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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Explore Bangkok through Eric Nam’s lens for a gastronomical adventure like no other

This buzzing neighbourhood along Sukhumvit Road offers a wide range of culinary
options, from upscale restaurants to trendy cafes. Top of your list should be Sorn, a
Michelin-starred restaurant housed in a restored two-storey mansion. While most of us
are familiar with dishes such as pad thai (stir-fried rice noodles) and green curry – central
Thai cuisine, in other words – Sorn’s head chef, Supaksorn “Ice” Jongsiri, prefers to
spotlight southern Thai fare, which is characterised by big, bold flavours.

Here, chef Ice and his team reinterpret traditional recipes using modern techniques,
using sustainable ingredients sourced from across southern Thailand. Standout dishes
on the 22-course menu include the decadent Gems on Crab Stick, which features blue
swimmer crab legs coated with crab roe.

For dessert, head to ICI.BKK for Instagram-worthy creations such as the Chilli Crab, a
cake that looks impressively like the real deal. Here, a “crab claw” is fashioned out of a
tomato sponge cake, served alongside calamansi mousse, chilli sauce and coffee
caramel, and then garnished with salted egg crumb. Other noteworthy desserts include
the Poodle Doodle, a dog-shaped cake with a butter cheese frosting, and the Starfish, a
bright yellow creation made with a coffee-vanilla mascarpone mousse and filled with
pineapple compote and praline.

Ekkamai is often overshadowed by neighbouring Thong Lor, but it certainly holds its
own when it comes to food options. For starters, this is where you’ll find Wattana
Panich, one of the most famous eateries in Bangkok. “I’ve heard so much about this
family-run restaurant, which goes back generations,” Eric says. “I’m not just talking about
how long it has been around for – it also serves a soup that has been cooking for more
than 50 years!”

The soup in question is a beef broth that has been simmering non-stop in an enormous
vat for half a century. Each morning, the owners use some of the leftover broth from the
previous day as a stock base, adding water and fresh ingredients – including nearly 10
different Chinese herbs and spices – to the mix. The result is a rich, flavourful broth used
to make the eatery’s signature kuay teaw nua (beef noodles), which comes topped with
meatballs and innards. Eric’s verdict? “This has been 50 years very well spent, and I’m
glad the family has kept the recipe unchanged,” he declares.

Where to stay: Traditional Thai dishes won’t be the only gem you’ll find, as Ekkamai’s
dynamic blend of culture, entertainment, and convenience has earned this
neighbourhood the title of hipster central. Here, you’ll find The Salil Hotel Sukhumvit 57,
tucked away in an artful concrete jungle.

Bangkok’s gleaming business district is home to several fine-dining hotspots including
Le Du, which recently topped the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 list. True to its
name, which is derived from the Thai word for “season”, the restaurant combines the
best seasonal produce with age-old culinary techniques and a dash of modern flair.
The four- and six-course tasting menus change regularly, but diners can expect
inventive dishes such as crab with mushroom and homemade sriracha, aged duck with
kale and green curry, and golden snapper with sticky rice.

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