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Roger McShane

Restaurants and food stalls in Bangkok

144 posts in this topic

I am thinking of going to Bangkok for a few days and would like some recommendations for authentic Thai food places. I would like to visit a mix of restaurants and food stalls.

I want to avoid places that have toned down the food to satisfy tourists.

Does anyone have any recommendations please.


Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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Off the front page at http://www.grubshack.com I have reports on Bangkok restaurants and street food. We were only there for six days, but it was the kind of trip where I stopped on the way to lunch to buy pre-lunch on the street. In the rain.<p>It's hard to recommend specific food stalls, so the best advice is to wander around and look for stalls with a long line. The variety of street food in Bangkok is practically infinite, just in the Thai neighborhoods; then you go to Chinatown or the Indian enclave and there's a whole new world of stuff.<p>I will warn you against one restaurant that I didn't mention on my site: the Vijit Restaurant (or VR) by the Democracy Monument served really lousy curry. It could have been a bad day; I didn't want to post a negative review based on one visit, but if you do get hungry by the Democracy Monument, try the Sorndaeng instead, maybe.<p>I'm going to be back in Bangkok next week and will post a whole new restaurant roundup on my site in late September. Watch for it.


Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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I have just had a look at your Grubshack report - it was very useful. Thanying and Cabbages and Condoms were two of the restaurants we were planning to go to.

I agree with your description about Thai food in the US. It never captures the essential salty, sour, sweet flavours that you find in 'real' Thai food.

We tried the food at Arun's in Chicago a couple of years ago and were very diappointed - especially as it had just been nominated as the best Thai in the US!


Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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First of all, a tip of the hat to mamster. I just checked your website for the first time and found it way cool, especially your reports filed from Bangkok. I see you share my enthusiasm for Thanying.

Here are a couple of more:

Celadon

The Sukothai Hotel

13 South Sathorn Road

Understated, minimalist luxury is the watchword here...very zen. Said by many to be Bangkok's finest Thai restaurant, though Thanying gives it a run for its money, IMO. Nevertheless, you'll be floored by the extensive menu, the cool, refined ambiance, and the very discreet service. Unless you order wine (which is uniformly overpriced, another reason to opt for beer), your bill for two will probably not even hit USฮ-40. The rapport de qualité-prix in Thailand, as one quickly discovers, is staggering.

Himali Cha Cha

1229/11 Charoen Krung Road

Like Thanying, within an easy stroll of the Oriental and the Shangri-La, if you happen to be staying at either of these two hotels. This dark, funky cave of a restaurant serves up very decent North Indian food. The lamb vindaloo, for example, will bring tears to your eyes. All in all, far better than you'd expect it to be, given that it's in all the backpacker guides (not always exactly the S.E. Asian answer to the Guide Michelin).

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Thanks David for the info about Celadon - others have also recommended it.

Has anyone eaten at the Spice Market or Bussaracum??

These seem to figure prominently in a lot of the guides.


Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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Well, we have just returned from Bangkok and have eaten our way through a range of restaurants and road stalls. This is a very special food city.

Unlike Singapore which has done its best to eliminate street food and to make everything 'neat', street food culture is still alive and well in Bangkok.

The best restaurant dining experience we had was at Celadon, the worst was at the Spice Market and the place we wanted to go back to all the time was Ton Pho on the river. The food here is very authentic and a nam prik of fermented soy beans was a taste sensation.

A surpise (pleasant) was a very trendy new restaurant in the Emporium Towers on Sukhumvit Road called Kao Gub Kaeng. Even though the restaurant was super cool, the food was uncompromising and very interesting. Well worth a visit.

Possibly the most interesting dish from the roadside was a noodle soup with fish balls, tofu and congealed duck blood that was flavoured with tamarind. The stall is in behind Silom road just off Sala Daeng.

More details about all the places we visited will be posted on foodtourist.com shortly.


Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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There are may restaurants in Bangkok that have received accolades. But do they deserve them?

I think that Celadon is the one that ranks as the best of the best.

Does anyone have a restaurant that would give a finer dining experience in Bangkok??

(There are certainly better dishes such as some of the ones we had at the Ton Po but we are talking here about an overall dining experience.)


Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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Roger, I can't find the post I put up about Baan Chiang in which I said we felt it was the best restaurant we had been to in the week we spent in Bangkok last June. It touts its Royal Palace-trained chefs which may sound gimmicky. I guess it isn't however. This was before e-Gullet was around, so I don't have any notes. We just recall a level of delicacy, finesse, refinement,etc. that was a tad higher than, say, the Celadon which is also a great address. Actually, the three meals we had in former homes were all delicious (Lemongrass, Baan Kanetha, and Baan Chiang.)

My guess is that Thai food hates to travel more than any other and that you would have to spend a lot of time in Bangkok eating in places a few times to really be able to pull them apart. Regardless, it's just a great city to eat in.

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I haven't been to Celadon or Baan Chiang, but I've been to Thanying, Baan Khanita, and Hua Lamphong Food Station.  The ideal of service at top Bangkok restaurants seems to be "throw enough waiters at the problem and it will be solved," and this basically works.  When we went to Baan Khanita we got there early because we didn't have a reservation, and we had about seven waiters for our table.  This was a bit much.

My favorite restaurant in town of those I've tried so far is Hua Lamphong Food Station (I wrote about it on my website), but it's not exactly a fine-dining establishment;  it's more of an urban hideaway that happens to serve miraculous northern Thai food.

Has anyone here been to My Choice on Sukhumwit?  Kasma Loha-unchit raves about it, and she knows a thing or two about Thai food, it seems to me.  It's also a casual place, I gather.


Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Unless I find gainful employment in the next 4 weeks , we are planning on returning to our backpacker roots and heading to Thailand for 5 weeks.

I know the question has been asked before but it seems to me that the answers may now be out of date: Where are the best restaurants in Thailand? They don't necessarily have to be up market, although we would be keen to try something on a grand scale and if they are really good we can make a detour for them (we have no set route in mind).

We will almost definitely be spending time in Bangkok and probably Chiang Mai, before heading South. We may also pop down to Malaysia (east coast, KL and Langkawi) so would welcome recommendations in those areas.

After that we are open to suggestions and please don't warn me about the monsoon, it can't be any more depressing than looking for a decent job in London at the moment !:sad:


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Hi matthew

I have been to bangkok several times and chiang mai 4 times. the funny thing is when i read your mail i suddenly thought where the hell have we eaten.!! As you know with thailand it is often the case that you just stumble accross places not knowing their names...

Anyone last time was in 2000, we went to a french restaurant in chaing mai

called le coq d'or, it was fantastic and so bizzare to be eating fine french food and wine in thailand..Not sure if is still there, was 68/1-2 koh klang rd.tambon nonghoi.chiangmai..

I have always enjoyed the river restaurants in chiang mai, over the main bridge turn left, 2 or 3 places to eat.

our staple for snacks,brekkies,proper bread,cakes,thai food etc is jj bakery

there are two, one nr the tha pae gate(the better of the 2) and one at the night market..We have stayed in various guesthouses and more recently the amari rincome, about 14 each a night(luxury !!) food was ok there.

In bangkok we have spent alot of time around the khao sarn road so have probably ended up drinking rather than eating, we did the tourist thing and went to cabbages and condoms which is fun, food ok..there is also a nice indian at the end of the same soi..

I will keep thinking and check will my fella as he may remember more than me..

have fun, Chok dee !!

P.S just found website

http://www.chiangmainews.com

also bangkok post website has restaurant guide, great paper too

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Hi Matthew

[moderator's note: Material from this post has been removed to avoid copyright violations]

[There] is a recent article by Stan Sesser in the Wall Street Journal (21 June 2002) with recommendations on where to eat in Bangkok.

