Counting down the best restaurants
Over the past year, Life has reviewed over 70 eateries. Here are the 10 that stand out.
Public approval of iO, the Italian osteria located in an obscure corner at Groove CentralWorld, is indisputable.
Over the past six years, its dining room has never been short of dynamism. Frequenting the 120-seater is a cheery mix of locals and Westerners -- epicures and ordinary diners alike.
iO sees itself as a dedicated pizzeria, a wine bar, a pasta house, a cafeteria, a bakery, a deli and a cooking workshop, all under one roof.
Italian dishes from various regions and culinary genres by the loving host-cum-chef Anna Borrasi, widely known as Auntie Anna, are what the folksy establishment offers.
Borrasi is a Naples native, but has lived in many cities across Italy and the world. Her menu is big, listing more than 100 items plus a selection of four or five weekly special dishes written on the board.
Bread, pastry and pasta are made fresh in-house.
Regular pizza options, served warm in rectangular cuts, include classic Margherita; burrata cheese with tomatoes and olives; eggplant Parmigiana with tomatoes and basils; cooked ham and mushrooms; pork cheek pancetta with Taleggio cheese; and mortadella sausage with burrata and pistachio.
Should you wish to break away, but not too far, from pizza territory, there is also schiacciata, an extraordinarily crispy, airy and paper-thin Roman flatbread with various filling options.
For small bites and antipasti, recommended choices are crispy golden seafood fritto, a platter of light and crispy semolina wheat crumbed fish cubes, prawns and squids served with garlic-based aioli and house-made spicy sauce; and Ariccia-styled porchetta pork belly roll with wild fennel and black pepper.
Other worth-having dishes include tagliolini pasta with prawns, asparagus and aromatic crumbs in light bisque sauce; Tuscan-styled Maremmana flank steak with fresh arugula leaves, roasted garlic and topped with mushroom sauce; and grilled Italian sea bass with roasted vegetables and a trio of smoked chilli sauce, Italian salsa verde and black olives tapenade.
Pistachio tiramisu, the light layers of whipped mascarpone cream, spongy bitter-sweet cake and a fine dash of highly-prized Bronte pistachio DOP from Sicily; and gluten-free Naples-styled almond-lemon cake are very popular.
Complementing the high-quality food is a pleasant no-nonsense service. Traditional Italian cooking classes by chef Borrasi and wine-tasting events are held regularly.
iO is located on the ground floor of Groove @ CentralWorld, Rama I Road. It opens daily 11am-10pm. For more information or reservations, call 063-639-1631.
Chef Mirco Keller, the man of the house, calls himself a cook, introvert and hardworking, rather than a "superstar chef" as many perceive him to be.
Born in Berlin, he was trained for a decade under the mentorship of German Michelin-starred wizard Tim Raue. Keller's culinary background also includes years working at a number of 5-star restaurants in Germany including Restaurant 44 at Swissotel Berlin and Restaurant Uma at the Adlon Kempinski Berlin.
"For me, cooking is never a competition [nor a show]. I cook so that I can delight people and connect with them. At the end of the day, I just want to be thought of as a good cook," he said.
And when his namesake 26-seat restaurant first opened in Bangkok almost three years ago, it was a phenomenal success.
Simply through word of mouth, especially by Bangkok's discerning gourmands, Keller instantly enjoyed a long waiting list.
The restaurant, set in a revamped residential manor turned exclusive dining complex called Baan Turtle, has since been regarded as one of the city's best Western fine dining spots, offering contemporary European cuisine rooted in classic traditions presented with modern-day finesse.
The fine dining experience here can be enjoyed in the form of a la carte and multi-course menus.
The latter, which is highly recommended especially if you are a first-timer, is a well-curated meal built on signature and best-selling dishes as well as the season's best ingredients.
Guests may expect to find dishes such as Berliner senfei, or Berlin mustard egg, the ultimate German comfort food, to come with cured beetroot and Oscietra caviar. A mushroom cappuccino is accompanied by a homemade bun, hijiki seaweed butter and chicken liver pate.
A custard-like fish mousse comes with trout roe, lemon vinaigrette pearls and dill florets. A beef tartare is seasoned with charred eggplant, bell pepper Hollandaise and caper and accompanied by housemade sourdough.
