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Bangkok has long been renowned as a mecca for street food lovers, and the Thai capital is also gaining growing international respect for its high-end, fine-dining options. The area around Sathorn Road, which makes up much of Bangkok’s commercial and business district, is a particularly rewarding pocket of the city for foodies – and it’s also one we know especially well, since Expique’s headquarters is located on Sathorn Soi 9. Here’s our extensive pick of some of the best restaurants on Sathorn Road in Bangkok.
Be sure to also check out our recommendations for restaurants on nearby Silom Road, the best restaurants on Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok’s best local restaurants, pricey-but-worth-it Thai restaurants, and restaurants that are out of the way but well worth making a detour for.
Sathorn might on the whole be one of Bangkok’s pricier neighbourhoods, but there’s also an excellent selection of cheap street eats to be had – if you know where to look. The built-up nature of this area, which makes up a large part of the Thai capital’s central business district, means that there’s not the heavy congregations of street food vendors on the main roads as you’ll find other areas of the city – but head down residential-feeling Sathorn Soi 11, otherwise known as St Louis after the hospital that’s found here, and you’ll emerge in street food heaven. Popular Thai street food dishes on offer here include the likes of salads, southern Thai curries, noodle soups and stir-fried noodles, salapao buns, satay, and Thai-Chinese doughnuts. The street food scene here is busiest in the late afternoon to early evening, and it’s just a 10-minute walk from Surasak BTS station.
Thai food heavyweight David Thompson’s original, now-closed Nahm restaurant in London was in 2002 Europe’s first Thai restaurant to hold a Michelin star. It later lost the distinction, but the restaurant’s follow-up location at the Metropolitan Hotel in Bangkok has now earned its own thanks to the roll-out of the Michelin Guide in Thailand in 2017. This is pricey, high-end and top-quality Thai dining at its best – Australian chef Thompson is recognised worldwide for the contribution that he has made to the understanding and appreciation of Thai cuisine, and Nahm is testament to that. Also named as Asia’s fifth best restaurant, this is somewhere to expect cooking that respects tradition but isn’t afraid to shake things up with innovative ingredients and techniques. The highlight is the set menu that allows guests to make a choice of chilli pastes, salads, soups, curries, and stir-fries.
Daily, 12-2pm and 6.30-10.15pm; Metropolitan Bangkok, South Sathorn Road (BTS Sala Daeng/MRT Silom); 02-625-3333; www.comohotels.com
Another spot from a famous chef, Issaya Siamese Club is the baby of former-street-food-vendor-turned-celebrity Ian Kittichai, and serves a contemporary menu of familiar Thai dishes refreshed with refined techniques and top-end ingredients. Set in a bright, airy and atmospheric restored colonial-era Thai home in something of a green oasis amid the downtown hustle and bustle in the Khlong Toei area, Issaya came short of being awarded a Michelin star when the guide arrived in Bangkok, but was recognised with The Plate award for a ‘good meal’ of ‘fresh ingredients, carefully prepared’; it also figures at number 21 on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018. Choose from set menus or order à la carte – highlights include a lamb shank massuman curry, banana blossom salad, and khao yum rice-based salad.
Soi Sri Aksorn, Chua Phloeng Road, Sathorn; daily, 11.30am-2.30pm and 6-10.30pm; 02-672-9040; www.issaya.com
The Sathorn branch of Supanniga Eating Room is the follow-up to the hugely popular first location over in Thonglor of this high-end-but-home-style restaurant that combines eastern and northeastern Thai food. The recipes come from the owner’s grandmother’s own cooking in the eastern province of Trat and Khon Kaen in the northeastern region of Isaan. Highlights on the authentic, no-punches-pulled menu include jungle curry (gaeng pa), nam prik kai puu crab egg chilli dip, and puu jah steamed crabmeat and pork. The cocktail list is also worth checking out.
Daily, 11.30am-2.30pm and 5.30-11.30pm; Sathorn Soi 10 (BTS Chong Nonsi); 02-635-0349; www.supannigaeatingroom.com
Chances are you’ve already seen Blue Elephant’s range of Thai ingredients – the likes of fish sauce, curry pastes, sweet chilli sauce, and all-in-one cooking sets – on a supermarket shelf somewhere, since they are available for sale around the world. In Bangkok, the brand’s venue in Sathorn (now one of a network of a dozen branches globally) doubles up as both a restaurant and a prestigious cooking school, and it’s a fine spot for a refined meal of authentic Thai classics. Interior decor is likewise traditional and elegant, while the menu offers a mix of yesteryear-inspired, modern and innovative dishes – everything from massuman curry to tuna and salmon salads and even buffalo satay.
Daily, 11.30am-2.30pm and6-10.30pm; South Sathorn Road (BTS Surasak); 02-673-9353; www.blueelephant.com
If you’re looking for an easily accessible and comfortable place to get your fix of Isaan’s famous somtum papaya salad – arguably Thailand’s true national dish – then this somewhat tucked-away joint could be it. Depending on what you order and what the restaurant makes of your ability to handle the heat, at Baan Somtum you might well not end up with quite the same hit as you get from a street vendor, but this spot is nevertheless popular with the local professional crowd, and for good reason – Michelin-Bib-Gourmand-awarded Baan Somtum (which also has a total of six other branches elsewhere in Bangkok) serves no less than 29 different types of papaya salad.
