Best Restaurants In Bangkok – A Look At Gaggan, Nahm, Issaya Siamese Club, Eat Me and Bo.Lan
[Bangkok] This is a tough one. Of course my Thai friends would say the “Best Restaurant In Bangkok” would be a hole-in-the-wall at some Soi that the tourists simply DO NOT know about. Yes, I have tried some of those, when getting there required both a car-ride and a long walk, but certainly worth it.
The good thing about Bangkok restaurants is, they always excite. Keep your senses aware of the surroundings, and there will be something yet to be undiscovered, and is reinvented or just plain hidden.
For the purpose of referencing, the Bangkok restaurants listed here are awarded the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2015 and 2016.
(There is always an on-going debate on what is best anyway, but I shall reserve my comments here.)
Gaggan is in the sweet spot of serving ‘exotic’ Indian food in the colourful and highly-accessible Bangkok. It means “sky” in Hindi, and this 70-year old restored bungalow of sorts, with green gardens, comfortable rooms and cane furniture.
The best way to experience Chef Gaggan Anand’s creativity is through the Tasting Menu (3,500++ Baht).
Having trained for two months in Ferran Adria’s el Bulli, Gaggan’s cuisine is influenced by its philosophy. There is no way you would find a typical curry dish, naan or masala chicken here.
Expect modern interpretation of Indian classics.
I have tried it twice. Once before all the limelight (but was already famous); the next more recently. The first was better.
There were fun dishes, such as the Minced Lamb Patty which came in a tomato ‘false’ bun all airy and crumbly, and slightly sweet.
However, almost every dish required some form of syringing, hitting, opening up, with liquid nitrogen etc etc. They might have overdone it a few notches. My advice: throw all expectations out first, and maybe you will be thrilled. Read: Gaggan
Metropolitan Hotel Bangkok, 27 South Sathorn Rd, Tungmahamek, Sathorn
Tel: +662 625 3388
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2pm (Lunch Mon-Fri); 7pm – 10:30pm (Dinner Daily)
Nahm is helmed by renowned chef David Thompson, an Australian who immersed himself into the Thai culture (who also found a Thai partner is also his dessert chef), scoring the very first Michelin star for a Thai restaurant for his London branch at The Halkin.
Most would question – can a ‘fa-rang’ (foreigner) cook Thai dishes well? Apparently so for the last 20 years.
The dinner set menu at 2,500 baht (SGD$98, USD$71) per person, is quite unlike the usual chef’s degustation menus elsewhere. You can choose from a series of canapés, main courses available in the a la carte menu, followed by dessert.
Portion sizes are determined by the number of people in the group, and main course dishes are served family style, arriving together at the same time.
The Lunch Set is at 1,600 baht (SGD$62, USD$45).
It was a good meal, though I did feel there was a ‘Wow’ element missing.
When Nahm first opened, critics were divided on how an Australia can present authentic Thai fare in an upmarket restaurant setting. Chef David Thompson had convinced his naysayers by collecting recipes wholeheartedly from the streets of Thailand, even creating dishes that are said to be truly traditional in taste. Read: Nahm
Issaya Siamese Club
4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chuaphloeng Rd, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120 Thailand
Opening Hours: 11:30am-3pm, 6pm – 12am Daily
Tel: +66 2 672 9040
This gorgeous-looking Thai restaurant is helmed by Chef Ian Kittichai, which is probably one of, if not the world’s most well-known Thai celebrity chef.
‘Issaya’ which represents the rainy season, name chosen for the nature and gardens surrounding this century-old house.
The gardens around is where Chef Ian Kittichai grows some of his ingredients, such as the Thai spices. Talk about Thai-style farm-to-table.
Issaya’s Set Menu is priced at 1,500++ baht per person (SGD$59, USD$42), and Tasting Menu at $2,500++ baht person (SGD$98, USD$70).
I liked the Choo-Chee Salmon Rom Kwan (790 baht, SGD$31, USD$22) – slow-cooked smoked salmon presented in a covering, when opened had still some of those smoke drifting out.
The meat was fleshy and moist, and the homemade red curry sauce topped like a dip did not suppress the natural taste of the fish, and instead complimented rather well. Issaya Siamese Club (Bangkok)
Love the name. Eat Me is the kind of sleek restaurant that would attract the upper class Thais and international customers, for its dedication to promoting arts, and passion in creating dishes quite unavailable elsewhere.
Head chef Tim Butler, who hails from New York exhibits creativity in the kitchen by fusing influences from around the world.
Both the seafood dishes were remarkable – the Grilled Tiger Prawns with Tom Yum Spiced Olive Oil (475 baht, SGD$18.60), and Pan-Seared Alaskan Sea Scallops with Avocado, Yuzu and Pancetta (720 baht, SGD$28.20).
While I was impressed by the seafood, some of the other mains took a backseat. Point to note: this is comparatively expensive for Bangkok. Read: Eat Me
24 Sukhumvit 53 Alley, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Thong Lor BTS Exit 1, walk toward Sukhumvit Soi 53. Turn right into Soi Sukhumvit 53, then walk down about 150 meters. Bo.lan is just on your right hand side. Turn right into the small pathway
Tel: +66 (2) 260 2961
Opening Hours: Lunch 12pm – 2:30pm (Thurs – Sun), Dinner 6pm – 1am, Last order 10:30pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Bo.lan, in particular, has been described as one of Thailand’s first and best fine dining restaurants specialising in Thai cuisine.
I may not use “fine dining” entirely to describe its style of presentation or service (which was sometimes awkward), but the pricing is close to that in comparison.
It is headed by chef owners (and television personalities) Duangporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava and Dy’lan’ Jones, who met while working at Nahm London.
The restaurant which has been recently relocated to Sukhumvit Soi 53 near Thong Lor with bigger premises takes on the design on a rustic Thai house, complete with an outdoor garden, old-style furnishing and natural lighting.
Lunch with four dishes and rice is priced at 980 baht (SGD$38.60, USD$27.40) per person, and an ala carte menu is also available (Prices of ala carte indicated below).
Dinner is much more expensive at 2,680++ baht (SGD$105.70) USD$75) for a degustation “Bo.lan Balance” meal. Note that the meals are “course-prohibited”, meaning all the dishes would be served at the same time rather than by courses.
Online reviews have been divided. One view takes that Bo.lan serve Thai traditional recipes in a fine dining setting, and does it well; The other that it is over-rated, pricey and there is better Thai food elsewhere. I thought it was a good-enough meal when I came over for lunch (and therefore didn’t feel that much of a pinch in price.) Read: Bo.lan
How about you. Which do you think is The Best Restaurant In Bangkok?
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