When the inaugural 2018 MICHELIN Guide Bangkok was launched last month, it was restaurants Gaggan, Le Normandie and Mezzaluna serving up international cuisines, that took top honors with two stars each. But the guide also shone the spotlight on Thailand's rich heritage and culinary traditions, with seven Thai restaurants garnering stars for their takes on Thai cuisine, from Jay Fai's humble streetside cooking to Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin's cutting-edge modern Thai gastronomy.
Here, we check out what our inspectors had to say about them.
Revisit traditional Thai recipes at Chim by Siam Wisdom.
"Chef couple Duangporn Songvisava (Bo) and Dylan Jones (lan) have been serving royal Thai dishes to much fanfare for nearly a decade. The heritage of the cuisine is respected, but there is a touch of modernity in the presentation. Real care and effort is put into the ingredients and flavor, along with a zero-carbon goal—choose from three degustation menus that demonstrate the chefs' passion. The attractive and intimate villa is charmingly run."
"The kitchen revisits traditional Thai recipes to create dishes that strike a balance between the old and the new and between Thai and foreign influences. Order from the à la carte and share among friends or choose a fixed price menu to sample a dazzling variety of flavors. Ancient tom yum with river fish and freshly made curries are among the unmissable dishes. The restaurant was renovated in 2017."
"Jay Fai is a place that both taxi drivers and foodies wax lyrical about and it's easy to see why. Wearing her signature goggles, the local legend that is Jay Fai continues what her father started 70 years ago and makes crab omelettes, crab curries and dry congee."
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"Located within the chic COMO Metropolitan Hotel, Nahm is renowned around the world for its sophisticated Thai cuisine. Australian-born chef David Thompson is a highly-experienced exponent and here he demonstrates his skills in dishes that elevate traditional Thai cookery. The flavors of the superbly sourced ingredients are intense yet perfectly balanced. The set menu offers the perfect way to experience this cuisine as well as offering surprising value."
"The striking interior is dominated by a spiral sculpture made from hundreds of silk cocoons, floor to ceiling windows, and unusual curved booths that offer privacy. The designed-to-share menu draws inspiration from royal Thai cuisine and uses century-old cooking techniques with ingredients often sourced directly from local growers. Signature dishes include roast duck with nutmeg and coriander; fragrant hot and sour soup with crispy pork leg; and yellow curry from the Gulf of Thailand. Service is attentive but not overbearing."
Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin turns traditional Thai cuisine on its head.
"Thai dishes crafted from ancient recipes that once impressed the royal family are the draw here, but don't discount the lovely setting, complete with vaulted ceilings and contemporary Thai touches. Dishes are a mix of classics and hard-to-find recipes, like hot and spicy soup (kaeng ranjuan), red curry with grilled pork, and sweet and sour coconut dip with crabmeat. Don't miss dessert: try khao moa rang—a rare creation made with young green rice grains."
"There is a burgeoning love affair between Bangkok foodies and envelope-pushing cuisine, and this beautiful restaurant is one of the original purveyors of modern and innovative Thai cuisine. Order "The Journey"—a 10-course menu-to see the kitchen's full repertoire that respects traditional Thai flavors and ingredients but flips the script to produce something creative and original. Copenhagen's Kiin Kiin was the inspiration for the food and cooking techniques."