20 Places Where I Would Spend My Own Money

I don’t consider myself a food connoisseur, but a couple of years back when I was assigned to cover a food column for Weekend, I began to learn a few things about good food from my interview sources, colleagues and many other food critics. For me, good food must bring comforts to both the palate and the purse. I prefer the place that is clean, tasty and true to their words and I don’t like to go places that require too much efforts (sorry, but I have no time and energy to deal with curbside mafia and parking tickets). Following is the list of the restaurants I went back from time to time and happily spent my own money and really had good time savoring their fabulous fares. To be honest, this is a tough call for me and all my eating partners, but here you are.

1. Kuan Ah, 884/9 Rama 3 Road, Bangpongpang, Yannawa (Next to SV City Complex), T: 02-682-7747-8, Daily: 10am – 10pm, 6.00pm – midnight, Chinese, Price- BB

This is the place I go if in the mood for a meal of sumptuous, fatty and tasty Hainanese steamed chicken rice. Kuan Ah just moved from its Sathorn branch earlier this year but still serves fabulous Chinese fares. The place has a canteen ambience with lots of Chinese families gathering around their big round tables or sofa cubicles. Dishes are big in portions and affordable in prices. Steamed chicken (Bt250-500) should be accompanied by their home-cooked kao man (steamed rice), pad chap chai (mixed stir-fried veggie, Bt130-200), and Hainanese-style hot pot (Bt200-300).

2. Red, 124 Sukhumvit 53 (Thonglor Soi 9), T: 02-259-7590, Daily: 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6.00pm – midnight, Indian, Price – BBB

Red offers new twists on the traditional Indian fares in their easy-going and cozy ambience. Gagan Anand is an enthusiast chef who flew from Delhi to formulate the restaurant’s modern and light Indian menu. Must-tries include the grilled fish ajwani tikka (Bt550) served with fresh mango pickles, salmon paturi (Bt600) which is an Eastern Indian favorite, Nimbu chicken (Bt375), pasta with Makhani and mutton kebab sauce (Bt350) and curry spiced seafood risotto (Bt350) and chocolate martini (Bt295) and kulab jamun served with raspberry sauce and mango sorbet (Bt180). Set Thali lunch is also available at Bt550.

3. Olive Kebab & Café, 2F, CRC Tower, All Seasons Place, Wireless Road, T: 02-685-3989, Daily: 11.00am – 9pm, Greek, Price – BB

Olive serves quick and tasty ‘Greek’ kebab and arrays of other exotic snacks. Their hummus and other types of Meze dips (Bt70 each served with pita bread), dolma (stuffed pickled vine leaves), and kebabs wraps (from Bt125/single to Bt285/set) as well as their thick and creamy Greek yoghurt served with honey and almond (Bt100) are all our favorites.

4. Bharani, @TCDC, 6F, the Emporium, Sukhumvit 24, T: 02-664-8468, Sukhumvit 23, T: 02-664-4454. Daily: 10.30am – 9pm (Closed Mondays), Thai, Price – BB

Bharani at TCDC is a quiet alternative for me when in the mood for a good Thai food. The place serves delicious old-style Thai-Western dishes like homemade pork sausage and spicy smoked ham salad (Bt85). Their tacos (pork or beef or chicken, Bt180) and home-smoked ham (Bt160) make wonderful appetizers, too. For a quick and practical bite, I usually order a bowl of their boat noodle (Bt85), sticky rice and Thai-French sun dried beef (Bt130), or a plate of fried red-eye rice with fried salmon (Bt150).

5. Je Jong Moo Tod (Je Jong’s Fried Pork), 348 Rim Rod Fai Kao Road (Behind Tesco Lotus Rama 4 where you can park your car), Klong Toey, T: 083-013-2574, Daily: 6am – 3pm (Closed Sundays), Thai, Price – B

You can not miss this place for its staple long line of hungry motorcyclists and the aromatic trail of fried pork. Je Jong’s is a fantastic place where you can get good and incredibly cheap food with her specialty of crispy-fried pork served with steamed rice and half-boiled egg (Bt20-25). But I prefer to buy back her pork in kilo (Bt200) which makes a wonderful addition to other home-cooked dishes.

