The world’s most sought-after and esteemed hotel and restaurant reference guide, the Michelin Guide, has been making foodies’ heads turn in Asia the last couple of years by launching the Michelin Guide in Japan, China, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. Just late last year, the Michelin Guide in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) launched the Bangkok edition of the coveted guide – further establishing the city as one of the most popular destinations in the world.
The guide’s most prestigious accolades, the Michelin Stars, have been awarded to a number of renowned – and foodies’ favourite – restaurants in the city. The internationally recognised Indian restaurant Gaggan, the French dining destination Le Normandie and innovative European restaurant Mezzaluna have been honoured with the two-star Michelin accolade. While outlets like the much-talked about bo.lan, Thai-flavoured Saneh Jaan and Chim by Siam Wisdom and the famed L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon have received one-star recognition.
The true culinary gems, however, are often found not at the swankiest fine-dining restaurants with silver spoons, but at the unassumingly quaint food stalls spread around the ever-vibrant Bangkok.
A great example for this is the one Michelin-starred Jay Fai, a favourite among locals and tourists alike. The first thing that will grab your attention is the namesake owner/cook working her magic in front of a large, sizzling wok, wearing goggles. Supinya Junsuta – better known as Jay Fai – has been doing what she does best for decades: continuing what her father created and whipping up the most famous crab omelette in the region. The line is quite long, but the juiciness of the fresh crab meat entwined in the chunky omelette is definitely worth the wait.
Also noteworthy are those places that have received Michelin’s The Plate and Bib Gourmand badges. The Plate is given to restaurants in which the Michelin inspector discovered quality food, while the Bib Gourmand is reserved for destinations with exceptionally good food at moderate prices. And Bangkok is just filled with The Plate and Bib Gourmand culinary stars.
Chinese food and seafood enthusiasts should head to The Plate recipient Somboon Seafood at Surawong and try the winning dish of fried curry crab. The rich and thick sauce complements the succulent crab meat well. No cutlery is needed, because you’re guaranteed to lick your fingers clean by the end of the evening.
Another The Plate star is Guay Jub Mr. Joe, where regular diners usually start with the crispy pork and hearty dim sum selection, before ordering the main attraction. Guay jub is a rice noodle soup, savoury with a pepper broth and pork innards, which, yes, we admit is not for the squeamish, but it really is tasty and worth the try.
On the Bib Gourmand front, Nai Mong Hoi Thod is another blink-and-miss outlet in the middle of the always-busy Chinatown. A little family of husband, wife and child is behind the counter. The kid is taking the orders, the guy is at the cashier and the wife is constantly making the most desired dish here: a delicious crispy omelette topped with wok-fried juicy oysters.
To go on a true Thai dining experience, Bib Gourmand Ruen Malika is one stellar destination. The venue is a 200-year-old traditional Thailand-style teak house, with local touches and accents in the interior, and the staff wear exquisite Thai costumes. The dishes are authentic Thai flavours, served royalty-style, fit for a king.
All of the aforementioned culinary goodness is just the tip of the delicious iceberg, so check out the website for the complete Michelin Guide Bangkok edition lists, and book a flight to the lively city now.