This year's top restaurant openings… and a sneak preview of who might make it into our Top Tables 2018.
This year's top restaurant openings… and a sneak preview of who might make it into our Top Tables 2018.
- By BK staff
- | Dec 14, 2017
Chef Chalee Kader (Surface, Holy Moly, Beer Bridge) has partnered with Randy Noprapa (Fillets) to bring nose-to-tail cuisine back to the Bangkok dining scene in dishes like pho with bone marrow (B320) and rice noodles with pig’s brain (fatty, crumbly, spongy and a not-too-pricey B220). The beautifully rich tom kee lek hang wua (ox tail braised in herb stock and cassia leaves, B290) comes with a salsa-like bolo maka fruit salad on the side.
Top Tables prediction: Local produce, cool setting, bold flavors and a concept it sticks to. In.
100 Mahaset Rd., 02-235-0023. Open daily 6-11pm
Spanish chef-owner Victor Burgos’ menu balances chef-driven specials with plenty of Spanish classics. There's a choice of seven paellas, such as the seafood (B1,200 for 2, B2,300 for 4), but also another eight dishes the menu describes as “brothy rice,” a translation of caldoso, which can be somewhere between a paella and risotto. The black creamy rice with monkfish cheek (B460) is an absolute must-order.
Top Tables prediction: Best paella in town and a BK four-star restaurant. We think Arroz will do well.
112 Sukhumvit Soi 53, 02-258-7696. Open Wed-Sun 5:30-10pm; Mon 5:30-10pm; Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm
This collaboration between French chefs Julien Lavigne (Oskar) and Jeremy Tourret (formerly of El Mercado and L’Appart) is all about chicken. They cook up three day-marinated, free-range chickens in a huge spit oven, then dish them out in a setting that’s industrially on-trend. For B280/quarter to B790/whole, expect perfectly crisp skin and tender meat to go with sides like new potato tossed in the rotisserie dripping (B120) and coriander-pesto roasted baby carrots (B150).
Top Tables prediction: The single-mindedness on show is backed up by wonderful cooking—it will place.
Soi Amon, Nang Linchi Rd., 095-594-6675. Open Wed-Sun 5:30-10:30pm; Mon 5:30-10:30pm
Texas-hailing chef Riley Sanders delivers inventive dishes which pack powerful originality. His gluten-free shrimp noodles (B360) are dressed in one of the most intensely flavorful seafood sauces we’ve encountered, their kaffir lime and a gentle dose of chili providing a familiar yet totally unique local kick. The crayfish (B440), charred with heady wood-fired notes, plays a similar local-flavor card in its dressing of lime-and-basil foam. And then there’s the complimentary purple-yam bread basket—one of the meal’s absolute high points.
Top Tables prediction: The opulent setting, the immaculate service and the remarkable attention to detail mean it would be a crime if it's not in.
113/9-10 Sukhumvit Soi 55, 099-614-1158. Open Sun-Thu 6pm-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 6pm-11:30pm
Chef Ruben Gonzalez (ex-sous chef from Arroz) serves up a menu of Spanish classics, from tostas (open sandwiches) and cold cuts to cazuelas (clay casseroles) and paella, most of which explode with the vitality of good produce. The tostas of pickled anchovies with tomato (B195) packs a zingy sharpness atop bread that’s crispy yet light and fluffy, while the spinach and cheese croquetas (B150/5 pieces) are intensely savory morsels that burst forth with bechamel.
Top Tables prediction: This Spanish communty-pick is exactly the kind of pretension-free spot the panel likes.
159/10 Sukhumvit Soi 55, 02-052-0656. OpenSun-Thu 11:30am-11pm; Fri-Sat 11:30-1am
This old shop-house transports you to a retro Hong Kong diner like something out of In the Mood for Love. Downstairs' hip bistro currently serves cold cuts and crepes—order up a Parisienne (ham, raclette cheese, egg and chives, B220) or Feeling Blue (duck, blue cheese, walnuts, raisin, B240)—although starting early next year will have a full bistro menu.
Top Tables prediction: A fine place, but crepes and cold cuts do not a Top Tables make.
