Whether it’s the roar of tuk tuks, the abundance of street food, or the warm nature of its inhabitants, there’s just something invigorating about Bangkok, Thailand’s largest metropolis and the most visited city in the world, for good reason. The city is electric—it buzzes from dawn until long after dusk and the denizens are unstoppable, full of life and dynamic spirit. Under the tropical sun, Bangkok may look like nothing but a chaotic mess of bumper-to-bumper traffic, tangled power wires, and cracked pavements. Yet amid all the clutter, one will find a multitude of smiling faces, genuine hospitality, delectable smells, and an enthralling blend of tradition and modernity. Above all its quirks and charm lies its incredible food, and if there’s one reason for people to return to the city time and time again, it’s that an outstanding meal is never far away.
Cleo von Siebenthal is a girl with no single home—she’s lived in 10 places around the world, subsequently developing a wildly curious palate. When she’s not eating, she’s building an eCommerce business at Tastemade in sunny Santa Monica. Find her on Instagram @cleovonsieats
As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and trust that yours will be off to a great start at this local Thai-Chinese breakfast cafeteria, where comfort food is served alongside old-school charm. It’s as though time has stopped at this 80-year-old establishment that has powered through three generations—the shelves have rusted, the floor tiles are cracked, the ceiling fans creak, and the table tops have discoloured. But somehow, it all adds to the appeal. People travel from near and far to feed both their appetites and their cameras—in recent years, On Lok Yun has populated many Instagram feeds with top-down spreads of pillowy white bread and greasy plates of Western-style sausage, ham and eggs. A crowd favorite menu item is the sweet and fragrant egg custard (kaya) paired perfectly with soft, fluffy white bread. To further satisfy your early morning sweet tooth, be sure to order either the bread with sugar and butter or the French toast...or both. Breakfast is served all day from 5:30 am until 4:00 pm.
72 Charoen Krung Road, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100; +66 2 223 9621
Petchaburi Soi 5 is famous for housing the tastiest food in Bangkok, and P’aor comes out on top as the kind of no-frills restaurant that you visit if you want your expectations to be exceeded. The storefront gives little away, save for a sign claiming, “The Best Tom Yum in Bangkok.” While we haven’t tasted nearly a fraction of all bowls of tom yum in the city, we’re confident that the multi-awarded P’aor is deserving of the title. The restaurant’s claim-to-fame is its creamy broth, made rich by the combination of condensed milk and stewed giant shrimp heads. At P’aor, there is no such thing as a shortcut—the broth is cooked for hours, the seafood is incredibly fresh and the ingredients are top notch. Portions are available in S, M, L and XL, with L being perfect to feed two hungry people. Add-ons include squid or crab stuffed with minced meat and roe, whole lobsters, mussels, salmon, eggs and so much more.
68/51 Soi Phetchaburi 5, Khwaeng Thung Phaya Thai, Khet Ratchathewi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400, Bangkok, Thailand. +66 86 173 3373
Bangkok’s most highly acclaimed and cutting-edge cocktails can be found at a place that’s done away with both an address and a menu. The eponymous mixologist behind this bar is a bit of an institution; he has curated cocktail lists for a handful of top bars around the world (including J. Boroski, Iron Fairies, Ophelia and Dear Lilly in Hong Kong) and calls himself a ‘mixsultant,’ a hybrid between a mixologist and a consultant. Every cocktail is fully personalised based on a style of drink, type of top-shelf spirit, or ingredient. Finding an exact address is a challenge, but hints can be found on the bar’s Facebook page and quick searches on Google will put you pretty close (at the end of an alleyway just before Soi 7 in Thonglor). If and when you find the entrance to the bar, you’ll be transported into a dark, quiet, den-like cave where rows of steel scarab beetles line the arched ceiling, giving a subtle nod to Baroski’s passion for entomology. Drinks are considered to be some of the most expensive in Bangkok (around HK$160), though they’re worth it if you’re looking to take your tastebuds on a truly memorable ride.
Jeh O Chula
For about 40 years, Jeh O was an eatery frequented by locals for its simple boiled rice served with various side dishes. In recent years, the restaurant rose to Internet fame when it took to Instagram to share a photo of its Mama tom yum noodles. Mama brand instant noodles are a nostalgic guilty pleasure for many Thais, and this one dish alone has allowed a timeless establishment to remain popular amongst the online generation. Crowds of eager diners camp out on blue plastic stools for anywhere between 20 minutes to two hours, waiting to indulge in a fiery bowl of instant noodles, which swim in a zesty, thick and creamy tom yum base filled with shrimp, squid, squid, ground pork, two eggs and a handful of unidentifiable but delicious odds and ends. The restaurant is loud and the service is rough, but when you’re a few Singha beers deep and the food is tasty, who really cares? While the restaurant opens at 5:30 pm, their superstar dish is only available from 11 pm until closing at 2 am, making it an ideal late-night meal.
113 Soi Charat Mueang, Khwaeng Rong Muang, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand; +66 64 118 5888
Supanniga Eating Room
Since its inception in 2012, this restaurant has maintained its popularity due to its consistently delicious recipes that have been passed down through three generations within the founder’s family. Sitting in a petite three-story shophouse, Supanniga has a solid reputation amongst locals as being a reliable option for traditional North-Eastern Thai delicacies in a modern setting. At Supanniga, attention to detail goes way beyond the kitchen; splashes of color light up the brushed concrete and brick dining room, dishes are served on chintzy floral Chinaware, and creative Thai-inspired cocktails are poured into heavy-cut crystal glasses. Highlights on the menu include deep-fried medium-boiled eggs with tamarind sauce, deep-fried leaf fish with spicy salad, and the moo cha muang stewed pork.
160/11 Soi Sukhumvit 55, Thonglor, Bangkok 10110, Thailand; +66 2 714 7508
Or Tor Kor
Often ranked as one of best markets in the world, Or Tor Kor is a culinary playground and a must-visit for anyone seeking out fresh, quality Thai produce, seafood, and prepared foods. The market was founded in 1974 by the Marketing Organization for Farmers and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative with the goal to heighten the value of Thai goods, and does a brilliant job of showcasing all the bright flavors the country has to offer. The clean and brightly lit aisles of the market brim with local specialities from across the country, and during the day, benches are set up for visitors to sit and enjoy their market purchases on the spot. The market also has a food court, which is revered among locals for having some of the most delicious local street food in the city. If you’re looking for tasty nibbles to take home, this is your one-stop-shop; choose from a wide selection of prepared curry pastes, spices, snacks, and dried goods.
631 631 Kamphaeng Phet 1 Alley, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
Lin Zhen Xiang
Bangkok’s Chinatown, locally known as Yaowarat, is an enthralling place with a bewildering number of restaurants, street stalls, gold shops, and snack stores. As you walk the neon streets, make sure to stop by Lin Zhen Xiang, a local favourite that sells all sorts of Thai snacks and tidbits that make for tasty souvenirs and gifts to bring home. The storefront is marked by a big red sign featuring the brand’s logo of a pig, the main ingredient in their best seller snacks. Their ‘Mu Yong’ or pork floss, is made of shreds of sweet and salty braised pork flavored with star anise and cinnamon, dry-fried over low heat until crispy. If you’re not into pork, fear not—Lin Zhen Xiang also sells dried fruits and seafood, cookies and crackers.
390 Yaowarat Rd, Khwaeng Chakkrawat, Khet Samphanthawong, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100, Thailand; +66 2 224 5296.