As a teaser prior to the MICHELIN Star Revelation Ceremony and the official release of The MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2023 edition on 24 November, the MICHELIN Guide Thailand unveiled today the 2023 Bib Gourmand selection, featuring 189 budget-friendly dining venues. Out of all that made the list, 53 are first-time entries, while 6 are promoted entries.
The 2023 Bib Gourmand list comprises 82 venues in Bangkok & Surrounding Cities; 13 in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya; 27 in Chiang Mai; 23 in Phuket; 11 in Phang-Nga; and 33 in the four representative cities of Thailand’s Northeast or “Isan” region, newly covered in the sixth edition of The MICHELIN Guide Thailand – namely 9 in Nakhon Ratchasima, 11 in Khon Kaen, 6 in Ubon Ratchathani, and 7 in Udon Thani.
The Bib Gourmand distinction, symbolised by the famed ‘Bibendum’ or ‘Michelin Man’ licking his lips, recognizes both restaurants and street food eateries for offering high-quality food at budget-friendly prices of no more than THB 1,000 (for a three-course meal: starter, main course, and dessert – exclusive of beverage).
In total, there are 105 restaurants and 84 street food eateries in the 2023 Bib Gourmand list. It is notable that the number of Bib Gourmand venues under the “Street Food” category equals that of those under the “Restaurant” category for Bangkok & Surrounding Cities (41 venues in each category). The ratio of restaurants vs. street food eateries in the following cities just differs by one: Ayutthaya (6 to 7), Nakhon Ratchasima (5 to 4), Khon Kaen (6 to 5), and Chiang Mai (14 to 13).
Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of MICHELIN Guides, revealed: “The high proportion of street food eateries on the Bib Gourmand list marks Thailand’s quintessential culinary scene as an ultimate street food haven for budget-savvy diners. Street food is practically a savoury way of life in Thailand. It is ubiquitous throughout the country, offering an incredible variety of unique, flavourful dishes. Therefore, street food provides not only an authentic Thai eating experience, but also a cultural adventure into the tasty Thai culinary tradition.”
The 53 first-time entries to the 2023 Bib Gourmand list include: ▪ Bangkok & Surrounding Cities: Kin Kub Koi, a restaurant serving skilfully cooked dishes made from choice seafood – such as standouts grilled river prawns, and stir-fried crab with bitter beans and shrimp paste; Pae Pochana, a restaurant that has been serving old-school Thai-Chinese dishes for over 50 years, with recommended dishes like the minced featherback fish and minced pork in tofu sheets, the spicy stir-fried featherback fish with herbs, and the fried sun-dried snakehead fish; Samlor, a cozy restaurant serving flavoursome, well-presented elevated Thai cuisine inspired by local street food with specially selected ingredients; and Arunwan, a street food establishment that has opened for more than 60 years, famed for its signature dish from a family recipe that features tasty pickled cabbage and fresh offal in a delightful sweet pork broth.
▪ Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya: Kin Lookdeaw, a restaurant that serves simple Thai dishes using its own freshly pounded chilli paste, like the deep-fried boneless red tilapia with garlic, and the stir-fried green curry with clown featherback fish balls; O Pochana, a restaurant offering dishes prepared in an open kitchen with a charcoal stove, mostly comprising local fish and river prawns freshly caught just behind the restaurant — such as the deep-fried sheatfish with sweet fish sauce, and the stir-fried salt and pepper river prawns; and Pa Pu Boat Noodles, a street food eatery serving signature boat noodles with shredded chicken or pork and soft eggs.
▪ Nakhon Ratchasima: Penlaos, a restaurant that started off over a decade ago as a street stall, serving Isan food using homemade condiments — such as spicy catfish salad, Laotian-style spicy mushroom soup made with Tiliacora juice, seasonal mushrooms and gourd; and Lab Somphit, a street food establishment offering flavorful Isan dishes that strike a perfect balance of intense local spices and Thai herbs — such as the signature Isan spicy calf beef salad, and tender meaty slices seasoned with a smoky aroma of rice powder that adds a crispy texture.