831 Charoenkrung Soi 31, 085-527-3511. Open Wed-Sat 7pm-midnight
The brainchild of Gaggan’s ex-sous chef, Garima Arora (also an alumna of Noma), only serves tasting menus (B1,800 for eight courses/B2,400 for 12 courses). Modern techniques meet traditional cooking methods in a sandwich of translucent dehydrated cabbage with roasted bell pepper paste. Simpler-looking items pack no less flavor, like the grilled seasoned baby corn husks with corn milk dip, and the grilled pork ribs marinated with split-pea miso. Arora’s also revived the neglected mon kai (egg fruit) in a delicious soft serve topped with jackfruit.
Top Tables prediction: Gaa’s already cropped up on the Instagrams of many of the panelists, a good sign for a restaurant we expect to go far.
68/4 Soi Lang Suan, 091-419-2424. Open daily 6-11:30pm
Two indian chefs, Deepanker Khosla (formerly of Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology) and Tarun Bhatia (winner of San Pellegrino's Young Chef 2016 in Southeast Asia) have created a restaurant that posits all the right terms: zero waste, urban farming, sustainability. They grow 37 different edible greens in the kitchen garden, all of which go into a largely veg-driven menu of high-wire dishes whose presentation drills home the farm-to-table concept. See our full thoughts on page 20.
Top Tables prediction: A strong contender for its urban farming approach to fine dining.
231/3 Sukhumvit Soi 31, 093-014-3002. Open Tue-Sun 5:30-11pm
Chef Somkiat Pairojmahakij (Seven Spoons) and chef Thitiwat Tantragarn (previously of Medicii, Sirocco and D’Sens) catch up with the sustainable global trend for edible creepy crawlies. Chow down on fresh cricket pasta with basil pesto and chorizo (B255), or a lobster grasshopper bisque seafood risotto (B340). Elsewhere, the creamy and corny-flavored silkworm pupae gets paired with coffee in a tiramisu (B195).
Top Tables prediction: Overlooked as a bug-eating gimmick, this restaurant might place but not in the low numbers.
Chang Chui, 460/8 Sirindhorn Rd., 081-817-2888. Open Thu-Tue 11am-11pm
Chef Chet Adkins’ wallet-friendly but impeccably prepared izakaya-style skewers are about two things: charcoal and produce. Luscious banana prawns are grilled to that medium sweet spot on aromatic longan wood and smeared with durian butter (B200), best enoyed with house-cured bacon-wrapped asparagus (B100). Adkins’ business partner, photographer Jason Lang, is an expert on sake and ensures the bar remains well stocked.
Top Tables prediction: Exceptional for a night out, and already on the to-do list of Top Tables panelists.
672/49 Charoenkrung Soi 28, 061-558-7689. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight
Tastefully twee in eye-popping aquamarine, La Dotta’s uncompromising dedication to authentic pasta is writ large in dishes like the tagliatelle Bolognese (B590). This high-end take on a classic pairs juicy 24-hour-cooked wagyu beef shoulder with ribbons of daily-made pasta that are silky and smooth but firm to the bite. The crab meat bruschetta (B290)—an open-face sandwich of sweet crab and cherry tomatoes on deliciously charred wholewheat bread—makes a glorious light starter.
Top Tables prediction: Chic and cheerful but too simple? We doubt it. Pasta this good is worth any dining guide.
161/6 Thonglor Soi 9, 02-392-8688. Open Tue-Sun 11am-2:30pm, 5:30-11pm
Le Cabanon brings promises of high-end Mediterranean cuisine in the comforts of an old-house-turned-restaurant. Its menu is packed top-to-bottom with the finest imported French and Spanish seafood to make dishes like a classic lobster soup (with plump strips of lobster claw, B690). The red mullet's (B980) crisp skin with soft, flaky flesh is about as well-cooked as any fish we’ve tried.
Top Tables prediction: Despite the top-end ingredients, the menu’s a little too safe to elbow out other fine-dining heavyweights.
44 Akhan Songkhro Soi 3, 092-568-0444. Open Tue-Fri 5-11pm
Le Cochon Blanc brings an element of French refinement to live-fire, Southern American-inspired barbecue. A bright, purple neon sign lights the way to the theatrical grill pit where chef Chandler Schultz prepares the barbecue short rib (B1,250), made with 250-day grain-fed black Angus beef that undergoes 3-5 hours of smoking on top of two days in the sous-vide machine. Issaya La Patisserie chef Arisara “Paper” Chongphanitkul's strawberry shortcake (B390) and bitter chocolate petit pot (B360) are also unbeatable guilty pleasures.
