When it comes to cuisine, creativity is a much-celebrated approach and Bangkok’s Michelin-starred restaurateurs are finding new inspiration to persevere in the New Normal dining scene.
There’s no doubting the COVID-19 situation has brought about new norms with restaurants having to adapt, as they draw upon their innovation and creativity. In Bangkok, many chefs, both with Michelin honours or otherwise, are taking up these challenges with more attention being put on the environment, sustainability, and social distancing.
With the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) placing focus on the food sector as one of the key elements of the tourism industry’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Michelin Guide Thailand provides much-welcomed help in spreading this message internationally. It’s also highlighted, as TAT continues to point out the importance of food safety and hygiene standards in all facets of restaurant operations.
The recently released fourth edition of the Guide features many such restaurants and eateries including over 150 in Bangkok. The listings reflect, as the Guide states, “the courage and resilience of chefs that have given their best to face this unprecedented crisis.”
The following restaurants are referenced as examples of resilience or best practices; however, these mentions are not meant as promotional or commercial endorsements.
Rongros, a Michelin Plate eatery, serves traditional Thai cuisine – think green curry with rib eye beef served with roti and tangy glass noodle salad – with a creative gastronomical flair.
Guests are still welcomed to sit and eat in the restaurant, which has rearranged its indoor dining area to provide for social distancing in accordance with the Ministry of Public Health’s guidelines for the prevention of COVID-19. It has also innovated and adapted its delivery options by adding ‘Quick Flavour’ service via LINE MAN on the Wongnai Merchant Application to broaden its appeal to potential customers, who might not have had a Michelin culinary experience before.
For those who really want social distancing in an outdoor environment, a table on the terrace can be booked, complete with stunning views of famous Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) to savour.
Blue by Alain Ducasse, a one-star restaurant in the 2021 Michelin Guide Thailand, also continues to allow dine-in service in its rearranged dining area but has adjusted its operating hours and is open for service until 21.00 Hrs. only, with last orders taken at 20.00 Hrs..
Some however, have placed public health and the safety of their staff and patrons before profits. Chef’s Table, which navigated the difficulty to manage promotion from one-star to two-star Michelin status in the 2021 guide, temporarily closed the restaurant with plans to reopen on 31 January, 2021, out an abundance of caution.
The 2021 Michelin Guide Thailand for the first time this year also features a new distinction – the Michelin Green Star – for restaurants that embody and embrace sustainability in their day-to-day operations. The awarding of this takes into consideration such aspects as recycling, food waste reduction and promotion of local and seasonal ingredient sourcing.
All of these practices, besides being good for business, help make Michelin dining in-house a safer and more hygienic experience.
Rong Sabiang is an example of this, although the restaurant didn’t make the latest Michelin guide, it could in the future and is well positioned to thrive in Bangkok’s culinary New Normal.
It’s an all-day dining venue in the Phra Khanong area of the mixed-use T77 Community, and has next to it a green space reserved for organic farming and shops selling freshly picked produce. Diners at this greenhouse-themed restaurant that serves Thai and international dishes, can enjoy farm-to-table cuisine in a setting akin to an old English garden house decorated with plants, vinyl record players, books and old radios and furnished with vintage chairs and tables.
The menu highlights the produce that’s grown in the adjacent garden, among these such delicious ingredients as cabbage, pumpkin and papaya. It fits nicely with the management’s vision of giving back to the community by helping create a delightful neighbourhood with green spaces for all to enjoy.
The fact that a restaurant is not featured in the current guide in no way suggests a detraction from the dining experience or how it uses creativity and innovation to stay successful in a highly competitive sector. There are just so many wonderful eateries throughout the expansive Thai capital.