Classic Thai food is renowned world over, yet rarely does one find it presented in such an innovative way as at Paste. Paste Bangkok is the brainchild of Australian award winning chef Jason Bailey and his Thai partner Bongkoch "Bee" Satongun, who received acclaim for their Thai restaurants in Australia and have now relocated to Bangkok, bringing creative and healthy food with them. Bailey now focuses on the business end and projects for Paste, while Satongun runs the kitchen, focusing on original Thai flavors and textures, with ingredients sourced fresh from the grower and best markets in the country. Traditional Thai food is done here with beautiful creative twists and a total attention to taste combinations enough to wow the most discerning diner. Try the exquisite Andaman lobster with crispy fish skin or the watermelon and ground salmon with betel leaves and shallots, both are heavenly. The restaurant used to have a branch over on Sukhumvit 49, but has relocated to the posh Gaysorn Plaza, bringing some refined truly refined dining to Bangkok's most elegant shopping plaza.
This is the first international branch of the famed Ikebukuro ramen house, and boy is it authentic. The interior and decor,along with all the ravenous Japanese expat regulars make one feel like one is in Tokyo, and even more genuine is the food, which features huge portions of the four signature ramen dishes that Bankara puts out. You can choose from the original Bankara ramen, Tonkatsu (stewed pork belly), Tsukemen (cold noodles dipped in soup) and Miso Ramen, and you can personalise your dish by choosing additional toppings such as egg, pork, seaweed, etc. Individual garlic presses are given to each diner, so you have a lot to say as to how your dish will taste. The gyoza dumplings are superb and make an excellent compliment to the ramen, and there are other dishes on the menu as well, but the ramen bowls are so huge and filling, you will be hard pressed to find the extra space.
Recommended for Asian because: The lines are out the door here, and most of the large Japanese expat population ranks Bankara as the number one ramen joint in town.
Dave's expert tip: the Tonkatsu ramen is either loved to death or a bit much for individual diner's palates, so be forewarned. The stewed pork belly, bones and all, are simmered in soup broth until they dissolve, and the taste is strong and heavy, which will make some ecstatic. Try the Bankara ramen if you want it slightly milder.
If you have an affinity for Chinese dumplings, you have found nirvana at Hong Teong Long. This hole in the wall with red lanterns hanging outside, and waitresses who can barely speak Thai inside, specializes in Shanghai cuisine, and boy do they get their dumplings right. Look on every diner's table and you will see plates of xiao long bao dumplings, both steamed and fried, that are filled with delicious juice, not too heavy, not overcooked, and will have you already scheduling your next visit. The menu isn't limited to dumplings either. There is a wonderful spicy cucumber and seaweed salad, a red pork dish to die for, and the drunken chicken will make you dizzy from joy. It may be a hole in the wall, but Hong Teong Long is full every night and for good reason.
Recommended for Asian because: Hong Teong Long may not look like much, but it is the undisputed dumpling king of Thailand.
Dave's expert tip: the best way to find this out of the way location is to Skytrain to Chong Nonsi, walk north up to Silom, cross the road and go through the ITF Tower building, turn right, walk 100 meters to the next corner, and then left, you will see the red lanterns hanging across the street from the Ocean Insurance Building.
Zuma, the posh Japanese eatery with branches in London, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Miami, and Dubai, has arrived in Bangkok. Based on a traditional Japanese izakaya, yet with a very sophisticated and elegant twist, and designed by Noriyoshi Muramatsu, the renowned architect and design head of Tokyo's Studio Glitt, Zuma features some of Bangkok's freshest and most innovative Japanese cuisine, in an immaculately planned urban setting. Signature dishes include the gyuhire sumibiyaki karami zuke- spicy beef tenderloin with sesame, red chili and sweet soy, as well as the gindara saikyo misoyaki, a fine black cod marinated for 3 days in miso and served wrapped in a hoba leaf
Recommended for Asian because: Zuma combines great ambiance, fresh sashimi and other top Japanese favorites, and some of the best drink creations in Bangkok.
Dave's expert tip: Absolutely not to be missed at Zuma is their unique signature cocktail, the "rhubabu," which combines rhubarb infused sake and vodka chilled at -42 along with passion fruit and served as a martini. Additionally, Zuma's outstanding wine cellar is stocked with over 1500 bottles of fine sake, wine, and champagne.
There is a reason why Din Tai Fung has been named one of the world's ten best restaurants by the New York Times, one of the best franchises by CNN, and awarded a Michelin star. This Taiwanese originated franchise excels at clean and delicious Chinese food, and is extremely well noted for its xiao long bao dumplings, made to perfection with 18 folds. At this new outlet, located in the elegant Central Embassy Mall, you can watch the master chefs in the open kitchen showing off their talents, churning out their artistic food creations for the hungry masses. The dumplings here are light and truly a bit of master craftsmanship (they even offer dumpling making workshops, same as the one poster boy Tom Cruise took in Taiwan). Showmanship aside, it's the food here you're after. Menu standouts include the steamed chicken or pork rib soups, black fungus with vinegar dressing served with wolfberries and ginger, and the green chilies stuffed with marinated mincemeat, a specialty served only at the Thailand branches. The xiao long bao are available in their original juicy pork filling as well as in seasonal varieties like crab meat in Singaporean-style spicy chilli-and-crab broth, an autumn treat. This new location offers great views of downtown Bangkok from its large glass windows and the spacious layout affords plenty of room for that exploding dumpling juice coming from the mouths of delighted diners.
Recommended for Asian because: For superb Taiwanese cuisine, Din Tai Fung is unrivalled.
