26 Sukhumvit Road
Klong Toey Nua
Tel: 66 2 651 3537
Celebrated chef Paul Hutt inherited a sexy display kitchen better known as an afterthought at Bangkok's perennially hot nightspot Bed Supperclub. The talented New Zealander quickly turned the popular lounging areasyes, they actually are bedsinto the city's most coveted dinner reservations. Ascend the funky pod's staircase then recline to dine on a prix fixe menu of dishes like roasted duck breast with sweet chestnut pies and asparagus in a blood orange reduction, and wok-seared lobster with green mango salad and lime bubbles. The high-decibel house music helps ensure that the crowd skews young and chatty. Across the pod, DJs keep the groove going until Bangkok's strict 2 am curfew.
Open daily 7:30 pm to 2 am.
1055 Silom Road
Tel: 66 2 624 9555
The breathtaking panoramic views from the 52nd floor of this Chao Phraya riverside tower are outdone only by the sky-high menu prices. That has not stopped gourmet-minded travelers from zipping up the express elevator to indulge on edible extravagances like the Kobe beef wok-fried with black pepper. Malaysian-born executive chef Ho Chee Boon flies in fresh seafood like South Australian cold-water lobster to be tossed with chile-marinated cabbage and jellyfish julienne. Even less exotic appetizers like the deep-fried soft-shell crab with garlic and curry leaf or crispy fried shrimp tossed with wasabi cream show off his talents. Finish with Breeze on Ice, a generous assortment of fruit and chocolate treats worth savoring as you watch Bangkok's free light show.
Open daily noon to 2:30 pm and 6 pm to 1 am.
10 Sukhumvit Soi 12
Tel: 66 2 229 4610
Don't let the name fool you into thinking that this is a hot spot in the red-light district. Cabbages & Condoms is in fact a quirky, tasty restaurant in the fish market district run by a wholly respectable Thai charity, the Population and Community Development Association, devoted to helping the country's rural poor. In other words, you get to support a worthy cause while you tuck into your marinated chicken satay. Follow the little path under the Cabbages & Condoms sign, duck under a passageway through a modern building, and enter the restaurant's huge courtyard, with shade trees dripping with white holiday lights, and a sheet of water cascading quietly down a longstone wall. The food is traditional Thai with a few unexpected touches. Take a friend and share the massive mieng khum, an ancient Thai appetizer consisting of a dozen tiny nests of ingredients (lemon, dried shrimp, peanuts, ginger, deep-fried coconut, chilis, and shallots), each piled onto an herbal leaf to be wrapped up like a present and dipped into the hot, sweet sauce. For presents to take home, there's a fantastic little gift shop that sells inexpensive crafts from villages across Thailand.
13/3 South Sathorn Road
Tel: 66 2 344 8888
The Sukhothai hotel's signature restaurant offers a calming ambience of teak, ceramics, and Thai silk in a room that appears to float over a pool of lotus blossoms. Acclaimed for its unique blend of traditional and modern Thai cuisine, the restaurant takes its name from the green ceramic glaze (meant to resemble jade) for which Thailand is known. The delicately steamed white snapper with lime juice and only a hint of chile is proof that Thai food need not be spicy to taste special. Grilled Phuket lobster is a succulent (and surprisingly healthy) option, while the green chicken curry makes for an excellent indulgence. End the meal with pumpkin custard and mango with sticky rice with fresh lemongrass tea (to aid digestion in traditional Thai style). Well-informed English-speaking waitstaff provide spot-on recommendations, and the chef is happy to make adjustments for those with less-fiery palates.
Open daily 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 6:30 to 10:30 pm.
3638 Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong
Tel: 66 2 221 9158
Savvy diners who can find the barely marked, shrine-filled alley across from Wat Pho will be gastronomically and visually rewarded at this waterfront café (follow the signs for the Arun Residence across from the main entrance to Wat Pho). Watch the pale-pink sunset against the spires of the Temple of the Dawn while sipping the signature Arun Surprise cocktail (vodka with fresh lychee and citrus juices). The cardiologist owners converted this 80-year-old house into a funky five-room guesthouse, and the restaurant keeps patrons' health in mind with dishes like red snapper grilled with dill sauce. But they also indulge diners with Australian sirloin, spicy Thai curries, and desserts like lavender crème brulée and homemade ice cream.