▪ Khon Kaen: Mekin Farm, an Isan restaurant on an organic farm that grows fruits and vegetables and raises its own poultry, serving dishes made with simple cooking techniques to bring out natural flavors — like duck egg omelet and locally sourced steamed Nile tilapia fish served with a spicy sauce; and Khun Jaeng Guay Tiew Pak Mor Kao Wang, a street food eatery serving the renowned rice dumplings and tapioca balls that have stood the test of time for over 30 years — including the tasty dumplings with tom yum soup.
▪ Ubon Ratchathani: Pae Araya, a floating restaurant where the Mekong and Mun Rivers meet that serves central Thai and Isan fare featuring fish from both rivers — including redtail catfish tom yum, and local roe served with herbs.
▪ Udon Thani: Krua Khun Nid, a spacious Isan restaurant known for fresh ingredients and sharing portions of both seasonal dishes and enduring classics, whose highlights include deep-fried salted carp and "Lab Pa Tong", or fish cakes grilled in banana leaves; and Peng Duck Noodles, a long-established street food eatery that serves duck noodle soup with succulent duck meat, and duck rice with duck blood jelly as its specialties.
▪ Chiang Mai: Busarin Cuisine, a restaurant serving northern-Thai dishes based on family recipes with noodles and roti, instead of rice; and Maadae Slowfish Kitchen, a restaurant offering dishes made with fresh seafood transported within the day from the fishermen of Chumphon in Southern Thailand, while other seasonal and organic ingredients are sourced locally, and sauces are made in-house without preservatives.
▪ Phuket: Gorjan, a restaurant in a family home that serves dishes exclusively available locally – such as the delicious steamed yellow curry with crab meat that carries an intense turmeric aroma and flavour.
▪ Phang-Nga: Krua Luang Ten, an upgrade from being a street stall to a full-blown restaurant serving Southern Thai dishes that do not compromise on spiciness, made from the catch of the day and seasonal ingredients.
The 6 promoted entries to the 2023 Bib Gourmand list, five of which fall in the street food category, are: ▪ Bangkok: Yoong Khao Hom (I’m Park Chula), a restaurant offering authentic Southern Thai cuisine — such as the charcoaled pork ribs, the southern red curry paste, and the coconut dumpling in a coconut milk and shell; ▪ Chiang Mai: Guay Jub Chang Moi Tat Mai, a street food eatery specializing in guay jub, and also serving the fresh Vietnamese sausage spring rolls topped with omelet and a sweet peanut sauce; and Khao Soi Mae Sai, a street food eatery serving the famous khao soi with intense herbs, rich curry paste, and tender braised beef, and also the must-try vermicelli rice with northern Thai pork curry and tomato; ▪ Phuket: Khao Tom Thanon Di Buk, a street food eatery offering aromatic porridge, ‘Khao Tom’, and brown soup made from a secret Chinese stock with premium toppings — including grouper, tender pork offal, and century egg — as well as braised pork ribs and chicken with fermented soybeans as weekend specials; and Roti Chaofa, a street food place serving Thai-Muslim breakfasts, curries and Thai-style chicken biryani, plus the crisp, golden-brown rotis with a fluffy interior that can be eaten with the tangy, juicy beef Massaman curry. ▪ Phang-Nga: Gop Phochana, a popular street food destination serving comforting favorites with intense seasoning and spices – such as the stir-fried shrimp with creamy coconut curry.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic starts to subside, we hope that the announcement of our Bib Gourmand selection will help boost gastro-tourism across Thailand — especially the Northeast or 'Isan' region, to which we had just expanded our coverage this year — and thus enhance the economic vitality of local communities, and the country as a whole. Above all, we expect to inspire gourmets and travellers alike to enjoy their mobility experience in exploring local culinary delights across the country’s different cities,” said Mr. Poullennec.
To learn more about The MICHELIN Guide, please visit guide.michelin.com/th/en, or follow updates regarding The MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2023 on Facebook: facebook.com/MichelinGuideThailand.