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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. Gaa, winner of a Michelin star, features Indian-inspired cuisine done up by Indian chef extraordinaire Garima Arora. More traditionally, 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 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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While this is firmly a Bangkok institution, rotis do originate in India, and they are so good here it needs to be included on this list. Like Soi Polo Fried Chicken, this little restaurant is the kind of place that makes Bangkok�s food famous. It�s cramped, noisy and often hot in the open-to-the-street downstairs, where they also cook, but the food and atmosphere in the century-old building keep people coming back. They cook the roti (flat bread) filled with your choice of chicken, beef, fish or vegetables at the front entrance. Or try the �dessert� roti with sweetened condensed milk. They also serve other Thai dishes and there�s small, air-conditioned room upstairs, too.

Recommended for Indian because: For the best rotis in Bangkok, Roti Mataba is an institution like no other.

Dave's expert tip: It's is an easy walk here from Khao San Road. Otherwise, take the Chao Phraya ferry boat to Phra Arthit and Roti Mataba is a 2 minute walk away. The portions here are not big, so if you are hungry make sure to order several rotis.

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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.

Recommended for Indian because: For great homemade paneer and Indo-Chinese fusion, Indian Hut is unique!

Dave's expert tip: Make sure to try the paneer, it's homemade. It's a bit too far to walk here from the Skytrain, best to take a taxi from either Sala Daeng, Chong Nonsi, or Surasak BTS stations.

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Royal India


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.

Recommended for Indian because: For true local taste and flavour, Royal India is a perennial favourite.

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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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.

Recommended for Indian because: For upscale Indian cuisine with a city view, Maya is excellent.

Dave's expert tip: The Sunday brunch for 700 baht is a winner, as is the ladies night on Wednesdays, with free flow sparkling wine from 5-10 p.m.

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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.

Recommended for Indian because: For outstanding gourmet northern Indian food with a twist, Bawarchi stands alone.

Dave's expert tip: The most convenient way to get here is to take the BTS Sky Train to the Chidlom Station and take the entrance into the Intercontinental Hotel.

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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.

Recommended for Indian because: For Bangkok's best dosas and southern cooking, Shree Ganesh heads the list.

Dave's expert tip: If you aren't familiar with southern Indian food, dosa and iddly are commonly eaten for breakfast, and only in places that specialize in preparing the proper batter to make the crepes. There is no set way to eat either, some folks dip their dosas in the condiments, others pour it all on top and mix everything together, but no utensils is the norm.

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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.

Recommended for Indian because: For high end Indian cuisine in Bangkok, you can't beat Rang Mahal.

Dave's expert tip: A good way to really enjoy all that is on offer at Rang Mahal is to come on weekends for the buffet brunch, where 950 baht will allow you to sample all the dishes and eat like a Maharajah!

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While not exactly Indian, Gaa does feature Indian inspired fare, and its Indian Chef deserves to be on any dining list. Innovative, elegant, and delectable fine dining has reached new heights in Bangkok with the 2nd edition of the Michelin Bangkok guidebook's 2019 release. Heading the list of newcomers awarded one star is Gaa, which features unique and eclectic takes on both Indian and Thai fare, served up with exquisite presentations and creative techniques by head chef Garima Arora, who is the first Indian woman to receive a Michelin award.

Arora hails from Mumbai, and left a career in journalism, opting instead for enrolling in Le Cordon Bleau, France's prestigious culinary academy, and then working at the esteemed Noma in Copenhagen as well as a stint with chef Gordon Ramsay at Verre in Dubai. She then came to Bangkok to work alongside of Gaggan Anand, whose 2-star Michelin Gaggan provided a launching pad for honing her unique and uber-creative techniques which she has put to full use at Gaa.

Set in a leafy side street in a beautifully refurbished house, where comfortable rooms have soft lighting, dark wood, and large windows, diners have their choice of tables. Several rooms are suitable for private groups, while the main dining area looks out into the trees and foliage. One room features a table set under a painting of the home's former owner, who appears to look out in watchful gaze at the fabulous feast appearing in front of her.

Gaa offers both a 10 and 14-course tasting menu in which modern techniques pair with age-old recipes, all of which are made using only fresh locally-sourced ingredients. While the entire evening is a real visual and tactile knockout, there are a few dishes that really stand out. The duck "donuts" are a play on Japanese takoyaki; small pastry balls that are stuffed with duck meat and vindaloo sauce, and just incredibly melt-in-your-mouth succulent (you'll want to see a daily food cart of these outside your house once you try them). Another winner is the signature young corn, in which baby corn is grilled with lime and chili and presented here with its charred skin, that peels away to some of the sweetest corn you'll ever have. The corn is served with a sweet corn and ghee emulsion dip, and Arora took inspiration for this from the grilled and spiced "bhutta," a popular Indian street snack.

While many Michelin restaurants serve up fine Wagyu beef or try to bowl you over with foie gras presentations for their main courses, Gaa again bucks the trend, instead opting for unripe jackfruit, served here with jackfruit roti and a variety of pickles. As opposed to the sweet fruit, the unripe version is thick and meaty and will make a believer of any carnivore. And for those who can't live without their flesh, the caramelized sous vide pork belly served with a tamarind glaze, shallots, coriander, and pomegranate, is not just the best piece of pork you'll have in Bangkok, but possibly in all Asia if not elsewhere.

For the finale here, several desserts seal the deal. One is a deconstructed banana bread, a bite-sized morsel that will have you thinking you are in a fine patisserie, and then another great take on Indian habits, that of chewing a stuffed betel nut leaf (known as "paan") after eating, although here at Gaa the leaf is half covered in 85% dark chocolate, with the other side having crumbled cardamom dust.

In addition to the amazing culinary creations, there are superb wine pairings to go with the dinner, and even juice pairings for those who want to remain completely sober for one of Bangkok's most outstanding feasts.

Recommended for Indian because: For outstanding innovative Indian food, Gaa stands alone and is a Bangkok must.

Dave's expert tip: Reservations are a must at Gaa. To get here, the closest BTS station is Ratchadamri (not Ploenchit). You can cut across Mahatlek Luang 3 Alley from the station directly to Langsuan, then turn right, and Gaa is just down the street on your right side.

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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.

Recommended for Indian because: For outstanding royal North Indian cuisine with ultra fresh ingredients, Indus really shines.

Dave's expert tip: The various regional dishes (as opposed to the usual northern favourites) are well worth trying here, especially the Hyderabad biriyani, which features chicken, rice, and spices all cooked in a ceramic pot.

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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.

Recommended for Indian because: For creative, fun, innovative and playful modern Indian cuisine, Charcoal excels!

Dave's expert tip: Take the BTS Skytrain to Nana and then grab a motorcycle taxi down Soi 11 to the Fraser Suites. Conversely, it is a 10-15 minute walk from the station.

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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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