Find out which restaurants top Bangkok’s most trusted guide for discerning foodies.

 

BK Magazine's Top Tables Bangkok 2018 guide launched on Mar 21 at Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 in an event that welcomed over 400 guests comprised of chefs, restaurateurs, food industry professionals and media partners.

Now in its 11th edition, Top Tables is Bangkok’s most trusted guide for discerning foodies, sponsored by Citi, Sanpellegrino and Peroni.
 
Which Bangkok restaurants do the people who know Bangkok’s food scene truly rate? Where can you find a fine-dining experience with food that matches the price tag? Where has service that’ll treat you like royalty? Which chef’s tables will actually leave you feeling satisfied? Those questions and more are answered in Top Tables 2018, BK’s annual restaurant awards where every of the 100 entries is selected by a panel of 30 foodies—no buy-ins allowed.

To make sure Top Tables remains Bangkok’s most trustworthy dining guide, we personally select each panel member, discount any votes for places they’re affiliated with, and guarantee that each choice remains independent from our advertisers (see exactly how Top Tables is made here: goo.gl/KBCmbN).

For the second year, Suhring is on top, which might not come as a surprise to anyone who’s eaten there. (Seriously, does that kitchen ever put a foot wrong?) But 2018 also made space for 13 newbies in their first year of business, while 26 fell out altogether. Weirdly for a city so obsessed with Japanese food, the land of the rising sun was this year’s biggest casualty, with nine Nippon all-stars falling by the wayside (sorry, Misaki, Yuutaro, Tempura Kanda: it’s nothing personal).

Some more numbers for you: 2018 marks the best year ever for Thai cuisine, with 24 of the restaurants in this year’s guide dedicated to local flavors. And we think that’s pretty awesome. Top Tables began as a BK cover story in 2007 celebrating Bangkok’s poshest fine-dining spots. They were moody steak houses. They were rosewood-clad Italian joints. They were French outposts affiliated with long-won Michelin stars back in Paris. Now, Bangkok’s not only got its own Michelin Guide; it’s also got a local fine-dining culture to match the best that we can import from abroad. And if you want proof, just look who’s biting at Le Normandie’s heels in this year’s Top 10.

The full list of 100 restaurants is available as a free booklet inserted in BK Magazine issue number 731 on Mar 23 (pick up your copy here) and a downloadable PDF version. You can also view the full 100 restaurants here
 
Don’t agree with which restaurants made the guide? Write to us at food@asia-city.co.th. We’d love to hear from you.

 

Top Tables Bangkok 2018 Top 30:

 

1. Suhring

The buzz: Twin German chefs Thomas and Mathias Suhring left Lebua’s long-established Mezzaluna, opened a restaurant dedicated to German fine dining on Yen Akat Road, and created a local sensation. No. 1 in Top Tables in its guide debut; and still no. 1 a year later. If you had access to how our panel voted, you’d also see that their win is a walkover.
 
The food: Dishes such as brathering hausfrauenart and pfannkuchen are hardly duck confit and spaghetti carbonara in the familiarity stakes. But if the way Suhring renders them is anything to go by, then they should be. (The first, FYI, is a traditional German preparation for herring that the Suhrings serve with stunning simplicity, while the second is a sublime dough filled with truffle cream.) Skip the a la carte (Speisekarte) and dive straight for one of the tasting menus—Klassiker for hits like the upmarket takes on currywurst and pork knuckle, or Erlebnis for the chefs’ most up-to-date creations.
 
The vibe: Strikingly homey yet also refined. The setting in a generously portioned mid-century home round the back of Yen Akat Road retains its residential charm (note the warm, accidental details like a printed rendition of the Suhring family farm hanging on the wall), but also adds a striking open kitchen where the brothers work to the constant flicker of open flames. Its position in Michelin and Asia’s 50 Best ensures a steady international foodie clientele.
 

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2. Le Normandie

The buzz: The original home of Bangkok French fine dining (open for business since 1958) has soared back into every top-tier foodie conversation under chef Arnaud Dunand-Sauthier. Adding legitimacy to what Le Normandie diners already knew, his food won two Michelin stars last year. 
 