From the trendily designed air-conditioned dining room, choose from classics like somtum thai and somtum puu pla rah, or more niche options like somtum puu maa made with blue crab, or somtum hoy dong with pickled cockles (a particular favourite of ours, here or elsewhere). Other renditions throw in everything from prawns and oysters to coconut, crispy pork, Vietnamese sausage, salted egg, and more – also on offer are deep-fried papaya salad and sweet-and-spicy mixed fruit salad alternative, or you can switch out your papaya in a regular somtum for the likes of cucumber, green beans, apple, sweetcorn, or pomelo. There’s also a full selection of other Isaan favourites available, spanning the field from salads and soups to grilled, fried, and stir-fried dishes.
Daily, 11am-10pm; Soi Sriviang, Pramuang Road (BTS Surasak); 02-630-3486; www.baansomtum.com
A newbie on Bangkok’s comparatively limited northern Thai food scene, Eats Payao began life as a street stall, migrated to a restaurant and delivery service on Nanglinchi Road in Sathorn, and is now offering the same but in a new and larger location on nearby Yenakart Road. Eats Payao has made its name for its khao soi northern noodle soup, in competition with the thinner, arguably healthier version served at Ekkamai’s Hom Duan than the similarly creamy one at Ong Tong in Ari – but it also does an excellent line in favourites like gaeng hunglay northern pork belly curry, plus plenty of other northern Thai specialities and even a number of Singaporean-inspired dishes. Better yet, the restaurant’s new location closes late and doubles as a bar, making it a fine place to spend an evening in Sathorn.
Daily, 12pm-midnight; Yenakart Road (MRT Khlong Toei); 097-265-6410; www.facebook.com/eatspayao
First and foremost a coffee shop, Dexter – close enough to Expique HQ for it to be a regular haunt of ours – also puts on a full menu of brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks, making it a reliable option at any time. The menu is predominantly western-focussed, with the likes of pizzas, soups, salads, and bigger main meals, as well as desserts, coffees, soft drinks, and a good selection of booze – and it’s a convenient spot to gouge on the free wifi and catch up on work, too.
Monday to Friday, 9am-11pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8am-10pm; Sathorn Soi 8 (BTS Chong Nonsi); 02-636-6222; www.dextercafe.com
For cheap-as-chips daytime feasting in the Sathorn area – otherwise harder to accomplish in these parts than it is elsewhere in Bangkok – head to the ground-floor food court of the Empire Tower office complex on Sathorn Road. This is a largely run-of-the-mill, but nevertheless immensely popular and busy, food court where you’ll find the usual inexpensive Thai staples alongside an especially rewarding concentration of desserts.
The small but perfectly formed swimming pool is the main draw at this casual, open-all-day and family-friendly restaurant-bar behind Sathorn Soi 10’s immensely popular Revolucion cocktail bar. It’s the perfect spot for an afternoon of waterside relaxing in the garden – but Blue Parrot is equally worth visiting for a full meal in the shade of its terrace. As well as great cocktails, wines and beers, there’s a mix of international small and big plates to please all tastes.
This popular Kiwi restaurant was twinned with the now-closed fish-and-chips specialist Snapper of Sukhumvit Soi 11 fame. But there’s more than cod and chips going on here at Kai, on Sathorn Soi 12 – think plenty of burgers, steaks, and still a good number of fish dishes, paired up with a fantastic array of New-Zealand-hailing wines and beers.
From the folks behind Rocket Coffeebar, Lady Brett occupies a shophouse just next door on Sathorn Soi 12, and looks pretty inconspicuous from the street. The menu isn’t holding any punches, though – this is a full-on ode to meaty barbecue, with a solid drinks menu to boot.
We’re big fans of Le Café des Stagiaires, also on Sathorn Soi 12, for its European neighbourhood bar feel, with tables pouring out from the interior and strewn across the pavement (and into the road) come nightfall. But while it’s predominantly a bar, the food here is also solid enough to make a meal of – order in a big bowl of moules frites, but don’t miss small plates like the excellent seabass ceviche and the frog’s legs.
Along from Eats Payao on the understated Sathorn street of Yenakart, Mama Dolores has made a name for itself with its delicious pizzas, but it’s first and foremost an Israeli restaurant. As a result there’s a whole host of Mediterranean and middle-eastern cuisine to feast on – these folks are also the name behind Sukhumvit’s new Hummus Boutique opening.
Tucked just below stunning new rooftop bar opening Cactus – it’s a strong competitor for our favourite bar in all of Bangkok – is Cagette, a French deli and self-styled ‘canteen’ that’s all about top-notch grub. Seafood takes pride of place here, although it’s not all that’s on offer: come for the oysters, or better still a full-on shellfish platter, and stay for the heartier, meatier comfort dishes.
Another of our favourites on Sathorn’s ever-buzzing Soi 12 – this time stuck right at the far end – is Charm, a trendy bolthole that’s just as great a place for a few innovative cocktails or decent wines (their happy hour deals are worth visiting in themselves) as it is for a more sophisticated sit-down meal. The long menu encompasses a range of western, Thai and fusion dishes.
Photos by m-louis; Krista; Zuphachai Laokunrak/Issaya Siamese Club; Supanniga Eating Room; Blue Elephant; Dexter; Eats Payao
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