A Look at Thailand's First Fine-Dining Insect Restaurant

Interior of the restaurant | Courtesy of  Insects in the Backyard
Interior of the restaurant | Courtesy of Insects in the Backyard
Photo of Iona Proebst
5 January 2018

Hot on the new Bangkok fine dining scene is an establishment with a difference which is challenging perceptions by making eating bugs sassy! Insects in the Backyard pushes the boundaries of aesthetics and cultural expectations by creating modern European masterpieces incorporating insects.

The future has arrived with Thailand’s first edible insect restaurant. Insects in the Backyard is located at the Changchui Art Hub, a huge lifestyle space and artistic hub which includes fashion stalls, an old aeroplane with a slide (why not!), a co-working space, food trucks, concept cafes, a vintage film cinema and much more! Changchui’s latest addition is unlike anything Thailand’s capital has seen before, elevating the common six-legged critter to be the hero of stunning fine dining dishes. The concept has already been adopted by some of the world’s best restaurants such as Noma and Nordic Food Lab.

Green goddess wild greens salad with pan fried crickets and grasshoppers | © Insects in the Backyard

Insects in the Backyard’s executive chef Mai Thitiwat creates extraordinary culinary creations from lobster grasshopper bisque risotto with seafood and sundried tomatoes to scallops, Jerusalem artichoke and crispy bamboo caterpillars. Diners would be forgiven in needing to double take as the menu reads just like any other fine dining establishment as the insect heroes have been poetically woven into the menu descriptions. Chef Mai also utilizes the ingredients in exceedingly creative ways by replacing more common foods with insect infusions, he makes fresh ravioli with crab and water beetle, uses ant eggs for the acidy in a beurre blanc sauce and even uses silk worm powder mixed with mascarpone cheese to craft a delicious creamy tiramisu. There are also a number of non-insect items available on the menu. Regan Suzuki Pairojmahakij, concept consultant and co-owner of the restaurant says, “no one should feel pressured to consume something they don’t feel comfortable with.”

Crab and giant water beetle ravioli, turmeric saffron sauce | © Insects in the Backyard

Chef Mai has numerous accolades to his name and has worked at Michelin star Sirocco Le Bua and Mohgan Sun in the United States. He advocates food honesty and is as passionate about insects as he is about food. He dedicates much of his time to spreading the edible bug love whether it be by going off road with a film crew in search of Thailand’s edible insect culture or offering complimentary insect hors d’hoeuvres to his guests.

Restaurant staff | © Insects in the Backyard

The consumption of eating insects as a sustainable food source has also been backed by Angelina Jolie and the Food and Agriculture Organisation which have been strong advocates of bug consumption for decades. Not only are the leggy critters high in protein, minerals, and healthy fats, they are also plentiful. According to Somchai Songwattana, the mastermind behind Changchui, “The future will force us to rethink our relationship to the food we eat. We’re all interconnected in the ecosystem. Eating bugs is good for us, good for the planet.” It may have taken some time to challenge the perceptions of humble bugs being merely a rural snack to celebrating their nutritional and environmental benefits. By bringing them to the forefront of the high-end culinary scene, Insects in the Backyard has not only successfully overcome those pre-conceived perceptions but also made insects the celebrated heroes.

Fresh house made cricket pasta with black basil pesto and chorizo | © Insects in the Backyard

Opening hours: 4 pm to 11 pm Tuesday – Sunday.

Insects in the Backyard décor | © Insects in the Backyard

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