The Best Chinese Restaurants in Bangkok Chinatown/Yaowarat

Chinatown and its busy thoroughfare, Yaowarat Road, is packed night and day with food vendors and carts, and they sell everything from noodles to roast chestnuts, to every type of dumpling and soup variation you can imagine. Chinese New Year is a great time of year to be here, but there is excellent food to be found at all times.

 Eating al fresco may be hot and loud, but it is very atmospheric and there are some dynamite choices. T & K Seafood and Lek & Rut are across the street from each other at the corner of Yaowarat and Padungdao, and they are both longstanding excellent choices, with plenty of giant prawns, black pepper crab, cockles, and fresh grilled fish catering to the masses. 

Far more entertaining is the pyromaniac chef down the street at Faikeaow Yaowarat, or the musical chair curry stall at Khao Geng Jek Pui. For something a bit more refined, try standouts like Yim Yim or Tang Jai Yoo, which has been written up by food critics for its suckling pig and other Chinese favourites. For something more relaxed and nostalgic, make sure to check out the Shanghai 1930's decor at Cotton Restaurant, one of the newer more modern spots in Bangkok's most atmospheric district. Little India is also found at the edge of Chinatown, and Royal India may look like a dive, but the food is, as they say in Delhi, "cheap and best!"


Yim Yim Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Yim Yim

Yim Yim has been going strong for more than 80 years, and it's easy to see why, as they serve up knockout food regardless of the rather kitschy and humble surroundings. The menu features an amazing array of favorites, with items like ham with goatskin dipped in rice vinegar or Chinese style sashimi leading the way. The fresh crab claws with ginger are top notch and there are plenty of the usual items like shark fin soup and stewed goose feet to keep you begging for more. The second generation owner greets everyone with a smile, which is probably why the eatery has been given the name Yim Yim {which means smile in Thai). Certainly one of Chinatown's top choices.

Recommended for Chinatown/Yaowarat's Best Restaurants because: An 80-year-old establishment serving hard to find dishes like ham with goatskin dipped in vinegar.

Dave's expert tip: The restaurant is tucked in behind the Hua Seng Heng gold shop off of Sampanthawong. Take the MRT subway to Hualamphong Station and walk over or taxi from there. Reservations are advised.

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Some people won't go near this place, and others who have discovered it via guidebooks often turn and walk the other way as if they have made a mistake. Set in a dark and dingy alleyway on the fringes of Chinatown, with a few dozen rats guaranteed to be running around, this tiny Pahurat neighborhood diner doesn't win any ambiance awards, but yes, the food is fantastic, and no, you aren't going to faint or get sick. Royal India is one of the few places where you can get a decent thali (dal, vegetable, pickles, rice, and condiments all in one) at a very fair price and actually imagine that you are sitting somewhere in Calcutta or Delhi. Besides the excellent thalis and naan, there is also a fantastic sweet shop on premise as well.

Recommended for Chinatown/Yaowarat's Best Restaurants because: For genuine cheap Indian eats in Chinatown, Royal India is tops!

Dave's expert tip: The best way to get here is to take the subway (MRT) to Hualamphong and then grab a taxi, as Royal India is pretty inconveniently located in terms of public transport.

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Hua Seng Hong Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

Goose feet and noodles, sharks fin soup in a clay pot, and plenty of tender roast duck served with sweet sauce are just some of the staples at Hua Seng Hong that draw patrons in night after night. Other great eats include the "aw suan" oyster and egg omelet, that gets served on a sizzling iron platter, and just about any dumplings or other selection from the large dim sum menu. The service here can be a bit brusque and the endless crowds of hungry diners a bit daunting, but this is to be expected from yet another top choice in bustling Chinatown.

Recommended for Chinatown/Yaowarat's Best Restaurants because: Hua Seng Hong does excellent roast duck along with shark's fin soup and goose feet that are very popular amongst Bangkok's Thai Chinese.

Dave's expert tip: Reservations are well advised here, Hua Seng Hong tends to be packed most nights. Take the MRT subway to Hualamphong station and then taxi over to Yaowarat in the heart of Chinatown.