Top Tables prediction: An outstanding barbecue house that we wish people would give more props.
26 Sukhumvit Soi 31, 02-662-3814. Open daily 6pm-midnight
The specialty here is a seafood and chicken broth that’s smoother and less greasy than the tonkotsu (pork bone) version which has come to typify ramen in Bangkok. The tsukemen (dipping ramen B270/B350) has a rich and complex broth that unfurls with the flavors of chicken and shellfish, and carries a touch of natural sweetness. Be sure not to deprive yourself a deliciously fudgy half-boiled egg (B35).
Top Tables prediction: Is this the year ramen finally makes it into Top Tables? We hope so.
LG/F, Erawan, 494 Phloen Chit Rd., 02-250-7669. Open Daily 11:30am-3:30pm, 6-9pm. BTS Chit Lom
This steakhouse spin-off from the Mugendai group spotlights premium sizzling meats. Watch the chefs working over teppanyaki or charcoal grills to prepare Japanese A4 wagyu striploin (B3,200/200g), A5 tenderloin (B3,800/200g) and Australian Angus short rib (B1,800) through to NZ lamb saddle (B1,200), Canadian lobster (B2,200) and taraba crab (B3,500), while throwing in the occasional Japanese twist.
Top Tables prediction: Siam Paragon was crying out for a place to get top-grade steak, but there’s a world outside the mall.
G/F, Siam Paragon, 991/1 Rama 1 Rd., 090-510-4555. Open daily 10am-10pm
The best reason to trek out to Chang Chui art complex, Once Ounce shares a name with its sister coffee shop on Ekkamai—but don’t expect drab, cafe-hopper fodder here. Head chef Parkorn "Tan" Kosiyabong earned his molecular gastronomy stripes in the three-star Azurmendi in Spain, but now helms a menu devoted to Thai ingredients used in completely new ways, whether it’s a Korea-referencing plate of gnocci (B300) or a tiramisu made with Chiang Mai coffee (B140).
Top Tables prediction: This was one of our biggest surprises of the year—in a good way. We just hope its out-of-the-way location doesn’t count against it.
460/8 Sirindhorn Rd., 02-116-6076. Open Tue-Sun 11am-9pm
At this grand Cantonese restaurant, Hong Kong-native chef Oscar Pun adds creative presentation to traditional dishes, like “Chicken Beggar” (B1,280), which sees a whole stuffed chicken wrapped in lotus leaves and bread dough. The resulting chicken is juicy and fall-off-the-bone tender, with a tasty stuffing of gingko nuts, dried scallops, shiitake and pork belly. Barbecue dishes are another highlight, especially the divine crispy roast pork (B400) is made with pork collar instead of belly.
Top Tables prediction: An excellent restaurant that nonetheless falls short of Top 30 mainstay Chef Man.
4/F, Marriott Marquis, 199 Sukhumvit Soi 22, 02-059-5555. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm, 6-10pm
All the walnut woods, marble and tufted leathers paint a very masculine picture in which to sink your teeth into US Prime grass-fed tenderloin (180g, B950) and Japanese Matsunaga A3 wagyu striploin (180g, B2,650). Have your protein with adept steakhouse sides like the deliciously crisp onion rings or the hi-so mac and cheese of porcini and morel mushrooms (both B160).
Top Tables prediction: The back-end of Top Tables is crammed with hotel steak joints. This one being new, buzzy and with a top line of produce, we’re confident it’ll knock an older spot out.
34-36/F, Park Hyatt, 88 Wireless Rd., 02-012-1234. Open daily 4:30pm-midnight
Drawing mostly on co-owner Nattaphong Saehu’s Nakhon Phanom roots, the home-style Isaan dishes feature made-from-scratch ingredients like curry pastes and fermented delights, whether crabs, fish, pork and Isaan sausages. The heady somtam pu plara (B60) may not be for the faint-hearted, but it comes topped with plentiful kratin beans for a burst of freshness to balance out the fermented fish. Their take on the Isaan staple of larb moo thod (herbal minced pork balls, B80) is another revelation.
Top Tables prediction: This Isaan-food favorite is the real deal, but probably too casual for Top Tables.
