Masala Magic: The Best Indian Restaurants to Try Out in Bangkok



While those looking for authentic cheap Indian street eats in Bangkok head for Pahurat, near Chinatown, often referred to as Little India, or else to the heavily Indian populated area of the Pratunam Market, where there are hundreds of Indian restaurants, there are actually far more interesting and delectable options, almost rivalling Italian or French cuisine in the City of Angels. Gaggan, often tagged as "molecular masala," won the Best Restaurant in Asia Award in 2015, 2016, and 2017, and is listed as the 7th Best Restaurant in the World for 2017. Other elegant and truly high end Indian choices include the stylish Indus, Maya, the opulent Rang Mahal in the Rembrandt Hotel, and much faved Bawarchi, with its mix of fusion and traditional dishes. Also joining the list is The Great Kebab Factory, where they do some 450 different types of kebabs, and Charcoal, a unique Indian experience pairing signature cocktails with northern Indian staples all under the concept of "fun dining." For something a bit more down to earth and traditional, try Royal india, or Indian Hut, which despite its Pizza Hut similar appearance, actually is a fine dining Indian spot that has been pleasing the customers for years. For home cooking style or southern Indian treats like masala dosas or sambhar iddly, make sure to pay a visit to Shree Ganesh. The range of curries, dal, traditional sweets, and more is pretty amazing in Bangkok, and it's hard to select just one place for a meal. 



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Indian Hut has been around since 1995, occupying a cozy spot on Surawongse in the heart of the gems and jewellery district. Large glass windows give off prime street watching views, and the restaurant has stylish white plush armchairs set around spacious tables, making it feel far more like a royal room than any type of humble Indian eatery as tends to be the norm in this part of town. The menu is extremely large and varied, with all the northern Indian favourites like roghan josh, chicken tikka, dal, samosas, curries, naan breads, and more on the list. Best of all are the paneer dishes, as Indian Hut is renowned for their homemade version, they don't outsource it, and it is incredibly fresh and flavour filled. There is also Chinese-Indian fusion on the menu, probably the best in Bangkok, with plates like chilly chicken getting a lot of attention from the locals. The restaurant started in more humble dwellings as a small hut across the street, hence the name, but has since gone on to much bigger and brighter things. In a neighbourhood that can look pretty quiet and void of life at night, it's a bright star with an amazing variety of food, and while not a budget eatery, the prices are still less than the competition over on Sukhumvit, and it's a worthwhile stop if you're in the neighbourhood.


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Some people wont 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 with a few dozen rats guaranteed to be running around, this tiny Pahurat neighborhood diner doesn't win any ambience 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.


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Upscale Indian food with a view is what the striking new Maya is all about. Located up on the 29th level of the Holiday Inn on Sukhumvit Soi 22, Maya is housed in a unique cantilevered structure looking out at the dazzling cityscape. There is an outdoor balcony, indoor dining room, and even a cigar lounge here. Menu standouts include murgh chandi kebab, a chicken marinated in yoghurt, cardamom and mace, cooked in one of the open kitchen's giant tandoori ovens, or the makhani chooza, marinated boneless chicken leg simmered in a rich tomato and fenugreek gravy. Plenty of tasty naan breads are served with dinner, and there are even Indian influenced signature cocktails to go with the meal, like the khatta pudina, featuring vodka, guava juice, and cumin.


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Shree Ganesh
Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis


 

Getting tired of all the heavy sauce rich northern Indian cooking that seems to be the Bangkok subcontinent norm? Make your way over to this tucked away little southern Indian food haven on Sukhumvit. This hole in the wall dishes up excellent masala dosas (crepes stuffed with potatoes and vegetables) and sambhar iddly (rice cakes with lentils), both of which you can smother in coconut chutney and spicy dal which is served alongside. If you use a fork or spoon here you will be a minority, and if you don't the old lady who runs the place will beam lovingly at you and dish out another round of chutney. Recommended and soft on the pocket too.


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Rang Mahal
Photo courtesy of courtesy of Rang Mahal


 

Expensive and fashionable, Rang Mahal is the Indian place to take a date to impress. Located in the chic Rembrandt Hotel with great views over Bangkok, you'll feel like you are dining in the time of the Raj here, surrounded by divans, cushions and oozing ambience. But it is not just the décor that sets Rang Mahal apart. The food is extremely rich, with a sauce laden Northern Indian menu the focus. Standouts include the Kashmiri Rogan Josh, a heavenly goat curry, and the Makhanwalla chicken, which is thick with the flavor of ghee (clarified butter). The garlic naan right out of the tandoori oven is also a common favorite. Yes, you will be paying for the food and experience here, but the atmosphere, location, and sumptuous meals are well worth the splurge and make reservations, as you won't be alone.


