jay Fai’s revered dishes like crabmeat omelette (which you’ll most often see in his charcoal brazier) and drunken seafood noodles are at your fingertips. the height of the hype. A meal here is considerably more expensive (around 1,000 baht or $30 per dish) than what you’d pay for most street food, but far less than dining on Michelin stars anywhere else in Bangkok. If you ask me, waiting a few hours is worth bragging rights.
80/20 is a restaurant that showcases Thai flavors in an avant-garde way. The name represents the chef’s philosophy of using 80% Thai pantry and 20% foreign produce. I think the result is a fantastic menu displaying balanced and seasonal flavors, like the signature Stormy Sea made with squid, mangosteen and chilli (my favorite dish) and the pork belly with infused mushrooms.
Set in a converted Chinatown store, the 80/20 vibe features sexy lighting, shredded cement and handmade earthenware. Impressive cooking techniques, including an in-house fermentation lab, leave a lot to be said, so it’s a great place for a first date with a fellow foodie.
Check out Insider’s complete guide to visiting Bangkok, Thailand.