One of the most confusing things about living in Bangkok is figuring out where to find the best Thai restaurants in the city. Just because we are in Thailand, it does not automatically mean every restaurant will be good, and there is a real school of thought that the best Thai food in Bangkok is street food found in the markets and at hawker stalls. With a large variety of fresh and inexpensive Thai food available, it is easy to overlook the high-end Thai food options that Bangkok has to offer. There is nothing better than having the pleasure of enjoying exquisite Thai cuisine in an attractive, upscale environment combined with first class service. These are some of my favorite places listed in no particular order of preference.
Nahm is an award-winning restaurant located in the lobby of the Como Metropolitan hotel. The décor is contemporary Asian; with a color scheme of warm brown and orange, complemented by bronze plates and massive stone pillars that are reminiscent of the stonework seen in the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya. Although there is an ala carte menu available, I recommend the set menu which lets you choose one nam prik (relish), one salad (yam), one soup, one curry (gaeng), one stir fry (pad) and a dessert. Stand out starters include the flavorsome Prawn & Coconut Wafers w/ Pickled Ginger and the spicy Salted Threadpin Perch w/ Ginger, Chili & Green Mango on Betel Leaf. Another favorite is the Grilled Pork Cheeks w/ Tomato Sauce and the Salad of Wild Mushroom w/ Grilled Prawns & Chili Jam. Be sure to try the Clear Soup of Roast Duck w/Thai Basil & Young Coconut and finish with the creamy Durian with Sticky Rice for dessert. Nahm also has some interesting signature cocktails such as the “Siamjto” which is a Thai version of a Mojito and the “C3 Martini” which is a delightful cocktail version of Tom Kai Gai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup). Nahm is worthy of its accolades and is one of the best places to go to get honest versions of authentic Thai cuisine that anyone who lives in Thailand would recognize.
Patara is breathtakingly beautiful and has earned a reputation as one of the best fine dining Thai restaurants in the city. Tucked away on a quiet soi in Thonglor, it is located in a picturesque two story house, with an immaculate garden area for lawn parties. Be sure to try the Thai Style Cold Cuts appetizer which is an intriguing way to begin the meal because it lets you experience a wide variety of items such as the fresh made Thai beef sausage and scrumptious hand rolled spring rolls. For a main course, I recommend the Canadian Lobster with Yellow Curry and the Stir fried Garden Sweet Greens. The succulent lobster melts in your mouth while the spicy curry accentuates the sweetness of the meat and the crispy greens add an earthy contrast of texture and flavor. Also try the 72 Hrs. Cooked Lamb Shank in Panang Curry Sauce that is served with a thoughtful presentation of 4 colors rice, or the Slow Braised Beef in Perfumed Coconut-Herbs and Mint Sauce for more intense Thai flavors. Patara’s passion and quality are apparent, and you can expect to find fresh ingredients and outstanding service for a guaranteed fine dining experience.
- Baan Khanitha
Baan Khanitha is a popular Thai restaurant with several locations throughout Bangkok. I am recommending the Sathorn venue as it arouses a sense of refined nostalgia. Located in an elegantly restored Thai house, it showcases a revolving art gallery that features artwork for sale by local artists. The décor is warm polished wood, Thai silk accents, Asian antiques and tastefully displayed orchids in beautiful vases. A nice start to your meal is the Mixed Platter Appetizer of Pandan Chicken, Crunchy Vegetable Spring Rolls & Crispy Shrimp and Fish Cakes. The Roast Duck & Green Grape in Red Curry is a pleasure to eat and is a nice accompaniment to the House White Wine. The Soft Shell Crab with Yellow Curry is also divine, as it is expertly prepared so that it retains a crunchy texture after the creamy curry sauce is poured over it. Another highly recommended dish is the Deep Fried Sea Bass with Sweet & Salty Fish Sauce. For dessert try the Macadamia Nut Cheesecake for something more decadent. Baan Khanitha truly offers a feast for all the senses with an intoxicating mix of efficient service, immaculate décor and aromatic and artistic Thai cuisine.
- Blue Elephant
Blue Elephant is well-established as a leading authority on royal Thai cuisine with 30+ years’ experience. The restaurant is located in an exquisitely charming 3-story mansion that is more than 100 years old, and its old world grandeur is unmistakable. They emulate a distinctive British colonial feel that is seamlessly mixed with rustic Asian artifacts. The menu is a seductive mix of the new and the old with a variety of traditional dishes based on ancient recipes as well as more innovative neuvo Thai cuisine. Start your meal with the evocative Khang Hang Kaho Phhuak, which are minced prawns and chicken in a pillowey golden taro pastry. Try a delicious traditional Catfish & Prawn Salad or the non-traditional Eggplant Salad with Grilled Scallops, Herbs & Truffle oil which is delicate and refined. I also recommend the hearty and complex Massaman Lamb Curry, the fragrant Crab Curry with Betel Leaves and the Crispy Grouper with Three Flavored Sauce. With a choice of set menus, ala carte menus, and their own brand of wines from France, Blue elephant has all the components required for an unforgettable dining experience.
