Bangkokâ€™s Best Restaurant Awards 2OO9-1O Bangkokâ€™s Best Dining and Entertainment Awards are back! For the past two years, we have not presented awards to the best dining and entertainment venues in Bangkok. Why? Sadly, political and economic conditions made it unrealistic to give awards when businesses were cutting corners and simply trying to survive. It wouldnâ€™t have been fair, especially to those outlets hardest hit by the uncertainty. Fortunately, like most businesses in town, the consistent performers in the restaurant and entertainment industry survived and are now looking forward to better days. 6
Conditions have now improved to the point where we can once more start awarding venues in the city for being ‘the best’ in their category. This year, we are making the announcements of winners in each of the category in the January and February issues of Bangkok Best Dining & Entertainment. Hopefully, conditions will continue to improve so that we will once again be able to make the announcements at a gala event which many in the industry await with great anticipation. We have seen a sense of optimism returning to the dining scene and like most people in town are keeping our fingers crossed!As most of you probably know, the Bangkok & Best Dining Entertainment awards are decided by votes cast by the readers of our magazine. This has not changed and during the past couple of months we been have carefully compiling the results. Teams of our writers visited the nominated venues in each category to experience the food and atmosphere so that we could describe the ‘flavor’ of each venue. The results will produce some surprises and controversies; thankfully decisions are solely based on the votes received. Here are the winners for the Bangkok Best Dining & Entertainment Awards for 2009 & 2010 Venues Reviewed By: Michel Moore Laurence Civil Rachael Gill
New York Steakhouse JW Marriott Bangkok, Sukhumvit Soi 2 02 656 7709; www.marriott.com
One is greeted with a warm welcome at the door upon arrival at New York Steakhouse; the cocktail bar on the left where they serve 19 martinis all vigorously shaken to order on request, the perfect start to the night. The feel is very masculine, the black high backed armchairs reminiscent of a private club are spacious; the table space is wide, deep and generous. The silver long horn cattle head is the signature of the restaurant, tastefully displayed in the door handles. The ambiance is completed by framed black and white photos of the New York skyline and the unforgettable voice of Frank Sinatra. Prior to each course being served the appropriate cutlery was laid minimizing clutter on the table. Likewise, each dish was announced and explained as it was placed in front of us. The service team has an unfaltering commitment to serve, making this a dining experience that exceeds expectation yet importantly is comfortably delivered with confidence. New York Steakhouse represents the best of the great American steakhouses.
Millennium Hilton 02 442 2000; www.Hilton.com/Bangkok Prime, at the Millennium Hilton offers multiple dining experiences and is the only steakhouse with a river view; on arrival there is an elegantly casual lounge for pre-dinner drinks. A culinary experience not to be rushed amid beige wing back armchairs, the place settlings are generously sized with simple yet stylish cutlery. Each table is cleverly lit from over head with darker areas separating them. The service teams in their leather look aprons provide a positive well-trained service with very sound product knowledge. Dinner started with a seafood tower, two tiers of crushed ice with seafood prepared to slide out of their shells. The soup was served in two stages; a bowl with mushrooms over which a light cream sauce was poured. The signature Steak Tartar was prepared tableside followed by the meat course, their steak knives cut through the meat as if it were butter. We finished dinner with Chocolate fondant and vanilla ice cream. Prime lives up to its name, an up market contemporary restaurant that is all about the best.
Bourbon Street Restaurant & Oyster Bar Washington Square, Sukhumvit Soi 22 02 259 0328/9; www.bourbonstbkk.com Owner Doug Harrison, a native of New Orleans, serves some of the finest Cajun Creole food found this side of Louisiana at his Washington Square restaurant. Bourbon Street is a casual, laid back sort of place, where good food and a good time are everyone’s priority. Signature dishes include Blackened Red Fish, Gumbo with Chicken and Adouille Sausage, Red Beans and Rice and some great Jambalaya. Grilled steaks, barbecued ribs and selected Mexican dishes – Tuesdays are Mexican buffet night – also play a big role at the restaurant. For those not interested in a full meal, there are a variety of sandwiches served, including a Po-Boy on French Bread. Made with Italian sausage and sautéed onions and peppers, it elevates the humble sandwich to a new level. The restaurant opens at 7.00 (great breakfasts!) and remains open until late. 11
Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok 02 236 7777; www.shangri-la.com It is difficult to conceive of a more attractive place to dine. Located at the riverâ€™s edge with dramatic views of life on the Chao Phraya River from 237 al-fresco seats and 188 seats in an air-conditioned dining room, dining at NEXT2 is always a memorable event.
Serving Bangkok's famous buffets in a prime riverside setting, the new NEXT2 features an extensive market-style spread of various regional cuisines with Continental and Asian a la carte menus also available. There are numerous interactive cooking stations with diners able to interact with chefs and watch their food being cooked a la minute. The buffet prides itself in its ethnic variety, the scope of its offerings and the freshness of its ingredients. Perhaps more than any major buffet in town, NEXT2 has a large selection of Indian, Middle Eastern food and vegetarian delights. The chefâ€™s Indian Spice Market station features a host of Indian dishes including some made in the onsite tandoor oven. Special mention needs to be made of the Sunday brunch. In addition to a fabulous selection for adults, there are kid-friendly dishes, special activities and shows to keep the kiddos occupied while mom and dad enjoy themselves. Open daily for both lunch and dinner. 12
JW Marriott Bangkok, Sukhumvit Soi 2 02 656 7709; www.marriott.com
The décor is contemporary, dark wood square columns, inset with framed silk panels, understated elegance. Generously spaced dark wood tables with almond color upholstered armchairs. The food service station was well thought out, functional yet neatly laid out. It was made up of a horse shoe of marble topped counters; in a square counter with chefs preparing and serving hot items and a bank for desserts. On the far wall are induction plates with gravy based Thai and western dishes warm in cast iron casserole dishes. Caesar salad from New York Steakhouse is tossed to order, a wealth of seafood tantalizingly sitting in a bed of crushed ice; a selection of marinated fish, freshly carved choice of two roast meats beef and lamb, rapidly becoming the new beef here, a Japanese counter, a selection of freshly baked breads and imported cheese; finishing with a sea of temptation on the dessert counter. Marriott Cafe is known for its daily breakfast, lunch and buffet dinners with the best ingredients being put to use.
Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok 02 254 1234; www.bangkok.grand.hyatt.com
The Dining Room at Grand Hyatt Erawan is located in the hotel lobby, combining casual elegance and comfort. The buffet tables are laden with an array of international dishes, however, there is a special emphasis on Asian favorites. They offer a selection of four to five different varieties of roast meats and fish carved on request, with a full selection of condiments, sauces and gravies on the counter. To finish, a decent selection of desserts are on hand plus a cheese platter that is worth a visit. Moreover, besides the extensive buffet of Thai and international favorites, an a la carte menu is available if required. Every Sunday, an “Amazing K’s Sunday Brunch” is presented consisting of grand buffet dinner menus with plenty of activities for kids. 13
Peninsula Hotel 02 861 2888, ext 6913; www.peninsula.com/Bangkok
Serene, elegant and refined are words that come to mind when describing Mei Jiang, The Peninsula Bangkok’s signature Chinese restaurant. The stylish interior is subdued with lots of earth tones and floor to ceiling windows looking onto greenery and the Chao Phraya River. There are a variety of seating arrangements, including five private rooms. Executive Chinese Chef Jackie Ho, commands the kitchen, a culinary veteran noted for his beautiful renditions of Cantonese-style food. His dim sum is legendary, making a dim sum lunch at Mei Jiang a must. His a la carte menu is equally impressive. A Bird’s nest soup with crab meat we recently tried left us ecstatic; as did Jackie’s Deep-fried crispy snow fish with homemade dried shrimp and chili salt. A favorite with many is his signature Peking duck. Mei Jiang is easily reached by a complimentary shuttle boat from the Saphan Taksin pier. If you drive, there is ample parking at the hotel. 14
Dusit Thani Bangkok 02 200 9000; www.dusit.com Although substantial, heavily carpeted and decked out with white tablecloths and numerous Chinese art pieces, Mayflower has a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere sometimes not found in Chinese restaurants. This feeling is further enhanced by the efficient yet friendly and helpful staff. As is almost always the case in Bangkok, the restaurant specializes in Cantonese style dishes. At lunch many people opt for its delicious and bountiful supply of freshly prepared dim sum. Representative dishes include a variety of shark’s fin and bird’s nest soups; Fried crab claws stuffed with minced shrimp; Steamed pomfret Cantonese style; Barbecued Peking duck; Golden barbecued suckling pig; and Baked pigeon with Cantonese vegetables. For those who enjoy ostrich, there is even a section of the menu devoted to dishes made from the mammoth bird. For dessert, the adventurous should try the scrumptious Braised bird’s nest with coconut milk. This is a restaurant for those who love the finent in chinese foof served in elegant, yet relaxed, serroundings.
Sofitel Bangkok Silom 02 238 1991; www.sofitel.com Located on the 38th floor of the Sofitel Bangkok Silom, this fascinating restaurant has spectacular views and a décor inspired by Shanghai during its 1930s Art Deco heydays. Equally impressive is the food, prepared by veteran Chinese Chef Jovi Kay-Yan Cheng, a dedicated master of his trade. Many come to the restaurant for tasty dim sum at lunch time, especially when the 50+ items are available on an ‘all you can eat’ basis. In the evenings, the mood shifts when the restaurant’s pizzazz and sex appeal take over. Chef Cheng has many standout dishes, but we impressed with his Drunken chicken, Rice cooked in casserole with preserved pork and liver sausage Hong Kong style and a masterful rendition of the always popular Peking duck. Chef Cheng loves to putter in the kitchen so his menus often change, but he takes care to retain dishes that are favorites. Shanghai 38 is one of the city’s classiest restaurants enhanced by panoramic views for an exceptional dining experience. 15
Plaza Athenee Bangkok 02 650 8800 www.royalmeridienbangkok.com Reflexions is celebrated for its creative modern French cuisine as interpreted by
celebrated Chef Thibault Chiumenti. This is an upscale restaurant with a chic Parisian atmosphere, subdued lighting, lots of black and white photographs and a giant screen that is usually showing a Charlie Chaplin movie. The chef always uses the best and freshest ingredients to create his sublimely delicious food that is always as attractive as it is good to eat. He does wonderful things with foie gras and one of his signature dishes is Duck foie gras terrine with fruit chutney and compote of shallots. He is equally adept with fish and his Seared Dover sole on Parmesan crust is sublime. Wine lovers will be delighted to know the hotel and Reflexions was awarded by the Wine Spectator's 2010 Award of Excellence. The Reflexions also hosts monthly wine tasting events and regularly conducts wine dinners highlighting the wines of significant producers. Discover your passion for the unexpected, and savour the subtleties of fine modern French cuisine at The Reflexions. 16
Sofitel Residence, Sukhumvit Soi 19 02 204 2004; www.le-beaulieu.com Perhaps more than any restaurant in town, Le Beaulieu is a reflection of the dreams, aspirations and talents of its owner/chef. Herve Frerard’s restaurant is compact (32 seats) and tastefully decorated in a modern European style. He does much of the cooking himself and is always monitoring what is going on in the kitchen. The result is food that is not only of high quality and unmistakably French, but touched with nuances that reflect Herve’s passion for food. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. At lunch there are set lunches at 495++ baht or 795++ baht. In the evening things become more serious as knowledgeable diners explore the restaurant’s a la carte menu and the ‘chalk board’ menu servers place on a chair adjacent to the table. These items are invariably superb and reflect ingredients that are in season and especially good. Le Beaulieu is where the 200-year-old French culinary heritage is re-interpreted in a contemporary setting.