Phahon Yothin Soi 8, 097-918-1175. Open Mon-Sat 11am-8pm
Wine, food and cocktails are each helmed by one of the three talented partners, friends from their Culinary Institute of America (CIA) days. Singaporean chef Cong Wen’s fascination with regional flavors is apparent in the amuse-bouche spread, such as a guava-filled puff, broken rice crackers, and grilled papaya with rosemary. His entrée Tartare is cubed catch-of-the-day with a kapi (shrimp paste) mayo, turmeric yogurt and dill oil. Dinner options are B750 for two courses, B850 for three, and B1,200 for a six-course tasting menu.
Top Tables prediction: Promising but maybe too new to generate enough buzz.
2/F, Arena 10, Thonglor Soi 10, 061-385-1067. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight
Kimizono Ryuji (of the one-starred Aichiya restaurant in Yokohama), works his magic on a medley of mollusks and crustaceans in an omakase-like setting. Different condiments play with the texture and form: spicy-tasting shoyu powder; pungent yuzu paste with steamed scallop; thick tofu sauce with a touch of sesame on a poached briny oyster in soy sauce. (B3,000, 16-course set menu).
Top Tables prediction: A place with great potential but little buzz. What a pity that people haven’t (yet) given it the love it deserves.
G/F, Rain Hill, Sukhumvit Soi 47, 02-258-0578. Open Tue-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm, 6-10pm
This restaurant specializes in one of the lesser-known regions of Thai cuisine: the eastern provinces. Here you’ll find the Eastern staple of moo chamuang (stewed pork belly with chamuang leaves, B220) and crab roe chili dip (B250). Beautiful seafood also features in dishes like the barracuda spicy salad (B220), which is made like a lime ceviche and served with peanut-brittle dressing.
Top Tables prediction: The eastern origins give this place an edge, plus it's already super-popular.
90 Sukhumvit Soi 33, 02-088-0968. Open Fri-Sat noon-1am; Fri noon-1am; Sat noon-1am; Sun-Thu noon-11pm
Sushi Ichizu highlights fresh produce from Tsukiji Market and the delicate knife-work of Toda Riku, former sous chef at Tokyo's one-Michelin-starred Sushi Sugita. Chef Riku's 16-course omakase dinner will set you back B8,000, which includes perfectly crafted bites of four-day-marinated kohada (gizzard shad), katsugo (small tai fish) cured in kombu (kelp) and Higashi Sawa’s seriously in-demand uni (sea urchin) from Hokkaido.
Top Tables prediction: Riku helms the operation with grace and poise, but given the staunch competition by omakase heavyweights like Ginza Sushi Ichi or Sushi Masato, top 30 might be a reach.
1982 Petchaburi Rd., 065-738-9999. Open Tue-Sun 5:30pm-8:00pm, 8:30pm-10:30pm
Ginza born kaiseki specialist Kitaohji has opened a second Bangkok location for omakase. Hand over control to chef Shimuta Kunihiko, who has been with Kitaohji for over five years, and chef Maeno Junji. Their mastery isn’t reserved for perfectly sculpted sushi, but extends to the humble steamed egg, its mellow flavor spiked with pickled plum (B8,000 for nine courses).
Top Tables prediction: This restaurant’s Kitaohji seal of quality puts it in good standing.
G/F, Boulevard 39, 39 Sukhumvit Soi 39, 02-160-0308. Open Tue-Sun 5-11pm
This new brainchild of the Kanda brand sees Tokyo-born chef Matsuo Hirokazu serving his take on Edo-style sushi to eight customers. Unlike the sister sushi restaurant, this one limits itself to omakase sets (from B6,500-12,800) and bara chirashi (sushi bowls only available at lunch, B2,200). Expect the likes of sake-poached abalone with its liver sauce, and fresh uni served in its shell with raw sweet shrimp.
Top Tables prediction: Sister restaurant Sushi Kanda missed out last year, unlike its katsu-specializing counterpart. Its biggest problem might be its low profile.
G/F, No. 88, 88 Sukhumvit Soi 53, 02 712 7619. Open Thu-Tue 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-11pm
This high-end shrine of omakase comes from the guy behind Kouen, a sushi chain known for its B599 all-you-can-eat smorgasbord. Head chef Somporn "Noi" Chaibuadaeng offers 16 courses of fish flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market five days a week in a minimalist, though tech-savvy, house off Ruamrudee—an experience that comes in at B6,500/person. Expect the Edo tradition of marinating, searing and smoking fresh fish, served over vinegared rice, with added focus on fancy ingredients like China's N25 caviar.
