BEST BANGKOK RESTAURANTS
This critique of restaurants predominantly covers the Sukhumvit area and a couple of restaurants in Kanchanaburi, River Kwai area.
The criterion utilised throughout the survey is based on several factors:
a. appearance and cleanliness of the restaurant,
b. friendliness of the staff,
c. Speed and attention to detail,
d. The Selection/variety of food
e. The quality and quantity
f. The decor,
g. Cost and whether it was value for money.
I surveyed 14 restaurants during my seventh trip to Thailand whilst participating in a 5 day Thai Cooking Course at the Landmark Hotel, to hone my appreciation for Thai foods, preparation, cooking, table placement and the like. I have worked as a chef a number of years ago and have lived in SE Asia for 6 months, a few years ago. Here are my findings from 14th place to number 1.
Name: Jade Pavilion Hotel Restaurant
Address: Bottom Floor, Soi 22, Jade Pavilion Hotel
Comments: OK. Nothing special. I found the service painfully slow. Did not have a voucher, just wanted to dine (breakfast) and found it frustrating without a voucher which slowed proceedings. Large variety of cooked eggs, toast, coffee was luke warm. (For coffee lovers you just cant walk past Starbucks in Sukhumvit near Soi 10, about 75B, for a large cuppachino but piping hot and if you close your eyes and hold your nose you could be anywhere in the world. Highly recommended - but I do digress.
All you can eat buffet which is good. You are paying for convenience at this hotel.
Cost: 250B per person. A tad on the expensive side. Again convenience dining. Not worth the money. Better value elsewhere.
Name: Doesn't have a name. One of those family owned, open air, side walk setups along any Soi that you walk down.
Address: This 'restaurant' was down Soi 22, outside the Regency Park Hotel, directly outside Argo Travel and Cargo.
Comments: Main/Specialty: Thai Soup. The dishes are cleaned in buckets of water, how frequently is the water changed? No sign of refrigeration for the meats, however little signs of flies and annoying insects. Speed of service is lightning. It helps at these places to speak some Thai as generally the understanding of English is low. It's different, it's what the locals do, the family working the 'stall' did not appear to be wealthy, plastic chairs and tables with condiments: fish sauce, roasted peanuts, chilli, sugar and dried chillies. Delicious food, quick service and very cheap.
Cost: 30B. Definitely value for money.
Name: Fish and Chip Restaurant
Address: Soi 23 Sukhumvit
Comments: Main/Speciality: Fish and Chips. Very small inside. Hot when waiting for takeaway inside near the service area. With the humidity outside, poor aircon inside plus the fryers boiling, one works up a sweat by standing in the one spot. Painfully slow service. Didn't seem the cooks were well versed in cooking this type of food, which stands to reason. I ordered chips and fish cakes. Fish cakes came from a freezer, from within a frozen 'supermarket' packet and tasted like cardboard. No salt - yuk. The chips were oily and soggy and again no salt. It didn't help being served in a polystyrene container, it aided in the sweaty product inside. No hamburgers (American or Aussie style), no Spring or Chiko Rolls, most other things in 'normal' fish and chip shops they attempted to emulate. Heart warming to see a Fish and Chip Shop nonetheless. Tip - go to Seven Eleven and buy a big bottle of Ketchup (Tomato Sauce) to drown this stuff in.
Cost: 120B for chips and fish cakes. Reasonable if the food was good. I wont come back.
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Name: River Kwai Hotel Restaurant
Address: Sangchuto Road, Kanchanaburi. (About 300 metres from Allied War Cemetery)
Comments: Main/Specialty: Thai and Chinese cuisine.It was a little dark inside for some reason - saving on electricity? Had 'booth' style seating arrangements with tables. Food took awhile to come out. Just satisfactory for Thai standards; they didn't seem interested in serving/waiting. May have been a bad day - we all have them! Good selection of foods.
Cost: 450 baht. Entr?e and mains for two plus 3 Chang Beers. Thought it expensive for what we had. I wont go back.
Name: Baan Bier Garden
Address: Soi 22 (Opposite Raan Derm Restaurant)
Comments: Main/Specialty: Thai food (Some international)
Beer garden atmosphere. Could spend some time here, good ambience. Wooden type benches (bit hard on 'rear' after awhile) Very very quick service - (All the popular dishes)
Cost: For entree and main meals and the alcohol, (two standard beers and two cokes) for two - 350 Baht. Very much value for money. Great service, good food. I believe this area of Soi22 may have come under the guise of the go go scene, it may or may not be still in existence. (The trip is not a waste - directly over the road is a fantastic restaurant - Raan Derm; you will hear of this restaurant later in the rankings).
Name: Took Lae Dee Restaurant
Address: Soi 5 inside the Foodland Supermarket (Opposite the Amari BLVD Hotel)
Comments: Main/Specialty: Thai, other Asian Foods and American
If you have dined in a big department store before, sat at a counter on bar stools and watched the chefs in front of you - then this is for you. Very busy restaurant. Excellent choices. All the popular Thai dishes. If you are at a hotel that charges and arm and a leg for breakfast; come to Took Lae Dee for breaky - 55 Baht for an American Breakfast, with all the normal trappings. Fried, eggs, sausages, toast, bread, orange juice etc. This is 200 baht cheaper than the breakfast I had at the Jade Pavilion Hotel. Certainly give this a shot if you haven't breaky included in your hotel stays. Little arm room for a big farang!