1217/2 Sukhumvit Road, between Soi 59 and 61 02 714 2112; www.bonjourbangkok.com Bonjour is located in a villa in a small sub soi off of Sukhumvit Road opposite the UNESCO buildings; formerly known as Wang Din Saw or the “Palace of Pencils” when it was the residence of the sister of Prince Bira, the Thai Grand Prix driver from 30’s to 50’s. Therein lies a twist of fate as the current owner Xavier Pierre Olaf Roger Bruzaud-Grille a motor enthusiast himself is also a collector of Prince Bira memorabilia which he has on permanent exhibition in the restaurant’s main dining room on the ground floor. The Bonjour philosophy is based on the pillars of innovation, elegance, professionalism and quality. Their progressive pricing structure is intended to dismiss the myth that French dining is expensive. They use only the highest quality ingredients in their kitchen, 90% of which are imported from France. Chef Bumm, a Thai born Francophile’s cooking style is based on a solid classic foundation with modern culinary innovation and sympathetic cooking that shows respect to the high quality of ingredients without compromise. 17
71 Sukhumvit Soi 26 02 258 4900; www.indusbangkok.com
Indus has many faces, but it is always smart, trendy and downright cool. In the evening soft lighting, rock walls, dark parquet floors and numerous South Asian artefacts, give the main dining room a feeling of mystery and intrigue. The large outdoor dining area is equally romantic and impressive. At lunch, the feel is lighter and brighter and most people choose the a/c comfort of the main dining room. The food here is excellent and the presentations are in keeping with the fascinating surroundings. Their scrumptious menu includes tandoori items, a large selection of freshly baked Indian breads and irresistible curries. Much of the Indus menu has been inspired by noted Kashmiri Chef Sonya Sapru a regular consultant. Open for lunch, dinner and until midnight; it is a great place to hangout for a drink, snack or complete meal. There is adequate onsite parking.
Rembrandt Hotel, 19 Sukhumvit Soi 18 02-261 7100; www.rembrandtbkk.com
This is an Indian restaurant with a touch of elegance as well as food that is sublimely delicious. Located on the Rembrandt Hotelâ€™s 26th floor, Rang Mahal is tastefully decorated in a style reminiscent of Mughal India. Blessed with exceptional views of Bangkokâ€™s skyline, it is great for romantic dinners while watching the lights glitter below as live Indian music plays in the background. At lunch the atmosphere is bright, airy and conducive to friendly conversation. The Rang Mahal features food from northern India, and this means the tandoor oven plays a role in much of what is served. The ovens at the restaurant turn out a wide selection of breads and other delicious items, like scrumptious Tandoori prawns and Tandoori chicken. The Roganjosh Kashmiri is a signature dish that attracts many to the restaurant. Rang Mahal's enchanting main dining room is ideal for a large group and socializing with quiet corners for soft conversations or a bit of romance.
311/2 Surawongse Road (opposite Manohra Hotel) 02 635 7876-7; www.indianhut-bangkok.com
Indian Hut has been on the Bangkok dining scene since 1998. This is no accident. Since its inception it has offered quality Indian food served in an attractive setting with reasonable prices. Located at street level with large windows overlooking the action on Surawongse Road, the restaurantâ€™s interior and place settings are white. All this combines to create a light and airy feeling punctuated with a dash of elegance. Authenticity is maintained by using trained chefs from India and this is demonstrated by the large number of local Indian families that dine here. The cuisine here is primarily from Northern India, famous for its tandoori dishes and its rich and sumptuous curries. Specialties include Tandoori chicken, Rogan Josh, delicately spiced vegetables, Indian flatbreads and more are all available at this popular restaurant. Indian Hut is open daily from 11.00 to 23.00 with ample parking. 19
Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok 02 206 8677-8; www.angelinibangkok.com
Angelini has a contemporary chic atmosphere that is unmatched in decor, lighting and sheer brilliance. Although it is a hotel based restaurant, it is a veteran of Bangkok's ever changing dining scene and endures because Shangri-La commits to the resources necessary to make it a success. Angelini specializes in simple, light and healthy Italian food designed for modern taste with a continued emphasis on delivering authenticity amidst a casual and informal surrouding. This allows patrons to feel Angelini's original soul whilst reveling in its fresh expression. According to Chef Patron/Manager Marco Riva, fresh and wholesome ingredients are what good food is all about and he leaves no stone unturned in sourcing the finest for the restaurant. His menu contains both Italian classics and modern dishes that reflects on his outlook and philosophy. The menu changes every three months giving diners an opportunity to relish in various seasonal specialities with broad appeal and underlying subtle invention. The restaurant aslo has an extensive wine list that constantly evolves to ensure that each visit to the restaurant presents new discoveries. Angelini has stood the test of time through the continuation in the heritage of the restaurant, quality of the products, price strategy and service delivery 20
59, 59/6 Soi Langsuan, 400m from Ploenchit Road 02 252 8108; www.calderazzobangkok.com
This popular restaurant features contemporary Italian food popular with regulars and knowledgeable out-of-towners who appreciate healthy southern Italian food made with a minimum of cholesterol. The three-tiered restaurant is chic with a light and airy feeling created by massive windows and generous spacing between tables. Calderazzo is not a bistro or trattoria; it is a full blown restaurant frequented by well-healed foodies. The homemade pastas and risottos are noteworthy, but so are the desserts, especially the Molten chocolate cake with French vanilla ice cream. Among the main courses, we always enjoy the traditional Osso bucco and the modern and light Grilled barramundi. The wine list is extensive with wines from around the world, a refreshing change from the â€œItalian onlyâ€? policy of many places. There is a large selection of wines by the glass, a plus in Bangkok where taxes on wine are exorbitant. The passion for quality and taste at Calderazzo produces some irresistable dishes.