I live in KL and would be glad to recommend places to eat here. Like Bangkok, KL has great food at a wide range of places, from grungy street side hawker stalls to fancy restaurants in posh hotels. You can also eat out in KL at any time of the day or night - there are many street side hawkers that are open throughout the night.

Unfortunately, I am not as organised as Stan Sesser and haven't the exact addresses of many of these places. We sort of just know them as the place around this and that corner. However, if you could tell me when you'll be leaving for your trip to Bangkok / KL, I'll try to compile a list of places to eat in KL before that date.

WSJ - 21 June 2002

A Bangkok Sidewalk Is a Buffet of Flavor

By STAN SESSER, Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

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I'm going to be in Bangkok for one night at the end of October. Where should I eat? Is the A&W still open?

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If you are interested in food rather than entertainment, try the Vientiane Kitchen. Great, authentic, hot, gutsy northern Thai food. They don't dumb down for farangs!


Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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I've read a number of places that the connections lounge at Narita Airport (Tokyo) has some of the best Udon soup in the country. I have a vague recollection of eating some in 1996, but alas, they were out when I just passed through yesterday.

However, I did have 10 hours to kill in Bangkok airport, so I ate a little.

I started with Pla doong Foo at the upstairs "Silom" restaurant. Better than at Sriphaiphai (the only other place I've had it.) As described eslewhere, this is cooked catfish, shredded and deep fried. The results is a brown, crunchy, almost waferesque texture. The one at the airport was pancake style (as compared with a broken up style at Sriphahahaha), and a little more greasy. However, it exploded with fish flavor that I thought was missing at Sriphahahtatata. Served with an excellent dipping sauce of vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, onion, leek and, of course, chilli.

Tom yum gung. Again, terrific. Harking back to an earlier post about why food in Thailand is different from America -- it's the chilli's, stupid. First, the soup definitely had more of every ingredient -- lemongrass stalks, galanga, kaffir lime, chilli -- along with the shrimp. This is probably avoided in America, because if Americans get a bowl full of inedible stuff (like LG, galangal, lime leaves) they'll probably sent it back (I'm picturing something like the risotto scene in Big Night) or choke to death on a lemongrass stalk. The added stuff, of course, adds the flavor.

But separately, is the chillis. This Tom Yum appeared to have a little coconut milk in the broth to add body, but it had a film of bright red chilli oil on top, and bits of chillis (the little Thai ones -- prik kee nu) througout. Somehow, they managed this without making the soup painfully hot (when I add one chilli to my pots of TYG, it's deadly) -- I assume they removed the seeds. When this is achieved, the chilli's add a surprising piquant, peppery zing that is definitely chilli, but definitely not pain. It's terrific, and missing from most American food.

Disappointing about the airport is that there is one Thai restaurant, and 2 burger kings, KFC, Ginos, etc.

(I snuck into the Cathay Pacific lounge and swiped some auto-brew espresso and parked at their free Internet terminal. I'm getting some leery looks from the folks behind the desk. Gotta go.)

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Hi everyone

I am off on another eating trip to Bangkok. My last couple of trips have concentrated on restaurants - where I had some wonderful and authentic food. Places like Celadon (at the high end), Ton Po, Vientiane Kitchen and Kaloang Home Kitchen were all wonderful.

This time I would like to concentrate more on the best examples of street food. I would like to find the best simmered pork hocks, the best som tum, the perfect 'yam som or' and a killer homok pla.

Can anybody point me to great hawker stalls that they have eaten at in Bangkok?


Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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Hi Roger

Another eating trip to Bangkok - yumm! I had a wonderful eating trip there some years back.

There is a very good simmered pork hock stall at the food court at the basement of Narayana Phand building (the government handicraft centre) on Ratchadamri Road (near the junction with Sukhumvit Road) opposite the World Trade Centre. I remember the pork hock as meltingly tender and infused with the fragrance of the various spices. It's served with blanched choy sum and either rice or noodles.

