Many conversations in Bangkok invariably end up in debates over the merits of this or that noodle shop, where to get the best deep-fried pork rinds, and whether a good tom yum soup still really exists. This is because food — on par with music, dance, and art — is one of Thailand’s most celebrated cultural pursuits. Many Thais are fiercely protective of their cuisines and judge chefs and cooks by a high standard. To flourish in a city like Bangkok, a successful eatery must be truly very good.
The capital is undergoing a renaissance of sorts following the depths of the pandemic. Traditional hotspots in the central business district are starting to stir, while a renewed sense of life pervades some of the unlikeliest places: down the alleyways of Chinatown, in Thonburi across the Chao Phraya River from Bangkok, and on the eastward fringes of nonstop sprawl. From a cantankerous street vendor slinging traditional fermented tofu noodles to a Michelin-starred temple of gastronomy making fish roe-encrusted crab leg lollipops, an accurate blueprint to great dining covers every corner of the City of Angels.
Chawadee Nualkhair is a Bangkok-based food writer whose cookbook, Real Thai Cooking, will be out in 2023.Read More