6. Lin Fa Chinese Restaurant, Siam City Hotel, 477, Sri Ayutthaya Road, T: 02-247-0123 Ext 1820-21, Daily: 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6-10.30pm, Chinese, Price – BB

Lin Fa is my friend’s secret address for dim sum and now mine. The hotel is a bit out of our usual route, but is worth a detour. Their dim sum arrays are all delicious, starting at Bt50. I personally like Tsiu-Chow sui mai, steamed pork/shrimp dumplings, steamed fun-koh, steamed crab meat/pork dumplings, ha-gao, steamed scallop cheng-fun, crispy-fried taro, and deep-fried turnovers. Weekend dim sum buffer is Bt495 net per person.

7. Uta-andon, 3F, The Emporium, Sukhumvit 24, T: 02-664-8528, Daily: 11am – 10pm, Japanese, Price – BB

A comfortable, no-frills Japanese restaurant Utan-andon serves fabulous udon soups and good value lunch sets on weekdays (Bt200-250). We also like their soy-braised flounder or karei netsuke (Bt270) which is best with steamed rice, mixed seafood kaisen udon (Bt190), egg tamagotoji udon (Bt150) and gyu-don beef rice (Bt170).

8. Guay Tiew Luisuan Khun Tip, Talad Lung Perm (Behind Thai Airways Head Office), Soi Vipavadee 22, Mon-Sat: 7.30am-3pm, T: 06-603-4727, 04-005-5420, Thai, Price – B

This place can be a hassle because it is located in Lung Perm Market at the back of Thai Airways’ Headquarter on Vipavedee Rangsit. You have to call Khun Tip and order in advance earlier in the day to get your pack of her fabulous noodles by noon (otherwise you will have to wait, wait and wait.) Guay Tiew Lui Suan is Thai-style spring roll with minced pork, mushroom and lettuce served with spicy seafood sauce. It is Bt5 a piece and makes a wonderful appetizer, a meal or party canapé. Vegetarian version is also available. The rolls are available for takeaway only at Bt50-100 a box of 10-20 pieces.

9. Lee Café, Urban Kitchen, G/F, Erawan Bangkok, Daily: 11.30am – 10pm, T: 02-250-7758-9, Thai-Chinese, Price – BB

A nice place that never lets us down when we are in town and need a quick and tasty fill, Lee Café has an extensive menu of Thai and Chinese dishes, and we particularly like their yen ta four (spicy rice noodle soup, Bt60), guichai tod (fried dumplings, Bt50), por pia roti (ham and cheese spring rolls, Bt50), kanom pakkad (stir-fried turnip curds with bean sprouts, Bt70), khao pad pla khem (fried rice with salted fish, Bt80), khao pad pla tu (fried rice with Thai mackerel, Bt80) and finish it all off with a bowl of Hainanese sweet ‘bua kia’ (Bt45).

9. Lim Lao Ngow, Golden Place, Praditmanutham Road (off Ekkamai – Ramindra Expressway), Wangthonglang, Daily: 8.30am – 8.30pm, T: 087-099-9340, Thai, Price – B

This place is near my home and I always go there for cheap, clean and delicious fish-ball noodles. The branch is of the famous 50-year-old Lim Lao Ngow at the China Town and they make own their fish balls and dumplings. The clear soup is strictly served without bean sprouts because the nutty flavour of the sprouts can ruin the delicate aroma of their fish stock. Rice and egg noodles with fish balls are Bt35-40. Also, they serve refreshing chilled young coconut which is my addiction, too.

