Downtown Bangkok’s Silom Road and the surrounding area, best reached from Sala Daeng or Chong Nonsi Skytrain stations or Si Lom station on the MRT subway, may be prime one of the Thai capital’s prime business areas, but that means one thing – great food. After all, all those hungry Bangkok office workers need to be fed. And they are a picky bunch too, which means Silom is home to a great collection of simple eateries and more lavish restaurants – it’s survival of the fittest! Here are our pick of some of the best spots to grab a bite to eat – let us know about your favourites in the comments.
Few things in Bangkok make for a more humble and satisfying meal than a set of dishes from the Isaan branch of Thai cuisine, which hails from the country’s vast northeastern region. Fiery somtum papaya salads in countless varieties, fragrant meaty soups laced with lemongrass, galangal and dill, and freshly grilled chicken, whole catfish and sliced pork – this is the food of the gourmand Thai masses for a reason. At Laab Bped Yasothon, a sprawling street stall set on Silom Soi 9, an army of cooks feeds the crowds that turn up each and every night for the legendary Isaan street food that is served here: if you want a real, unadulterated taste of the northeast in Bangkok, this is where to come.
Highlights include the freshly pounded salads of grated unripe, green papaya – you are sure to find one to your taste between somtum Thai, a sweet-and-sour salad adapted to suit the Bangkokian palate and featuring dried shrimps and peanuts; somtum puu pla rah, the northeastern favourite loaded with fermented gourami fish and soft-shell crab; and somtum kai khem, with the addition of salted, hard-boiled eggs. But don’t miss other popular dishes like namtok and laab, fresh and fragrant chicken, pork or beef salads, the former made with grilled meat slices and the latter with minced meat – laab is also available with minced catfish meat. After you’ve explored the rest of the selection on offer, tuck into it with some sticky rice or kanom jeen rice noodles, and wash it all down with a beer or two.
Laab Bped Yasothon is located on Silom Soi 9; the closest Skytrain station is at Chong Nonsi. Open 3-10pm, Tuesday to Sunday; expect to pay 200-300 baht for a spread of several dishes for two or more people.
Owned by a descendant of Thailand’s current royal family, Thanying is the real deal when it comes to serving up traditional royal Thai food in an elegant, refined atmosphere. Set in an beautifully preserved old white house, ornaments and paintings add to the sophistication of the setup and the polite, efficient service is flawless. Though flavours are somewhat toned down spice wise compared to other restaurants, owing to the use of authentic royal Thai recipes, the overall depth of flavours is excellent. Thanying is the perfect spot to enjoy an accessible experience of high-flying Thai cuisine cooked and served to perfection.
The focus here is on classic renditions of delicate, traditional dishes, like appetisers that include krathong thong, miniature boat-like pastry parcels filled with minced prawns, green peas and sweetcorn, and miang kham – a self-assembly medley of shallots, lime wedges, ginger, peanuts, dried prawns and pork crackling wrapped up in Chinese kale leaves. But we recommend trying the set of four Thai curries, which includes a green curry with prawns, beef massuman, a southern Thai chicken curry and, our favourite, red curry with grilled duck and pineapple.
Most dishes at Thanying run around the 200 baht mark; the restaurant is on Pramuan Road, close to the Surasak Skytrain station. Open daily 11.30am-10pm; www.thanying.com.
This long-standing restaurant come gallery serves up creatively conceived twists on European and international cuisine that will mix things up for you food wise if you’ve had your fill of Thai street fare. With attentive staff and an equally impressive menu of wines and well executed cocktails (the Siam Daiquiri features lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime), the white building that houses Eat Me is shrouded in tall plants for an exotic tropical look. The venue is split between a dining room, balcony terrace and more relaxed lounge area; art hangs around the room as a centrepiece that offers a good balance to the fashionably washed-out walls and stripped wooden flooring.
Though it no longer always achieve top marks with critics for consistency of dishes, the crowds Eat Me continues to pull in suggests it is still doing something right even after its decade plus of operation. Among dishes highly rated on its changing menu are a rump steak of lamb with chorizo and cannellini beans, a Moroccan beef tagine and barramundi fish in a coconut soup.
Find Eat Me on Soi Phiphat, just off Convent Road; Sala Daeng Skytrain and Si Lom MRT stations are a short walk away. Open daily 3pm-1am; main dishes run anywhere between 275 and 4,800 baht; www.eatmerestaurant.com.
The streets around Silom and Sathorn have no shortage of restaurants so here are a few more for you to try.
Isaan food photo by Chris Wotton; Thanying photo by Hirotomo T.