"Only in Bangkok can an Indian restaurant and a 70-year-old woman running a street food restaurant be awarded Michelin stars."
While Thai cuisine is renowned world over, never before have the stars shined on Bangkok as they do now, with the launch of the Michelin Guide to Bangkok ushering in the New Year of 2018.
The prestigious gourmet guide to food sent its inspectors to the Thai capital for months throughout 2017, letting them taste test and delve into the best of Thai and other international restaurants around the city, ranging from street eats to fine dining.
This resulted in the new guide featuring 98 restaurants, with 17 restaurants getting a total of 20 stars. Even street food is highlighted, with 28 different shophouses famed for select dishes receiving attention (Michelin requires that a restaurant have a fixed address, so food carts on the sidewalk couldn't be included) –and one street food shop was given a Michelin star.
For those not already familiar with it, Thai food is noted for its intense flavors, combining plenty of spice with sour, sweet and bitter, often all mixed together in one bite, and is unique for covering all spectrums of the palate.
Thai curries – pungent, laced with chilies, and sweetened with coconut milk – are legendary. But the array of types of food from different regions runs quite the gamut, such as fermented sausages and roast meat salads from the Isaan region to the Shan Burmese-influenced foods of the north, to some of the most fiery spices found in southern cooking.
The Michelin Guide Bangkok paid homage to Thai food, selecting seven Thai restaurants to receive stars, ranging from the traditional and authentic cuisine made with super high-end ingredients at Paste, Nahm, Saneh Jaan, Bo.lan, and Chim by Siam Wisdom, to molecular Thai creations from Sra Bua.
And not to be left out is Jay Fai, a street food shophouse run by a 70-year-old auntie who continues her father's cooking, dishing up pad kee mao drunkard's noodles with fresh seafood to those fortunate to get past the line down the street each evening.
Also honored were the superlative restaurants around the city that have led the charge in turning Bangkok into a gourmet foodie paradise in the last few years. Chef Gaggan Anand, owner of the two-starred progressive Indian restaurant Gaggan commented, "Bangkok is not just the world street food capital, it is now a gourmet food capital ... Only in Bangkok can an Indian restaurant and a 70-year-old woman running a street food restaurant be awarded Michelin stars."
Other restaurants to receive two stars were the classy French Le Normandie at the Mandarin Oriental and Mezzaluna, the swank dining room atop the Lebua State Tower, featuring the French cuisine of Japanese master chef, Ryuki Kawasaki.
Rounding out the one-star winners in addition to the Thai restaurants were French-inspired L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Elements, J'AIME by Jean-Michel Lorain, Savelberg, Upstairs at Mikkeller and Suhring, run by identical twin chefs Thomas and Mathias Suhring, who serve German fare in their beautiful intimate villa home and garden.
Ginza Sushi Ichi also received a star, the lone Japanese place to do so.
The arrival of Michelin in Bangkok promises to bring foodies together from around the world and exposes street eats and all the best of Thai cooking to both locals and visitors alike. The city's newfound Michelin status is also sure to attract plenty of new young talent to Thailand for years to come.