If you’re visiting Thailand for the first time, one aspect of your trip that should get you excited is food! The culinary scene in the Land of Smiles is exceptional; everything from street food to ma-and-pa shops to fine dining restaurants is en pointe. Bangkok, in particular, has a wealth of gastronomic opportunities just waiting to be discovered. Did you know that the capital city boasts 15 Michelin-star restaurants? That said, finding the perfect fine dining Thai restaurant in Bangkok can be fraught with danger if you don’t know how to choose correctly. With that in mind, we’ve compiled this list of insider tips to help you judge which restaurants are and are not worth a visit. Bon appétit!
Your critique starts from the very minute you make your booking. Whether by phone, e-mail, Facebook or Line, this should be perfect from the first instance. If the staff are rude, curt, unfriendly, unhelpful or otherwise disinterested in helping you, then cross them off your list. If they can’t be bothered to properly service you before you even set foot in the restaurant, imagine what they’ll be like when you’re there!
Take a subtle walk past your chosen fine dining Thai restaurant in Bangkok once or twice in advance if you can. Try to suss out the level of professionalism in the place. You can see whether it’s popular, what the general competency is like, how the staff are handling the service, how extensive the menu is and what the décor and ambience are like. Just by peeking through the shutters, you’ll be able to gauge whether this place meets your expectations for style, mood and offerings.
In this case, do judge a book by its cover, does the exterior look inviting? Are the plants tended, windows and awnings clean, ashtrays empty, is the outdoor seating in good condition? If the exterior of the restaurant is shabby and unloved, this could be a forewarning of what’s inside. Also, check for any Michelin stickers on the window or door, are they recent? If not, the establishment could be resting on their former glory.
Obviously, hygiene in a dining establishment is essential. Are tablecloths, napkins, cutlery and glassware all sparkling? Are the staff neat and well turned-out? Are the bathrooms orderly and sanitised? Similarly, a strong smell of cleaning products and/or air fresheners could be a sign that something is ‘off’ and needs covering up.
Using technology to look at the plethora of online resources available nowadays is a great way to get advice and narrow-down your fine dining Thai restaurant in Bangkok search. Google Maps is one option, as are other online sites, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. You can also check local publications too, such as BK Magazine, Time Out, Bangkok 101, The Big Chilli and Guru. And, of course, there is the Michelin Guide, an indispensable resource for fine-dining aficionados.
Size Down Matter
The length of a menu is another great filter. If it’s 20 pages long and caters to 10 different cuisines from around the world, give it a miss. As no restaurants can cater to that many different dishes. Instead, look for a concise menu and preferably one that often changes, as seasonal dishes are often the best (and the sign of a good chef!). Lastly, avoid places that have overly descriptive, pompous or wordy menus, they are trying to distract you from their poor offerings with too much glitz. Look for something simple, refined and honest; and preferably using locally sourced ingredients.