Sub-soi of Sukhumvit Soi 31, look for sign 02 258 4386; www.enotecabangkok.com Tucked in a small soi just off Sukhumvit Soi 31, Enoteca is an intimate restaurant with a cozy captivating atmosphere and a beguiling charm. The rustic interior is filled with memorabilia, including lots of empty wine bottles. Additionally, there is a beautiful garden with a few tables for those who enjoy dining outdoors. Chef Stefano loves to putter and always has something new plus delicious for guests to try. Signature dishes include the classic Veal cheek braised in red wine and the modern Il Capuccino al nero di Seppia di Massimiliano Alajmo, a blend of hot milk/cream, squid, squid ink, wine, spices and parmesan cheese served in a glass beaker. Wine plays a big role at Enoteca and there are over 300 different Italian labels from which to choose. Owner Nicola, who acts both as a host and sommelier, is always happy to suggest a wine for the food you have ordered. Blessed with coziness and warmth, Enoteca is open only for dinner and provides Italian dining at its finest. 21
Traditional Japanese Restaurant JW Marriott Bangkok, Sukhumvit Soi 2 02 656 7709; www.marriott.com
The Marriott always manages to have exciting restaurants and Tsu is no exception. The restaurantâ€™s appeal comes from the exciting and modern setting that nonetheless communicates that it is Japanese amid the light and imaginative food that is served. The restaurant also features a prominent eight-seat sushi bar with high top tables where you can enjoy a pre luncheon or dinner drink, and snack on sushi. Tsu specializes in fresh quality ingredients; always an important consideration with Japanese food. Most of Tsuâ€™s signature sashimi, for example, is imported by airplane twice weekly from Tuskiji fish market in Japan. It is then stored in state-of-the-art storage facilities. Norio Momoto, the new Japanese Chef at the JW Marriott Bangkok, is a bundle of energy who is seemingly everywhere at once. He has already introduced new dishes to the menu and will soon add more. He has a talent for presenting traditional Japanese dishes in new and imaginative ways without destroying their essential Japanese character. Tsu offers a distinctively classical form of Japanese cuisine in a stunning contemporary interior. 22
33 Soi Sukhumvit 16, opposite Foodland 02 663 2281
An upscale restaurant with an extensive menu, Ten-Sui is for those who enjoy fine dining. The building is modern, but the décor is traditional Japanese with lots of wood and warmth. There is a wooden sushi bar, tables and chairs plus four tatami rooms on the second floor. Managing Director, Yasuyuki Fujii says the restaurant has two personalities. At lunch there is a special menu with both set and bento lunches that are popular with the business community. Prices range from about 450 baht to 1250 baht. In the evening, things change to be decidedly more serious and expensive. It is a time when Japanese executives on company expense accounts come to the restaurant. They expect fine food and extraordinary service. A Kaiseki set meal runs at 2500 baht for nine courses and 3500 baht for ten courses. A la carte items include sashimi platters, eel, nabes, sukiyaki, Matsuzaka steaks and much more. Ten-Sui has onsite parking and is only a short walk from the Asoke BTS and Sukhumvit MRT stations.
Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa 02 476 0022; www.marriottdining.com In 1964 Benihana was founded by Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki at West 56th Street in New York City at a time when most Americans had no idea about the intricacy of Japanese and chefs preparing a meal at the table were unheard of. He innovated the dining experience by blending Japanese cuisine with knife wielding joke telling chefs. Benihana can be found in 17 countries worldwide, the restaurant at Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa is one of two in Thailand; the other being at Marriott Pattaya. The interior is themed on authentic Japanese farmhouse; the food is prepared at the table teppan-yaki style; teppan - steel grill, yaki to broil. The showman element came into the style of service due to the original restaurant being close to Broadway. The chefs would not only cook the food with flair, but also make sure all the different ingredients were served simultaneously. If you are looking for an exquisite show and great fun by individual chefs, then Benihana will prove memorable. 23
Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square 02 209 8888; www.CM2bkk.com
For 14 years CM2 has been at the top of Bangkokâ€™s nightclub scene. One reason for its popularity is the mixture of environments, atmospheres and music it provides. There is a large dance floor where revellers can dance the night away while a live band plays pop, R&B, dance and hip hop tracks. Between sets DJâ€™s spin out an equally eclectic mix of music. To the right of the dance area is a place to prance, listen to music and enjoy cocktails. There is also the B@S bar which opens at 17.00 each day for those who want to drink and unwind while watching sports on 13 screens. You can buy 1 and get 1 free here during happy hours from 18.00 to 21.00 nightly. If you eat or drink here before 22.00, entry to the club is totally free. CM2's huge basement party venue has been d r a w i n g crowds from all around Bangkok's nighlife for years and will continue to do so. 24
Grand Hyatt Erawan, lower lobby level 02 254 1234; www.bangkok.grand.hyatt.com/
Though Spasso was voted into our top three live music venues it is also an Italian eatery. The chic venue works ideally as a elegant restaurant and trendy nightspot, with the dining tables most arched around the perimeters with another section for bands, bars and bravado. Around 10pm, the dining takes a back seat and live music winds up amid Spasso’s adaptation of its second identity as a club. The international bands are first class, international headliners from USA and Canada with the current one being a group called Shades that performs nightly at 10pm with the exception of Sundays. On Sundays, guests can enjoy Spasso’s Sunday brunch and indulge in their extensive Italian favorites such as made-to-order pasta, organic salads from their hotel’s farm, homemade fresh ricotta cheese, pass-around risotto of the day at 13.00 and even take back a souvenir, pasta of your choice to create your own recipe at home.
