The JT Insider Food Guide: Bangkok, Thailand
We speak to the TV star and international restaurateur Chef Ian Kittichai to find out where to eat in his hometown and what food trends are whetting Bangkok’s appetite.
Three to try
Pad Krapow Gai/Moo: ‘This wok fried holy basil and chilli chicken or pork is best eaten with a fried egg on top and rice. It’s perfect hangover food too.
Pak Boon Fai Daeng: ‘This consists of stir-fried morning glory flowers with chilli, garlic and salted yellow bean sauce.’
Goong Mae Nahm Yang: ‘Grilled sweet water prawns and a sweet chilli or spicy seafood dipping sauce.’
‘Bangkok is such a sprawling city, so it all depends on my mood. If I want to eat street food, I head to Chinatown or Sukhumvit Soi 38. If I want a river view, I head to Charoen Krung Road, and if I feel like mixing it up by hopping between restaurants and bars with a variety of different cuisines, I go to the Thonglor area.’
Blow-out dining experience
‘Go to Water Library in Thonglor for the chef’s tasting menu.’
Water Library, The Grass, Thonglor soi 12, Sukhumvit 55.
Authentically local dining experience
‘Try the street food in Chinatown or Sukhumvit Soi 38. I also highly recommend checking out some wet markets for their produce, such as Wongwian Yai market, the Or Tor Kor market opposite Chatuchak market, and the famous Khlong Toei market.’
A lazy Sunday hangout
‘I like to go to Hyde & Seek Gastro Bar, Namsaah Bottling Trust in the evening, Smith for nose-to-tail dining and the homey Quince Eatery & Bar, plus of course there’s my place Issaya Siamese Club, which has a beautiful garden to relax in.’
Hyde & Seek Gastro Bar, 65/1 Athenee Residence, Soi Ruamrudee, Wireless Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan. Namsaah Bottling Trust, Silom Soi 7. Smith, ? Soi Sukhumvit 49 (Klang), Sukhumvit Road, Klongton Nua Wattana. Quince Eatery & Bar, Sukhumvit Soi 45. Issaya Siamese Club, 4 Soi Sri Aksom, Chua Plaeng Road, Sathom.
A scenic spot
‘If you want to sit in a garden, go to Issaya Siamese Club or the British-style Agalico Tea Room. For skyline rooftop views, I like Sirocco at Lebua State Tower or Vertigo at the Banyan Tree Hotel. For a riverside ambience, go to the classic Verandah restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental or Chon Thai Restaurant at The Siam hotel, which is beautiful.’
Issaya Siamese Club, 4 Soi Sri Aksom, Chua Plaeng Road, Sathom. Agalico Tea Room, 20 Sukhumvit soi 51. Sirocco, Floor 63, Lebua State Tower, 1055 Silom Road, Bangrak. Vertigo and Moon Bar, Floor 61, 21/100 South Sathon Road, Sathon. The Verandah, Mandarin Oriental, 48 Oriental Ave Alley, Bang Rak. Chon Thai Restaurant, The Siam, 2 Khao, Wachira Phayaban, Dusit.
Latest food trend
‘In Bangkok people are becoming more interested in the farm-to-table movement and nose-to-tail dining, as well as wine and cocktail-focused bars. People are interested in a more modern style of Thai dining.’
A chef worth checking out
‘I would definitely recommend David Thompson at Nahm. I’ve known David for over 20 years and he’s a passionate and dedicated chef, as well as a Thai cuisine expert. Look out for Peter Pitakwong at Smith, whom I have known for more than 10 years and worked with in both New York City and Bangkok. Haikal Johari at Water Library in Thonglor is bringing fine dining to a global level in Bangkok, with his presentation, techniques and creativity.’
Taking culinary classes
‘I have actually recently opened Issaya Cooking Studio, which is meant to cater to anyone from beginner cooks to professional chefs, with daily classes as well as more extensive programs in Thai cuisine, cooking techniques, desserts, pastries, and international cuisine.’
Issaya Cooking Studio, Level LG, 1031 Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan.
Celeb chef Pongtawat Chalermkittichai, known as Chef Ian Kittichai, began his culinary career by training in London and Sydney, and working his way up through the kitchen ranks in Bangkok, Paris, the US, Spain and Tokyo. As the world’s first Thai national to become the exec chef of a five-star hotel, The Bangkok Post dubbed him “The Golden Boy”, after which he began hosting a weekly cooking show, now aired in over 70 countries. A stint in New York resulted in the opening of his first New York restaurant, which found its way onto the pages of publications like Vogue and The New York Times. He subsequently opened restaurants in Spain, Bangkok, India and Abu Dhabi, as well as adding more venues to the New York dining scene. Additional projects include launching his own cookbook, co-creating the red wine Lamoon with Jacob’s Creek, becoming a permanent fixture on the Iron Chef Thailand TV show, and co-founding The World Street Food Congress with Anthony Bourdain, KF Seetoh and Claus Meyer. His restaurant Issaya Siamese Club came in at number 31 in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 awards, and he has just announced the opening of Issaya Cooking Studio. The remarkable chef is soon to release an Issaya pastry and dessert cookbook.