During the first half of 2014, the Bangkok restaurant scene welcomed some impressive newcomers. But while a lot of the city’s culinary debuts stuck to a tried-and-true formula—set in a renovated teak house, decorated with bright silk upholstery, and serving a menu of delicious but traditional Thai dishes—the best new eateries here went a step further. What made me choose the eateries on my list, below, are that they all offer something unexpected…whether it’s the cuisine (kebabs and pasta can be every bit as good as green curry and pad Thai) or unusual venues (an industrial-style loft is a nice change from the usual architecture). Let me know in the comments section: which of these new restaurants are you most excited to try? Which do you think will have the most staying power?
Sensi Italian Fine Dining
At this sleek fine-dining Italian restaurant, chef Christian Martena dishes up beautiful seven-course dinners for less than $60. Grab a seat at the large, wooden chef’s table and watch the kitchen churn out homemade pastas and classic preparations like risotto and Sicilian seabass. The one downside here—and in Thailand generally—is that wine is subject to excessive taxes, so the price for a good bottle to go with your meal can seem exorbitant.
The Library by Water Library
Thanks to the success of Water Library, its popular sister restaurant, this eatery was an instant hit when it opened in January of 2014. Popular with Bangkok’s emerging brunch crowd, it’s become the place to go for perfect eggs Benedict or brioche French toast; in the evenings, the dinner menu offers European-style comfort food.
The Never Ending Summer
Though its menu features classic Thai curries and noodle dishes, this restaurant has a truly unusual setting in an industrial loft-style space—it’s part of a compound called The Jam Factory that also includes art galleries and a bookstore. To get here, take a ferry to the Thonburi side of the river.
The culinary wisdom at this upscale-yet-low-key restaurant is that of its local celebrity chef, Chumpol Jangprai (who recently won Thailand’s Iron Chef competition). Dinner here, served in a pretty glass-ceilinged dining room surrounded by abundant flowering plants, is a fixed-menu affair; expect to enjoy dishes made with both traditional Thai flavors and innovative, unusual ones.
The Great Kebab Factory
This Indian franchise, which opened its doors in Bangkok in May 2014, has a new menu every day that includes vegetarian and meat kebabs prepared in seven different styles. Come hungry; all the options here are served with Indian breads and salads, and all are all-you-can-eat.