The food: Go for the five or seven-course degustation menu (most diners do) and your lineup for the evening might include sea urchin and potato foam in Champagne sauce (if it doesn’t, request it), a fillet of poached Brittany turbot with smoked tea sabayon, and a perfectly pink Bresse pigeon in a decadently rich jus. Leave room for the wonderfully flakey kouign amann—Brittany’s sinfully sweet answer to the croissant, which at Le Normandie finishes every meal on a sublime note. 
 
The vibe: No local restaurant does old-school glamour as well as Le Normandie. The billowing gold fabrics, the gold upholstered chairs, the gold carpet, the chandeliers—we’d call it tacky if it didn’t feel so special. Desserts arrive on an imposing brass trolley and a maitre’d regales you the minutiae of every course in a hushed and precise whisper. You can’t fake this stuff. 
 

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3. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

The buzz: The arrival of Joel Robuchon in Bangkok is no longer the talk of the town that it once was (spare a moment to think just how far we’ve come in three years) but the experience at L’Atelier remains nothing short of exceptional thanks to the consistency of Head chef Olivier Limousin. 
 
The food: Not only are the dots of cauliflower cream in your Imperial caviar in lobster jelly as exquisitely realized as at every other L’Atelier in the world, there’s also a surprising wholesomeness to much of L’Atelier’s menu. A whole dover sole is pan-fried in butter then plated with nothing more than a wedge of lemon, some beans and a side of mashed potato. A duo of Bresse pigeon and foie gras comes wrapped in rich, glistening pastry. A bowl of snails, wild mushrooms, iberico ham and pine nuts is the sort of thing you’d curl up with in front of a fire in the chilly Normandy countryside. 
 
The vibe: Maitre d’ Gianvitto Zizzi’s lengthy tenure ensures repeat customers are given the welcome they expect at this level, as they take their stools at the glamorous, French interpretation of a sushi-style counter. The ultra high-end vibe begins on entrance as you’re greeted by a bucking Thawan Duchanee ink drawing, but once seated things are surprisingly social and informal. For those who prefer privacy, there’s more conventional table seating, too, and even a small terrace. 
 
 

4. Gaggan

The buzz: Welcome to Asia’s most famous restaurant. Gaggan has won Asia’s Best Restaurant for three consecutive years (from 2015-17), in addition to picking up two Michelin stars on the guide’s debut in Bangkok. And for what? Tasting menus of Indian, Japanese and Thai flavors skewed beyond all recognition into everything from Minion ice pops to lumps of coal.
 
The food: The 25-course tasting menu is a three-hour event that’s half dinner, half TED talk. Some of it is pure spectacle—the dish called “Lick it Up” (truffle, green peas, fenugreek and tomato) arrives to Kiss on full volume—while other parts are a hushed deconstruction of food history. Gaggan’s curry, for example, has evolved into raw scallops dressed only in chili oil, curry leaf oil, shallots and a quenelle of cream. Everything save for a couple of courses you eat with your hands. Don’t worry, though; among the history lessons and life-of-Gaggan mythmaking there’s no shortage of stunning flavors, whether a perfectly executed seekh kebab or a lobster dosa that you eat like a taco.
 
The vibe: The whitewashed, colonial-style dining rooms (the Gaggan property was once a residential home) are about the only vestige left of the restaurant that Anand opened back in 2010. While there’s a certain charm to the balloon-back chairs and white tablecloths, the real action at Gaggan goes down in “The Lab” chef’s table, where Gaggan delivers a sermon on the origins and thought process behind every dish.
 

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5. 80/20

The buzz: Last year’s hipster underdog (#15 in Top Tables 2017) has made the leap to become Bangkok’s most vocal champion of all things local. Canada-trained executive chef Napol Jantraget and his pastry chef wife Saki Hoshino whip up Thai-inflected food that’s contemporary in taste and appearance, and yet deeply rooted in age-old techniques.   
 
