Why Bangkok? The food!

Fresh pomegranate juice and more freshly squeezed thirst quenchers in the malls or on the streets
Fresh pomegranate juice and more freshly squeezed thirst quenchers in the malls or on the streets

THE best place to be after the two-year no-international-travel pandemic spell? Bangkok! Why? The food!

Celebrate! Home cooking and food deliveries may have provided us sustenance and sated food craving while “locked” at home. At this point, admit that food is more flavorful with the experience of dining elsewhere. Much more when done across the border.

Undoubtedly, Bangkok is a food haven, a melting pot of international flavors. Name it, they have it. You’ll probably say it’s HK or SG, but how far does your moolah go in these cities? In the Big Mango, it’s a long way. BKK has street food to fine dining, and the Michelin stars are showered all over shining brightly on recommended hole-the-wall eateries to silverware-laden tables by starred chefs offering savories and sugary fares from below 100Baht to several thousands. In this place, eating is an adventure. There’s something to discover each day.

The hotels and malls are the most convenient places to go to if you want choices. In hotels, a foodie can hop from one cuisine to another in a single stop. It’s a culinary trip from Thailand to Italy, from India to Japan, and elsewhere. The food trip’s “fare” varies per establishment with the established ones a bit costly, but it’s worth every baht. You might chance upon the foie gras on scallops on the buffet of Next2 Cafe at Shangri-La Bangkok or the Phad Thai omelette, a breakfast specialty at Latest Recipe of Le Meridien Bangkok. The gelatos are also divine in these places.

Meanwhile, at the food courts and specialty restaurants in the mall giants like Siam Paragon, Central World, Icon Siam, Em Quartier and others, there is a variety of cuisine offerings with cost that’s easy on the pocket. All year round, these malls feature cuisines in pop-up kitchens both indoors and outdoors, the latter serving as an alternative to the street food fare.

And street food is one of the ingredients of Thailand’s popularity. Day in and out the entrepreneurial spirit of the locals is alive. Carts are pushed to positions, each serving a particular dish — from fruits to savories, steamed to fried. It’s a 24/7 sight across the city. Eateries may not be open around-the-clock but during peak hours, each gets its share of diners.

Where the locals form a long queue, it means the food is good. That’s the best advertising for the place. It won’t take long until Michelin takes notice, visits, samples and gives its stamp of approval — the Michelin Bib Gourmand, a recognition awarded to restaurants that offer stellar food at an affordable price. There are 64 marked across Bangkok, which includes both the street-side joints and fancier ones.

And when you fancy the “fancy” on which the Michelin Stars shine upon, Bangkok has no shortage of it. There are 24 with 1 Star and six with 2 Stars, including Le Normandie, Suhring Mezzaluna, with Jay Fai seemingly the most popular with the general public. To reach for them would mean to reach deeper into the pocket. But that depends on one’s disposable income, or for gourmands, money is not an object.

Jai Fai may be the most affordable on the starred list, however, there are superstar chefs kind enough to have their gastronomic delights more accessible for many foodies. German twins Thomas & Mathias Suhring with Indian Gaggan Anand opened CDGre, a lifestyle coffee shop and restaurant in Siam Paragon. Who’s following next? Let’s wait and see.

Food, like art, is subjective. In Bangkok, there’s a multitude of offerings that will catch one’s fancy. If you ask me, a short food trip to Bangkok never works. Stay longer, or keep returning, and dive into the food scene!

Now is the best time to head to Bangkok. The city does not have the usual crowd of visitors — yet, though tourists are starting to arrive. What is normally a snaking line at the immigrations is now a handful of visitors per officer. You zip by for the entry stamp. That’s more time to dive into the food spread that awaits you in the city center.


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