The glamorous Thonglor location belies an approach to Southern Thai dishes which is down-to-earth and traditional. Owner Supaksorn Jongsiri draws his recipes from his grandma’s cookbook and, though less fiery than nearby Khua Kling + Pak Sod (see above), still produces powerful dishes. Classics like the sator pad kapi goong (stir-fried prawns with sataw beans, B230) and gaeng luaeng pla sam lee (spicy sour soup with black-banded trevally and fermented young bamboo shoot, B180) come in a bistro setting that’s polished but relaxed.
Sukhumvit Soi 55 (between Thonglor soi 5 and 7), 02-381-6441-2. Open daily 11am-10.30pm
Chef Poonsri Sarikarn, aka Auntie Baew, hails from Surat Thani and her reputation reaches all the way to Chiang Mai, where she has another branch. Auntie Baew refuses to season her dishes with sugar to accommodate us wimpy Bangkokians. Order her gaeng luang with a huge crab (priced by weight), but make sure you have plenty of rice at hand because this soup is all about saltiness and spiciness. Another bold dish is her tom som with plaa krabok (spicy soup with sea mullet and tamarind leaf, B140) which really highlights the tartness of the tamarind.
273/4 Ramkamhaeng Soi 21, 02-319-1128/9. Open Tue-Sun 11am-10pm
The crowded and boisterous premises, and occasionally surly service, are a fine match for the unapologetically fiery food at this Southern Thai institution. Among the heady highlight dishes are pork and beef iterations of kua kling (B150), the minced meat palate-rouser served with a basket of greens from which the restaurant takes its name, and the perfectly pungent stir-fried stink beans with shrimp paste (B180).
98/1 Thonglor Soi 5, 02-185-3977. Open daily 11:30-2:30am, 5:30-9:30pm
Khao Jao is a wonderful place, not just for the food, which is delicious, but also for the family-style service, quirky decor and sleek architecture—all this on a dime, in the midst of hip n’ hi-so Thonglor. Khao Jao’s simple grey modernist building extends above and behind the restaurant. Expect all the Southern classics—a wonderfully aromatic kua kling (herbal, stir-fried minced pork, B800) and gaeng lueang (spicy soup with shrimp and turmeric, B80) with velvety bamboo shoots—both are the real deal.
Thonglor Soi 17, 02-712-5665. Open daily 10am-8:30pm
Aiming to preserve Thailand’s rich culinary heritage, this labor of love offers hard-to-find specialties that are noticeably different from most standard Bangkok fare. Courtesy of the owner’s Southern roots, they’re experts at the likes of moo horng (braised pork belly, B280), on top of the recipes for dishes like gang run juan (beef in spicy herbal soup, B240) that have been handed down from generation to generation.
32-32/1 Sukhumvit Soi 23, 02-664-0664. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm; 5:30-11:30pm
For something intimate and cozy, try the Sino-Portuguese charms of Phuket Town. Authentic Southern dishes, like pad sataw goong (stir-fried stink with shrimps, B180), don’t hold back on the spice or flavor while the kanom jeen nam ya poo (rice noodles with steamed crab, B220) has a rich, mellow soup that’s packed with big chunks of tender crab meat. Definitely end your meal with the traditional dessert oh-aew (jelly with red bean and red syrup topping, B55), which is hard to find in Bangkok. Note: The restaurant just moved from its old location on Soi Thonglor to Thonglor Soi 4 this month.
Thonglor Soi 4, 02-714-9402. Open daily 10:30am-10:30pm
Longstanding Phuket favorite Raya has gained a foothold in Bangkok with a mid-century modern home referencing the original location’s Sino-Portuguese influences. The kitchen’s Southern flavors are bright, authentic and well-balanced. We recommend you start with all the Raya classics, such as the gaeng nuea poo bai chaploo (crab curry with piper leaves, B400) and the moo horng (Southern-style braised pork, B250), alongside new dishes like goong khun ya (grandma’s fried river prawns, B550).
59 Sukhumvit Soi 8, 02-253-5556, 091-878-9959. Open daily 10:30am-10:30pm