The food: Using only a minimal number of ingredients in each dish, the kitchen employs traditionally Thai and internationally cribbed fermentation techniques to bring a powerful intensity to proceedings. Snakehead caught from the waterways surrounding Bangkok comes prepared in a green curry made from fish stock and sweet and zesty Isaan mustard green, which has a nasal hit like wasabi. Dehydrated acacia also provides a local stand-in for nori. Dishes are small and elegant—often approaching fine dining in their presentation—though 80/20’s total package provides a laidback and also affordable night.
 
The vibe: Situated at the foot of a busy hostel in the buzzing Charoenkrung neighborhood, 80/20 channels old-school shop-house charm through retro signage, heavy wooden doors and iron grilles. Add in smiling, down-to-earth service, and a cocktail list that packs a decidedly Thai kick, and you’ve got a meal that’s anything but stuffy. 
 
 

6. Paste

The buzz: In order to bring new attention to forgotten Thai recipes, chef couple Jason Bailey and Bee Satongun have combed the old cookbooks from King Rama V up until King Rama VII (roughly 1870-1930) and scoured the countryside for just the right ingredients. It’s this level of detail, combined with the chefs’ own restless creativity, that sets Paste apart from other revivalist kitchens. And the world’s taking notice: the restaurant just scored its first Michelin star, while Bee was named the region’s best female chef by Asia’s 50 Best. 
 
The food: Don’t expect molecular or fusion flourishes, as Bailey and Satongun stick to the authentic textures and flavors of Thai cuisine. Across increasingly sophisticated tasting menus, the chefs introduce a plethora of rare herbs and ingredients: from edible hummingbird flowers in your smoky Southern yellow curry with red spanner crab all the way down to salt from Nan province that they say is smoother than sea salt. No longer confined to the history books, these vibrant, complex dishes also manage to offer something new and beautiful.
 
The vibe: A walk through Gaysorn’s corridors is not the most auspicious start to a meal, but inside the restaurant it’s easy to forget you’re in a mall. The double-height window panes facing CentralWorld make for an impressive backdrop, while the minimal decor provides a clean slate for the elegance on the plate.
 
 

7. Le Du

The buzz: Since bursting onto the scene in 2015, chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn has become synonymous with modern Thai cooking. Follow-up restaurants Baan and Backyard by Baan have since played the comfort-food card, while a stint as judge on Top Chef Thailand has reinforced Ton’s reputation for meticulous detail. But it’s back at his original restaurant, with its contemporary reinterpretations of Thai classics, that his creativity comes to the fore.
 
The food: Across four- or six-course tasting menus, chef Ton applies techniques picked up at Michelin-star restaurants in the U.S. to Thai food, with extra emphasis on seasonality. Local produce, sourced from suppliers nationwide, provides the backbone for dishes like a deconstructed pad kaprao made with strips of 30-day dry-aged tenderloin, barley and a sous-vide egg or a hefty river prawn daintily accompanied by pork belly jam. Topping it all off, Ton is also himself a certified sommelier with a taste for organic and boutique outfits. 
 
The vibe: All clean lines and white surfaces, Le Du’s original dining room shirks decor trends and lets you focus on your plate, where the sights, smells and flavors form true masterpieces. The second floor, with its bricks and dark lattice-work, allows for a moodier tete-a-tete. 
 
 

8. Upstairs at Mikkeller

The buzz: Above a bro-heavy, chug-tastic craft beer bar, Korean-American chef Dan Bark (past employer: Chicago’s Alinea) serves tasting menus that take on the most experimental end of fine dining. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is how fantastically this dichotomy works.
 
The food: When you see “Longan” on the menu of a restaurant like Upstairs, you can be sure that the dish in question will be anything but that simple. And is so. Longan is turned into ice cream, served with a plum sorbet with mochi and pistachio and coated in toasted rice milk. “Seafood Bisque” sees a local river prawn served with tropical santol fruit, clams, Asian mushrooms, sage and tarragon. Every night, the menu consists of 10 such deceptively simple and fastidiously handled courses.
 
