Header: salt baked Nanglae pineapple at Karmakamet Diner
Packed with history, culture and ubiquitous culinary delights, the city of Bangkok is as chaotic and ever-changing as its gastronomic offer. Faced with the daunting task of planning a whirlwind 50-hour gastronomic trip to the Thai capital, we squeezed plenty of different culinary experiences – from classic pad Thai in the market to fine dining by a waterfall – into a handy guide of don’t-miss food and drink experiences.
Following trips to Rome and New York, in the third instalment of our “50 Hours in…” series, presented by Diners Club International, we dive into the eclectic gastronomic offering in the capital of the ‘land of smiles’.
10:00 – Karmakamet Diner
30/1 Soi Metheenivet
A Can't Resist pancake
A retreat from the intensity of the city, Karmakamet Diner is an oasis of peace set in a traditional garden tucked away from the trafficked streets. Jutamas Theantae, or Chef Som, oversees the kitchen and dining room with an eye for the photogenic. Details such as the coasters reproducing hand-written letters to her friend Nathorn Rakchana (nickname “Edge”), who founded the Karmakamet brand, contribute to the almost magical atmosphere. Menu options include the ‘Can’t Resist’ buttermilk pancakes with duck confit and the signature ‘Strawberry in the clouds’ dessert – a strawberry shortcake with walnut crumble and amaretto layers hidden inside a colourful ball of candy floss.
13:00 – Blue Elephant
233 South Sathorn Road
Kwaeng Yannawa, Khet Sathorn
Pla Koong Mangkud - Grilled river prawn with mangosteen
Established in 2002 by chef Nooror Somany-Steppe and Belgian husband Karl Steppe, Blue Elephant has gained a reputation for inventive Thai fare and impeccable service. You can get a feel of the country’s history in the century-old traditional building and in the menu, which includes Thai dishes divided into “yesterday” and “tomorrow”. The recipe for chef Nooror’s massaman curry is a cherished family secret – a lamb curry served in a ceramic hot pot with purple potatoes and cashews, but it is hard to find anything in the extensive food list that won’t delight the taste buds. Blue Elephant also has its own range of wines to complement the food.
19:00 – The Dining Room at The House on Sathorn
106 North Sathorn Road
Sultan Message Can't Deliver
Chef Fatih Tutak’s unmistakable “fun dining” menu propelled this restaurant to No.36 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017. Equally unmistakable is the building – a 130-year-old mansion restored to its traditional pastel colours and dark wooden flooring. Originally from Istanbul, chef Tutak’s tasting menu delves into Turkey’s roots and incorporates his homeland’s diverse ingredients and cooking styles in a modern reinterpretation of Turkish cuisine. Dishes on the tasting menu include ‘Umami of Anatolia,’ where feta dashi is paired with tomato in the form of a broth, and ‘From my mum,’ featuring manti, eggplant, mint, butter and kaymak.
09:00 – W Bangkok
106 North Sathorn Road
W Bangkok hotel
Located in Sathorn, an area well served by an array of cafés and restaurants, the W Bangkok hotel is an ideal base for the culinary traveller. From the black marble lounge to the shimmering spiral staircase and the cocooning bedrooms (some with freestanding bathtubs overlooking the lights of the capital), the hotel offers all-around luxurious comfort. Don’t miss a visit to the spa or the rooftop swimming pool. The several drinking and dining options include The Kitchen Table, The Pantry, the Woo Bar and The Dining Room and The Courtyard at the adjoining House on Sathorn for everything from experimental cocktails to worldwide brunch options.
11:00 – The Kitchen Table
2nd floor, 106 North Sathorn Road
Organic brown rice with coconut
Pad Thai? Indian curry? Chicken satay? If you’re not sure what you feel like for brunch or lunch, you’ll find endless inspiration in The Kitchen Table’s menu. Chef Steven Kim oversees the kitchen and puts a personal Bangkok-inspired touch on every dish. At brunch, enjoy organic brown rice with coconut, green apple and maple dressing, or an equally mouth-watering take on quinoa-fried rice with tofu. The informal setting and personable service will be the icing on the cake (but do try the cinnamon capsule for dessert). The Kitchen Table is open from breakfast to dinner.
14:00 – Ruen Mallika
189 Soi Sukhumvit 22
Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoey
Sour pork ribs, chicken wrapped in pandan leaf, Thai pork satay and peanut sauce, fried clown featherback fish cakes
Set in a nobleman’s traditional teak house, Ruen Mallika has plenty of nooks and crannies combining elegance and tradition, where you can sit and enjoy a real Thai meal. The menu is an extensive exploration of the nation’s cuisine in all its forms, from tempura flowers to massaman curry, fish and crab coconut soufflés and assorted carved fruit to finish. Ask any question about Thai cuisine to the knowledgeable staff and you will discover more about the country’s culinary heritage. The finger-food dining menu is served in traditional Thai style as a banquet of dishes.
20:00 Dusit Thani – Benjarong Restaurant
946 Rama IV Road
Tom Yum Goong
Beautiful views of the Dusit Thani waterfall, chandeliers and refined Thai architecture create an almost royal atmosphere at Benjarong. Danish chef Morten Nielsen – who has been working in Thai cuisine since his start in Kiin Kiin in Copenhagen and later at progressive restaurant Sra Bua in Bangkok – interprets the country’s classics with inventive twists. Among the unmissable dishes is the Thai classic tom yum soup with prawn, galangal and lemongrass – with the broth served at the table to enhance the flavours – and catfish salad with green mango, which plays on different textures as well as flavours.
12:00 – Paragon Food Hall
Siam Paragon Shopping Centre, 991/1 Rama I Road
Golden noodles bowls
No ordinary food court, Siam Paragon’s food department covers over half of the shopping mall’s ground floor; it is divided into its own sub-compartments and offers everything from northeastern Thai cuisine to Chinese and Vietnamese noodles. Recharge your batteries with freshly squeezed juice, then enjoy a spicy papaya salad, grilled pork kebab with peanut sauce or a Thai curry rice. There is also an area dedicated only to take-out and the newest addition, the Gourmet Market, with a high concentration of high-end restaurants and stalls. An excellent way to fill the stomach ahead of the journey home.
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All of the restaurants and hotels featured in the series accept payment with Diners Club, and can be found on this map of London. Stay tuned for the next destination in the series, 50 Hours in Miami, coming next month.