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While Indian restaurants abound in Bangkok, finding any to dine in style in can be a tougher chore. Not only does Bawarchi serve up some of the city's finest Northern Indian cuisine, it also does so with some incredible twists on age old recipes, without sacrificing anything to authenticity. Bawarchi boasts 5 restaurants in Bangkok, with the flagship branch being located in the President's Tower at the Intercontinental Hotel at Chidlom, right next to the BTS Skytrain station. The interior of the restaurant is plush and intimate, with plenty of Indian motifs, comfy dining chairs, and live music accompanying the fine food each night.The menu selections here are vast, serving up all of the top northern favourites of Mughlai cuisine like Rogan Josh lamb curry, excellent paneer tikka, creamy Malai chicken kebabs, plenty of thick and rich dal curries and naan breads to choose from; and the unique Hara Bhara veggie kebabs, in which minced vegetables get blended, covered in sesame seeds, and served up like an ice cream on a stick! Additionally, Bawarchi offers mind blowing Table d'Hote set menus with fusion dishes like tandoori tom yum goong, wasabi red snapper, and saffron and basil risotto with prawn curry to knock your socks off.


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Indus
Photo courtesy of courtesy of Indus restaurant


 

With one of the nicest restaurant decors in Bangkok and great food to boot, Indus keeps visitors coming back time after time. Inspired by an Indus Valley maharajah's palace, sandstone bricks and and Rajasthan tapestries line the inside of this 1960's art deco wooden house, and in addition to the indoor dining, there is a tropical garden and bar with dance floor upstairs! The food is superb, with standouts such as lamb leg marinated in Captain Morgan rum, papaya, and yoghurt, and definitely try the signature paneer kali roll, cottage cheese with onion, pepper and greens wrapped in a tortilla. Sonya Sapru, author of the noted cookbook Zaika, stands behind the training of all the chefs here, and standards are quite high.


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While it might seem like a kebab lover's dream to sample 450 different kind of kebabs under one roof, the arrival of the popular Indian franchise The Great Kabab Factory in Bangkok is no fantasy. This well done spot in the Majestic Grand Hotel has a factory styled decor, with all the waiters in jumpsuits and the menus looking like a supervisor's checklist. Yet the food is anything but factory level, and is in fact far closer to epicurean. Every night there is a different set menu (no a la carte here and you can eat as much as you like) featuring a choice of either meat or vegetarian kebabs. The signature dish, the galouti kebab, is served every night, and well it should be, patties made of minced lamb with spices that resemble a fine foie gras and melt in your mouth. Also of note are the doranga paneer tikka kebabs, in which the paneer cheese cubes are stuffed with tomato sauce. Following the sumptuous servings of kebabs (all of which the waiters explain and then recommend which chutney to eat with them), one is then plied with chicken biryani, several types of dal, and a delicious dum ka gosht mutton curry. Four or five types of different desserts complete the gourmet meal, with some of the best homemade gulab jamun sweets you will ever find east of New Delhi. The GKF aims to cover all regions of Indian cooking with their variety of kebabs, and it looks like they have succeeded wildly on all fronts.


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Charcoal boasts that it is all about "fun dining" as opposed to fine dining, and indeed it is, with the sounds of an Indian open-air market getting piped into the restrooms here, and suave cocktails like the Delhi Duty Free rum concoction being served in duty free bags! There are plenty of playful takes here, and they only serve to enhance the excellent creative Indian cuisine, with dishes like mutton kebabs braised in vinegar, cinnamon, and black cumin, or dum ki raan, a royal Mughal dish of succulent, slow cooked full lamb leg. There are both vegetarian, seafood, and meat options from the tandoor, and unique for an Indian restaurant, there are recommended signature cocktail pairings. Come here for a fun date and you'll score big points.


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The accolades keep pouring in. Named Best Restaurant in Asia in 2015, 2016, and 2017, Gaggan was also listed as the 7th Best Restaurant in the World in 2017, and the only Indian restaurant mentioned in the top 50. While some say that Gaggan isn't really Indian, and some call it "molecular masala," this amazing restaurant is certainly worth experiencing. Started by Gaggan Anand, the Kolkata native who interned with Michelin-starred molecular whiz Ferran Adrià at his famed El Bulli restaurant in Spain, Gaggan turns out wonderful creations such as chicken tikka topped with aromatic cilantro chutney foam or mutton bhuna ghosh pot roasted in a copper vessel then vacuum packed and simmered in a water bath for 24 hours, creating outrageous flavors. For fans of innovative and progressive cooking, Gaggan dazzles the senses, and the classy colonial home the eatery is housed in compliments the wonderful food


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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

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