No, there isn’t a major food shortage in the city or someone handing out winning lottery tickets inside these restaurants. Crowds here are patiently waiting for plates of stir-fried crab meat, or cloud-like buns of sweet bread. Bangkok, as a major global culinary destination, is teeming with bucket list worthy restaurants and food stands. Discerning foodies boldly take on snaking lines and succumb to months-long waitlists for everything from gourmet fare to humble pork dumplings—and the delicious payoff seems well worth it.
Take a number, these are the city’s longest waitlists and queues.
RESTAURANTS WITH LONG WAITLISTS
Gaggan (2 Michelin stars)
Said to receive over 500 booking requests a day, it's no wonder Gaggan almost always has a waitlist at least two months long. But with a 25-course tasting menu made up entirely of emojis, and an internationally recognized reputation, we see where interest could be piqued. The progressive Indian fare combines Thai ingredients, Japanese technique and references both Disney and the band Kiss, all in the setting of a whitewashed, colonial-style home. Curious? We don't blame you.
Address: 68/1 Soi Langsua, Pathumwan district, Bangkok 10330
Tel: 02 652 1700
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Sushi Masato (Michelin Plate)
Bangkok is spoilt for choice when it comes to Japanese restaurants, but when it’s a chef as reputable as Masato Shimizu, one of New York City’s youngest chefs to earn a Michelin star, carefully constructing your nigiri, waiting two months for a booking should be worth it. Behind the 10-seater sushi bar, chef Masato serves a 20-course omakase dinner that features ingredients flown in daily from Tsukiji Market. Come not only for the food but for a dose of mesmerising showmanship as well.
Address: 3/22 Soi Sawasdee 1, Sukhumvit 31, Klongtoey Nua, Wattana, Bangkok 10110
Tel: 02 040 0015
Jok Toh Diew (Jok’s Kitchen)
Aptly named Jok Toh Diew (Jok’s One Table or Jok’s Kitchen), hidden away in a Chinatown shophouse, has no menu and, up until recently, only one lone roundtable for guests. The joint was opened by a seafood wholesaler-turned-chef who takes the day’s freshest catch and makes Chinese-Thai delicacies like salt and pepper crayfish or steamed crab pincers. Although the restaurant now has six tables, reservations still need to be made weeks in advance.
Address: 23 Soi Isaranupab, Plubplachai road
Tel: 02 221 4075, 081 919 9468
What this unassuming shophouse lacks from the outside, it makes up for with its hardy, home-cooked Thai fare. The restaurant is in an antique house and has been filled with charming vintage décor that sets the scene for a meal at your grandma’s Old Town home. Dishes like stir-fried pork neck with shrimp paste and crab egg chilli paste are lovingly made by the brother-sister duo who run the restaurant. Dinners are served family style from a menu that rotates often, and with only two large tables, it’s no wonder that the whimsical hideout is booked out for the next three months.
Address: 310 Soi Baan Paan Tom, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Tel: 081 889 7403
RESTAURANTS WITH LONG QUEUES
Jay Fai (1 Michelin star)
Even before the accolades, Jay Fai is rarely seen without a line of people streaming outside. But that’s because there is nowhere in the city (we’ll guess in the world) that makes crab omelettes like ski goggle-donning Jay Fai. She’s alone with her wok, making each crab-stuffed omelette golden to perfection, so don’t expect to be satiated soon after sitting down. Also on offer are heaping portions of drunken noodles with seafood and stir-fried crab in yellow curry. Make a reservation or bring a book and wait for a queue number spot before the restaurant opens.
Address: 327 Mahachai Road, Samran Rat, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Tel: 092 724 9633
Jay Oh (Bib Gourmand)
Whether here for the decidedly Instagrammable flower pot-sized tom yum mama (pot noodles) soup, or plates of chilli and lime-doused salmon sashimi, there’s a valid reason why people are willing to sit patiently on plastic stools for upwards of an hour to get a seat at this historic Chula joint. From 5p.m. to last order at 1a.m., everyone from students to families to nightshift workers look forward to hearing their name be called for a table inside the two-room shophouse where Thai style seafood dishes await.
Address: 113 Soi Charat Muang, Pathumwan, Bangkok
Tel: 064 118 5888
Tuang Dim Sum by Chef Yip
There is little better in life than a table full of steamer baskets bearing crispy taro balls, hakao, and lava buns. Just ask some of the crowd who has dedicated their morning to waiting to get into Tuang Dim Sum on Charoenkrung. In stark contrast to Hong Kong-born Chef Yip Yun Keong’s former gig at Shangri-La Bangkok’s Shang Palace restaurant, Tuang Dim Sum is a discreet shophouse eatery with authentic fare at a cheap price. Go on a weekday to avoid competing with brunching families for a table.
Address: 2029/9 Charoenkrung rd, Wat Phraya Krai, Bang Ko Laem district, Bangkok 10120
Tel: 089 603 0908
Speaking of bread, the soft, custard-filled buns at this Yaowarat classic have found a place on every travelling foodie’s must-eat list—and you can tell by the massive queue spilling into the street. Think warm, toasted dinner roll meets jelly doughnut. Those who have a sweet tooth, go for the pandan or milk-filled bun—the chilli and the peanut flavor better suit the savory tongue. Make the 20-minute line worth it: fill a box or two to take home.
Address: Yaowarat rd, Sampanthawong district, Bangkok 10110
Tel: 02 224 0677