The vibe: The simplicity behind Upstairs’ dining room-slash-kitchen laboratory makes a refreshing change from the bare brick and cutesy, warm lighting plaguing Bangkok dining. Here, things have a serene sophistication—walls are a subtle, cool mint; lighting is bright yet inviting; tables are angled so that diners are not sitting back to back and can see the work taking place in the kitchen. The whole experience is more akin to a chef’s table than a regular restaurant.
 

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9. Sushi Masato

The buzz: Masato’s arrival in 2016 was greeted by months-long waits for a table, and demand has scarcely quietened down since. The hype is justified. Japan-native Masato Shimizu sits atop Bangkok’s increasingly competitive niche for high-quality omakase. 
 
The food: From behind a beautiful L-shaped counter, the chef and his cohorts sculpt a meal that’s incredibly refined yet dispels the idea of omakase as an awkward, drawn-out affair. Across roughly 20 courses, you get sashimi, nigiri (fish atop rice) and other pretty little creations which defy the simplicity of their ingredients (delivered daily from Tsukiji Market, naturally). To pick highlights is to do a disservice, but the showmanship is dazzling, from the precision knifework to the use of hot charcoal (taking the place of blowtorch), and the produce exquisite, like a monkfish liver that lives up to its nickname “foie gras of the sea” and a decadent uni sushi that combines both the creamier murazaki and stronger bafun varieties of sea urchin.
 
The vibe: You won’t see any signage outside beyond a single lantern, no more than 15 inches wide, on which is written two syllables: “su shi.” Walk inside and you’re all but transported to a back-street Tokyo sushi-ya. No embarrassing pauses, here: Masato is warm, conversational and happy to break out a book mid-meal to educate you on a single piece of fish.
 
 

10. Bo.lan

The buzz: Since 2009, chef couple Duangporn Songvisava and Dylan Jones (“Bo” and “Lan”) have constantly pushed Thai fine dining to uncompromising extremes through untold hours spent researching royal recipes and tracking down rare ingredients. This year, on top of receiving their maiden Michelin star, the long-time proponents of a zero-carbon footprint have thrown their weight behind a series of initiatives dedicated to spreading the good word on sustainability, most notably the {Re} food forum.    
 
The food: With no a la carte available, groups sign up for a degustation menu where all the dishes are served simultaneously. The sharing experience is akin to a Thai home-cooked meal, but expect something above and beyond your usual comfort food. Bo.lan’s menu changes quarterly based on the freshest seasonal produce sourced both from local farmers and the veggie patch on-site. These combine with complex, labor-intensive techniques for aromatic curries, multi-dimensional salads and fiery stir-fries that both tantalize and challenge. 
 
The vibe: Taking inspiration from classic Thai residences, the interior of this renovated house comes replete with warm wood furnishings, while dark, multi-dimensional oil paintings of old-school Thai kitchens and covers of vintage Thai funk records lend a cool edge. The warm, family-friendly ambience doused in natural light becomes dim and intimate come nighttime. 
 

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11. Eat Me

 
The long-established restaurant of chef Tim Butler and founder Darren Hausler makes some of the most creative and flavor-packed dishes in town. Open since 1998, the dining room feels as special as ever, while dishes like the Kumamoto oysters in a Champagne granita or clams in a lime broth with naem sausage play with bold flavors while paying total respect to the produce. It’s all served up in a manner that’s conducive to sharing and good times.
 
 

12. Rarb

 
Sporting his iconic beard and golden earrings, chef Van Rohitratana prepares authentic Isaan cuisine that doesn’t get bogged down in “concept.” The single-page, handwritten menu highlights skewers and other dishes made with secondary cuts of meat—think pig velum (soft palate) that’s parboiled in a herb-rice soup or nam tok gaem moo, a spicy salad made with pig cheek. For all the talk of offal, Rarb also does delightfully approachable comfort food.
 
 

13. Nahm

The flagship restaurant of Western Thai-food champion David Thompson now stands under the stewardship of new head chef  Suraja “Jan” Ruangnukulkit. Jan keeps up Nahm’s stellar reputation for sharing, family-style Thai menus that move with local seasons. Dishes constantly adapt as Nahm’s chefs come across esoteric new ingredients, whether it’s a sour leaf for the coral catfish curry or a wild mushroom to turn into soup.
 