Victory Monument, adjacent to BTS Station 02 246 5472; www.saxophonepub.com
This place is definitely an institution. It has been at the same location for 24+ years and has always provided the best jazz and blues available by local musicians. The club has spawned numerous musicians who have become well known, including Koh Mr. Saxman. As soon as you enter the door, you get the feeling the music is going to be good. The setting is dimly lit, slightly worn and with lots of dark wood. There are a variety of seating arrangements – bar, tables and an upstairs area overlooking the music below. The live music starts at around 20.00 and lasts until closing at 01.30. There are usually three different groups performing each night; checkout the website to get the latest schedule of performers. The food and drinks are both good and inexpensive. You can eat and drink here for no more than you would spend at any of the city’s numerous pubs and there is no cover charge. 25
56 Soi Ekkamai at Ekkamai Soi 2 02 712 2692-3 www.durtynellysasia.com
Imagination and quality aren’t hallmarks of ‘pub grub’. Durty Nelly’s is a refreshing exception. The cuisine here is styled after what is found in Ireland’s legendary ‘gastro pubs’ and the kitchen is operated by two chefs with experience at The Merchant, a five star property in Belfast. Durty Nelly’s is Irish owned and operated and has the look and trappings of an authentic Irish pub. There is a large outdoor terrace on the main floor, space for private parties on the second and a rollicking sports bar on the third with a pool table, Foosball, darts, shuffleboard, Golden Tee Golf and live sports coverage on multiple big screens. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, menu highlights include a Full Irish breakfast, 12oz Charolais beef sirloin with fries and numerous out of this world fish dishes. There is something for the entire family at Durty Nelly's, head on down and be welcomed for a bit of Irish hospitality and fare.
Centara Grand at Central World 02 100 1234; www.centarahotelsresorts.com
Sophisticated and possessing fabulous views of Bangkok, Fifty Five is one of the city’s most elegant places to dine. Although steaks are its specialty, numerous other dishes are also available. The drinks list is large, but many enjoy a martini prepared tableside by one of the charming servers. The classic gin martini is one of the finest in the city. Fifty Five’s signature dish is the Roasted Wagyu rib of beef, slow roasted on a bed of salt. For those who prefer something other than medium rare, the chef will take your slice and cook it a bit more. There are a variety of quality steaks on offer from Australia and the United States. My Angus beef rib eye from America was cooked to perfection and accompanied by an impressive side of rosemary and Parmesan fries. We ended the evening with a Grand Marnier soufflé marinated, a marvelous concoction. The wine list is extraordinary with something for all pocketbooks. Fifty Five is open for both lunch and dinner.
Sukhumvit Soi 14 at Sukhumvit Road 02 653 3900; www.loscabosbangkok.com
Los Cabos serves Mexican food with a California twist. This means tacos, enchiladas, burritos, fajitas and loads of other dishes along with plenty of Margaritas. If you are not familiar with Mexican food, Los Cabos with its excellent cuisine and beautiful setting provides a wonderful introduction to this vibrant cuisine. The restaurant is housed in an exciting conversion of a Victorian style wooden building that was once the residence the French Ambassador. There is a beautiful garden, terrace and open-air bar, plus an air-conditioned dining room for those who want to escape Bangkok’s ever present heat. Proprietor Robb Vaughn has had years of experience, including long stints in California operating Mexican restaurants. Open daily, Los Cabos is an ideal place to stop for drinks or dining at any time of the day. The arrival of this restaurant has added significant new dimensions to Bangkok’s fascinating culinary marketplace. 27
942/1 Rama 4 Road, on the corner of Surawong 02 236 8010; www.roadhousebarbecue.com/
Roadhouse Barbecue is a three-story American barbecue restaurant/sports bar with capacity for more than 300 customers. After years for cooking and working for other people and as barbecue is his passion, Chef Dana opened this restaurant four years ago. “My vision was to recreate this for customers, the American tastes of their childhood,” says Dana, “The use of different woods and marinates can make a significant difference to the taste of the meat.” Apart from great barbecue they pride themselves on having literally the coolest beers in Bangkok with five domestic and eight imported beers chilled to just below 0˚C; a really cold beer in a warm climate makes all the difference. On the ground floor the restaurant has seating indoors and outside with live entertainment almost nightly after dinner hour, the second floor is another dining room that can be used for private functions or parties and the third floor is their version of a sports bar with plenty of TV screens and lots of games to play. There are a number of reasons to visit for great barbecue items, service, and friendly atmosphere in this classic establishment. 28
Millennium Hilton 02 442 2000; www.Hilton.com/Bangkok
There are two routes leading to 360; the original taking the main elevator to the 32nd floor then climbing the stairs to the bar and; the newest a glass side lift for guests who have dined at Prime and wish to have drinks with a view. Once up at Three Sixty, guests looking through glass panel windows see Bangkok from a difference, the hotel river shuttles look like tiny kratongs gliding from one side to the other. The city looks like a toy model village and the buildings line up in a way that would be unimaginable at street level. There is more to this venue than just being a room with a view, it is home to great American jazz and amazing cocktails, and the two were made for each other. The music massages the mind into the right mood to sip on an extensive range of drinks. One of the signatures is the combination of espresso, Amaretto liqueur, banana and vanilla ice cream; it is as if the dessert, after dinner coffee and digestive have been combined as one and it works so well.
