The annual Thailand Tatler Best Restaurants awards night, held on March 28 at The EmQuartier, is a celebration of the finest achievements in the F&B industry over the past 12 months. The guide is comprised of 230 restaurants from around the country that have been anonymously sampled by our team of judges over the past few months. They are then scored across the four key areas that make up the total dining experience.
While we recognise all of the restaurants included in the guide as being at the top of Thailand’s fiercely competitive food game, the Top 10 Awards are presented to the Bangkok restaurants that received the highest ratings—that demonstrated exceptional service, culinary innovation and standards that left us more than just impressed.
Count down with us to find out which establishment took the number one spot this year.
Simply put, 80/20 blindsided us. We were expecting a play-it-safe hipster eatery and we got something disruptive and exciting. Across the menu, Thai flavour profiles and ingredients (80/20 refers to the balance between local and imported artisanal produce and know-how) are presented in surprising ways. Some of the latter are unusual or up-and-coming (powdered cricket, anyone?), making this a great place to glimpse the future of what Thai food might actually look like. Make no mistake: head chef Napol Jantraget and his passionate and clued-up team are ones to watch, preferably from within this casual-cool tavern of a restaurant.
If we were being really picky, we’d wish for a more intimate setting than the sterile confines of the U Sathorn Hotel, but make no mistake—J’aime by Jean-Michel Lorain transcends it. Restaurant manager Marine Lorain’s pride in her father’s menus shines through in every interaction with customers. Head chef Amerigo Sesti tackles the day-to-day stuff at the same exacting standards of Lorain’s Cotes St Jacque restaurant in Burgundy. And the vibrant French food, which demonstrates a masterly grasp of classical-meets-modern cooking, dazzles at every step.
7. M Krub
Stiff and starchy Chinese fine-dining becomes something else in the capable hands of chef Man Wai Yin and his kitchen partner in crime, French chef Yoan Martin. Plates decorated with calligraphic drawings of bamboo, fish, etc give each dish a lyrical (and Instagram-friendly) quality before you’ve even taken a bite. And once you do, you’re left reeling at the sleight of hand that has given rise to such gripping medleys of Cantonese-inspired texture and flavour. Whether you’re enjoying a silken broth or an immaculate French-style dessert, every dish at M Krub is a memorable work of polished culinary art.
7. Le Du
In English, the phrase ‘economy of words’ means to achieve maximum effect through a minimum of words. In our eyes, US-trained Thitid Tassanakajohn, or chef Ton, has mastered the culinary equivalent: an economy of cooking. Like a skilfully crafted bit of prose, his beautiful modern Thai food is pared-down yet powerful. Dish after dish communicates Thai flavours in a fresh, succinct and exciting way. And the deceptive simplicity that’s at play here—a huge amount of work goes into every aspect, from the sourcing of seasonal ingredients to the coaxing of flavours—only heightens the experience.
When Mathias and Thomas Sühring left Mezzaluna at the beginning of 2015, many of us assumed they’d continue to develop their high-end reimagining of modern European food somewhere equally flashy. But instead they went back to their roots by focusing on German dishes, many of them based on recipes learned during summers spent at the family farm outside Berlin. Since opening Suhring they’ve turned many Bangkokian’s perception of German cuisine as stodgy comfort food on its head. And one of the best chef’s tables in Asia means you can watch this creative collision between innovation and tradition taking place right before your eyes.
A restaurant that flies under the radar of most awards, Elements has been quietly growing in stature since it opened in 2010. On the face of it, not much has changed: the setting remains super slick and a “French cuisine with Japanese influences” concept still ties in neatly with the Okura Prestige Hotel’s origins, but an across-the-board confidence sets it apart. Dishes like the fresh fine de claires with ponzu jelly, tobiko, ginger and lime, and the marinated duck breast and confit leg with a yuzu jus dazzle. And the combination of an exemplary sommelier and exceptional wine and sake lists seal its unexpected but well-deserved placing.
4. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Striking yet unpretentious French cuisine in an unfussy contemporary format is what you find at Joël Robuchon’s first Bangkok venture. Sit up at the counter and you are entertained as well as royally fed—immersed in the comings and goings of chef Olivier Limousin and his team. The cooking show they put on gives you direct insight into the craftsmanship that Robuchon, whose restaurants are among the most award-decorated in the world, puts into each and every dish, and the team so well-rehearsed that there is none of the drama or frayed tempers that emanates from some open kitchens.
At a time when his and his restaurant’s popularity—the groaning awards shelf, the fame, the waiting lists—could be spelling backlash, Gaggan Anand has lost none of the passion and chutzpah that marked him out in the first place. He is still at his most infectious when he’s rolling out new dishes alongside his team of eager assistants in his lab. And his ever-evolving, loosely Indian tasting menu still has a delicious life of its own. With his love of Japan now shining through, it’s as much a record of where and who he is as a person and as a chef as it is an extraordinary pageant of hi-tech molecular techniques.
The open-air Sirocco is widely regarded as the dining gem in Lebua’s cloud-piercing crown. However, its glassed-in sister restaurant roundly beats it for us, largely on account of chef Ryuki Kawasaki’s cooking. Since joining Mezzaluna almost three years ago, he has maintained and, arguably, even bettered the superlative European cooking of his predecessors. The sheer bold-faced arrogance of the wine list, which makes the finest wines available no matter what the price, also impresses. Add an exemplary attitude to service that turns what could be an intimidating experience into a magical culinary journey and you have something very special indeed.
1. Le Normandie
Tallying the scores from our annual blitz of the capital’s most exceptional dining venues leads us to a clear conclusion: Le Normandie is the tightest run ship in the land. You do, of course, pay a pretty penny for the privilege of dining here—but what a privilege. Chef Arnaud Dunand-Sauthier and his team ensure absolute consistency in all regards, from the welcome through to the farewell. His modern but unfussy approach to fine French dining, executed with locally and regionally sourced fare, has won this bastion of traditional elegance a dedicated clientele of uncompromising locals and returning hotel guests. And deservedly so.