Cost: 210 Baht. Certainly value for money. Will return. Good, quick and cheap.
Name: Thai Ruam Rot (Translates to: 'Bring Together').
Address: Soi 1 Sukhumvit (100m down from main road)
Comments: Main/Specialty: Thai, Mexican and International.
Looks very 70's, could do with a makeover. Reminds me of an old cafeteria; abit dingy.
Cost: Had prawns with noodles, rice, chicken curry and water (for 2): 180 Baht. Excellent value.
Name: Tip Top Restaurant
Address: Patpong, half way down the Soi.
Comments: Main/Specialty: Thai and American
It is in the middle of Patpong night market, heaps of ambience - this is where I like this restaurant. Go-go bars on either side, hawkers and touts offering their trade, market people batering with farangs, heaps of smells, colour and vibrancy directly outside the restaurant door; perfect for a Patpong escape, if the touts and hustle of the go go's is giving you that smothering feeling. Great acting aircon.
Cost: Only 300 Baht for two. Good dishes and value for money. This restaurant's charm is the fact that it resides in Patpong and is a good escape for a 'coldie' and something to eat; anywhere else and I probably wouldn't go back.
Name: Seafood Palace International
Address: Sukhumvit SOI Nana 24 (Adjacent Asok Station)
Comments: Main/Specialty: Seafood done Thai style.
Simply outstanding. Gorgeous artwork adorning the walls with sensational gold framing. Beautifully set out restaurant, perfect looking tables and chairs, there's even a grand piano.
Detail was fantastic - the vegetable 'cutting' for decoration was sensational. Excellent selection of lobster, crabs, prawns, Tiger Prawns, scallops etc. You choose everything you want, which includes a vast array of seafood, you even choose the vegies that you want. The best seafood I have had in Bangkok.
Cost: 2,600 baht. Some might say pricey, yes! This depends on your outlook. In Australia these dishes would have been around the 5000 baht mark all in all, so on the whole, expensive for Thailand but if you want a classy night out with great seafood - go for it. (Avoid the wine - it is severely overpriced; a Jacobs Creek Australian wine that is usually AUD$8.00, was around AUD$65 - OK it's imported). A special occasion restaurant for most people. Careful for 'Bring your Own' wine it is 300 baht corkage!
Photo: Seafood Palace
Address: At the base of the Bridge Over the River Kwai - Kanchanaburi
Comments: Main/Specialty: Thai Food. It is next to the Bridge Over the River Kwai - what more can you ask for? Night time is the best for views of the Bridge with all the fairly lights attached - looks excellent. Plastic chairs and tables. Floating on a pontoon adjacent the bridge - would not visit this place except for it's location. This rates it high in the pecking order.
Cost: 135 Baht for two (No alcohol bought) This is very cheap. Certainly will return - it's at the Bridge!
Cabbage & Condom Restaurant
Address: Sukhumvit, Soi 12
Comments: Main/Specialty: Thai. Very nicely laid out - Eat in or outside - no they are not balloons on the walls. Condom photos everywhere, with lots of condom paraphernalia adorning the walls etc. (Started by the Minister for Family Planning (Khun Mechai) several years ago to heighten the awareness of safe sex) Heaps on offer with an English Menu. This is an enticing restaurant - it welcomes you from the Soi; the ambience is quiet and the decorations 'interesting'. The check/bill came with a condom. Nice touch!
Cost: 800 Baht. Entrees and mains for two with beer. OK value. Would certainly come back for an evening meal.
Nipa Thai Restaurant
Address: Landmark Hotel (3rd Floor), Sukhumvit (Opposite Soi 5) (E3 on the Skytrain)
Comments: Main/Specialty: Thai. Beautiful restaurant. Three girls playing traditional Thai instruments made the atmosphere enchanting. Tables and chairs and general place settings were well appointed. Very easy on the eye. Beautiful carpet and pleasant general Thai style decorations and fittings. Very quick service.
Cost: 1000 baht for two which included, entrees, mains and several beers. Definitely would return. Should have saved a bottle of Aussie red for this place - they would make a killing in any major city in Australia.
The Old Siam Restaurant
Address: Soi 23 Sukhumvit - near Soi Cowboy
Comments: Main/Specialty: Thai . Old word charm. It gives me the appearance of what Thai Restaurants of this class would have looked like in years gone by - this is really a time warp when you step inside. The place is dark, the pictures on the walls are of Thai Royalty of a bygone era, the light fittings look like antiques along with the choice of sitting at comfortable chairs and tables or on the floor - Japanese style. The inside roof is the thatched (Atap) type roof and they play 'old' type Thai music that fits with the d?cor. If you like ambient restaurants with local antiquities and flavour - this is for you.
Cost: 410 baht. Very reasonable. Will return. Great looking Ranaharn (Restaurant)
Raan Derm Restaurant
Address: Sukhumvit Soi 22
Comments: Main/Specialty: All Thai. Simple but good looking and very contemporary. It has a spiral staircase that leads to the second floor dining area - be careful as it is steep. Overlooks a busy Soi; very private type dining with everything that you need. Artwork on the walls are for sale. 10 Page menu - all the favourites. Try the Paneang Curry - this is exquisite.
Cost: About 250 Baht for the normal entree's and mains, plus a beer each for two.
Great value, good quick service, great tasting food with a no hassle atmosphere. Love it. Returned several times to this place.