Tables are turning in Thailand‘s capital. There’s a restaurant revolution in Bangkok. In the last twelve months a new wave of chefs has transformed the city’s gastronomic scene, giving food lovers something to salivate over other than cookie-cutter Thai and generic ‘international’ fare.

Each of these groundbreaking chefs is doing something that is fresh for Bangkok – whether it’s deconstructing Thai cuisine, refining Indian fare, fusing cuisines, taking street food off the footpaths and into dining rooms, or simply creating more sustainable menus based on local, organic, seasonal produce. In our opinion, these are the restaurants in Bangkok that you need to eat at right now. (This post was published in June 2011).

We talked to six of the chefs and restaurateurs at the helm of  the best restaurants in Bangkok.

Tables Are Turning in Thailand – There’s a Restaurant Revolution in Bangkok


Chef Dylan Jones

The restaurant of Thai-born chef Duangporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava and her Australian chef husband Dylan Jones, former protégés of Thai cuisine legend, David Thompson, Bo.Lan can be credited for triggering the restaurant revolution in Bangkok. The first Bangkok restaurant to give exciting, contemporary Thai cuisine a home, Bo.lan’s hallmarks are small servings, pretty plates, dishes you won’t find on many menus, and two chefs who make no compromises when it comes to heat.

The first time food excited you?
My Mum’s dinner parties, which I started to take notice of when I was three years old.

Why did you become a chef?
I loved cooking and eating, so when I was in high school it was an easy decision to become a chef.

Bo.lan’s cuisine in a few words?
Thai. Innovative. Uncompromising. We won’t change a flavour or component, but instead we’ll advise people what to eat.

Motivation for opening Bo.lan?
Bo and I had been working at David Thompson’s Nahm in London, and Bo wanted to return to Thailand, so we decided to open a restaurant and do something that would be very different for Bangkok.

How has your cuisine developed?
We collect old recipe books and add dishes to our menu whenever we discover something that excites us.

David Thompson obviously, but also European restaurants when it comes to standards of service.

Signature dish?
Bhon gai nueng, a chicken breast chilli relish from a very old recipe.

What’s next?
We want Bo.lan to become a destination restaurant, so when people come to Bangkok, they want to come here.

42 Soi Pichai Ronnarong, Songkram Sukhumvit 26, Klongteoy, Bangkok, 02 260 2961


Chef David Thompson

The man behind the first Thai restaurant to receive a Michelin star, Nahm in London, renowned Australian chef David Thompson turned his attention to creating a space for his cuisine in the spiritual homeland of his cooking, Bangkok, and along with Bo.lan has led the gastronomic revolution in the Thai capital. Thompson not only brings two dozen years of immersing himself in researching Thai cuisine, but the service and finesse that earned him his Michelin star. Just like his former protégés at Bo.lan, Thompson makes no concessions for foreign palates and brings little known dishes to the table.

The first time food excited you?
Eating Thai food when I was here on holidays in 1986. I was seduced by the country and its people.

Why did you become a chef?
I started collecting old Thai recipe books and they intrigued and inspired me.

Nahm’s cuisine in a few words?
It’s the kind of food you would have eaten in a Thai house a few generations ago.

Motivation for opening Nahm?
After I closed Darley Street Thai in Sydney, Christine Ong, owner of The Metropolitan, asked me to open nahm at her hotel in London. Now I’m here at her Bangkok property.

How has your cuisine developed?
It’s informed by my research so it’s constantly evolving as my knowledge evolves. We’re pushing boundaries here now more than ever.

Old recipes. For example, I serve a fermented fish dish that smells and tastes like a smelly French cheese that people either love or hate.

Signature dish?
Chicken Massaman curry.

What’s next?
I want to connect more with farmers practicing eco-Buddhism – biodynamic, bio-diversified, artisanal producers.

Metropolitan by Como hotel, 27 South Sathorn Road, Sathorn, Bangkok, 02 625 3413

Soul Food Mahanakorn

Restaurateur Jarrett Wrisley

Despite being told he’d never be successful pairing Thai street food with cocktails and a slinky soundtrack, American food writer Jarrett Wrisley, who has been based in Asia since his student days, has a smash hit on his hands. Based on 100% fair-trade, free-range, organic produce, much of it sourced from farms in northeast Thailand, the food is heady, spicy and delicious – as are the cocktails. Why hadn’t anyone done this before?

The first time food excited you?
When I was four or five years old and tried suckling pig at a restaurant in New York. I was delighted and enthralled by it.

Why did you become a chef?
I’ve worked in a lot of kitchens over the years, as a line cook, salad cook, a bartender. I studied Mandarin in Beijing and worked as a food writer for years, and just decided I wanted to have my own restaurant.

Soul Food’s cuisine in a few words?
Simple Thai food that’s ingredient-driven and house-made – we make everything in house – the cooking is not refined, but the ingredients are.

Motivation for opening Soul Food?
The writing work was drying up, I lived and breathed food, so I decided to open a restaurant.

