Next time you visit, take your gastronomical experience beyond Bangkok’s equally thrilling dining options and street food stalls.
Bangkok is arguably my favourite city in the world! I’ve been countless times and yet, I’m always mentally planning my next trip there. There is much this effervescent city offers beyond the hustle and bustle of sightseeing and shopping. And if you’ve packed in too much, there’s always the promise of a rejuvenating foot massage at the end of the day.
Being a chef by profession, I’m always curious to explore more of the city’s food and culture at the ground level. Experiences that are more local and authentic. Sometimes isn’t it more fun to be a tourist in your own city and a local in another?
I would love to share a few local haunts I frequent in Bangkok with you. A little advance planning can make your next trip there a little more exciting than Thai curry and sticky rice + mango. Nothing wrong with that being the sole attraction though. Nom nom!
Or Tor Kor Market
Or Tor Kor has earned reputation of being one of the best fresh markets in the world and is visited by Bangkok’s top chefs in the wee hours to grab the best produce, meat and fish. I promise you will find the freshest mangoes, durian and whatever else you’re looking for. The last time I was in Bangkok, I booked myself a swanky Airbnb and loaded my refrigerator with herbs and veggies from Or Tor Kor. It was incredible staying in Bangkok and cooking with all that produce in its absolute prime. If that sounds like too much work for a holiday, I’d still recommend a visit to feast your eyes and fuel your Instagram feed.
If you can’t make it to Or Tor Kor, Asoke which is in the heart of the city and bang in the middle of Sukhumvit is quite well stocked too! What lures me back every time are the fresh noodles and dumpling skins, fragrant pandan leaves, plump lotus root and other bits and bobs I sneak back home in my suitcase. Experimenting with Thai food in my home kitchen with locally sourced, authentic produce is the meaning of luxury for me!
I know what you’re going to say. This is the most touristy spot in Bangkok! Yes, but walk past the souvenirs and incense shops deep in to the warehouses and you will find a secret storehouse of the best tableware at throwaway prices. My top plating trick after all is using 1 pretty plates! Haha! You’ll also find very usable and Instagrammable wooden trays, plates and bowls here.
Gourmet Market at Siam Paragon
This is hands down the mecca of all things Thai, gourmet and delicious! From fresh produce to local Thai snacks and crackers to staples like sticky rice you can bring back home. Gourmet Market has everything you need and more. You can very easily lose track of time here (and your luggage allowance!). Those supermarket trollies can really hold a lot of stuff . I always schedule this for the last stop so I don’t have to lug heavy bags around all day. Here are my all-time favourite things to buy –
Pandan Sticky Rice
Local spices from Spice Story
Mandarin Oriental Cooking School
The Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok offers exceptional dining experiences that could pass o ff as attractions in their own right. But what I found most exploratory of the local cuisine was a half-day cooking workshop I signed up for at their dedicated cooking school within the plush hotel premises. This is a hands-on workshop where the chef simultaneously includes a brief education of Thai spices and cuisine. The techniques and recipes shared are traditional and beyond the ordinary. At the end, you get to enjoy your hand cooked meal in the luxurious and traditionally decorated setting of Mandarin Oriental’s award winning restaurant Sala Rim Naam. I urge you to book yourself for a session the next time you’re in Bangkok! It stands as one of my most special experiences yet.
I hope these local culinary haunts make your next trip to Bangkok more exploratory and also give you a chance to reminisce your travels through special home-cooked Thai meals using ingredients you forage for!