Unfortunately, we only discovered it on our last day there and were quite concerned that we wouldn't be able to savour it again before going home. There was only one solution for this - we bought take-away simmered pock-hock and rice (plus some som tam too) to eat on the plane!

Am looking forward to a report of your eating trip to Bangkok. :smile:

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Hi Shiewie

I'm beginning to think that if I asked for information about restaurants on Easter Island then you would have been there!!! :biggrin:

I know the area near the world Trade Centre that you metion so I will make sure I go there. And I promise to give a full report on my eating experiences in Bangkok. It's such a wonderful city!

I am very excited that there is now a lot of discussion on this Asian board. For the first couple of years I found it very difficult to get many responses. I was sad because I believe that Asian food is at the pinnacle of world cuisine.

But now it is exciting. We are getting information about all of the great cuisines of Asia on this site.

It is very nostalgic.

In the thirty years that I have been travelling to Asia for my business I have spent time in Singapore (getting to know Singaporean, Indian, Peranaken (love that Ayam Buah Keluak!) and Samsui cuisines. I have worked in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of months revelling in breakfasts of Nasi Lemak and dinners accompanied by hidden delights such as the wonderful tempoyak. In Bangkok I have become addicted to dips made from fermented fish (nam pla ra) and the wonderful hor mok and ma hor and etc etc. I have become addicted to Isaan cuisine and the fabulous fermented sausages.

I must stop. It is easy to start raving about such wonderful food!

Please everyone - keep posting your Asian food experiences. There are so many people who want to know every detail.


Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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I have to put a disclaimer here that it has been a long time since I lived in, or frequented, Bangkok. And hawker stalls are very mobile, so I don't know whether they are still where they were when I last had it.

One of the best Som tums is the hawker stall in Soi Polo. That's the entrance to Polo Club where all the rich and famous belong to. So it's possible that you would see Mercedes Benz and other posh cars stop by the sidewalk to buy some on the way home. Their Gai Yaang (barbecue chicken) was also famous.

Another place that you can also get good E-Sarn food (som tum, laab, and the like) is near Pratunam Market. After the gourmet simmered pork-hocks, you can cross Rajdamnern Street to the other side and walk towards Petchburi road. Cross Petchburi road. The small shop house is located somewhere between that corner and the entrance to the Pratunam market. The portion is small, so you can order many different dishes to try.

It's kind of hard to say where the best som tam is. Most street food with a long queue of locals are good. It's pretty much what you prefer.

I don't know about Hor Mok Pla or Yum Som Or. But there is a popular hawker stall in Soi Ging Petch that make good Yum Naem Sod. The vendor is a rather old lady who enjoys wearing make up. Always looks her best when she opens her shop each day. Her stall is so popular with college kids and young adults. You literally have to stand and wait for up to half an hour or order and come back for it. This food market starts around 4pm or so. Soi Ging Petch is on Petchburi street not far from Siam Square.

Hope all these are still there...

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I lived in Bangkok last yr and still get back once a month or so. Though most travellers to the city know about night markets, few seem to frequent the day markets that serve office workers. One of the best, IMO, is off of Soi Tonson behind the Sindhorn building on Wireless Road (next to the American embassy, across from the embassy consular section). Just position yourself behind Sindhorn and follow the streams of Thais that head this direction at noon. The market is covered and there are a bunch of stalls ---- take your food to one of the central tables (grab silverware near the stalls), and leave your dishes when you are done. One highlight is the khanom jeen (fermented rice noodles - thin and white) with gaeng tai plaa (fish kidney curry), or other types of gaeng. After you get your plate add any of a variety of fresh and pickled veggie condiments. There is a fine rendition of guaytiaow laad naa (choose pork or chicken) at a stall nearby. At a stall almost directly opposite, on the other side of the "room", a woman whips som tam and also a truly tasty fruit somtam that I just can't get out of my mind. There is also a stall selling all types of coconut milk sweet treats, and on some days two women sell young coconut pie. Things are wrapping up by 1:30 so go just before noon to avoid the crowds, or just at 1pm.