Sukhumvit Road at Soi 33 02 261 0238-9; www.the-londoner.com
Housed in a cavernous room in the basement of the UBC II office building, the Londoner Brew Pub is a combination pub, restaurant and microbrewery. It is one of the largest and most popular pubs in the city. The large restaurant area is on a slightly elevated platform and occupies about a quarter of the room; the remainder is a traditional pub with a variety of seating options. The drinks are what one would find in any pub, plus a selection of brews made by the pub itself. The restaurant menu is larger than typical and includes not only ‘pub grub,’ but a variety of international items as well. All major sports events are shown on Londoner’s numerous flat screen TV’s and large pull-down screen. There are happy hours each day from 16.00 to 19.00 and 23.00 to 01.00. There is free WiFi and free underground parking (4hrs) at the UBC II building. On Friday and Saturday nights, there is also live entertainment. 29
Various Locations www.snpfood.com
Although S&P operates a variety of business ventures, it is best known for restaurants that appear virtually everywhere shoppers gather. The appeal stems from bright and clean interiors, eclectic menus and reasonable prices. Open throughout the day, S&P restaurants offer full service with an extensive menu comprising of cakes, desserts, ice-creams, beverages and complete meals. Although Starbucks might want to argue, many consider S&Pâ€™s coffee to be the best in town â€“ and you gotta love the heart the barista draws in the milky foam on your cappuccino! If you are into baked goods and sweet snacks, there is an ample supply to expand your waistline. Snacks and main courses are usually, but not always, light on the stomach. They include a full range of Thai items, plus numerous international favorites like German style sausages and a full range of sandwiches. Prices at S&P are not the lowest in town, but by any standard for what is received they are e x t r e m e l y reasonable. When shopping leaves you tired and hungry, S&P is always a great place to stop. 30
Various Locations www.fuji.co.th Everyone in town seems to love Fuji. It is hard to find an outlet that is not packed to the rafters with people enjoying the Japanese f o o d served in these ubiquitous blue and gray emporiums with the signature picture of Mt. Fuji. The restaurants are invariably friendly, centrally located, sparkling clean and always reasonably priced. In some ways Fuji is responsible for popularizing Japanese food in Thailand. The chain was started years ago by a Japanese man who had settled down in Thailand. Although the restaurant is in Thailand, the food served remains essentially Japanese, albeit with modern twists that would be found in Japanese restaurants throughout the world. The menu is comprehensive, but includes numerous set meals, a feature that assists those not familiar with Japanese food. Specialities include imaginative sushi, lots of dishes with salmon, noodles, hot plate dishes and a wide selection of light and tasty salads. Fuji's popularity shows the appeal this light and healthy cuisine has for people throughout the world.
Various Locations www.mkrestaurant.com/
Located in virtually every shopping center, MK is the healthiest place in town to eat. You (or preferably a group) sit at a table with a ceramic hot plate in the middle; a server brings a metal pot and fills it with hot broth. Diners then choose from an enormous selection of healthy fresh vegetables, tofu items, thinly sliced meats, minced balls of fish and the like. These are dumped into the broth and cooked in the simmering water. Diners then add some sauce to a bowl, dunk morsels of food into the sauce and then pop it into their mouths â€“ nothing could be simpler. This style of cooking not only minimizes loss of vitamins and minerals, it also involves the addition of no fats or oils to the foods placed in the water. To aid in your quest for healthy eating, MK provides an itemized list of vitamins, minerals and calories consumed! If you are trying to lose weight or control your cholesterol and fat intake, MK is definitely the place to eat. 31
Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa 02 476 0022; www.marriottdining.com A restaurant touched with a feel of tropical intrigue, great views of life on the Chao Phraya River and a unique menu with
Pacific Rim inspired dishes are hallmarks of Bangkok’s permutation of Trader Vic’s, a group of restaurants founded in San Francisco in the 1930s by Victor Bergeron, the inventor of the Mai Tai cocktail. Trader Vic’s is always a great place for a memorable dinner and a tropical drink, but on Sunday at its Sunday brunch, the restaurant becomes a local icon. For many the adventure starts on the converted rice barge that shuttles people from Saphan Taksin pier to the restaurant. At the restaurant a massive buffet of fresh seafood, roasts, salads, sushi, Indian dishes and a host of other items awaits, along with a free flow of wine and beer for 1899 baht or 1599 baht with a signature cocktail or soft drink. Trader Vic’s is open nightly from 18.00 to 23.00; Sunday brunch is served from 11.30 to 15.00. The restaurant is closed on Monday. 32
Thonglor Soi 9, 500m from Soi Thonglor 02 712 9911; www.harvey.in.th Sleek and modern with lots of browns, leather and glass, Harvey is one of the city’s classiest restaurants. As you enter on the right is a bar area with stools and sofas for those who want a pre-dinner drink. The menu features modern, and decidedly upscale, European dishes using the fresh and wholesome ingredients often found in California style cooking. Signature dishes include some of the beautiful salads found in California restaurants and an inspired Wagyu of lamb chops, an encrusted braised lamb served with truffle scented jus. At lunch there are economical set menus available. The wine list is massive, starting with simple wines at 1200 baht a bottle and ranging up to red Bordeaux’s at astronomical prices. You can select your wine from a large walk-in ‘wine cellar’. Open daily for both lunch and dinner, it is located 400 meters from popular Soi Thonglor. There is lots of onsite parking; and if the lot is full, there is free valet parking.