There's a heavenly reistopf casserole prepared with top-grade Japanese rice, a generous portion of blue crab, veal sweetbread and shiitake mushroom duxelle in buttery mussel beurre blanc sauce. Equally divine is a pan-seared golden-eye snapper on a brandade with lemon gel and buttery vin jaune wine sauce.
Reflecting the chef's passion and drive for perfection, every dish proves divine to the eyes and taste buds.
The restaurant's dessert selection includes chocolate ganache with white chocolate soy ice cream accompanied by warm hazelnut milk; a guava ice cream with nougat, coconut, yoghurt and aloe vera; and soft meringue with saffron milk ice cream, apricot coulis, raspberries and chocolate crumbles.
There are wine pairings and mocktail pairings. The latter is as praiseworthy as the food and desserts. Reservations are a must.
Keller is located at Baan Turtle in Suan Phlu 2. It opens for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday. For more information or reservations, call 02-092-7196 or 064-839-5563.
The arrival of chef Kannika Jitsangworn at the kitchen of Capella Bangkok's Thai restaurant Phra Nakhon in March this year was a significant game changer.
Her skilful cooking has led the once mediocre eatery now on the list of top-tier eating establishments of many Thai food connoisseurs.
Prior to joining Capella, Kannika's two-decade career includes a number of 5-star resort restaurants in the Turks and Caicos, Indonesia, Turkey, Bhutan and Phuket.
Her menu here is an ample collection of home-style recipes from various Thai regions. It showcases her respect for local culinary heritage and food artisans. Several plant-based options also demonstrate her thoughtfulness towards guests with dietary preferences.
You will find on the Thai section of the menu more than 50 dishes that include the likes of mhok (northeastern-style grilled meat in leaf packet), gaeng om (spicy herbal soup), buea (southern-style shrimp fritters), gaeng hung-lay (northern-styled pork curry), gaeng pa (jungle curry) and tom khlong (spicy roasted-fish consomme).
There are also professionally-curated sharing set menus for diners wishing to enjoy a full-scale meal without the hassle of choosing dishes.
Chef Kannika's cuisine is often crafted with fresh sustainably-sourced ingredients from various parts of Thailand, marking her long-standing relationships with small-scale farmers and fishers. Her delicious, well-rounded dishes also reflect her good palate.
Among the most recommended dishes are tam zua, the rustic Isan-style salad encompassing fine strips of green papaya, fermented Thai rice noodles, salted crab, pla ra emulsion, pickled mustard greens, Vietnamese sausages, string beans, eggplants, tomatoes, bird's eye chillies and lime, capped with boiled egg and pork cracklings.
Phra Nakhon's housemade rendition of sai oua, or northern-style spicy pork sausage, proves even more superb than some prototype classics.
You must not miss the signature moo krob, or wok-fried roast pork belly with chillies and herbs; moo hong, or Phuket-style braised kurubota pork belly in spiced gravy; and southern Thai-style crab curry with betel leaves.
There are 14 choices of desserts available. Sweet mango sticky rice with coconut ice cream, taro chiffon cake with Thai almond and vanilla ice cream and Jasmine tea and oat milk panna cotta with mango and passion fruit sorbet are worth having.
Phra Nakhon is located at Capella Bangkok on Charoen Krung Road. It opens daily, from noon to 3pm and 6-10pm. For more information and reservations, call 02-098-3888.
Sooooo Goood Gourmet
Some say it is a culinary hidden gem. Some say it's their second home where food offers real comfort and joy.
Ever since the restaurant humbly opened two years ago in a suburban Bang Kaew district, it has been treasured.
It doesn't matter how many O's are in the name, to many regulars Sooooo Goood is never good but brilliant.
And that is the result of its quality cuisine, which is well worth a drive out of town.
Set in a nondescript two-storey commercial building, Sooooo Goood is a neighbourhood eatery by Gourmet One fine food supplier.
The restaurant does not have any interior theme or fancy decor but boasts an open kitchen helmed by international, 5-star hotel cooking masters.
Leading the team is Spanish head chef Jose Martin Ruiz Borja, a former executive chef of Renaissance Hotel Bangkok.