Top Tables prediction: Sushi Niwa offers a modern take on omakase that’s entertaining and IG-friendly, but competition is tight and the steeper prices might count against it.
Ruamrudee Soi 2, 063-456-5656. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight
Sushi Zo began in Los Angeles in 2006, and was awarded a Michelin star in 2009. Its third, New York City branch was also awarded one star in 2017. This is the fourth branch so far, and the only one outside the USA. An omakase meal (B7,000-8,000) comprises about 20 courses prepared in Sushi Zo’s lively and fun style, with the use of many untraditional sauces, condiments and techniques.
Top Tables prediction: The untraditional style gives Sushi Zo a good chance of beating out the omakase competition.
G/F, Athenee Tower, 63 Wireless Rd., 02-168-8490. Open Tue-Sun 5:30pm-midnight
Danish microbrewery Mikkeller combines tacos and beer at this Ari venture exuberantly decked out in rainbow-colored chairs and window frames. Corn and flour tacos come heaped with toppings like fried barracuda drizzled in spicy mayo, or beef steak with herby chimichurri sauce. Mexican-born chef Jimmy Rojas Lopez also whips out spice-heavy dishes such as longaniza (Spanish sausages with smoked chipotle) to go with 20 different beers on tap.
Top Tables prediction: A worthy addition to Bangkok’s Mexican scene, Tacochela is perhaps too fun and laidback for its own good.
Ari Samphan Soi 1. Open Tue-Thu 5-11pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-midnight
In the ever-charming Tha Tien neighborhood, this shop-house serves up Vietnamese cuisine courtesy of the owner's grandparents' recipes. The nem nuong (B250) features extra thin flour sheets that don’t need to be hydrated, while the banh hoi (thin rice vermicelli with grilled pork, B190), banh cuon (minced pork and chive wraps, B130) and pho (B150 with chicken/B220 with beef) are not to be missed.
Top Tables prediction: Definitely the best Vietnamese contender for Top Tables. We’re positive about its chances.
69 Maharaj Rd., 093-469-2969. Open daily 10am-10pm
See also: Bangkok's best new restaurants 2016
How is Top Tables made?
BK Magazine’s Top Tables is the most independent and most respected dining guide in Bangkok. Here’s why.
How does BK select the restaurants in Top Tables?
Step 1: In January, the BK Magazine editorial team first creates a shortlist of some 200 restaurants. It includes:
- Last year’s Top Tables restaurants
- Major openings from the past 12 months
- Good reviews from the past 12 months
- Select advertisers
Step 2: BK selects 45 panelists:
- 4 BK food writers and editors
- 30 foodies we know to eat out a lot. Some of them may be involved in restaurants (more on that later).
Step 3: The panelists or judges are given the shortlist of 200 restaurants. For each restaurant, they’re given three options:
- Yes, keep it.
- No, cut it.
- I don’t know.
We then apply a formula to keep only the places with the best Yes:No ratios. Last year, we kept 100 places.
How do you select the Top 30?
Each panelist selects their top 10 restaurants. Every restaurant they rank #1 gets 20 points, down to 11 points for a #10 position. (So if a restaurant gets picked in two lists as #10, that’s better than getting picked by only one judge as #1.) We tally all that and we get the Top 30 list.
We always ignore any and all votes cast for venues that panelists' are involved with. That means that while we respect that Mrs. X is a huge foodie who really knows her stuff, we can’t count her vote for Chez Mrs. X Restaurant.
Is your list of panelists public?
No. Some of them don’t want the publicity. And we don’t particularly want them getting courted by award-savvy PRs.
Do advertisers get preferential treatment?
Beyond the fact that they’re included in the shortlist, no, they don’t. The panelists vote on the Official Selection and the Top 30 and we keep only the top ranked places.
I have a restaurant. How do I get in?
Making great food with excellent service in a beautiful location is a good start. Sadly, it’s not always enough. Also make sure your work gets noticed. Buzz matters.
I want to be on the panel
Email your Top 10 to email@example.com and tell us where and how often you eat out.