Thailand’s cuisine has, in recent years, taken the world by storm, and it’s not hard to see why. Bursting with flavor and freshness, the Kingdom’s food mixes spicy, sweet and savoury to surprising effect. From seafood curries to award winning haute cuisine, Thai chefs are taking tradition and turning it into something special for the next generation of foodies. Read our updated guide to where to find 10 stellar restaurants in Thailand.
Located on a quiet side street off trendy Nimmanhaemin Rd in Chiang Mai, Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant is known for its delicious curries and diverse vegetarian options. The farm-to-table menu changes weekly, with dishes using only seasonal, organic ingredients. The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Mondays, on which days the owners network with local farmers and create the week’s new menu, which is announced on their Facebook page. Seating is on a small balcony overlooking the street below, with little division from the home-like kitchen, where diners can see their meals being prepared. The restaurant offers a few vegan options, which is quite rare in Thailand, as well as homemade cakes and other sweets for dessert.
Bo.lan is truly exceptional. With its dark, chic interior design and authentic Thai menu, the restaurant opened in 2009 and has since become one of the best-known dining establishments in the country. Within the kitchen you will find power couple, Duangporn Songvisava and Dylan Jones, who create adventurous Thai dishes, reworking the best flavours from traditional Thai cuisine from consistently fresh and varied selection of produce. Placed on San Pellegrino’s list at number 28, the restaurant promotes responsible living and eating, and promotes this philosophy across their menu. By eating here, you will gain an understanding of true Thai cuisine and its heritage. Also, the restaurant has just moved to a great new location with a new Thursday – Sunday lunch service (12:00 – 14:30), so now there are even more reasons to go.
The first Blue Elephant restaurant opened more than 30 years ago, and its success led owner Khun Noroor Somany Steppe to open branches in 11 other countries, including this restaurant in Phuket. Housed in a gorgeous Chinese-colonial style mansion, the almost-regal setting is appropriate for the restaurant’s menu of royal Thai cuisine. The menu presents a picture of Thai cuisine through time, incorporating the traditional cooking techniques of the past; the bold flavours of the present; and pushing boundaries to creative the innovative flavours of the future. The seafood dishes are among the highlights of the menu, including the steamed sea bass topped with lemongrass, lime, garlic and chili.
Open since 1998, Eat Me has defied the odds to become a long-standing favourite of Bangkok’s notoriously fickle dining scene. The restaurant’s menu draws inspiration from cuisines ranging from local to Middle Eastern, and all are consistently well-prepared. Chef Tim Butler. Voted number 19 in San Pellegrino’s list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013, the restaurant is also known for its rotating exhibitions of contemporary art. The décor is sleek and simple, and the atmosphere is relaxed, with the best seats found on the balcony surrounded by tall bamboo. Eat Me also offers an excellent selection of wines and cocktails, and creative desserts like lemongrass infused soft crème brulee.
Set in an old family home, Feuang Nara serves authentic Thai food and is a good place for newcomers to traditional Thai food to taste specialities such as tom yam gung soup (hot and sour Thai soup) and pad Thai, in addition to fresh seafood such as spiced and salted shrimps and delicious fried snapper with mango. Surprisingly large inside, the restaurant is light and airy, with white-washed wood throughout and subtle decorative features. Set back from the busy roads in Bangkok, the ambience is one of calm and serenity.
Gaggan presents Indian street food in a contemporary and thought-provoking way. Chef Gaggan Anand is famous for giving historical dishes a modern twist whilst maintaining their best flavours. Having travelled across his home country of India, the chef is well accustomed to traditional Indian cuisine and reinvents dishes with precision and knowledge. Presented as number 10 on the San Pellegrino list, Gaggan takes not only influences from India but from across the world of gastronomy, and many of the dishes served are inspired by his mother’s home recipes, the flavours with which can only come from decades of wisdom.
A signature dish at Le Vendôme | Courtesy Le Vendôme
Fusing European and Thai cuisines, Green Garden serves up dishes that are cleanly presented and bursting with flavour. In the hustle and bustle of Sukhumvit, the restaurant supplies a safe haven to relax and enjoy gourmet cuisine. A calm ambience is an important attribute to find when dining in Bangkok, and although the restaurant has a fairly modest interior, the food speaks for itself as Thai classics such as som tam thai (green papaya salad) are dished up beside traditional European dishes such as creamy beef stroganoff.
A signature dish at Nuch's | Courtesy Nuch's Green Ta'lay Restaurant
Inspired by Place Vendôme in Paris,Le Vendôme epitomises the delicate nature of French cuisine, making one forget that they are 8000 miles away in Thailand. The decor is elegant, with glass cabinets housing glassware and cushioned seats to melt into after a rich flavoursome meal. The restaurant is located in a two-storey house with a verandah allowing for alfresco dining, which is made all the better in the tranquil residential setting. Chandeliers shine down on some traditional French dishes such as foie gras and veal sweetbreads, and small touches like the freshly baked baguettes and valet service make Le Vendôme a noteworthy experience.
Located on Koh Samui in southern Thailand, Nuch’s Green Ta’lay Restaurantis somewhat removed in terms of location, but is well worth the visit if you are on the island. Dishing up local Thai food, Chef Nuch is full of knowledge and aids those new to the traditional cuisine. Commended for their authentic Thai green curry, which is the restaurant’s signature dish, the rest of the menu is generous and promotes the local produce of the area. For the freshest fish, try their special catch of the day and enjoy dining in the unpretentious settings with well-presented home cooked Thai food.
In a quaint setting, Suay serves up traditional Thai food alongside creative dishes specifically from Northeastern Isan cuisine. Thailand-born chef Tammasak Chootong serves a huge menu, and dishes such as the crab cakes with mango chutney and sweet chilli aioli, and the roasted duck in red curry with lychee and pineapple are representative of his ability to use flavours in harmony. The white-washed restaurant is a homely place to enjoy fine Asian cuisine, and the menu is complemented by their selection of cocktails, Thai herb and fruit drinks.