We’re starting to understand why Ari is the neighbourhood of choice for so many Bangkokians these days. Between tree-lined, trafficless streets, and understated-yet-charming cafes, the area’s distance from Bangkok’s more well-trodden haunts feels almost like a blessing. However, it’s Ari’s sois teeming with food carts and many heartfelt, homestyle restaurants that really make the borough a destination worth venturing out for. Spots here feel less pretentious (and less expensive) than many of those along Sukhumvit and Sathorn but still pack a serious flavor punch. Just look below for all the tasty evidence you need.
Ongtong (Bib Gourmand)
The appeal of northern Thailand’s de facto signature dish is glaringly obvious: creamy, spice-tinged soup with a tender chicken drumstick, hearty noodles, and heaps of tart, crunchy and spicy condiments. Few Bangkok restaurants do the dish justice, so when Ongtong opened serving authentic soul-soothing bowls of the soup, we all got a little excited. To go with your khao soi, also order a plate of pu ong, a local Lanna dish of mashed crab roe served in their shell and used as dip for balls of sticky rice. Diet starts tomorrow.
Lay Lao (Bib Gourmand)
Pungent, spice-packed Issan flavor meets super fresh Hua Hin seafood at this Ari joint that serves Northeastern classics in a plushier setting. The owner hails from the seaside town and has high standards when it comes to crave-worthy dishes. Think papaya salad with sweetened dried clam and stuffed deep-fried squid with zesty dipping sauce. The floor-to-ceiling windows and decidedly cute decorations of the space make it an easy choice for your next lunch date.
Lai Rot (Rama 6) (Bib Gourmand)
While there are plenty of restaurants who claim to specialise in Royal Thai cuisine, few are as homey and satiating as Lai Rot, a quaint glasshouse off of Rama 6. Here, you’ll find khao chae, a cold rice dish typically served only during Thailand’s hottest months, year round—which is a rare and welcomed offering. While hearty curries like kung tom ka thi will make you want to dance, don’t forget to order starters like homemade chili dips and bites of fried shrimp cakes. Plus, traditional desserts like the boiled banana in coconut milk round off a meal oh-so-perfectly.
Baannai (Bib Gourmand)
Take a trip back to the Siam’s yesteryears with beautifully plated age-old Thai recipes served in a romantic, colonial-style home-turned-boutique hotel. The dishes here are impressive enough to steal the attention away from the antique-filled dining room, which says a lot given that the walls are covered in original paintings and old family hairlooms. Colourful arrangements of fresh vegetables go well with creamy chili paste while delicately marinated beef pairs with peanut sauce and garlic fried rice. The whole set up is an Instagrammers dream, but the history, rarity, and spot-on taste of each dish is what makes the restaurant one worth venturing to.