From steaming curries and fluffy jasmine rice to fresh and zingy salads, Thai food is a fave amongst us Sassy girls! With plenty of authentic restos to choose from in the 852, we’re always in arm’s reach of a Pad Thai or Tom Yam Goong and just a short flight away from the source itself. So, if you’re planning a trip to the capital, read on…
We’ve reached out to founder of Soul Food Mahanakorn, in Bangkok (and sister restaurant to Black Sheep Restaurants‘, Soul Food here in HK), Jarrett Wrisley and asked him (ever so nicely) to impart his local wisdom with us. Unlocking Bangkok’s foodie secrets and using his knowledge of the city, Jarrett shares his picks for the best eateries, alongside insider tips and the recipe for his restos best-selling dish, grapow.
I can’t really choose between these two restaurants; they’re both the gold standard for Thai Food in the world. nahm is, of course, David Thompson’s appropriately famous flagship, and his Head Chef Prin Polsuk has helmed the stove here for years. The food is inspiring, occasionally challenging, incredibly labour-intensive, and very delicious.
Dylan Jones and his wife, Bo (Duangporn Songivsava) moved their restaurant to Sukhumvit Soi 53 last year to a beautiful space, and their kitchen is turning out delicious tasting menus featuring immaculately sourced, organic vegetables and free-range meats and beautiful artisanal Thai products. They also have a casual spinoff, Err, in the old town which is perfect for lunch if you’re exploring the Royal Palace, Wat Pho, and other sites.
Bo.lan , 24 Sukhumvit 53 Alley, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand
Nahm, 27 S Sathorn Rd, Khwaeng Thung Maha Mek, Khet Sathon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10120, Thailand
Err, 394/35 Maha Rat Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
Just across the alleyway from gaggan is Gaa. Gaggan’s ex-Sous, Garima Arora (who also spent time at Noma) is cooking a menu of personal, unusual food that defies expectations. Both technical and deeply satisfying, my meal at Gaa was one of, if not the most, memorable I’ve had in Bangkok this year. So delicious. Just go.
Gaa, 68/4 Soi Lang Suan, Bangkok, Thailand
It’s the peak of fruit season in Bangkok right now, and there’s no better place to wander, tasting samples of delicious Durian, custard apples, rambutan, mangosteen, and (of course) mangoes than Or Tor Kor Market. Located across the street from the sweaty lanes of JJ Weekend Market, Or Tor Kor is probably the best outdoor produce market in Southeast Asia. You can find the best of everything there, and take it back to Hong Kong with you too: coconut sugar, organic rice, curry and shrimp pastes, dried seafood and more. Also, in the rear there’s some decent street food to be found — better than your standard street food fare (though not exceptional, in my opinion.)
Or Tor Kor Market, 139/4 1, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400, Thailand
Recently, friends of mine who run Som Saa (a great Thai restaurant in London) invited me to a private dinner at Bangkok Bold Cooking Studio, located nearby Khao San road in the old part of Bangkok. A table full of Thai cooks were really amazed by the flavours on offer — this team is sourcing incredible product, and the food here is cooked with great care and precision. They accept reservations for groups of 8-15 pax three days in advance only, in a charming, century-old shophouse. Get a group together and go — it’s worth it.
Bangkok Bold Cooking Studio, 503 Phra Sumen Rd, Khwaeng Wat Bowon Niwet, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
The guys at 80/20 have been making waves in the Bangkok scene with their modern take on Thai food, using a sprinkling of modern technique and western plating with the strong flavours of Central and Northeastern Thai products. A meal at 80/20 won’t disappoint, but it’s also a good excuse to explore bangkok’s newest, most interesting area. Around the corner is Little Market (a great spot for a laid-back drink before or after). Nearby is the hottest bar street in Bangkok at the moment, Soi Nana (not to be confused with the sleazy, strip-club laden Sukhumvit one). Nana has a slew of new bars serving craft beers, fancy cocktails, and even traditional Thai music. Worth a wander.
80/20, 1054, 1052 Charoen Krung Rd, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Learn to cook Grapow…
This is one of my restaurant’s best-selling dishes: grapow—a simple street-style stir-fry of chopped meat, tiny Thai garlic cloves, chili, and the pungent holy basil from which the dish gets its name—but made with lamb shoulder instead of the usual pork or chicken. I serve it with a traditional runny fried egg atop a pile of fluffy jasmine rice.
Serves two as part of a meal
- 200 grams lamb shoulder, or any boneless cut of lamb with some fat (leg is fine too)
- 2 to 3 prik chee fah (longer, red Thai chilies) or any spicy chili
- • 3 medium sized cloves of garlic, chopped (or 10 Thai garlic cloves)
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1/3 cup stock (chicken or pork is fine)
- 1 tablespoon good oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- ½ teaspoon dark, sweet soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 handful holy basil leaves (about 30 grams, or 1 ounce)
- steamed Jasmine rice
- 2 eggs
Chop the lamb with a heavy cleaver into a loose mince (it should be almost, but not quite, the consistency of hamburger meat). Pick the basil. Chop the chilies and garlic and have all the sauces ready before you start to cook. This dish happens fast.
Put two portions of steamed rice in small soup bowls and turn bowl upside down on a plate for a neat pile of rice. Then, fry two eggs sunny side up and place the eggs atop your rice.
Heat a wok, with 1 tablespoon of oil, over a high flame until the oil begins to smoke.
Add lamb and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then, turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic and chilies and continue to stir-fry, stirring vigorously to make sure the garlic does not stick or burn for 1 minute.
Add the soup, and the oyster, fish, and soy sauces, and the white pepper powder, and stir.
Raise the heat to high once again, and cook for 30 seconds or until the sauce is thick but not dry. Finish by adding the holy basil, toss in the wok, and place on the plate beside the rice and the fried egg. The rice, lamb, and egg are all mixed together and eaten.