The menu is big, featuring favourite European dishes prepared with prime seasonal ingredients imported from Europe, USA and Japan.
The best-selling starter is chef Jose's special tapas board that encompasses the finest grade of Iberico de bellota ham, Iberico chorizo sausage, black truffle salami, Rougie duck foie gras terrine, Iberico ham croquettes, deep-fried Padrón peppers and rustic black olive bread.
Bangkok's gastronomes know that Jose is a paella master. Here, there's a section specially dedicated to his Spanish pan-cooked rice dish.
Highly recommended is black squid-ink paella with tiger prawns, octopus and scallops. You can also have the paella with foie gras, Spanish octopus and carabineros prawn. The dish, which takes 30 minutes to cook, can be ordered individually or in a large paella pan for sharing.
Risotto is also super popular here. Truly worth having are mushroom risotto with braised Wagyu oxtail, risotto with Hokkaido scallop and black truffle and risotto with Gillardeau oysters and Oscietra caviar sauce.
And if you are a fan of pasta, do not miss perfectly-cooked penne with clams, Sicilian red shrimps and asparagus in garlic chilli.
Steak connoisseurs can trust the restaurant's grill menu which is represented by some of the best beef cuts in the market.
The current selection features Australian Angus rib-eye, Wagyu striploin, tenderloin and tomahawk as well as Australian lamb chops.
If pork is what you prefer, go for grilled pork presa Iberica with padrons pepper, shallot and pimento de la vera sauce.
Homemade tiramisu with Tahitian vanilla sauce and raspberry and Basque burnt cheesecake with Valrhona chocolate mousse is superb.
There's also a deli corner offering gourmet products, the likes of top-tier meat and seafood, seasonings and ready-to-cook items. The service staff is attentive and knowledgeable.
Sooooo Goood Gourmet is located at 29/31-32 Rat Winit Bang Kaew in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan. It opens daily 11am-9pm. For more information, call 02-130-5100.
The first of its kind in Bangkok, North, which opened a year ago, offers diners authentic flavours of northern Thai cuisine in a Western-style fine dining manner.
The brainchild of a new-faced proprietor and a team of Western cuisine-trained chefs -- all are natives of Thailand's northern provinces -- the 70-seat restaurant turns a cuisine long perceived as lacklustre into innovative gourmet creations that delight both the eyes and taste buds.
Meals are served in a multi-course degustation style.
The menu celebrates indigenous fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices -- many of which are unheard of -- of the northern region.
Even the complimentary bread and butter is represented by sourdough that's made in-house with two-year-old yeast from fermented tea leaves and the butter is made ingeniously fragrant with phak phaew coriander.
Guests may find, for example, sai oua herbal pork sausage being presented with pork cracklings crumbles and dollop of green chilli relish; a northern-styled gaeng kradahng served the way the Westerners do; and spicy salad of pounded jackfruit in a form of a deep-fried croquette capped with Chiang Mai cheese mayo.
Pomelo salad may come with nam pu caviar made with thick, black and salty Lanna-styled crab emulsion. Sa jin, a northern-style highly-spiced salad of rare beef, is presented through a Wagyu A5 beef tartare.
The restaurant's modern-day rendering of ab ong, or flame-grilled brain pudding in banana leaf wrap, looks and tastes similar to a very fine and creamy liver pate and is served with sourdough toast and pineapple chutney.
While khao soi, one of the most famous dishes of the North, is modernised into a tortellini pasta dumpling with chicken curry mousse accompanied by a puff pastry stick and beetroot jam and topped with frothy coconut espuma.
A purplish-pink sorbet made from northern makiang plum and Wiang Phing rose essence speaks for a palate cleansing course.
The main course options include pumpkin curry with freshwater sea bass, a vodka-cured roe of giant catfish and lemon basil oil; and grilled Thai Angus beef with nam ngiao sauce.
There's a dessert portraying Lanna honey orange through delicious layers of white chocolate, mascarpone cream and fresh orange juice.
The service blends northern Thai gentleness with well-trained expertise.
North is located at 8 Sukhumvit 33. It opens for dinner, Tuesday to Sunday. For more information and reservations, call 061-426-2642.