There is a similar lunchtime-only setup on Soi Saladaeng (off Silom), BTW.

One of the finest examples of muu yang (BBQ pork) is sold by a guy with a cart at the foot of Soi Tonson at Sukhumvit. He is there later in the day, around 3pm, and he's got 2 types of namcim (sauce) --- pick the dark stinky one, it's deep, fishy, and spicy.

Vendors appear on Soi Thonglo (Sukhumvit Soi 55) right near Sukhumvit around 3 and after. You can take the BTS and walk from the station. Try to sakoo (pork-peanut-dried shrimp "balls" wrapped in soft rice wrappers). Eat them wrapped in the provided lettuce leaves, with a sprig of coriander and a whole small green chili.

Best gaiyang IMO is at an outdoor place on Narathiwat --- have a taxi take you to Soi 24 then walk back towards the river. The first place you get to (1/4 - 1/2 a block) is it. This place is best for dinner. Get gaiyang, somtam, phakbeung faidaeng, namtok beef (a little gristly but great flavor) and if you have room, cimcum (Isaan "hot pot"). You can get a half or a whole chicken. The dipping sauce (not the sweet stuff, the other stuff) is amazing. They also have BBQ fish in a salt crust -- delicious but I can never not order the chicken.

Soi Suan Plu (off of Sathorn) is a great place for street food, esp. Saturdays. Sakoo, grilled bananas, one of the best phad thais (a shortish stout woman .... she offers already-squeezed lime juice, which is great bec I like mine limey). There is also an excellent khanom jeen shop there, across from the market (which has haw mok inside) and down towards Sathorn. Go around 11am-12 noon and their tootman plaa (fish cakes) will be fresh and hot.

Also check out the market *across* from Chatuchak, open weekdays as well as weekends. Get the Nancy Chandler map, it's on there. In addition to the usual fruits and veg, a mindboggling and very tempting array of prepared foods. There are a couple little tables where you can take your goodies to sit down and eat.

This only scratches the surface, unfortunately. On the whole, I think the best streetfood is away from the river area ----- follow Thai crowds at lunchtime and you can hardly go wrong.

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Wow this is tough. I grew up in Bangkok, go back still every couple of year or so, and know the city very well---but explaining how to find a particular street food stand, not that's tough. I know how to get there, but not really in a way that I could describe online here.

I think recommending by area is probably a good way to do it. I grew up in the Sukumvit area, so I can defnitely second the rec. for Sor Thonglor (Sukumvit 55), I just wanted to add that the best Sticky Rice/Mango vendor (in this side of town that is) has a shop at the front of the Soi. I couldn't remember the name, but if you are turning into the Soi from Sukumvit Road, the shop is on the left hand side, just a few doors down from Sukumvit main road. They also sell all kinds of fresh fruits, which are a bit higher price than the rest in the area, but usually of better quality as well. That shop is where our cook still shops today.

Across Sukhumvit main road is Soi 38. At the beginning of the Soi is a famous Jok (Rice porridge) shop. They only sell at night, and stay open very late. That's where we used to stop for a midnight snack after a night out on the town before we got home. A nice steamy bowl of Jok and you will sleep like a baby. :-)

Gai Yang Soi Polo is definitely a great place to go. They have really great Somtum, Gai Yang (grilled chicken), Neau Namtok (Beef Salad), well pretty much everything is great. My family goes to the Royal Bangkok Polo Club in that same Soi, so I used to pick up food from there to eat at the club all the time. Soi Polo is off of Wireless road, but just get into a taxi and tell him to take you to Soi Polo, the shop is on your left as you enter the Soi. You can't miss it.