10. Wandamrong (Mae Boonchuay), 573/114 Soi Thepleela 14, near Sriwara Intersection, Soi Ramkamhaeng 39, Wangthonglang, Monday – Saturday: 7am – 6pm, T: 02-559-0677, Thai, Price – B

Wandamrong is a small shop selling takeaway Thai desserts, and their best products include the traditional style kanom chan (layers of sweets Bt50/box), tago (coconut puddings, Bt30/box), piek poon (steamed cakes served with grated fresh coconut, Bt50/box) and coconut jelly at Bt42/box. Parking can be a problem if you drive, so my advice is you go with a friend who can wait in the car while you pop out to select your sweet desires.

11. The Foodie, 83/6 Moobaan Cement Thai (on the opposite side of Kasemratch Hospital), Prachacheun Road, Mon-Fri: 11.00am – 2.30pm, 5pm-1-pm, Sat-Sun: 11am-10pm, T: 02-911-0149, Thai, Price – BB

The Foodie is a place suitable for a homey family gather away from home. They have tons of good Thai food, some of them so traditional they are hard to find in normal Thai restaurant such as nampla-fried pork belly (Bt75), palo-stew with salted eggs (Bt75), stir-fried sliced fresh bitter gourd with fresh shrimps (Bt80), and sun-dried beef in coconut milk soup (Bt95). Their spicy mushroom salad and soft-boiled eggs (Bt115), Southern-style gaeng tai pla (Bt80), a plate of stir-fried sator nuts with fresh shrimps (Bt150) are also fantastic. The place also serves fabulous khao chae during summer at Bt200/set.

12. Islamic Restaurant, 196 Charoenkrung 36 (Opposite French Embassy), Mon-Sat: 11am – 10pm, Sun: 6pm-10pm, T: 02-234-7911, Muslim, Price – B

A food friend, Phi Mount of Sakul Thai Magazine, recommended me this place and so far I have went back there countless times already. Islamic serves homemade Muslim dishes – all delicious and rich (meaning fatty) – such as mutton masala (Bt50 and Bt70), beef keema (Bt55) with roti (Bt25) or rice, fried fish (Bt60) or fried mutton (Bt130)with Biryani rice (Bt30). Their homemade yoghurt (Bt30) is also my favorite along with their panna cotta and caramel custard (Bt35-40). Parking lot is nearby at Bt20/hour.

13. Four Seasons Hotel, 155 Rajadamri Road, Bt2,350++ (Adult) and half price for children, Sundays Open: 11.30am-3.00pm, T: 02-250-1000, International, Price – BBBB

Sunday brunch at Four Seasons is a secret guilt of my small family. We always celebrate our special occasions here thanks to the place’s superb and sumptuous buffet lines that feature excellent quality fresh seafood of lobsters, king prawns, sea crabs, a large grill station with fillets of fish, prawns, beef, lamb and pork. Four Seasons combines all of their food outlets into their Sunday brunch and that means we can select from their Japanese, Thai, Italian sections. We also like the fact that the buffet includes all drinks in the price we pay. You can enjoy ‘free-flowing’ champagne, any type of cocktails, soft drinks, juices or even special creations of drinks of your own at their full bar.

14. Yod Lab Ped Udon – 106, New Rama 9 Road, Suan Luang, Daily 11am – 11.30pm, T: 02: 718-3111, 02-718-9866, Thai-Esan, Price – B

Phi Ju, another good friend, told me about Yod Lab Ped which is a homey and clean place for an Esan treat and a bit of fresh seafood BBQ. The place has established a good name for an affordable place that one can comfortably chill out with nice laab ped (spicy duck meat salad with Thai herbs), som tam and grilled chicken. The place is now run by the son of the late owners and he keeps on expanding the seating area into the green shades of small garden. You can also bring your own bottles (no corkage charge) and don’t forget to check out the big restroom this place has to offer.

