10 Best Restaurants to Enjoy in the Pathumwan Area in Bangkok, Thailand

Pathumwan is the heart of Bangkok, not only for its shopping malls, but for its amazing array of great food. Dazzle your taste buds and eyes with the molecular gastronomy creations at Sra Bua, which does Thai cuisine like it's never been seen or tasted before. All types of cuisines can be found in this neighbourhood, from top notch Italian here at the elegant JoJo, to the city's best Mexican at La Monitas, just as good for breakfast as for dinner. For Chinese xiaolongbao dumplings and Shanghai eats, Din Tai Fung in the new Central Embassy Mall is a branch of the superb Taiwan and Hong Kong eatery, and make sure to try the outstanding Japanese fusion at Zuma, where the expertly mixed cocktails are just as much of a draw as the fresh sashimi. Indian food is also a big draw here, done molecular style at the renowned Gaggan. Also making this list of excellent eats is fine French haute cuisine at Le Beaulieu, Michelin chef creations at Savelberg or at the outstanding Gaa, headed by chef Garima Arora, and even good old street side cafes, with the age old Soi Polo Fried Chicken still going strong after all these years. One thing is for certain, you will never be going hungry in the Pathumwan neighbourhood.



Soi Polo Fried Chicken

Truth is you probably could find equally as good fried chicken in many other spots in Bangkok, but Soi Polo has been famous for so long, why bother traipsing through the heat looking for something else? The chicken here really does put the Colonel to shame, the som tam papaya salads are tasty, and there is even a nam tok gai tawt spicy chicken salad to go with your chicken. It's all Formica tables and metal stools, but nobody comes here for the decor. Besides the fried chicken, Soi Polo also does a handful of other Isaan specialties like pork.

For those missing Mexican food in Bangkok, La Monita is all the rage. While most folks do head over for tacos and burritos for lunch and dinner, La Monita also does some of the best breakfasts in the city, with big plates of huevos rancheros on tap, served with plenty of guacamole, salsa, and chorizo, guaranteed to jump start your day. La Monita also does an excellent breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs. An added bonus here as well in that breakfast is served all day, for those who want to sleep in or decide that their jet lag has not yet left, and that 8pm is the breakfast hour.

Renowned French chef Herve Frerard presides over Le Beaulieu, which recently reopened in a stylish new location in the posh Athenee Tower Complex on Wireless Road. The focus is on bistro, and the French haute cuisine remains as top notch as ever. The bouillabaisse is outstanding as a starter, and then one can move into the heartier fare, such as the baked morteau sausage with lentil sauce, roasted Bresse chicken, or terrine de pot au feu that has plenty of savory vegetables and meat to indulge in. Ingredients here are extremely fresh, with produce sourced from the Thai Royal Project organic gardens in Chiang Rai.


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

Some say that Gaggan isn't really Indian, and some call it "molecular masala," but surely it is worth experiencing. This snazzy restaurant started by Gaggan Anand, the Kolkata native who interned with Michelin-starred molecular whiz Ferran Adri� at his famed El Bulli restaurant in Spain, 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. The restaurant has been voted as one of the best in Asia by the prestigious San Pellegrino awards, and shouldn't be missed by foodies.

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.

Not only is JoJo sleek, sophisticated, and one of Bangkok's most elegant dining spots, it also happens to serve some of the city's most refined and delicious Italian food. You can sit in the stylish dining room or out on the romantic candlelit patio and indulge in offerings like squid ink tagliolini in Boston lobster sauce or a fettucine alfredo served on a Castelmagno cheese wheel. Absolutely don't miss trying the D.O.P Burrata cheese and rocket salad, which is a half kilo of creamy cheese that will leave you salivating with pleasure. Don't forget to save room for the tiramisu martini for dessert!

Dutch chef Henk Savelberg knows his cuisine. Awarded a Michelin star in four different restaurants across the Netherlands, Savelberg has brought his culinary magic to Bangkok, working the kitchen along with his team, creating French inspired dishes with molecular touches that are worth the splurge. Lobster here is served with papaya, pomelo, Tzar caviar, and yuzu dressing, there is slow cooked guinea fowl, and a roast lamb neck and rack served with carrot, yellow curry, lamb jus and foam of couscous/brie. All the ingredients are high end, and the best selections are available as a four, six, or eight course menu, with fine wine pairings available as well. The gleaming bright kitchen ensconced in the dapper Oriental Residence enhances the experience as well. Just make sure to bring a credit card of fat wallet, as it isn't cheap.

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.

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 beautiful 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 caramalized 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 bitesized 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.


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