There are a few other Gai Yang places where you can get great somtum. I recommend you go to these restaurant type places rather than a stall, because cleanliness (well or the lack thereof) could be a serious problem---it's not worth it to get sick on a bad somtum as it will stop you from enjoying other delicious foods on your trip!

Gai Yang Jitlada, near Jitlada palace is another great place for Gai Yang and Somtum type food. They have been around for as long as I remember. It is somewhere very near to Jitlada palace--which is not the Grand Palce, but the modern palace in which the King actually resides. I couldn't tell you exactly how to get there, but I bet any taxi or your hotel concierge could get you there.

Oh, and talk about the Grand Palace. If you're going there for sightseeing, walk toward the river, and just before you get to the river you will see a market on your left. There are plenty of yummy things there too. The place is called Ta Prachan market. I can't tell you a specific place to go, but follow your nose to whatever smell best!

Another place I can recommend is the SamPeng market, in the China Town area. There is a great Satay vendor there. The place is more like a dungeon than a restaurant, but it has the best Satay you could find in my opinion. I can't tell you exactly where it is, too difficult, but I have a trcik I could suggest. Basically, get yourself in a taxi and tell him to take you to the SamPeng, then find yourself a highschool or college age kid and ask him/her to show you where the famous SamPeng Satay vendor is. Most school/college kids in Thailand can speak decent English, and are more than willing to practice and be helpful. I bet you someone will walk you all the way to the vendor. :-)


Edited by pim (log)

chez pim

not an arbiter of taste

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I am truly envious. All this talk of Thai street food is making me drool all over my keyboard !

The last time I went to Thailand I picked up a book called 'Thai Hawker Food' before

I left. This is only a small book I believe written by Bangkok students to try and record all the different types of Thai hawker dishes together with a small section on known areas to try the different dishes. I'm not sure how up to date the locations are but the first section describing all the different dishes is very useful. Here is a link

I found where you can buy the book:

http://www.thaihypermarket.com/books/food_...reethawker.html

I can't remember too much about the hawkers we went to but for restaurants I can definitely recommend Sarah Jane in the Sindhorn Tower for Issan food (very good gai yang and issan sausage), My Choice which I can find the address fo if you want. (great catfish salad with green mango and curries). We also went to Lemongrass which was rated highly in all the guidebooks. While the surroundings were great (a Thai traditional house) and the food was good, it was a bit more expensive than other places we went to.

Have you visited mamsters site ? It has great sections on Bangkok food.

The Bangkok links are at the bottom of this page: http://www.mamster.net/food/

Have fun and I really look forward to your report back !

Rick

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Just want to second, third, and fourth mamster's (in linked article) rave about Hualomphong Station. The live music is pleasant too. But don't go too late.... things are starting to wind down by about 9:30.

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We often travel to the The Kingdom of Thailand. In fact I have been there 30+ times on business and pleasure over the past 15 years.

Two of our favourite places to eat in Bangkok (We go there a couple of times on every trip.)

Soombon for Curry Crab the best in the world and very reasonable! There are a couple of branches. One is near Patpong Road, another is near Soi, Square, the 3rd is way out Sukhimvit at like Soi 120 or something.

Hyatt Hotel, 5th floor restaurant for lunch

You order anything and as much as you want from the menu! The service, atmosphere and authentic food are excellent. It is prix fis set menu and such a bargain way to try many Thai specialties. We order 2 dishes at a time or they bring everything at once and it will get cold. We just spend the afternoon nibbling and drinking Singha in a lovely setting.

There are many great restaurants in Bangkok, but these are the best and for the baht by far the best for clean, well prepared authentic food.

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The keyword there is "clean" :biggrin:

I can't remember the number of times I was dragged to a place I wouldn't let my cat eat with the assurance of "dude, the food's worth it, and none of us get all that sick usually"

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