 

14. Gaa

The brainchild of chef Garima Arora (Noma-trained and a former sous-chef at Gaggan) offers a trans-Asian culinary journey, applying the finesse and detail of fine dining to street food across 10 or 14 courses. Thai and Indian cultures converge in the poached grouper, wrapped taco-style with caramelized milk skin and kanom la (a southern Thai crepe floss dessert), while Japanese touches also abound. The ingredients, however, are 100-percent local, pulled together with an approach that verges on scientific.
 

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15. Appia

Through a menu that charts in-house rotisserie meats, unctuous stews, Mediterranean seafood and incredible homemade pastas, chef Paolo Vitaletti’s home-style interpretation of Italian cuisine is as close as the city comes to true trattoria dining. Rarer, seasonal items come and go to complement the Roman family recipes, but what seemingly never changes is the restaurant’s mix of class and casual charm, only heightened by an excellent wine list.
 
 
 

16. Ginza Sushi Ichi

Now with its own Michelin star to complement the one at its Tokyo mother branch, Sushi Ichi treats guests to uncompromisingly authentic omakase-style sushi. Artistic, delicious, refined and subtle, the food (flown in daily from Tsukiji Market, of course) competes for attention with the very theater of omakase, where chefs in traditional outfits wield elegant knives and scrape fresh wasabi on boards strewn with shagreen.
 
 

17. El Mercado

Every once in a while, a restaurant concept hits the scene at just the right time. This deli counter-cum-bistro has managed just that, capturing the zeitgeist for fresh, seasonal ingredients cooked well and simply at reasonable prices. Its location—tucked away among a collection of nondescript shophouses—only adds to its allure with foodies who pride themselves on being in-the-know. Such people pack its open courtyard even in the most sweltering heat.
 
 

18. Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology

This sleek and sultry restaurant pairs boldly spiced, Indian-style kebabs with on-theme drinks courtesy of Joseph Boroski. The wonderfully flavorful meat from the tandoor is joined on the menu by other Indian classics like daal (stewed lentils) and phirini (rice pudding) that are no less authentic. The dining room’s dark woods, lattice screens, spice jars and sparse lighting make for a prime pre-drinking package.
 

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19. Morimoto

The Thai outpost of famed “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto of Nobu in New York specializes in the type of fusion-y Japanese cuisine that Morimoto has become world-famous for. A well-heeled coterie of wealthy tourists and expats on expense accounts dine in a soaring Scandinavian-influenced dining room on the signature toro tartare, which comes to the table with nori paste and caviar, hamachi tacos with avocado, and of course, the sushi rolls.
 
 

20. Arroz

In a year that gave us more Spanish restaurants than the past two decades combined, it’s the majestic house-turned-restaurant of chef Victor Burgos that has really set tongues wagging. Put it down to the sensationally well-simmered seafood paella, the overwhelming blue-cheese kick of his croquettas, or the rich broth of the arroz caldoso—as well as an excellent list of affordable Spanish wine. With its terracotta-tiled garden and spacious, Mediterranean-referencing dining room, this is far more than your average tapas bar.
 

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21. The Dining Room at The House on Sathorn

Head chef Fatih Tutak’s grand tasting-menu ambitions take on a cuisine rarely experienced in fine-dining surroundings—Turkey. Tutak may have missed out on Michelin glory, but his inventive cooking moves from produce-driven (four Kyoto tomatoes in parsley granita) to down-to-earth (flavor-packed Turkish eggplant dumplings) to show-stoppingly satisfying (red pigeon in a rich splash of summer berries). The location in a tastefully modernized, colonial-style mansion remains as majestic as the day it opened.
 

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22. Bunker

Defying convenient culinary categorization, this stylish eatery hidden behind a Brutalist concrete facade produces season-driven dishes that play with both Western and Southeast Asian flavors. Arnie Marcella,  a native New Yorker, drives a kitchen that excels in foodie-wowing ingredients such as scallops with green strawberries and the foie gras dumplings, while drinks are augmented by Wareewan Yodkamol’s inventions—reason enough why the city’s fashionable still pack the stone-and-copper-touched dining room.
 

