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Jun 20, 2011 06:11 PM

Bangkok Banyon Tree Hotel

We're coming in July for 3 nights and staying at the Banyon Tree Hotel. I've been reading through all of the Bangkok posts and having a hard time narrowing down my choices. It's my first time to Bangkok and unfamiliar with the city. I will be there with a work colleague. We are both very adventurous eaters. I'm looking for the best most authentic Thai food. We have a lot of great Thai food in LA and want the best Bangkok has to offer.

More upscale geared towards foreigners - which is best?
Erawan Tearoom
Spice Market
Blue Elephant

Authentic Thai - which do you recommend?
Somboon Seafood
Baan Klang Krong

Which market has the best food stalls and most variety?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Since you listed Bo-Lan as an option, you should be aware that Nahm is probably 100m from your hotel and I feel is well worth experiencing as one of your upscale places. I assume you have a high chilli tolerance as they don't tame it down.

    1. As an average Thai, I haven't opted in for upscale Thai cuisine as much. But I can say Blue Elephant and Sala Rim Naam (Mandarin Oriental) are really good. For Blue Elephant in particular, I went there for lunch and the lunch set offered quite good value (when compare to dinner) as well. (I spent 500 baht/person for lunch while friends spent 1200 for dinner)

      For authentic Thai cuisine, these places are all nice (just none of them is really amazing for me):

      Kalapapruk in soi Pramuan off Sathon road

      Ta ling pling in Thanon Pun (also off Sathon)

      Baan Klang Naam on Rama 3 (If I'm not wrong, the owner of Baan Klang Naam and Baan Klang Krung are relatives. Most people I know prefer Baan Klang Naam.)

      1. You don't necessarily have to go to a specific market for food stalls, just hit the streets. You are very close to Silom Road/Soi Convent. This area has tons of food vendors (and all sorts of other vendors) along the sidewalks. It is very popular with locals and tourists.

        1. My wife and I (we are also from LA) spent some time in Bangkok a few years back and relied heavily on the recommendations of Curt the Soi Hound. We were not disappointed. While we ate our way through the city, frequently stopping at street vendors, two of the standout restaurants were LEK Seafood and Somboon.

          14 Replies
          1. re: anothernotch

            Thanks. I have been reading all of Curt the Soi Hound's recommendations. He has been a go to for me. I have Somboon on my radar but read a couple of issues with the taxi drivers taking you to fake Somboon because they get paid by the restaurant. I'm here for work so hopefully somebody with some local knowledge can help us navigate.

            If we decide to go upscale I think we will try Nahm or Blue Elephant.

            1. re: js76wisco

              Being that it's next door to you, at the Metropolitan, Nahm would be a good choice. Besides, "Bo", of Bo.lan, is a David Thompson student. If you want that take on Thai, why not go to the "master"?

              Somboon is problematic. Because of the scamming clones, drivers are prone to hijack you. If you want to go to the more popular Surawong branch, catch a taxi and tell them the "Plaza Hotel, Surawong". The Plaza is located at the intersection of Surawong and Narathiwat, diagonally across from Somboon. You can actually have the driver drop you off when you see Somboon, on the left, as you approach Surawong.


              On thing about Bangkok Taxis; Always flag down a passing taxi. When it stops, open the back door, stick you head in and state your destination, If the driver nods yes, then hop in. Make sure he trips the meter.

              If the driver starts talking set fares, say meter. If he still wants to negotiate, close the door and flag any one of the thousand other taxis passing by.

              1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                Thanks for the advice on the cabs. I'm from NYC so no stranger to shenanigans with cabbies but definitely a different story in SE Asia.

                Does the food at Somboon outweigh the potential scamming clones? I think I read on another one of your posts to take a cab to Sam Yam MRT with walking directions to another Somboon. This new Surawong branch actually sounds a bit easier to navigate.

                1. re: js76wisco

                  i'd skip the new somboon in chamchurri square, only because it has much less atmosphere (not that the original's formica tables are that atmospheric but this one is in a brand new building/mall).

                  we've never had a problem with taxis taking us to somboon but we've lived here for a while and always ask to be taken to the intersection of narathiwat and surawong as curt the soi hound suggested.

                  as for nahm versus blue elephant, they are totally different experiences. blue elephant is upscale in that it's nicely decorated and not inexpensive, but there's nothing innovative about the food. it's the sort of place we take my parents or my husband's parents when they are in town. nahm (and sra bua at the kempinsky hotel) are more cutting edge and experimental. just a totally different experience. personally i love bo.lan. it's not really the same experience as nahm. much less... pretentious? not sure that's the right word but even though it's high end everyone is much more relaxed.

                  1. re: justintime

                    I think the food is also a bit better at Surawong.

                    You and I don't stand out in front of a hotel, looking like we just fell off the bus. Taxi drivers can spot a tourist a kilometer away!

                    1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                      you're right. i'm always surprised by the weird stuff that happens to our friends and family when they visit. to the OP, i think that somboon is worth the risk, so long as you know where you are going. and also agree with curt the soi hound that it's all about the curry crab and morning glory. order the grab without the bones if you're lazy!

                      1. re: justintime

                        Besides my laziness, it negates having to listen to everyone trying to suck the air out of the room!


                  2. re: js76wisco

                    There is actually a branch of Somboon at the Sam Yan MRT stop, in Chamchuri Square. the advantage of this location is that it is also open for lunch.


                    All said, for us, Somboon is curry crab, stir fried morning glory, and a side of rice. Beyond that, we haven't been impressed. If you visit, I would stick to those.

                    1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                      I'm going to make the trek to Somboon. It seems like it's worth the trip.

                      Justine - you've thrown me for a loop with my other choices because I was pretty much set to go to Nahm due to its proximity. But I have read better things about bo.lan and seems more up my alley. I enjoy the nice high end type of meal like everybody else but I much more prefer the authentic experience, especially for Asian food. I usually reserve my high end adventures for sushi, steak, Italian and French.

                      1. re: js76wisco

                        Out of bo.lan and nahm, I would say that bo.lan is the more fusion oriented and innovative and nahm the traditional. I have found nahm more consistent than bo.lan and prefer it. Both are 'high end'.

                      2. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                        We just tried Somboon based on the recommendations here. I liked it, but there are two things I wish someone had told me:

                        1. It's cash only, no credit cards; and
                        2. Both the curry crab and the stir fried morning glory are very greasy. As I said, I liked it, but my wife did not, as she was very turned off by the grease slick on both plates.

                        1. re: Hoc

                          It's been a while since we've been to Somboon. Actually, we have other places that we prefer for curry crab. I'd hate to think that their two signature dishes have also become inconsistent!

                          Polo Rice Soup has, IMO, a better pu pad pong kari, but they don't always serve it. Besides, the place will scare off most westerners!

                          Another great spot is Krua Apsorn. Unfortunately, it's a bit out of the way.

                          1. re: Hoc

                            as for the grease, you'll be hard pressed to find curry crab that isn't greasy. that's the way it's prepared. my husband and i joke about how you should never take leftovers of curry crab home and stick them in the fridge because you'll see how much fat you've eaten. there are definitely light seafood dishes available in thailand (steamed fish!) but curry crab is not one of them.

                            1. re: justintime

                              Very true. That's why steamed rice is mandatory!

                              But, the morning glory should have been prepared with a hot enough wok to avoid greasiness.

                              Just had the dish at Krua Apsorn yesterday. The restaurant is quite plain, but the food is always exceptional!