How has your cuisine developed?
I change the dishes all the time and constantly experiment.

The Japanese izakaya – I wanted to have that cosy feel, serve drinking snacks, and encourage people to order a few dishes at a time.

Signature dish?
I have a duck larb, which is charcoal grilled – smoking the duck changes the whole nature of the dish.

What’s next?
I’d like to enlarge the space – I’d love to have the place next door!

56/10 Sukhumvit Soi 55, Thonglor, Bangkok, 02 714 7708,

Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin

Chef Henrik Yde-Andersen

Like David Thompson, the men behind Copenhagen’s only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, chef Henrik Yde-Andersen and Thai business partner Lertchai Treetawatchaiwong, have brought their brand of contemporary Thai cuisine back to its roots in Bangkok. With dishes such as ‘gang dang’ (frozen red curry with lobster salad), which earned their Denmark restaurant Kiin Kiin accolades, their molecular Thai cuisine is currently the talk of the town.

The first time food excited you?
When my parents took us to the forest to pick wild raspberries. I can still taste them now.

Why did you become a chef?
I became a chef because my sister was a chef, but I first fell in love with wine and became a sommelier.

Sra Bua’s cuisine in a few words?
Modern, deconstructed, ‘home-made’.

Motivation for opening Sra Bua?
We wanted to open a restaurant that we wanted to eat at and do something nobody else was doing – take Thai food to the level of French cuisine.

How did your cuisine develop?
By experimenting. I like to take a Thai dish and look at the components then bring them together in new ways.

Lertchai and I went to Nahm in London and loved what David Thompson was doing there.

Signature dish?
The Harvest, a Thai green curry mousse in a terracotta pot with garden vegetables ‘growing’ from it.

What’s next?
Our priority is to win over the Thai people with our cuisine. If we can do that, then that’s another level of achievement.

Siam Kempinski Hotel, 991/9 Rama I Road, Siam, Bangkok, 02 162 9000

La Table de Tee

Chef Tee Kachorklin

La Table de Tee is an intimate affair – in a small chic space with just 20 covers – and it’s packed most nights. The reason is 25-year old Thai chef Tee Kachorklin, who is presenting some intriguing dishes. Fresh from a stint in Europe working in fine dining restaurants, Tee takes the conventions of modern French cuisine, uses local ingredients, and adds a subtle Thai twist to every one of his pretty plates. He’s a chef to watch in the future.

The first time food excited you?
My mother was a chef and would have parties and cook for everyone. She used coriander a lot and I fell in love with the smell.

Why did you become a chef?
I started cooking at eight. My mother was always working so I was responsible for preparing food for the family.

La Table de Tee’s cuisine in a few words?
Fresh Franco-Thai.

Motivation for opening La Table de Tee?
I’d been working in French cuisine in the UK since I was 17 and didn’t want to do what I was doing forever. I wanted to create something different, that wasn’t completely French and wasn’t Thai.

How has your cuisine developed?
I continued to follow French techniques but began to use Thai ingredients. I have a farm so I use as much produce as I can from there. Everything is organic.

The French techniques I learnt in London, how to make sauces, how to use them.

Signature dish?
I change the menu every week but I do a risotto made with garlic from my farm and fresh Thai herbs.

What’s next?
I want to develop my farm, grow more ingredients to use here, I want to farm organic pork and make chorizo!

69/5 Saladaeng Road,
Silom, Bangkok, 02 636 3220


Chef Gaggan Anand

It was only a matter of time before an Indian chef viewed his country’s rich cuisine through the prism of molecular gastronomy – but who knew he’d do it in Bangkok. Gaggan Anand was the first Indian chef to do a stint at Spanish restaurant El Bulli’s research centre, the laboratory of the molecular movement, and that spirit of experimentation is evident on his eclectic menu. Anand’s light touch with a cuisine often considered heavy has made it a hit with Bangkok’s Hi-So.

The first time food excited you?
Dad’s Sunday lamb. My father would go to the butchers and carefully choose the lamb. He cooked once a week and took a lot of pride in it.

Why did you become a chef?
My Mum, the ‘Mistress of Spice’! She still cooks and I eat her lunch every day.

Gaggan’s cuisine in a few words?
Progressive, surprising, and a little strange.

Motivation for opening Gaggan?
I’d been cooking for 14 years, commercially for 11 years, and it was time to challenge myself. I called El Bulli, left my job, and went and worked in Adria’s research centre.

How has your cuisine developed?
With Indian cuisine there’s no standardisation – it’s different to French cuisine where you have rations and master sauces. It gives you freedom because there are so many ways to do things. That’s allowed me to innovate.

El Bulli and Feran Adria – working in the research centre, I learnt exactly how they think and develop their dishes.

Signature dish?
Chicken Tikka Masala. The chicken is done the classic way but the masala tastes light.

What’s next?
I’d like to explore medieval Indian cuisine. I read a story about how they used to add gold to curry!

68/1 Soi Langsuan, Lumpini, Bangkok, 02 652 1700

End of Article



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