Dave's expert tip: There is also a branch of Din Tai Fung at Central World on the 7th Floor. To get here, take the BTS Skytrain to Ploenchit and use the Central Embassy exit sky bridge straight into the mall.
While this small eatery just off of Sukhumvit is always packed with discerning diners coming to try out creations that just aren't available elsewhere in Bangkok, so much that it is next to impossible to get a seat, lunch offers better prospects, and Isao is well worth a visit. The owner at Isao studied under the chef at Green Tea in Chicago, and obviously brought back some creative expertise. Try out some of the signature fusion specialties here such as the Volcano, a baked scallop in cream sauce served in its shell resembling orange molten lava, spicy and taste tingling. Or how about the Jackie, a caterpillar shaped sushi roll with egg, boiled shrimp, roe, and tempura, or the Chicago Spicy Crazy, which features salmon, tuna, white fish and vegetables.
Recommended for Asian because: There is a reason there is a line out the door every night, Bangkok's best sushi rolls unrivalled!
Dave's expert tip: The nearest skytrain stop to here is Phrom Pong, just a short stroll from Soi 31.
Former Atlantic Monthly food critic Jarred Wrisley wanted a place where foodies could enjoy top notch Thai street food without having to sit on stools in the heat, and his converted Chinese shophouse restaurant is now the talk of the town, with divine northern haeng lay Burmese curry and roasted larb phet duck salad heading a menu full of Thai culinary delights. Wrisley's sleek eatery in fashionable Thong Lor is popular amongst both locals and expats, as the ingredients are fresh, spices not toned down, and yet the owner's unique twists and experimentations are what give the dishes that extra pizzazz and set Soul Food Mahanakorn a world apart from other dining options.
Recommended for Asian because: Soul Food Mahanakorn has one of the best combinations of ambiance, great local food, and smashing cocktails to boot to be found in town.
Dave's expert tip: Food is not the only reason to come to SFM. Wrisley studied with renown bartender Markus Bernthaler, creating signature drinks based on local ingredients to complement the food. Chilies, lemongrass, and kaffir lime all feature in the double pour cocktails, and the lycheegrass Collins or jai yen yen alone are worth a visit.
It might be more like going to a magic show than a restaurant when you see what comes out of the kitchen at Sra Bua. Modeled on the award winning Kiin Kiin restaurant in Denmark, run by chef Henrik Yde-Andersen and Lertchai Treetawatchaiwong, a Thai engineer-cum- gastronomist, Sra Bua sets out to overwhelm its patrons with dishes of amazing taste, texture, and presentation. The tasting menus here are the way to go, offering a gastronomic road trip through all the best of Thai cuisine. The dishes don't look anything like what you are used to in Thai restaurants, yet all the flavors have been preserved and enhanced to the utmost. The tom yum soup is served as a broth with prawn noodles accompanied by a bowl of the ingredients like galangal and lemongrass which have been made into cold foams and powders. Mix the two together and you get one of the most amazing renditions of the dish you will ever experience. Another signature dish is frozen red curry with lobster, in which the red curry has been made into frozen ice cream and is served topped with lychee foam and comes on a plate that is smoked with liquid nitrogen. Mango and sticky rice for dessert comes disguised as a cotton candy ball, which explodes when syrup is poured over it, revealing the mango inside. Food presentation and taste doesn't get better than this, and Sra Bua is truly a Bangkok experience not to be missed.
Recommended for Asian because: For astounding molecular cuisine and more, Sra Bua is simply amazing.
Dave's expert tip: reservations are essential and dinner is not cheap, running 2700 baht for a tasting menu. Get here by taking the BTS Skytrain to Siam, then walking through the Siam Paragon Mall following the signs for the Siam Kempinski.
Owner Kan Markawat and his sister Ploy come from a family of traditional foodies, and they have put their love of traditional and hard to find dishes from all over Thailand on display at the lovely new eatery, The Local, where one can dine in a 70 year old traditional teak home, outfitted with antiques, wooden bird cages, old paddles from the floating market, and bookcases full of Thai cookbooks from throughout the ages. The menu is large and varied and standouts include gaeng lun juan, which comes from the Rama V Royal Court and is made with beef or pork laced with aromatic Thai herbs and shrimp paste, highly aromatic and bursting with flavor. Another menu winner is the gaeng kua pla bai som pan kee maa, a spicy yellow curry fish with hard to find orange leaves from the south, and don't forget to save room for the homemade ice cream and perhaps one of the signature cocktails such as the Safflower, made with Mekong whiskey, safflower, and kumquat juice, and a perfect complement to the food.
Recommended for Asian because: The Local is a great place to sample superb and hard to find traditional Thai recipes.
Dave's expert tip: The Local is a good 15 minute walk up Soi 23 from its intersection with Sukhumvit. Best to hop on a motorcycle taxi (20 baht) from the corner. It's located just after the first intersection.
The only Thai restaurant to be included in prestigious Restaurant Magazine's Top 50 Restaurants in the World, Nahm lives up to its billing by serving some of the best food one can find in Bangkok. Michelin Chef David Thompson continues his mastery of Thai cooking (his Thai restaurants in Sydney and London were on all the "best" lists) by whipping up fresh and mouthwatering Thai delicacies without toning down the spice. The coconut and curry blue swimmer crab is a knockout as is the kurobuta pork with yellow beans, but just about everything is a winner here.
Recommended for Asian because: The only Thai restaurant to be included in prestigious Restaurant Magazine's Top 50 Restaurants in the World and some superb cuisine in a lovely setting.
Dave's expert tip: The set dinners and lunches are the best option to sample Nahm's wide offerings. Reservations are an absolute must here.