Pointing out Bangkok’s biggest food and restaurant trends at any given moment can be a challenge. Granted it’s not as much of a clusterfuck as recommending a place for pad krapow, but in a sprawling and fast paced city such as Bangkok, often by the time a trend reaches newspapers and magazines it’s already begun it’s decline. By then the savviest Bangkokians have moved on to the next fad, the hipsters have long been bored, and the new-new ‘must-try’ businesses emerge screaming for their share of the limelight.
Here’s a few of the food trends hitting Bangkok that have been on my mind lately:
1. The Som Tum Tad Takeover
“Eating off big plates is better, duh.”
Think of a giant Sum Tum platter or spicy papaya salad and all the things you like to eat with it, on a big ass plate. In other words ‘som tum tad‘ (สมตำถาด) is the Thai version of an Indian Thali (on crack) and it’s been the hot trend the last few months, well at least for us issan food loving folks. The old school platter is the type you would commonly see used by Thai families to share food together as they eat on the floor. Not everyone has been consumed by the nostalgia of the colorful plates though, and there was controversy about people claiming the acidic foods eaten on the platters were corroding the old plates and making restaurant diners sick. YUM! Can’t wait to try now, right? Swing by Soi Ari’s Tum Mua ( ตำมั่ว อารีย์) to give it a try, and if you’re feeling queasy about the quality of the plates, you’re in luck because the fad has also been adopted by places with kitchenware fancier than your favorite Northeastern Thai auntie’s, like the shiny platters at Soi Sala Daeng’s Som Tum Der (ส้มตํา เด้อ).
Photo courtesy of Som Tum Der
2. South East Asia’s Foraged Foods
“Let’s do it in the woods…”
Over the past weekend, the crew that brought you Seven Spoons and Sheepshank, introduced a craft beer pairing dinner to showcase foraged foods from forests around South East Asia. Each dish on the menu was composed with indigenous ingredients and is a locavore’s wet dream, since the purchase of the ingredients could encourage forest preservation by providing much needed income for these remote communities. Of course foraged dishes, like Snapper crusted with Laotian dragon nuts (the dragon nuts being the foraged ingredients), on their own aren’t a trend in Bangkok, but are an important part of the city’s search for green, sustainable cuisine.
3. Silom’s Cocktail Invasion
“Let’s not all say elderflower at once.”
Cocktails aren’t new in Bangkok, but a stream of recent openings in Silom, have more people excited about the restaurant’s drink menus, than the food on offer. This is all happening after we Bangkokians spent most of the past year freaking out about craft beer, and the year before that pin-balling from one poorly named wine bar to the next. Now cocktails are having a revival and the biggest buzz has been about Silom’s Vesper, Lady Brett, and the recently opened Namsaah Bottling Trust. Consider that these new spots are added to a stretch of Silom and Satorn with Maggie Choo’s, KU DÉ TA, and Woo Bar and you could easily fuck around and empty your trust fund trying to taste it all. Don’t worry, any minute now one of these famed mixologists will create a cocktail called Silom Sloshed in your honor!
4. Bangkok’s Indian Explosion
“What the hell is it? I dunno– but it’s INDIAN!”
Either Indian food is becoming more prominent in Bangkok or this is one of my self-perpetuating food fantasies. Actually, it’s probably both. When Gaggan, known for it’s hyper-progressive Indian food, claimed repeated accolades for their cuisine, it up’d the anty for Indian restaurants in Bangkok. Not only are people reconsidering Indian food, but a quick glance at recent openings Maya, The Great Kebab Factory, and soon to open Charcoal show restauranteurs are reevaluating the static way Indian restaurants are usually presented. All of that is good news for real Indian food loving peeps, but when will a plate of tandoor grilled goodies become more affordable?
5. Bangkok’s Food Truck Fad
“We be truckin’!”
I’m adding food trucks to the list, since this is one topic I’m constantly asked about. Constantly. Even though, Bangkok has been pretty slow to jump on the tweeting and instagraming, mobile meal mania happening in places like the US. Yes, Mother Trucker is making waves with photos of seemingly enormous burger photos on social media, but there still needs to be more trucks available to diners before we can solidify them in Bangkok’s dining scene. Although, even though our food truck dreams haven’t been fully realized, there’s still enough happening lately to keep foodies’ attention. Besides the new faces, trucking trend setters like Daniel Thaiger are expanding into new territory, recently launching their own breakfast burrito delivery menu. Amazeballs.