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Lek and Rut have become an institution. This small street stall got its start by getting the overflow crowd from the other famed street side stall across the street, T & K, but these days, Lek and Rut seem to have the lions share of the business. Tourists from all over the world flock here. The food isn't necessarily any better than anywhere else in Chinatown, nor is it any longer cheap, but the seafood abounds, plenty of black crab served with pepper sauce, huge prawns, stuffed scallops, cockle shells, and lots of fresh fish take up most of the menu. The place is hot, noisy, and chaotic, but that is part of the fun. People rubbing elbows with their neighbors, taking pictures, and watching plate upon plate of steaming seafood arrive. There is an air-conditioned indoor section just steps away, for those who can't handle the heat, but then you'd be missing out on half the experience.

Recommended for Chinatown/Yaowarat's Best Restaurants because: For outstanding seafood and a fun tourist scene, Lek and Rut is worth a visit.

Dave's expert tip: Lek and Rut is right opposite T & K Seafood, at the corner of Yaowarat and Soi Padungdao. Look for the masses of people eating seafood out on the street corner and you'll know you are there.

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While Chinatown is mostly noted for its no-frills smoky eateries serving up excellent food is not quite so up to par surroundings, Cotton, a new jazz bar and restaurant in the boutique Shanghai Mansion Hotel, is a breath of fresh air and welcome addition to the Yaowarat Road scene. Rattan armchairs, old gramophones, and various antique help make up a decor that harkens back the days of the Shanghai 1930s. It's a great spot to have a drink and listen to Thai jazz artists, and there are also plenty of savory creations from the kitchen. Recommended menu items include the deep-fried angel mushrooms, crab meat with broccoli, and the thousand gold shrimp rolls. While you are here, make sure to check out the mansion hotel itself, with its spiral iron staircases and checkered tile floors, it is pretty atmospheric.

Recommended for Chinatown/Yaowarat's Best Restaurants because: For some nostalgic Shanghai of old decor, Cotton is fabulous.

Dave's expert tip: To get here, the most traffic freeway is via the MRT metro train, taken to the terminus station at Hualamphong. From here, walk down to Yaowarat Road and the commemorative gate, and head west on Yaowarat. The mansion is on the right, just before the Padungdao corner with T & K Seafood.

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Siang Ping Loh Chinese Restaurant
Photo courtesy of courtesy of Grand China Princess

Another one of Bangkok's top Cantonese and dim sum establishments. Siang Ping Loh has an elegant dining room located on the 8th floor of the Grand China Princess Hotel, and their food has a reputation for being some of the most consistent and satisfying in Chinatown. Their steamed fish in soy sauce is a common choice, as are the xiao long bao steamed dumplings served with the dim sum menu. The Peking duck, as opposed to traditional Hong Kong Cantonese, is not carved up at the table, but the chefs here will cook up the meat in any style selected by the diner, which is a rarity in Bangkok.

Recommended for Chinatown/Yaowarat's Best Restaurants because: excellent Cantonese food and top-notch dim sum make Siang Ping Loh a winner.

Dave's expert tip: Located in the heart of Chinatown, the easiest way to get here is to take the MRT subway to Hualamphong Station and either make the 15-minute walk or grab a taxi from here. The dim sum lunch gets quite busy on the weekend, so best to make a reservation.

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T & K Seafood
Photo courtesy of T & K

You can't miss T & K Seafood. Hundreds of tourists and locals descend on its corner tables set up at the Phadungdao intersection with Yaowarat Road each night, to take part in a feast of every type of seafood imaginable, from fresh oysters to giant prawns, crab claws, and entire fresh fish servings, all of which get carried through traffic by the energetic wait staff who seem to get just as much of a kick out of the festivities as the diners. Seriously, the seafood is good here, and a lot cheaper than most spots in Chinatown. Disregard the overflow of tourists, T & K is the real deal. The tom yum seafood is outstanding, as is the "pla kapong" steamed sea bass served in a tangy lime sauce.