The Italian restaurant-cum-wine bar, which occupies a large space on the ground floor of an upscale Asok office tower, has received rave reviews from local media and is treasured by foodies, especially oenophiles, since opening in 2015.
The restaurant, with a rustic barn wood interior behind a glass facade, features a full bar, a fresh pasta station, a deli corner and an open kitchen.
Natural lighting and street views as well as upbeat lounge tunes add a casual vivacious dynamism to the cosy place.
F&B-wise, About Eatery is a sustainable-produce-driven establishment. It was the first wine bar in Thailand devoted to organic wines, with more than 200 labels, including biodynamic, hand-crafted orange wine.
The kitchen is helmed by Venice-born chef Lorenzo Rosso. It focuses on fresh homemade pasta and seasonal harvest and wild-caught seafood from around Thailand.
The menu lists two dozen permanent dishes with many monthly specials, plus a nice selection of desserts.
There's a selection of Venetian-style tapas, which offers the likes of gratin razor clam with garlic, sheep milk cheese and aromatic breadcrumbs; tomato confit and mozzarella bruschetta dusted with salt-cured bottarga roe; warm chicken liver, porcini mousse and pecorino cheese on a house-made baguette with grated summer black truffle; and Parma ham croquette with prosciutto-permeated béchamel centre.
Truly worth having appetisers include roasted stuffed squids with a delicious filling of spinach, pine seeds, raisins and pecorino cheese and a dressing of squid-ink cream.
There are approximately 10 types of fresh pasta offered on the menu each day.
The restaurant's best-selling carbonara is represented by manually-pressed tonnarelli pasta, egg yolk, pecorino emulsion and guanciale (salt-cured fatty pork cheek).
Spaghetti here is also made fresh and paired nicely with a vongole sauce made with extra virgin olive oil, clam juice, chilli, garlic, parsley and dried grey mullet roe.
There's a delicious dish of fresh tomato and rocket risotto with pan-seared red mullet fillet and arugula oil.
There are also menus for vegan, vegetarian, raw food and set lunch.
Attending to the guests is the restaurant's co-owner-cum-manager Giulio Saverino, and his ever-smiling and prompt service staff.
About Eatery is located on the ground floor of Ocean Tower II on Sukhumvit 21 Soi 3. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11.30am-2.30pm and 5.30-10pm. For more information or reservations, call 092-907-2191.
A 2022 addition to Bangkok's food scene, the 102-seat Hei Yin has provided connoisseurs of Cantonese fare a new sensation.
Sophisticatedly decked out in a photogenic Chinoiserie style, the Chinese fine dining restaurant serves up uncompromising Cantonese cuisine prepared with prime ingredients, mostly imported from Hong Kong.
The kitchen is run by executive chef Jackie Chan, together with sous chef and dim sum master Chan Pui Kwan and Chinese chef Tang Liyan -- all are Hong Kong natives.
The presentation of some dishes might have a modern-day touch but the taste promises no-nonsense authenticity.
Among the best-selling options of lunchtime dim sum are steamed deluxe har gow shrimp dumplings; fried jiaozi pork dumplings; and crispy bean curd skin roll with lobster bisque dip.
All rice noodles for the roll are made fresh to the diner's order and always warm, clingy and super soft. Highly recommended are emerald green rice noodle rolls with spring roll minced shrimp; and rice noodle rolls with fattily juicy Wagyu beef filling.
There are scrumptious haam sui gok, or deep-fried glutenous dumplings with dried shrimp and pork; xiao long boa pork dumplings with piping hot golden broth and crab roe; and a bite-sized rendition of seafood and creamy fruit salad in a crispy golden cup.
Hei Yin's kitchen also masters barbecuing, another culinary signature of Cantonese cuisine.
Lychee wood-roasted Hong Kong-style suckling pig and Peking duck are very popular and should be ordered in advance. You may also want to try the crispy roasted pork belly, which is served in bite-sized cubes. If you are a fan, go for braised goose web with egg noodles and abalone sauce in a clay pot and you will never regret it.
Premium seafood is always an indispensable part. Here, the inventory includes abalone, sea cucumber, fish maw and king crab as well as live crustaceans, fish and shellfish.
