Every seasoned traveller has this question when visiting a foreign place, “Where can I eat like a local?” this is often the type of question that creates a Bangkok local’s eyes twinkle excitedly just because of the wealth of choices within the city. In this Southeast Asian city, it’s easy to eat sort of a local and to sample the simplest Thai dishes at affordable prices.
One indication that you’re in a good Thai local restaurant in Bangkok is that the meals aren’t dumbed right down to suit foreign tongues. Want authentic tom yum, Khao phat nam, and green curry? Expect fire! These three dishes are some of Thailand’s spiciest dishes, and the only way to enjoy them authentically is when they’re “Thai spicy”.
If you’re not an enormous fan of warmth, it’s still possible to require enjoyment of non-spicy, authentic Thai food like their fresh seafood dishes and delicious desserts.
Here’s your guide to the simplest local restaurants in Bangkok to assist you on your next trip.
#1 SOMTUM DER
For the best som tum in Bangkok
Somtum Der may have gone international, with branches in Tokyo, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh, and New York, but it is still as local as it can get.
The restaurant is headed by Chef Korn, a native of Sakhon Nakhon, a province of northern Thailand. He is liable for keeping the roots of their Isan menu as intact as possible, even to the purpose of fermenting fish himself for one among their specialities, “pla ra”.
This cosy air-conditioned restaurant on Silom Road takes pride in its long list – quite 20 – of som tum varieties, each of which is ready right before you as you order. Don’t miss out by ordering only one kind; try these top picks: Tum pla tu khao mun, Tum Suo Sakhonnakorn, and Tum Muo.
Price range: 50 to 120 baht ($1.45 to $3.47)
When: 11:00 – 14:30 (Lunch); 16:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Where: 5/5 Sala Daeng Road, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok
How to get there: Somtum Der is found right at the start of Silom Road. It is accessible by BTS Silom Line or MRT Blue Line, alight at Sala Daeng station.
#2 SOEI RESTAURANT
For delicious mackerel cheeks, seafood and tom yum dishes
Here’s a useful tip if you’re getting to erode Soei be prepared, don’t go famished and expect to be served a hot meal directly. They await a table or for food could take up to 2 hours.
It has an in-depth 10-page Thai menu and a limited English menu, so you better bring a Thai-speaking guide. The open-air restaurant can get noisy, with throngs of consumers, the ins and outs of passengers, and therefore the rumbling of the train every now then.
Be prepared to possess the highlight meal of your trip – or maybe your life. Delight in rare Thai dishes like fried mackerel faces, Thai shrimp ceviche, and mackerel curry.
What to order: Chu chee pla to (Mackerel curry), Pla goong pao (Thai shrimp salad), Kaem pla too tod (Fried mackerel faces), Tom yum pla too (Mackerel tom yum soup)
Price range: 90 to 450 baht ($2.60 to $12.99)
When: 11:30 – 22:00 (Sunday to Friday)
Where: Kamphaeng Phet 5, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok
How to get there: Take BTS Sukhumvit Line to Victory Monument station then take a taxi to Samsen railroad station.
#3 SAENG CHAI POCHANA
For a beautiful selection of Chinese-Thai seafood dishes
Saeng Chai Pochana is one among those local restaurants that are tourist-friendly in such how that their menu has pictures and translation in English and Japanese. This is due to the big population of Japanese and English speaking ex-pats in the area (in between Thong Lo and Phrom Phong).
The restaurant has an in-depth, a beat-up menu consisting mostly of Chinese-Thai seafood dishes. Servings are good for sharing and modestly priced so it’s a perfect place for friends and families.
Top picks include Pla Gao tod gratiem prik Thai (deep-fried grouper topped with garlic), Tom moo kiem chai (minced pork soup with pickled mustard greens) and Pad dok kajon (stir-fried Thai milkweed flowers with egg and mung beans).
It is tempting but probably impossible, to order every mouthwatering dish on the menu especially due to the appetizing, realistic photos. You cannot fail with any of their seafood dishes, which are guaranteed fresh. You can even pick your “catch” before they cook it. They know their way around seafood, cooked just right and with lots of briny flavours.
What to order: Pla Gao tod gratiem prik Thai, Tom moo kiem chai, Pad dok kajon
Price range: 80 to 250 baht ($2.31 to $7.21)
When: 18:00 – 04:00 (Daily)
Where: 762/5-6 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 32, Bangkok
How to get there: Take BTS to either Thong Lo or Phrom Phong, and take a leisurely 3-minute walk on Sukhumvit Road to Saeng Chai Pochana.
#4 SABAI JAI GAI YANG
For the famous grilled chicken dish
Sabai Jai Gai Yang is one of the few restaurants to survive the modernization of upscale Ekkamai Road. It grew along with the development of Ekkamai, which has seen the loss of several family-owned local restaurants.
A huge factor to the staying power of Sabai Jai Gai Yang is its remarkable rendition of Northern Isaan and traditional Thai favourites, with dishes such as Gai yang (grilled chicken), moo yang (grilled pork), and Tom yum Goong Nam sai (Tom yum with clear soup) headlining their menu. Price is higher than most Bangkok eateries, but still among the most reasonable on Ekkamai.
The restaurant named itself after one of its bestsellers, Gai yang, but there are still so many dishes that are worth trying such as Mushroom salad, Roasted fish with lemongrass, and Snapper with black pepper.
What to order: Gai yang, Moo yang, Crispy roti with condensed milk and chocolate ice cream
Price range: 60 to 200 baht ($1.73 to $5.77)
When: 10:00 – 00:00 (Daily)
Where: Sukhumvit 63 Road (Ekkamai), Bangkok
How to get there: Take the BTS Skytrain to Ekkamai station. From there, take about a 10-minute walk on Soi Sukhumvit 63, you will see Sabai Jai Gai Yang on your left.
#5 KRUA OV
For the Royal Thai dish Khao Chae and curry
It is a common belief that the best places to eat like a local in Bangkok are roadside eateries. That is not entirely false, but it’s not completely true either. Located in Kate Dusit, Krua OV has better ambience than other restaurants and serves some of the best Thai dishes you’ll ever have – at really affordable prices.
It is best known for their Royal Thai dishes such as Khao Chae, an assortment of side dishes paired with icy jasmine rice and jasmine water. Other not-to-miss dishes are Gaeng garee gai, Kai Paloe, and Pla duk foo pad prik king.
It’s mandatory to order Khao Chae at Krua OV, especially because chances are slim that other restaurants offer this royal dish. Side dishes such as deep-fried green chilli stuffed with minced pork, shrimp Kapi balls, and shredded pork are meant to be chased with a spoonful of icy jasmine rice and jasmine water. It’s an experience that is too good for words!
What to order: Khao Chae, Gaeng garee gai, Pla duk foo pad prik king
Price range: 20 to 150 baht ($0.58 to $4.33)
When: 10:00 – 20:30 (Daily)
Where: 199 Thanon Pichai, Kwang, Nakhon Chaisi, Kate Dusit, Bangkok
How to get there: Take the BTS to Victory Monument. From there, take a cab or bus to Thanon Pichai. Enter the royal government area of Dusit, and you’ll see Krua OV’s Irish pub-like entrance.