If you’ve been waiting for an upscale restaurant that seamlessly blends modern cooking techniques with authentic Thai tastes, then look no further than Osha Thai Restaurant & Bar. The décor is a veritable monument to contemporary design aesthetics with an ostentatious gold, black lacquer and glass palette that gives the space an amusing Thailand meets Las Vegas vibe. Even the ceiling demands your attention as it is in constant motion with lively rotating projections of classic Thai stories set to sultry electronic jazz music. Open for lunch and dinner, Osha has an extensive wine list as well as an impressive cocktail menu. I recommend starting off with their signature Dancing King Prawns Ceviche w/Carpaccio of Cucumber and Radish & Chili Cilantro Granita. This dish is deceptive because it looks very benign with its elegant plating and soothing green and white color palate, but it packs a powerful punch of chili heat that leaves you wanting more. Another fabulous appetizer that is perfect for sharing is the Beef Wasabi Rolls w/Wagyu Beef, Asian Pickles w/Wasabi Citrus Vinaigrette. Don’t miss their iconic Tom Yum Goong w/ Fresh King River prawns, Assorted Mushrooms & Thai Herbal Spicy & Sour Soup, which is in a class all by itself. Served with all the fanfare of a French style tableside presentation, the broth is “percolated” tableside in an undeniably molecular gastronomic way. It is then dramatically poured into your bowl of waiting river prawns and veg. Another surprising hit is the Pad Thai Chai Ya w/ Chantaburi Rice Noodles, King River Prawns, Pork Rinds, and Fried Banana Blossoms & Salted Egg. All five senses are satisfied with this dish and the addition of the crispy fried items and fermented salted egg makes for an evocative interpretation of this classic offering. Dining here is more than just getting a meal, and more like going on a culinary adventure. Despite their flair for the dramatic, they take their responsibilities for delivering haute Thai cuisine very seriously and never come off feeling too “kitsch” or gimmicky.
- Le Du
Le Du is a Thai restaurant unlike any other you’re likely to find. Using modern French cooking techniques, 90% locally sourced Thai ingredients, and a true passion and love for Thai flavors, they are creating next generation Thai cuisine. They have a seasonal ala carte menu, but I recommend doing a 4 or 6 course set menu with wine pairing. Each dish presented is artistry on the plate as both the luxurious and subtle Raw Black Barracuda w/Watermelon, Thai Basil & Ginger and the perfectly executed River Prawn w/Dried Shrimp, Tofu, Tamarind & Chive prove. I also recommend the masterful Sustainable Ocean Fish (Cobia) w/ Roasted Pumpkin Puree, and Fermented Fish Stomach. Other highlights include the delectable Sustainable Squid w/Wild Mushroom & Salted Duck egg and the Free Range Pork Belly w/Winged Bean Salad, Chamuang Sauce & Bacon. For dessert don’t miss their signature, Pork Blood Pudding w/Thai Basil Ice Cream, Caramel & Raspberry. Despite the unusual ingredients, the blood pudding dessert is simply amazing. Intriguing, creamy, and thoroughly addictive, it’s the kind of dessert that will live in your memory long after the meal is over. Le Du is special because they deliver refined Thai flavors, an excellent wine list, beautifully plated cuisine, and a cohesive dining experience that is thoughtful and innovative.
- Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin
Located in the luxurious Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, this restaurant is like no other in the city. You enter through two massive and intricately carved wooden doors into an inner sanctum that can be best described as an exotic gilded Fantasy. You are greeted by an extremely high ceiling; silk draped wooden Thai “salas”, several evocative water features including a seductive lily pond, and the warm embrace of the smoothly polished golden brown wood that dominates the cavernous space. Opt for the 9 -course set dinner menu with wine pairing. It is preceded by 11 small dishes served in four or five courses called “Nibbling’s”. These are a series of beautifully composed Thai snacks and appetizers. The skill and intricacy of the dishes gets stepped up as you move from starters to main courses. The Lobster Tempura w/ Yam Meringue & Thai Muesli and the Frozen Tom Kha w/ Pickled Citrus are both exceptional. I recommend the Fried Sweet Breads w/ Tamarind & Lemongrass, as well as the melts in your mouth tender Beef Braised in Oyster Sauce w/ Jasmine Rice. To define Sra Bua as simply an upscale Thai restaurant, is almost like missing the point of it entirely. What makes this restaurant special is the magical alchemy that happens when all the elements come together for a truly unprecedented dining experience.
Located in the lobby of the iconic Dusit Thani Hotel, Benjarong offers one of the best experiences of Thai cuisine with new world innovation. This well-established restaurant combines modern techniques and traditional flavor profiles to produce contemporary dishes that are distinctly Thai at heart. You may try the 7- course tasting menu, or opt for some great a la carte items, such as their signature “Geng Juet” of Crabmeat, Roast Duck, Young Coconut & Basil and their stellar 72-Hour Slow Cooked Beef Ribs in Aromatic Green Curry w/ GABA rice. The fatty beef is fall of the bone tender and the spicy green curry cuts through the richness and enhances the flavor of the meat. Dessert is a revelation and the Basil Ice Cream w/Fresh Pineapple & Salty Meringue is a hands down favorite. Herbaceous and bright, the salty and sweet elements were perfectly executed and the lightness of the dish is just what is needed after a heavy meal. Be sure to ask for the house made macaroons which come in an array of delightful tropical flavors. Marrying the best of traditional Thai cuisine with new world innovation is what they do best at Benjarong.