A chef’s guide to Bangkok

Celebrated chef Gaggan Anand takes us to the heart of Bangkok. And unlike his own acclaimed restaurants, you won't find these places in any guide book.

“You need to eat street food,” insists firebrand Indian-born chef Gaggan Anand. “If you’re coming to visit Bangkok, I’m not going to send you to eat in my restaurants.” It’s a strong opinion, but to be expected from a revel famous for doing things his way. After an unprecedented four consecutive awards for Asia’s Best Restaurant, Anand is in his new self-titled restaurant, Gaggan Anand, and happily playing the role of disruptor. His fuel of choice? Street food, of course.

Chef Gaggan Anand at his home in Bangkok.

I’m crazy for the moo ping (grilled pork skewers) from Moo Ping Hea Owen. It’s the best in Bangkok by far. He has a small cart right out the front of a 7-Eleven in Silom and he doesn’t start cooking until really late (11pm-3am). Sometimes we pay him to come and cook for us at Gaggan Anand after dinner service.. He brings his cart, cooks 1000 pieces, and everybody is happy.

Noi Seafood: a proper night market

Noi Seafood is my go-to for a late-night supper after service. I usually go there between 1am and 2am with the team and we’ll just tear into kilos of prawns and lots of fresh crab. The river prawns are huge and taste amazing. It’s just simple live seafood but cooked well. And it stays open until 4am. The market [Huai Kwang Night Market] that the restaurant is in is also really interesting. It’s one of the last proper night markets that we have in Bangkok and it’s not touristy at all so I like it a lot. All of the night markets here have become completely commercial. Capitalism has taken over everything, but if you want to experience the culture and feeling of a real night market, come here.

Kua King Pak Sod: a place I tell everyone about

Kua King Pak Sod is my favourite Southern Thai restaurant in Bangkok. I tell everyone about it. I love it. The one dish I always have to order is the kao pad pla salad: sun-dried fish stir-fried with rice, basil and chillies. It’s incredible.

Krohk Mai Thai-Lao: the place for Isaan food

My wife and I love eating Isaan food. Krohk Mai Thai-Lao Restaurant is pure, local Isaan cusine. It has amazing Isaan dishes and you’ll eat a lot of wild ingredients like ant eggs and herbs that you’ve never seen before. Everything is good. It’s an amazing place. It’s about 30 minutes by car from the centre of Bangkok but it has to be the place you go for Isaan food. You won’t see any tourists here.

Here Hal: my lunchtime discovery

I just discovered a new restaurant, Here Hal. The food is unbelievably good. The menu only has about seven or eight dishes and portions are very limited. Most of the dishes use crab or mantis shrimp and it’s actually quite expensive, but it’s incredible. I love the crab meat stir-fried in curry and the mantis shrimp with chilli and basil. It’s my new favourite place to order lunch.

Phed Mark: my one-dish wonder

Phed Mark is a new restaurant serving one dish and one dish only: the Bangkok staple, pad kaprao, or Thai basil stir fry. It’s all it does and it does it very, very well. The only decision you have to make is how spicy you want it. It’s the best version in the city without a doubt. The ingredients are of the highest quality, but it’s the people attached to it that make it so great. Bangkok-based food bloggers Mark Weins and iTan together with chef Gigg Kamol [Iron Chef Thailand winner] are behind it so you can’t go wrong. I was there on the day it opened and they were hit with so many orders that it was impossible to complete then, it was mad. It was fun and it was hilarious. People will fight for it. It’s very good, tasty food.

Nai Mong Hoi Thod: Thai-style oyster omlette

Nai Mong Hoi Thod is a street food shop in Chinatown selling hoi thod – a Thai-style oyster omelette. I can’t eat hoi thod anywhere else. They cook it differently to other vendors who fry the oysters together with the egg and the flour batter, destroying the texture of the oysters. Instead, here they fry the batter first until it’s golden brown and crisp, then they add fried oysters on top, keeping them plump and juicy.

Moo Ping Hea Owen: the best pork skewers

David Thompson’s grilled pork skewers recipe

(Photo: Ben Dearnley)

Street-side curry

If you’re visiting Bangkok you should really try Jek Pui Curry. It’s real street food, and it’s delicious. There are no tables, only chairs, so you’re really eating on the street. The lady behind the cat has been cooking for almost 70 years and she does the same curries every day. The green curry is amazing. Actually everything is really good. It opens at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and finishes around 6pm. Sometimes she even sells out by 5pm.

My Japanese go-tos

When you cook, you can copy a recipe, but you can’t replicate the sukiyaki at Sukiyaki Maoverick Yosse. It’s been open for around 50 years and the way they make it is all about the wok. It’s all in the fire they use, the timing, how the chefs flip the sukiyaki. It gives you an intense and smoky flavour. It’s so good. There’s a lot of good Japanese food in Bangkok. I love Teppen, an izakaya in Ekamal. Everything is really delicious and it’s the vest value. Ramen Tei is a spot I go to often with the team after service.

Fried chicken and som tam

When it comes to som tam (green papaya salad), everyone has their own special vendor. There’s a lady near the old Gaggan restaurant, and she knows my order. I’ve been eating som tam there for the past four years. She sells amazing fried chicken, fried pork and very good som tam. We used to hire her to come to make som tam and fried chicken for the staff after service. You can find her in the evenings, in the small soi (street) that’s right before the soi where the Gaggan restaurant used to be: on the right after the Marriott Apartments.

As told to Jessica Rigg for The Local Tongue. For chef’s guides from around the world, see the

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