Another lovely thing about the cuisine here is that a whole page in its dim sum lunch menu is dedicated to freshly-made Hong Kong-style noodle soup. Choices of topping include char-siew Kurobuta pork, roast duck, soy chicken, shrimp dumplings and grouper fillet.
The selection of desserts is modest in size but complete with both soothing hot and refreshing options.
There are four exquisitely decorated private rooms for groups of four to 20 persons.
Hei Yin is located on the 3rd floor of Gaysorn Village at 999 Phloenchit Road. It opens daily for lunch. For more information, call 02-253-8855/6.
Among a remarkable number of Latin American cuisine restaurants opening in Bangkok in 2022, Guilty seems one of the most favoured, taste-wise.
The 55-seater, conceptualised as a versatile and fun-filled dining place, serves up contemporary South American cuisine by Venezuelan chef de cuisine Carlos Rodriquez.
Although located in the ever-lively boozy Parichart Court of Anantara Siam, Guilty labels itself as a standalone restaurant that happens to be in a hotel and is driven more by the food than the drink.
Rodriquez is a familiar face in the Bangkok restaurant scene since 2015. He has worked at a number of the city's high-profile restaurants including Gaggan, Meatlicious, Mejico and Park Hyatt Bangkok's Penthouse Bar + Grill.
Guests can find in the 60-item menu dishes such as snacks, salads, tacos, ceviche, meat and seafood courses as well as sushi and sashimi. All are generously portioned and ideal for sharing.
An indication of culinary dexterity and attention, the dishes taste exactly how you expect a good rendition of them to be.
Salad and ceviche -- vegetarian or seafood-based -- are light and refreshing, yet bursting with the piquant zest of natural ingredients. The meat and seafood courses, on the other hand, are hefty and so flavourful that you might not need condiments. And while the savoury offerings are absolutely no-nonsense, desserts are spectacular and fun.
Upon seating guests are treated to a wonderful complimentary cornbread.
Highly recommended starters include a salad of a la plancha asparagus, arugula, Manchego cheese and chimichurri; jicama mango salad with creamy avocados, confit tomato and kalamansi citrus; Peruvian sea bass ceviche with milky leche de tigre and sweet potato puree; and the Nikkei-styled ceviche of hamachi fish with radish, coriander and crispy corn tortilla in passion fruit-based sauce.
You should not miss the Mexican pulled beef taco featuring a slab of shredded slow-cooked Wagyu beef with Barbacoa peanut sauce on a soft corn tortilla.
There's a nice option of giant hibachi barbecue gambas of which large tiger prawns came rubbed with spices and served sizzling over a flame on a portable grill.
Equally tantalising is charcoal-grilled Busyu striploin grade A5 served on a Himalayan salt stone with side items of crispy sweet potatoes and Huancaina sauce, truffle mashed potato and red pepper-spiced corn lollipops with feta cheese.
Do spare some room for dessert.
The orange and lime churros de Naranja with dulce de leche and chocolate sauce; Mango Latino cheesecake with pear sorbet; and tres leches Maracuya almond sponge cake with condensed milk and coconut-rum sauce prove divine.
Complementing the excellent food is a wide range of beverages including a signature collection of Latin American-inspired cocktails by the hotel's master mixologist.
Guilty is located at Parichart Court in Anantara Siam hotel. It opens for lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Sunday. For more information and reservations, call 02-126-8866.
When it comes to authentic Thai cuisine, chef Chumpol is undeniably one of the country's most respected. For more than two decades, he has been adored by Thai food fans worldwide.
Yet, to tell you the truth, it is his sai krok pla naem and khanom jeen nam phrik that made me come to the ultimate conclusion that Waan Thai should absolutely be included in this year's top 10 list.
Waan Thai is a newly-opened cafe established with the aim to elevate classic Thai desserts via an innovative approach and beautiful imaginative presentation.
The bright and breezy 60-seater, which takes over the east wing of the chef's two Michelin-starred R-Haan restaurant, not only adds a sweet complement to its big brother eatery but also provides a dining alternative for those who wish to sample Chumpol's creations but aren't in for a lengthy dinner.
