Discovering the cuisine of Bangkok: a culinary journey to Thailand

Cocina tailandesa Larva de hormigas rojas con lima, chile y macadamia rallada

If you love good food and discovering new dining experiences, then Bangkok is a must-visit destination. With an unbeatable gastronomic offer and a mix of cultural influences, the capital of Thailand is considered by many people to be the gastronomic capital of the world. In this post, I want to tell you a bit about by personal experience on my last trip to Thailand.

A culinary paradise in Bangkok

Chefs love to eat. We enjoy trying new tastes and combinations. And trying to guess the ingredients in each dish and how they managed to get the end result. And so, for us, eating out is as much pure enjoyment as it is a learning process. It’s what we call in English a busman’s holiday” which pretty much amounts to doing the same thing on your holidays as you at work. Well then, that’s precisely what I did for three weeks in February in Thailand.

Bangkok, without doubt one of the great world capitals for food and home to the multi-award winning and sadly missed Gagan restaurant (which closed its doors during the pandemic), offers infinite possibilities ranging from the modern German cuisine of Sühring to the inimitable street food of Jay Fai. In the luxurious hotels of the capital of former Siam, you can enjoy the world on a plate: dim sum, dhosas, parata, pickles, sushi, eggs benedict, and my personal favourite on this trip, medu vada, a crispy potato croquette spiced up with fresh coconut chutney.

New restaurants in Thailand: discovering unique tastes

On this trip I discovered some new restaurants. Nan Bei combines delicacies from the north and the south of China in an Art Deco space with fantastic views of the city. We went at lunchtime and enjoyed the blue crab dim sum with truffle, turnip cake and crispy spring rolls with noodles and caviar. The Peking duck was exactly the way it should be: crispy skin with thin crepes, following by a soup made from the bones and stir-fried meat.

It was my second time visiting 100 Mahaseth, which surprised me again as much as the first time with its Issan cuisine: bone marrow with perilla seeds and an extraordinary salad of red ant eggs with chili flakes and lime (the photo at the opening of the post). But if I had to choose just one place then that would probably be Sam Lor, with a duck larb to die for and a magical fried omelette, light as a cloud, with the yolk creamy inside. Let’s see how we can apply all these discoveries in Ma Khin.

Exploring the life of Bangkok residents through street food

Bangkok is a wonderful destination, and not just for the food. The temperature is perfect in February, without the suffocating heat of summer, making it just right to enjoy a bike tour, which we did at night, following the sois, a maze of narrow side streets that lead off from the city’s main roads.

The tour gave us a real sense of people’s everyday lives: we came across groups of old people playing mah jong, families cooking their evening meal, washing clothes, praying, children playing and, of course, people eating and talking together. We also had time to leave the city and make the most of the splendid beaches of the islands with fantastic trips to do some snorkelling in reefs teeming with colourful fish and terrifying looking sea urchins with scary 10-centimetre spines.

This was my sixth trip to Thailand and I could see how the country has changed. The pandemic has had a big effect on tourism and many places have ended up closing their doors. The majority of people still live in humble conditions and the lockdown must have been incredibly tough. The coup in the neighbouring country of Myanmar has brought a wave of Burmese refugees into Thailand, where they work hard for really low wages. “And how they work!”, a local businessman told us.

The military government of Thailand has tried to modernize Bangkok, “cleaning up” the city of streets vendors. I miss the chaotic street life of before, but the “Bangkok Buzz” is still intact. I’ve brought a little bit of it back with me to Ma Khin!”