15. Le Pla Daak – 888/3 Moo 9 Klong Lamjiak Road, Klongkum, Bung Koom, Daily: 11.30am – midnight, T: 02-943-9528, Thai-Esan, Price – BB
A nice cozy place that is creative in everyway, Le Pla Daak jokes around with French dialects in their truly Esan dishes. Set in a wooden house fully decked out in old-time accessories, Le Pla Daak’s myriads of somtams are innovatively done and taste fantastic. We especially like their tam mua sua (rough translation: ‘whatever somtam’ with wild selections of ingredients such as pickles, devil’s figs, Esan’s karieng chilis, and baby prawns that are combined to give an amazing result). A dish is Bt88 and you can have it with or without pla ra (Esan’s raw fish relish). Their ‘C’est bon deep fried free-range chicken’ comes complete with a glass of red wine and a heap of home-made french fries while their stir-fried Udon’s naem (Esan-style pickled sausage) with egg and stir-fried Korat noodle can cool down the fiery tastes along with a tub of warm sticky rice. Loud oldies music.

16. Paeng Thong, Opposite guard post on Moo Baan Garden Home, Phaholyothin Road, Don Muang area, Daily: (closed last Monday of the month) 10am – 9pm, T: 02-531-4199, Beef-Pork noodles, Price – B

This remote, nondescript place serves one of the best pork and beef balls noodles in town. They make their own meatballs with fresh pork meat and Thai-French beef, resulting in tender, smooth and unstoppable snacks. The meatballs are great for parties as well. Grilled meatballs are Bt6 for a skewer of three. You can order them grilled in bulk with the house’s delicious homemade dipping sauce, too.

17. Khao Soi Lamduan Fah Ham, Soi Vipavadee Rangsit 58, Lak Si, Daily: closed last Sunday of the month) 8.30am – 3pm, T: 02-579-6403, Thai northern dishes, Price – B

Run by the daughter of the founders of Chiang Mai’s famous Khao Soi Lam Duan, the Bangkok’s branch is where we always go whenever in the mood for some Northern treats. The place’s khao soi (available in beef, crunchy pork ribs, and chicken, Bt35) are creamy and delicious. But you must add the pickles, shallots, some fried chilies and squeezes of fresh lime, too. Their kanom cheen nam ngiew (rice noodle with pork relish) is also my favorite. Parking curbside in the community where the place is located.

18. Wai Thai, 183 Silom Road (next to Silom Complex, Saladeng BTS), Daily: 11am – midnight, T: 02-632-1461-3, Thai, Price – B

Whenever we go to Silom area, Wai Thai is always my destination for a healthy meal or refreshing juices. The place has array of healthy dishes (cooked with no oil, sugar and salt) such as stir-fried rice with basil sauce (Bt95) which is cooked with home-made broth, brown rice or vegetable noodles in chicken or shitake broth (Bt95), grilled lemon grass chicken and chicken satae. Their juices, such as blends of carrot and spices and pineapple and spices, are also delicious. And you must finish the meal with their homemade sorbets (Bt55). We like tamarind (made from fresh tamarind and cinnamon), red dragon fruit (with tangy taste of fresh lime) and coconut.

19. Chico, 109 Soi Renoo, Sukhumvit 53, Daily: (closed Tuesdays) 9.30am – 6pm, T: 02-258-6557, Japanese interior products & café, Price – B

This place is my personal heaven when I want to make an escapade from the more popular cafes in department stores or front lines of the streets. Chico, tucked back in the further end of the busy Sukhumvit 53, is very secluded. It is in a house and the café area is set in an interior item shops, wonderful for a quick snack, a pot of fresh green tea and the place’s famous honey loaf. Japanese-style Italian dishes are also available for lunch along with choices of instant noodles in case you are hungry while enjoying the serenity the place has to offer.

20. Moo Mae Lek, Soi Kraisri, Banglampoo, Daily: 8am – 4pm, T: 081-489-5454, Thai, Price – B

I always drop by this stall to stock up on Mae Lek’s delicious pork and beef jerky which are perfect choice to keep in the refrigerator in our home where cooking can be a rare occasion. Mae Lek’s uncooked beef is Bt370 while the cooked, ready-to-eat is Bt480 per kilo. Their wonderful pork is Bt360 per kilo and they can all be stored in the fridge for weeks, or months in the freezer, waiting to be eaten alone, with steamed rice or even sticky rice.

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