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23. Baan

The second restaurant from Le Du’s Thitid Tassanakajohn focuses on the sort of home cooking that Thais have traditionally enjoyed at their grandparents’ tables. Family recipes are crafted out of traceable ingredients sourced from free-range, organic, chemical-free or sustainable suppliers, resulting in creative renderings of traditional Thai favorites such as kai palo (five-spice stewed egg). The surroundings belie the home-inspired dishes, resembling the sleek, minimalist decor of an Aman resort.
 
 

24. Water Library Chamchuri

Though he keeps a lower profile than many Bangkok chefs, German Mirco Keller remains one of the city’s top kitchen hands. At the Water Library flagship, he serves contemporary fine dining with occasional Asian twists: scallop is paired with coriander and coconut; Bresse pigeon comes with eggplant bao; pork belly meets dumplings and ginger. This all coexists with a traditional menu for the less adventurous. Though the restaurant sits at the back of a mall, its vast central water cellar conjures a genuine sense of occasion.
 
 

25. Bangkok Bold

Nestled in the charming Old Town, this cooking school-slash-chef’s table adds unique touches to typical Thai comfort dishes, resulting in extraordinary flavors. You must gather a group of 6-10 people in order for the chefs (all of whom come from impeccable Thai cuisine backgrounds, including work at Nahm) to walk you through seven courses showing off sophisticated techniques, as in a nam prik platoo (minced mackerel chili paste) for which the mackerel is grilled and stir-fried for extra bite.
 
 

26. Savelberg

Dutch chef Henk Savelberg’s classical Continental cooking and clockwork service have won him a Michelin star both back in his native Amsterdam and now here. Championing the sort of bright, delicate flavors that have fallen out of favor with today’s umami-obsessed diners, the kitchen excels in transforming commonplace ingredients such as chicken and cauliflower along with luxe bites like oyster and lobster. The impeccable service and wine list round out the great food.
 

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27. Umi

One of the few omakase specialists with a Thai chef at the helm builds its name on hard-to-source seasonal ingredients, whether it’s nama-sujiko (fresh salmon roe) or shinko (small gizzard shad). Chef Banphot Boonklom and righthand man Chokchai Meemana make their nigiri sushi with two types of rice (seasoned with either white or red vinegar) and prepare delicate appetizers like the grilled saltwater eel with crispy skin and tender meat. While the full omakase experience covers about 20 items, the sub-B3,000 lunch set menus are an accessible alternative.
Other branch: Gaysorn Village.
 

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28. Il Bolognese

If there was ever a restaurant that looked as if it came straight out of an Italian food movie, this is it. The hustle of the servers, the wood-fired red brick pizza oven, the parade of well-coiffed waiters are all sure to delight customers, but the main draw is obviously the pizza, made from dough that has rested for 72 hours. Expect a fun night out in a convivial setting punctuated by Italy’s greatest culinary hits.
 
 

29. Ah Yat Abalone Forum

Worshippers at the altar of traditional Cantonese cuisine flock to this riverside Bangkok institution for some of the best Chinese-style seafood offerings in the city. Founded by Hong Kong chef Yeung Koon Yat of the once-Michelin-starred Forum Restaurant—dubbed the “King of Abalone” for his succulently tender treatment of the shellfish—the restaurant is just as prized for its way with dim sum, which draws Bangkok’s oldest Thai families in droves.
 

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30. Rang Mahal

There’s no way to overstate the satisfaction of booking brunch at this sky-high Indian fine-dining perch. The abundant food spread—sinfully rich curries, perfectly barbecued tandoori meats and pillowy, well-charred breads—tastes as inspired as it always has done, while the ambience is more than a match for it. For the best experience, pick one of the window seats amid Rang Mahal’s decadent blend of OTT plasterwork and regal fabrics.

The full list of 100 restaurants is available as a free booklet inserted in BK Magazine issue number 731 (Mar 23) and a downloadable PDF version.