Recommended for Chinatown/Yaowarat's Best Restaurants because: T & K is a legendary street corner seafood restaurant with great fresh seafood.

Dave's expert tip: don't bother with trying to elbow in with the tourist masses for an outdoor table, especially if it is hot and humid out. Ask the waiters to point out the slightly hidden indoor section of T & K, which is air-conditioned and where you will find all the local Thais eating!

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Anthony Bourdain has written about it, McDang, a famous Thai food critic raves about it, and the crowds that pack the round tables of Tang Jai Yoo each night attest to just what kind of outstanding Chinese food you are going to eat here. All the favorites are on the menu, from sharks fin soup to stewed goose feet. But everyone comes here for the whole roast suckling pig, which has some of the most tantalizingly delicious crispy skin you will ever put in your mouth. The atmosphere here is as good as the food, loud, lively, and full of happy diners who know they are truly eating like kings!

Recommended for Chinatown/Yaowarat's Best Restaurants because: the roast suckling pig at Tang Jai Yoo is worth the wait!

Dave's expert tip: Needless to say, Tang Jai Yoo is extremely popular, so it is best to make a reservation. Like all restaurants in Chinatown, the easiest way to get over here is to MRT subway it over to Hualamphong Station and then take a taxi or walk the last 15 minutes into the heart of Yaowarat.

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While the food here is quite tasty, the main reason to come is to enjoy one of Bangkok's most original outdoor food venues with an outstanding show. Other than attending a Chinese opera performance, the most theatrical show you can see in Chinatown is having a meal here. While the fresh seafood is tasty, the main draw here is ordering a plate of morning glory and standing back with your camera ready. Making stir-fried pak bung (morning glory) really is an art that depends on cooking the vegetable quickly in extremely hot oil, causing the oil to burn and flame, which gives the pak bung its flavor. At Fai Keaow Yaowarat, the maniacal chef gives this a whole new meaning. Every five minutes or so, perhaps eyeing the crowd that has gathered round to watch, he preps his oil, gets the greens ready, and then sends a fireball into the sky big enough to light up a city. Seriously, if this was an indoor restaurant, it would have burned down ages ago. Those sitting too close to the chef should probably not have facial hair and should be well prepared to order extra drinks and ice to cool the searing temperatures.

Recommended for Chinatown/Yaowarat's Best Restaurants because: For Bangkok's best outdoor dinner entertainment, Faikeaow Yaowarat is explosive!

Dave's expert tip: To get here, find the corner of Yaowarat and Isara Nuphap, the continuation of Isara Nuphap becomes Yaowarat Soi 11, and the restaurant is halfway down this lane on the left side. You might want to consider standing to watch the first plate of pak bung get torched before deciding which table you want to sit at!

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Khao raat gaeng, or curry over rice stalls, are one of Bangkok's most iconic fixtures, always packed with hungry workers. But at Khao Geng Jek Pui, not only won't you not get a table, you might not even get a seat. At this seven-decade-old street venue, customers line up around the block for a bowl of rice with curry toppings, and the restaurant has been nicknamed "musical chairs rice and curry" due to the fact that it has no tables, and only individual stools lined up against a wall in an alleyway, where every time someone gets up, someone else moves in and snatches their stool! At this vintage Chinatown street food eatery, the third generation owners said they considered installing tables as part of modernizing, but that they realized they would slow down service and customer turnover, and besides, the regulars who flock to this delicious spot every day seem to be thrilled about having games to play while they eat.

Recommended for Chinatown/Yaowarat's Best Restaurants because: For some of Bangkok's best rice and curry, and certainly its most unique, Jek Pui stands out.

Dave's expert tip: They usually sell out of food here by late afternoon, so plan on coming early. It really is only a lunch spot.

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Meet Dave Stamboulis

Dave Stamboulis is a travel writer/photographer based in Bangkok. Born in Athens, Greece and growing up in the U.S., Dave first discovered Bangkok while on a 45,000-kilometer bicycle trip and...  More About Dave