Pathumwan Princess Hotel 02 216 3700; www.pprincess.com Eating Korean food at a hotel restaurant in Bangkok has become synonymous with dining at the Pathumwan Princess Hotel adjacent to the Mahboonkrong Shopping Centre. Kongju – the name means princess in Korean – features a parade of specials and promotions, including set lunches plus buffets. Especially popular are the weekend buffets, a fixture with Bangkok’s Korean food aficionados. In addition to over 50 types of kimchi and other Korean favorites, Kongju is famous for its ‘Korean BBQ’ where diners cook tidbits of meat and vegetables over a charcoal fire and then dip them in a sauce and enjoy. Another ‘cook at the table technique’ popular at the restaurant is to cook meat and vegetables in a cauldron of hot water, popularly known as cooking in a ‘steamboat’. Diners have the option of dining in the main restaurant area or one of its private rooms. Conveniently located, Kongju is great for lunchtime dining or an evening out on the town. 33
South Sathorn Rd at Soi Suan Plu 02 675 4200-1; www.baan-khanitha.com This award winning restaurant is popular, well managed and the repository of lots of great Thai food. There are actually two Baan Khanitha restaurants, but the larger of
the two is the branch on Sathorn Road. It is housed in a Thai style building with several rooms amid a collection of beautiful paintings and artwork. The key to Baan Khanithaâ€™s success is the use of fresh wholesome ingredients, a diverse menu, preservation of traditional Thai spiciness and herbal scents, attractive presentations and top quality service plus hospitality. Popular dishes include Deep-fried sea bass topped with red curry sauce, Imported sirloin steak served with northern style red chili sauce and papaya salad, Steamed snow fish with chili, lime and garlic sauce, Grilled curry mixed seafood in banana leaf wrap and Mango and sticky rice. The restaurant has a large wine list especially selected to match with Thai food. This is Thai dining at its finest where you would feel like home. 34
233 South Sathorn Road 02 673 9353; www.blueelephant.com/bangkok
The Blue Elephant Bangkok is housed in a beautiful turn of the century Sino Portuguese style building that has been masterfully restored. When its architectural charm is coupled with the comprehensive collection of traditional and innovative dishes developed by Khun Nooror Somany Steppe and her cadre of chefs, the restaurant becomes an ideal setting for a memorable Thai meal. The restaurant features attractively priced set lunches; sumptuous set dinners; and an extensive a la carte menu. Signature dishes include Mieng kham, betel leaves filled with roasted peanuts, pieces of green lime, shallots, ginger and caramelized sauce made from palm sugar, galangal, and shrimp paste; Bamboo fish, fillet of sea bass marinated with herbs, grilled in a bamboo case; and Roasted duck red curry with a red coconut milk curry, fresh pineapple, wild lime leaves and organic sweet basil. Be enthralled by a rainbow of tradition and novelties at the Blue Elephant with dishes from the past, innovations for the future plus some of their best memories from their long-standing experiences abroad.
375 Thonglor 19, Sukhumvit 55 02 185 2960-1; www.patarathailand.com
The light at the end of a dark street is Patara; an illuminated palatial mansion set in a lush tropical garden and terrace for al fresco dining. The restaurant has a chic residential feel; a subtle integration of Thai and Chinese design elements with tones of burgundy and chocolate. The tables simply yet stylishly set with white linen, with coffee colored leather covers stamped with the restaurantâ€™s name; understated class. Their essential food flavour elements are drawn from The Kingdomâ€™s four culinary regions, their London heritage gives their dishes an inspirational Thai interpretation. The food presentation is more contemporary than traditional Thai restaurants; however, to enhance the dining experience the taste retains the authentic kick. Patara is fine Thai dining, more than just eating something hot with a bowl of rice; they have an Ă la carte menu plus two set menus paired with Thai wines for two or more guests, demonstrating the levels that can be achieved when flair and creativity has been applied. 35
Sofitel Centara Grand Bangkok, 1695 Phaholyothin Road 02 541 1234; www.sofitel.com
Le Danang is a veteran of the Bangkok culinary scene. It has been serving quality Vietnamese food for several years and authenticity has been assured by always having a Vietnamese chef in the kitchen. The restaurant’s recently remodeled interior looks a bit like a nightclub, a feeling that is reinforced by the existence of live music every evening except Sunday. Highlights include a heavy carpet, stripped wallpaper and imaginative lighting. The food at Le Danang is Vietnamese with French overtones, the kind of Vietnamese food typically found at restaurants outside of Vietnam. Signature dishes include Chao Tom, grilled minced prawns that are molded to the end of a piece of sugar; Cua Lot Rang Me, deep-fried soft shelled crabs, served with a delightful tamarind sauce; and Goi Cua Cuon, Vietnamese ‘spring rolls’ that are made without being deep-fried. Desserts include fried bananas that have been flamed with rum. Le Danang with a 1950's decor reminiscent of French Indochina combines exotic flavors of Vietnamese cuisine with live music. 36
Dusit Thani Bangkok 02 200 9000; www.dusit.com
Thien Duong means ‘paradise,’ an apt description for this charming little restaurant located just off the Dusit Thani’s lobby. Open daily for lunch from 11.30 to 14.00 and dinner from 18.00 to 22.00, it is an ideal place to tuck into signal quality Vietnamese food. Set meals are popular here. At lunch there are two 550++ baht set menus consisting of four courses each plus coffee or tea. Dishes include a smashing rendition of Deep-fried spring rolls stuffed with crabmeat, shrimp and pork and Deep-fried whole flounder fish with toasted peanut served with lemon grass sauce. At dinner there is a five course set menu at 860++ baht and a six-course set menu at 1000++ baht plus coffee or tea with equally exciting dishes. The a la carte menu is very large and includes Vietnamese signature dishes like Fried sugar skewered minced shrimp and the unique Crispy duck served with coffee sauce. Low keyed and relaxing, this little restaurant provides an excellent introduction to the uniquely delicious cuisine of Vietnam.
