People 4 minutes 03 October 2023

Top Chefs from Asia: Their Love Affair with Thailand Revealed

Here's why 5 top chefs in Asia, plus the Middle East, fell in love with Thailand.

Thailand MICHELIN Guide Thailand Middle East Asia chef

Thailand has consistently been at the top of must-visit destinations. The country's delectable cuisine is a lifelong goal for many. Although the most famous gastronomic scene consists of flavourful street food you can find on any corner at any time, there is more to discover in the realm of taste. History, culture, and stories are all reflected through Thai delicacies.

Let's explore them with these five of Asia's leading chefs who have already fallen in love with the Land of Smiles.

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Chef Jason Tan from Singapore’s one-MICHELIN-Star Euphoria professed his love for mango sticky rice. (© Euphoria, Shutterstock)
Chef Jason Tan from Singapore’s one-MICHELIN-Star Euphoria professed his love for mango sticky rice. (© Euphoria, Shutterstock)

Jason Tan

Euphoria (One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2023)

The man who introduced Gastro-Botanica cuisine to Singapore in 2014 says, “I love the diversity of people, culture, and cuisine in Thailand.” This concise answer precisely sums up Thailand’s charm.

Chef Tan sees Thai people as very friendly and approachable. Thai history and culture are also outstanding. Gastronomically, Thailand offers plenty of fresh ingredients that enable culinary creatives to craft diverse dishes. Visiting local markets is always exciting for him, as he learns about new fresh ingredients or local foods every time.

When asked about his favourite Thai dish, he instantly replies, “Traditional mango sticky rice is the best.” The reason? “Thailand’s mangoes are of high quality, and they're just the right level of sweetness. The sticky rice is also excellent. Together, they create a delicious combination.”

Try mango sticky rice here:

Ruean Panya’s Kaeng Som leaves a lasting impression on Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa from Tokyo-based Den, where securing reservation is extremely difficult.  (© Michelin, Den)
Ruean Panya’s Kaeng Som leaves a lasting impression on Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa from Tokyo-based Den, where securing reservation is extremely difficult. (© Michelin, Den)

Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa

Den (Two MICHELIN Stars & MICHELIN Green Star, MICHELIN Guide Tokyo 2023)

"There are many attractive places in Thailand, especially its temples. As a Buddhist, I was awestruck when I visited Wat Pho for the first time. As for the food, I’m crazy for the local dishes."

Chef Hasegawa recalled his impressions of Thailand. Despite Japan's many ancient temples, the chef remains captivated by the Thai art and architecture at the grand Wat Pho. His passion for local Thai flavours led him to Ruean Panya in Samut Sakhon, which was awarded the Bib Gourmand in the MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2023.

Ruean Panya is the most inspiring place for local food. I learnt a lot about Thai cuisine and its tastes. As a Japanese person, I always thought Thai food can only be spicy. But, coming to Ruean Panya, I discovered a variety of Thai tastes. It opened up a new world and left a lasting impression.”

Chef Hasegawa also suggests exploring street food, another necessary activity when in Thailand.

Try traditional Thai cuisine here:


The rising Dubai-based Chef Akmal Anour can’t get enough of Thai-style omelette. (© 11 Woodfire,  (© Akkapat Inthuprapa/ MICHELIN Guide Thailand)
The rising Dubai-based Chef Akmal Anour can’t get enough of Thai-style omelette. (© 11 Woodfire, (© Akkapat Inthuprapa/ MICHELIN Guide Thailand)

Akmal Anour

11 Woodfire (One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Dubai 2023)

Although his one-MICHELIN Star restaurant is located in Dubai, the Malay Singaporean chef has always been familiar with Thailand and its cuisine. When Chef Anour lived in Singapore, he frequented Thailand often. “I consider Thailand a food haven,” he says.

“Thailand is the king of street food. There are so many varieties of the same dish, from the North to the South. I am a rice person, and I don’t find it hard to get great food there. Thai cuisine is all around you. It simply brings me joy”.

When asked to pick a favourite Thai dish, the chef is quite reluctant because Thai cuisine is so diverse. Ultimately, Chef Anour chooses the Thai-style omelette. Its crispiness pairs wonderfully with crab, seafood, or other meats. Still, he mentions how varieties of curry, Tom Yam, and Som Tam could easily captivate anyone's palate.

"Another reason that makes me fall in love with Thai food is the great execution that lies underneath reasonable prices. You can call it a form of craftsmanship."

