Right after my annual dinner for my uni mates, me and the girl flew off to Bangkok for 5 days. It was a chance to unwind by ourselves and there’s not many better places than Bangkok, where a dollar takes you pretty damn far. So cue shitloads of shopping and eating and bits of sightseeing. We did some of the usual shit, like visiting temples (Wat Po) and traipsing up and around the Siam area not to mention join the throngs at Chatuchak.

Before I left, I tried a little to find out where to go and particulary where to eat. Previously, I didn’t have the most spectacular dining experiences in Bangkok. I do remember sharing an excellent pomelo salad with my mom and some lightly steamed fish with chilli and lime plus a few other odds and ends but I was young and didn’t know better. So this time, I thought I was gonna try to find something “good”. Of course, most of the best food experiences in Bangkok are probably street food. The information available on specifics though, is scant, or at least I was a little too lackadaisical to scrounge on google in the 3 or 4 hours before my flight.

I did find a few higher end restaurants and was particularly taken by a place called Bo.Lan. It’s run by a husband and wife team who used to work with David Thompson so I was hoping that it’d be a good barometer of a modern Thai restaurant that focused on local produce. Of course, I went on Monday night, when they were closed, so we went somewhere else.

We ended up at this mansion of a restaurant with bean bags and a bar set in the hugeass front lawn. The menu was some mod-Thai fusiony shit that mostly had me worried. Ultimately we had a decent pomelo/prawn salad, some BBQ Pork Ribs and a strange croquette version of Massaman curry. The food was ok but I certainly left wishing I’d spent my time in some roadside shithole instead.

I also spent an afternoon at an upmarket cafe in Siam Paragon. I’ve been twice before and had enjoyed myself but it was 7/8 years ago. I guess my palate’s changed a lot or the place has got worse. The menu though, is curiously pretty much exactly the same. I had like a ravioli dish that was all broken and overcooked but worst of all, overseasoned. Again, I wanted to move for upmarket food and got punished by the food gods.

Thankfully, my entire trip didn’t involve getting super disappointed spending loads of money in Bangkok. The best meal I had in Thailand, ever, was probably the night we went to On Nut night market. It’s a small night market and pretty local, with a smattering of shops selling clothes and shit and also an adjacent food center. There were a fair few sleazy white guys chillin’ with some Chang beers and shit but I think most people were local.

The first thing I saw was this awesome budget version of an Anti-Griddle. This girl was like making some kinda cold dessert on a freezing cold steel plate thingamajig. I actually forgot to give it a go but I remember thinking that Grant Achatz and Polyscience might’ve ripped Bangkok off. Anyway, we did have some nice fried chicken. It’s almost requisite for me to eat fried chicken regardless of where I am. The only place that doesn’t have a lot of a good fried chicken is Sydney and I live there so maybe that’s why. After that little snack, we watched as this lady batch cooked a massive amount of Pad Thai. Her trick involved frying prawns in oil first, turning the oil bright red. This prawn infused oil then becomes the basis for the flavour of the Pad Thai and it’s only effective with a massive batch of prawns. Anyway, we also noticed the crowd that was waiting and the ticket system for orders and promptly put ours in. It was a bit of a wait but for 40Baht, it was fucking awesome. We also shared some salt roasted whole fish, Pla Pao, which came with lettuce, nam jim and herbs. The accompaniments were unexpected but hugely welcome because you make a little wrap and the mint and basil just pops in your mouth with that bright acidic and spicy dressing. The other thing we ate was a earthy, peppery version of a seafood glass noodle sala, Woon Sen Talay which was again, cheap and good. The balance of flavours was just superb and overall, I had an excellent meal with a few beers for like less than $10 or something stupid like that. I was stuffed.

Chatuchak also turned up some good food offerings. We had this chicken soup noodle for lunch which was good but it was really the snacky shit that got me. I really regret not buying a bag of roast pork belly to chomp whilst I was shopping. I’ll readily admit that the Thai’s have a very strong roast pork game and I’m Cantonese. I did have an excellent scoop of coconut ice cream with peanuts and glutinous rice. You actually get to pick 2 toppings from a range of sweetcorn, coconut jelly, atap chee and more and it’s served in a coconut shell too. It’s also easy to find anywhere. My best drink in Thailand was a big cup of iced milk tea from this old lady who took her time, making each cup to order. The tea was sweet, as is standard for Thai tea but it was also a very good, strong cup that packed in the flavour.

I also enjoyed myself immensely at Or Tor Kor market. Located next to Chatuchak, this is where rich Bangkokians come to shop for food and whilst it’s nowhere near the size of Tsukiji, it’s still really nice to visit and not particularly touristy. When we went, it was maybe a slow day/time but there was lots of space to browse the myriad vegetables, dry goods and shellfish. There was loads of shit I’d never seen before like Bael fruit or Roselle, which is commonly used to make drinks in Thailand. Some stuff I still don’t know about. I highly recommend a trip here because the food court looks awesome and just getting to ogle good fresh produce is a dream for anyone who likes food. It’s also a great place to take photos.

Two modern/trendy spots I did enjoy were Mango Tango in Siam Square and Mr Jones’ Orphanage in Siam Center. The former serves mango with sticky rice and related shit. The menu is just a mish mash of the same repeating ingredients in different orders. I got a platter with mango, rice, pudding and ice cream. It was good but I really just went because I passed by it and basically the place was teeming with tourists waiting in line. Mr Jones’ on the other hand, is a whimsical and ultra girly cake shop replete with ridiculous decor like army men fringing the booths and wooden gears hanging off a low ceiling or teddybears and toys and whatnot all over. The cake selections include classic American style shit like red velvet cakes or more modern oreo cookie cakes and shit. You also get your water in little enamel mugs. It’s not particularly the most impressive gourmet experience but it certainly feels fun having some cakes in a ridiculous setting. It’s just got this Thai sense of style/humour going for it.

I’m sure I hardly skimmed the surface when it came to the food scene in Bangkok. I’m convinced that there’s plenty of places that are amazing. If Sydney has awesome eateries like Chat Thai, Spice I Am, Home and House just to name a few, then Bangkok would surely have more than the few places I randomed onto. Perhaps I’ll be rewarded more generously next time if I do a little more homework but regardless, I did learn one important lesson in Bangkok. Spend less, not more.

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