Other than Siamese recipe-inspired confections, a decent selection of light meals and main dishes as well as house-concocted drinks are also offered at Waan Thai.
Its 20-item savoury menu lists home-styled favourites such as yum som-o, or pomelo salad; khao tang nah tang, or crispy rice crackers with shrimp-peanut dip; khao mun som tam, or coconut-cooked rice with papaya salad; clay pot rice with chicken and Chinese sausage in brown gravy; five-spiced khai phalo eggs; khao soi curry noodles; and tom yum goong with river prawn.
And just like R-Haan, ingredients used in Waan Thai kitchen, whether they be rice, vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, seafood or condiments, are sourced from the best within the Kingdom.
Chef Chumphol's palace-style rendition of sai krok pla naem features flame-grilled, coconut-smoked homemade pork sausage accompanied by a generous portion of fluffy mixture of minced river fish, roasted rice, fine pork skin, coconut milk and bitter orange zest.
Putting a scoop of the minced fish and a piece of sausage into a betel leaf wrap, you are promised a gastronomic cloud nine.
The khanom jeen nam phrik, features Thai fermented rice noodles with a pungent curry deliciously flavoured and thickened by chopped prawns and pork, peanut, tamarind paste, coconut milk and bitter orange.
Also beyond criticism is mee krob, or sweet and crispy rice vermicelli with grilled river prawn.
There is Thai Angus beef green curry with crispy roti bread and phad kaphrao Korat Wagyu beef served over rice with cured duck yolk to indulge beef loons.
For a sweet ending, the choice includes durian cheesecake, Thai melon parfait, mung bean custard mille-feuille, young coconut sponge cake, candied kaffir lime in chilled syrup and Chiang Mai chocolate nuggets with Thai fillings.
Waan Thai is located at Thong Lor Soi 9, Sukhumvit 55. It opens daily 11am-5pm. For more information and reservations, call 094-215-3945 and 094-215-4156.
Flourish Chef's Table
Flourish is by nature an all-day dining restaurant serving up international dishes. However, since the 130-seater first opened in 2020, Thai cuisine has been especially highlighted to pay tribute to the much-acclaimed heritage of local cookery.
In August, the restaurant introduce a Thai cuisine chef's table to showcase the culinary sublimity of its newly-appointed head chef Chatsorn Pratoomma.
Having worked at prestigious dining establishments in Asia and Europe, Chatsorn brings to Flourish not just her well-honed experience but also fresh new ideas and directions.
The chef's table affair illustrates her passion for Thai cuisine through a wisely-curated multi-course dinner prepared and presented by Chatsorn herself. And it proves to be very impressive.
The meal, with the availability limited to 10 guests per night, is served in a genteel manner of fine dining. It starts with a house-made welcome drink and snack followed by a theatrically presented trio of amuse-bouches.
There is a zesty crab roe relish with bilimbi fruit and young garcinia leaves on a rice cracker; rich prawn tomalley and chopped tiger prawn on a basil-infused rice cracker; and a nutty and fruity miang kham nibble on a betel leaf. Every single item displays a full-flavour perfection.
Hokkaido scallop is paired with lemongrass, smoked shallots, caviar and chilli-passion fruit dressing to exhibit a well-rounded quality.
A classic soybean paste-seethed coconut milk soup comes with a luxurious touch of deep-fried minced salmon and ikura roe.
The palate-cleansing granita is an unusual yet ingenious marriage of melon and candied kaffir lime.
The main course is represented by khua kling (a southern Thai-style wok-fried curry, which comes with a choice of beef or chicken) in a style of steak. The meat is lent a marvellous complement by khao yum (a southern Thai jumble of rice and herbs with gourmet budu dressing), which acts as a delicious and stomach-filling two-in-one side dish: the salad and the carb.
A dessert course of fried bananas may sound humble, but it's not ordinary. It's a super delicious collection of banana fritters, coconut sherbet, coconut espuma, toasted almond and Chiang Mai vanilla honey sauce.
The chef's table dinner menu is available nightly. Reservations are a must. Guests are seated at their own table, or in a private dining room for a group of eight to 10 diners.
Flourish restaurant is located at Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel Bangkok. It operates daily for dinner upon reservation. For more information, call 02-095-9999.