Sawadee khrup! Bangkok. The capital city of Thailand. Home of tuk-tuk and crazy traffic jam that (almost) rivals Jakarta. A land of cheap clothes and lively night markets. But most importantly for us, a city filled with tasty food.
Bangkok’s status as one of the world’s major destinations for food has been cemented by Michelin. As of April 2018, there are 3 restaurants awarded with 2 Michelin Stars, 14 venues with 1 Michelin Star, 33 places with Bib Gourmand recognition, and 76 spots with The Plate. If you’re not familiar with Michelin distinction just yet, Bib Gourmand means the place serves good food at a reasonable price (under THB 1,000 in Bangkok), while The Plate suggests carefully prepared meal made with fresh ingredients. Star is the crème de la crème.
Thanks to Tourism Authority of Thailand, last month I embarked on a 2-day trip to Bangkok to cram as much Michelin-approved Thai food as possible. We managed to visit 6 spots with varying distinctions. Here’s my take on each of them.
1. Somboon Seafood (The Plate)
Somboon Seafood is perhaps the most widely known out of the bunch. This chain restaurant is famous for its tasty Fried Curry Crab since 1969. I also find the Tom Yum and Deep Fried Sea Bass with Sweet Sauce to be pretty damn good. If you still have room for more in your tummy, don’t forget to order Stir Fried Cabbage in Soy Sauce as well—it’s super tasty.
2. Guay Jub Mr. Joe (The Plate)
Guay Jub, or we Indonesians might know better as kway chap, is a rice noodle soup dish that reminds me of my childhood. When I was little, I used to eat a lot of kway chap, albeit in an instant form. Guay Jub Mr. Joe is way more complex in taste with richer seasonings compared to my childhood kway chap. It’s peppery with killer toppings, and the guay jub has a soft, lovely texture. Everything is elevated when the crispy pork crackling comes into play. Texture and flavor: Spot on!
3. Jay Fai (1-Star)
Jay Fai is the only one in this list with 1 Michelin Star, which suggests high quality cooking, worth a stop in your travels. We had to wait for one-hour until Jay Fai’s famous crab omelette arrived on our table, and that was not because we had to wait in line. For THB 1,000 (IDR 430,000) per portion, expect a generous amount of juicy crab meat chunks, fried in egg batter. There was nothing revolutionary about the taste, although the dish was indeed yum and very crab-by.
4. Ruen Mallika (Bib Gourmand)
Think of Ruen Mallika as the Thai version of Indonesia’s 1945. The restaurant serves authentic royal Thai cuisine in a proper and clean atmosphere. It’s a great pick if you feel hesitant about eating street food. A number of my favorites at Ruen Mallika: Kaeng Som (sour and spicy fish curry soup that tastes like tom yum, but with a creamier consistency like crab soup), Fried Platter with Frangipani (Thai-style tempura with 3 types of dippings), and Coconut Dessert.
5. Nai Mong Hoi Thod (Bib Gourmand)
At Nai Mong Hoi Thod, only by paying THB 100 (IDR 43,000), you get to devour a uniquely made Oyster Omelette. The omelette and the oyster are cooked separately to bring out the best of each element. The omelette is cooked and turned upside down in the frying pan repeatedly to get a crispy skin with a still-oozy inside. Meanwhile, the omelette is only flash-fried to retain freshness, yet eliminating any fishy smell. The dish has a sexy smoky aroma and a fun texture in your mouth from the crispiness of the eggs and the chewiness of the oyster.
6. Pa Tong Go Savoey (The Plate)
Patongo, also known by us as cakwe, is a deep-fried dough sold in Bangkok’s China Town. It’s a bit smaller compared to cakwe, and crunchier. Perhaps because everything is freshly made on the spot and the line is long, there is no waiting period that makes the patongo go chewy. The skin is also a bit thinner compared to our cakwe, thus immediately gives way to the teeth when you take a bite. The pandan coconut sauce is an absolute winner. Pa Tong Go Savoey is a no-brainer, a bang for your buck kind of street food.