Open Mondays through Thursdays 11 am to 10 pm, Fridays through Sundays 11 am to 11 pm.
86100 Soi Captain Bush
Tel: 66 2 639 5580
Owned by one of Asia's top antique dealers, this naturally lit, well-located restaurant near the Oriental Hotel is generously decorated with indigenous treasures and hip fashion finds from the boutique at the entrance. Load up on sparkly handbags and silky frocks while waiting for your table. Then settle in for appetizers like crispy shrimp cakes, Thai tuna salad tossed with slivers of powerful chiles, and succulent chicken wrapped in pandanus leaves. Thai curries on this extensive menu range from a mild green chicken curry to the fiery red Malaysian beef variety, all equally delicious and available vegetarian-style as well. Stir-fry chicken with cashew nuts over fragrant rice is a recommended dish for those avoiding Thai spice, though all menu items can be made mild upon request.
Open daily 10:30 am to 10:30 pm.
137 Soi Polo
Tel: 66 2 251 2772
It may just be a basic storefront down a dusty alley off one of Bangkok's main arteries, but the owner of Kai Thod Jai Kee has sold enough finger-licking chicken, shredded papaya salad (available extra spicy upon request), and bamboo baskets of sticky rice to send his many children to overseas universities, build family homes around Thailand, and amass a collection of Benzes. Nearly everyone who takes a seat at the metal dining tables orders the addictively juicy, tender fried chicken topped with deep-fried shaved Thai garlic, and the eye-openingly spicy papaya salad. (In fact, that's all they serve.) Eyes open even wider at the shockingly reasonable prices.
Open daily 7 am to 10 pm.
26 Sukhumvit Road
Klong Toey Nua
Tel: 66 2 258 1590
Models eat for free at this sexy, low-lit sibling of the original Koi in Los Angeles. That explains the appealing eye candy lounging on crimson couches by the swank bar. In the sexy dining room, candles flicker against the dark wood walls and tables, and plush pillows encourage you to settle in with your dining companions for healthy California-Japanese fare. More than 20 sushi and sashimi items complement a selection of handcut classic and innovative signature rolls. Good Western-style salads are a rarity in this town, which makes the rock lobster and avocado tossed with mizuna and shiitake mushroom all the more memorable. Among the main dishes, the Chilean sea bass with delicately julienned ginger is the obvious choice for those on model diets, but the rich molten chocolate cake sprinkled with wild frozen berries is worth the calories.
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 6 pm to midnight.
Oriental Bangkok Hotel
48 Oriental Avenue
Tel: 66 2 659 9000
The Thai royal family has been known to spend an evening at Le Normandie at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and not just for the sweeping views of the Chao Phraya River. Over the years, the French kitchen has been overseen by some to the world's most renowned chefs, like Guy Martin of Le Grand Véfour in Paris and visiting chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se. The menu offers classic recipes reimagined by a Michelin-starred mind: Handmade goose liver ravioli is smothered with truffle sauce and garnished with diced truffles; a fillet of sole is poached in white wine and vermouth, topped with osetra caviar cream sauce and clams. Lunch is smart casual, even in these plush, elegant surroundings, complete with gilded chairs, crisp white tablecloths, and fresh cut flowers with panoramic river views. But for dinner, men must break out the jacket and tie.
37 Soi Anumarn Rachthon off Suriwong
Tel: 66 2 236 2820
When Bangkok locals want to celebrate a big occasion, they book a table at this elegant Thai restaurant—either in the entry courtyard, where live traditional music and (Thursday through Saturday) Thai dance accompanies dinner, or in a fancy, quieter wooden booth inside. Cross the faded Oriental carpet and lower yourself into a booth or pad across a raised dais to recline against cushions around a shin-high table. The classic Thai food is exquisitely presented, well prepared, and doesn't cater to farang (foreign) palates by lowering the chili pepper quotient. The recipes here, like shrimp stir-fried in Choo Chee curry sauce, can be five-alarm hot. You've been warned.