Try Thai-style omelette here:

Try Som Tam here:

Chef Peter Cuong Franklin’s favourite Thai dish: the aromatic grilled pork neck. (© Shutterstock, Ănăn Saigon)
Chef Peter Cuong Franklin’s favourite Thai dish: the aromatic grilled pork neck. (© Shutterstock, Ănăn Saigon)

Peter Cuong Franklin

Ănăn Saigon (One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City 2023)

“Bangkok impresses me with the people, the food, and the vibrant colourful bustle”.

After honing his culinary skills in Hong Kong and Chicago, Chef Peter Cuong Franklin returned to Vietnam, where he blends traditional Vietnamese tastes with modern touches at Ănăn Saigon. Interestingly, he spent several years attending a culinary school in Bangkok, so he's no stranger to the Thai culinary scene. He has sampled a wide range of dishes, from the elegant Le Du, Potong, and Sorn to his 'requisite' Northeastern street food.

"I have many favourite Thai dishes, but if I have to choose one, it would be grilled pork neck and chicken, especially from the stalls along Soi Convent. Grilled pork neck is wonderful for its rich flavour and texture, and the accompanying Nam Jim Jaew (Spicy dipping sauce) further enhances the experience."

When asked what makes him obsessed with Nam Jim Jaew, the first Vietnamese man who won a MICHELIN Star for Vietnam replies, “This sauce is addictive because of its sour, sweet, spicy, and smoky flavour, with crunchy texture from roasted Thai dried chilli. Add Som Tam Pla Ra (Som Tam with fermented fish), sticky rice, and a large bottle of cold beer, you get a divine meal.”

Try grilled pork neck here:

Try fine dining here:

RELATED: Refugee Turned Banker Turned Chef: Peter Cuong Franklin on the Story Behind Ho Chi Minh City’s First (and Only) MICHELIN Star

The leading Taiwanese chef Kai Ho and his favourite Tom Yam from O Pochana. (© Taïrroir, Anuwat Senivansa Na Ayudhya/ MICHELIN Guide Thailand)
The leading Taiwanese chef Kai Ho and his favourite Tom Yam from O Pochana. (© Taïrroir, Anuwat Senivansa Na Ayudhya/ MICHELIN Guide Thailand)

Kai Ho

Taïrroir (Three MICHELN Star, MICHELIN Guide Taiwan 2023)

After two decades of weaving Taiwanese folk tales with French culinary techniques, Chef Kai Ho's commitment has finally been recognised with three MICHELIN Stars. His name has become one of the most renowned in Asia's culinary scene.

Previously, Chef Ho’s perception of Thailand was heat – a country with high temperature and spicy food. Like many foreigners who never visited Thailand, Thai food consisted of only Tom Yam, green curry, and mango sticky rice. Those stereotypes were shattered when he arrived for an event in 2019.

"I found Thai people to be very nice, very friendly, and more relaxed. Before my first flight to Thailand, I was introduced to the country through Muay Thai at a gym in the same building as my restaurant in Taipei. But that didn’t teach me about the country. I learned more from spending 10 days training Muay Thai in Pattaya and Bangkok."

Apart from the Thai national sport, Chef Ho is in love with Thai food. "Tom Yam at Jay Fai is one of a kind. I had tried Tom Yam in Taiwanese restaurants before, and it was like they just threw every ingredient in a pot and added some spicy and sour flavours. Jay Fai’s Tom Yam offers a completely different experience."

He reminisced about the experience with Thailand’s Queen of Street Food. “Jay Fai’s soup was clean and clear. She doesn’t use any coconut milk. You can feel each layer of flavours – the lime, the herbs, the veggies, the stock. It completely changed my perception of Tom Yam as well as Thai food. I also love her Phad Kee Mao Talay (Flat rice noodles stir-fried with fresh seafood and herbs). It was extremely spicy, but it tasted very good”.

After his first visit, he came back for more. Each time, he learned that Thailand has more than just Tom Yam. Chef Ho discovered boat noodles, and green milk tea that is as intriguing as Taiwanese milk tea.

“I also want everyone to try Moo Kata. The Thai-style barbecue is so fun and delicious”.

Try Tom Yam here:


Thailand is waiting for you to come explore. Create the memorable experience at amazing tourist attractions and sate your hunger with endless culinary delights. For updates on travel destinations, contact TAT Call Center 1672, or Facebook TAT Contact Center.


CONTINUE READING: World’s Famous Chefs Reveal Their Favourite Thai Dish

Illustration image: © Courtesy of Taïrroir, Euphoria, Den, 11 Woodfire, Ănăn Saigon, Shutterstock

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