Sukhumvit Soi 23 02 259 9593; www.ledalatbkk.com
Attractive and loaded with ethnic appeal, the new Le Dalat appears destined to make a big splash on the Bangkok culinary scene. There is a large parking area, a beautiful orchid filled garden and an interior that is a dazzling combination of brick, wood and white stucco. Much of the interior has been moved from the old Le Dalat Indochine, including the cute little ‘Bleu Bar’ and the interesting graphics from the men’s bathroom! The menu is exactly the same as the Le Dalat Indochine, meaning diners can once again enjoy their old Vietnamese favorites like Hue Flute, a mixture of crab meat and herbs that is rolled and delicately fried; Goi Sen, a salad of chicken or prawns and julienned lotus root; and the sensational Cua Rang Me, a whole pan?fried crab that is coated with tamarind paste, spring onions and pounded garlic. For dessert, diners can still revel in the “Dragon Lady Surprise,” a combination of the exotic dragon fruit and rum raisin ice cream. Experience the warm ambience for romanticism at Le Dalat. 37
Banyan Tree Bangkok 679 1200; www.banyantree.com
Others have tried, but no place in town can beat the excitement and exhilaration of drinking and eating at Vertigo & Moon Bar in the open-air 61 floors above solid ground. The adventure is heightened by starting with a
drink at Moon Bar and then retiring to Vertigo for a leisurely dinner. The menu is short with items from the grill predominating. You can choose from numerous appetizers, including salads, seafood, foie gras and the like. For a main course we had 250 gm Australian steak. Cooked as requested, it arrived to tableside under gleaming covers to protect them from the elements. The wine and drinks lists were impressive and the service was attentive without being overbearing. At the end of the day, Vertigo & Moon Grill are about the excitement of drinking and dining on an eyrie overlooking the city. The rush, especially when there is a beautiful sunset, is indescribable. Open evenings, the bar from 17.30 to 01.00 and the restaurant from18.30 to 23.00, weather permitting. 38
The Ascott Sathorn Bangkok 02 676 6982; www.aldosbistro.com
This restaurant cum wine bar is secreted away on the 6th and 7th levels of the Ascott Sathorn Bangkok serviced apartments, making it a perfect escape for wine and food lovers. The interior is modern and filled with wood and lots of earth tone colors. Two of the walls are glass and one of them overlooks a beautiful swimming pool where patrons can also drink and dine poolside or in a private cabana. There are over 120 different wines available, including a wide selection of wines by the glass. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 Aldoâ€™s was honored for having â€˜one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the worldâ€™ by Wine Spectator magazine. The deliciously prepared food has a Mediterranean twist and provides opportunities for lunch, dinner or snacking with a glass of wine. Aldo's serves as a community focal point for after work rendezvous and late evening relaxation.
InterContinental Bangkok/Holiday Inn Bangkok 02 656 0444; www.dining-experience.com The Fireplace Grill first opened its doors 40 years ago and was completely refurbished in 2005. The new restaurant is built around a large open kitchen; the lighting is indirect; there is a walk-in w i n e cellar; and the sounds of jazz can be heard in the background. In spite of being new and modern, the setting is warm, subdued and relaxing, a condition promoted by a friendly staff who often prepares items tableside. Prime rib from Australia and the finest steaks from around the world are featured in all their permutations. This restaurant considers itself primarily a grill so although beef is important, other items figure prominently on the menu, including quality lamb and sparkling fresh seafood. There is a large wine list and numerous wines are available by the glass. The service is exemplary with an omnipresent on site manager and servers who can explain the intricacies of the menu and how the food is prepared. 39
Sofitel Bangkok Silom 02 238 1991; www.sofitel.com V9 takes enjoying wine to new heights. Located on the hotel’s 37th floor, it offers spectacular views along with the most wine drinking options of any restaurant or wine bar in Bangkok.
To start with there is a wine shop where a bottle of wine can be purchased at ‘street prices.’ In addition, as a part of the Sofitel chain the restaurant is involved in the ‘Voyage du Vin’ program that involves evaluating and selecting outstanding wines from a variety of countries for the Sofitel group. Enjoying food while drinking wine is always important as wine is at its best when it accompanies food; V9 makes this simple by providing ‘tasting trees’ of tapas-like snacks. Customers choose from different multi-tiered trees available in a variety of sizes with delightful dishes from around the world. V9 also has a full dinner menu and many stay on for a full meal after tasting some of the wines. This is a wine bar with a difference, offering a fantastic selection of wines at market price by the glass or by the bottle. 40
K Village, Sukhumvit Soi 26 02 661 3944; www.wineconnection.co.th Wildly popular and invariably packed; customers at this outlet of Wine Connection always appear to be having a good time. You select a bottle of wine from the wine shop, sit at a table in the adjacent bistro and enjoy your wine along with a selection of Euro deli style items from the menu. If you do not want a bottle, there is also a selection of wines by the glass. The wines are imported directly by Wine Connection and are usually from little known producers, but of good quality. This results in reasonable prices, a rarity in Bangkok where taxes make wine prices high. The menu is surprisingly extensive and also bargain priced. Deli items, salads, pizzas and pastas are rarely above 200 baht. Main courses like the 290 baht Beef Bourguignon are equally reasonable. Wine Connection is always festive, fun and reasonably priced. Open daily from morning until late in the evening. There is lots of parking in the K Village lot.
64 Thanon Pan, between Sathorn and Silom 02 637 9899; www.wbopus.com If you are looking for a wine bar cum restaurant with class and elegance, this is where you will find it. Opus has taken the drinking of Italian wine in Bangkok to new and extraordinary heights. The interior of Opus is chic and trendy with seating at the bar, at high tables with stools and at traditional tables. The walls are covered with paintings, some of which are extraordinary. The drill here for most people is to walk into the large â€˜wine cellarâ€™; select a bottle of wine with the help of omnipresent manager Alex Morabito; and then order food to match the wine. You can also order wine by the glass, including some reasonably priced prosecco. All of the still wines are Italian and represent a full spectrum of the best Italy has to offer. The food is as extraordinary as the wine and ranges from snacks to main courses. Opus is open evenings only and is best reached by car or taxi. There is onsite parking. 41
BANGKOK’S BEST How They Voted Bangkok’s Best Restaurant Awards 2009-10 were determined by tallying the preferences of the dining masses of Bangkok. The data we receive not only tells us the city’s favorite restaurants, but also provides information about the restaurants themselves and the people who frequent them. The total number of ballots received were 4,340. Summaries of what we discovered are given below. Business people /CEO / MD / Directors Consultants / Professionals / Senior Level Executives
of Voters 9%
Mid Management / Product Managers Sales Managers Hospitality Industry / Diplomatic Corps / Others
Positions Not Specified
Number of venues
selected in each category:
Percentage of voters
responding to each cuisine
Precentage of people filling All the categories 6% Percentage of people filling 8 or more categories 41% Percentage of people filling 4 or more categories 45% Percentage of people filling Less than 4 categories 8% Ballot papers recieived from readers comprised of: Thais 63% Foreigners 37% 43