Category Archives: eating

Costs for Hotel Dining in Bangkok

Hotels.com recently conducted a survey of hotel food prices around the world. The survey showed that Bangkok came 24th out of 28 countries for price of food. Only Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and Bogota came out on average cheaper. What does that tell us about food pricing in hotels around the world?

Comparison of average food prices in Hotels around the world

Comparison of average food prices in Hotels around the world

How the Survey was Conducted

The survey covered 28 countries. Capitals or major tourist destinations were chosen for each country. For each country 30 hotels were visited and prices recorded. The hotels ranged from 3 stars to 5 stars. The comparison refers to a burger meal, a glass of red wine, a club sandwich and a cup of coffee. The results have been tabulated and put into Baht by the Bangkok post. See the graphic above.

Hotel Food is Relatively Expensive in Some Countries

The first thing to note is that the table reveals that there is little correlation between the comparative cost of items in a country as a whole and hotels in that country. While Switzerland is notoriously expensive (and is number 1 in the list), India is one of the cheapest countries in the world, and yet its hotel prices are ranked at 20. Indeed, Madrid is a capital in a developed country and yet it is cheaper than Bangkok.

Clearly hotel pricing inhabits its own orbit, not related to the market forces governing food prices outside the hotel doors. It is more likely that hotels, especially chains set prices in relation to its competition and running costs rather than in relation to restaurants in the surrounding area.

Hotel Food is Great Value in Bangkok

For those looking to promote Bangkok hotels (such as the Bangkok Post) the table reveals Bangkok hotels are some of the best value in the world. A similar survey for room prices around the world would reveal a similar result. In particular 3 and 4 star hotels in Bangkok are good value.

This is no doubt connected to supply and demand. In places like Sukhumvit, Silom and even Khao San there are so many hotels to choose from (and so many ways to book online) that price promotions as well as facilities (such as swimming pool, gym and restaurant) are essential to the success of a hotel business. Trip Advisor and its reviews of cleanliness and hotel service also go a long way to making or breaking a hotel.

This view of hotels seeking to maximise profits through comparatively expensive food would also explain the popularity of Japanese cuisine in Bangkok hotels. The Japanese food is trendy in Bangkok, and is perceived as more costly than say Chinese food. So it makes good business sense to give one of the hotel restaurants a Japanese theme.

It is Still Cheaper to Eat Outside Hotels in Bangkok

From a consumer point of view, the table should show that it is always better value to eat outside the hotel. While you take your chances with quality (less so if you study Trip Advisor before dining) you will invariably save money if you don’t eat in the hotel. In a place like Bangkok where it is safe to walk the streets at night and there is an overwhelming profusion of eating options it pays to not eat in the hotel restaurant.

Next see Thailand Life’s List of Recommended Value for Money Hotels in Bangkok

Private Dining at Nang Gin Kui

Nang Gin Kui is not only Bangkok’s leading private dining option, but it is also ranked the best restaurant in Bangkok by Trip Advisor. The rating is incredible considering it is possible to enjoy Michelin star quality food in Bangkok. The reason why people love having dinner at Nang Gin Kui is because it offers a special, boutique experience.

The restaurant describes itself as ‘guerilla’. This is because it occupies a large suite in a residential building. It is, however, no ordinary suite. It is on the 15th floor of a skyscraper overlooking the Chao Phraya River. As the Facebook page mentions – it is a million dollar view.

Being a boutique home dining experience, you cannot just turn up unannounced. You must book in advance. Reservations can be hard to make at busy times of the year. Nang Gin Kui caters for groups of between 8 and 16 people. They do sometimes offer honeymoon packages for couples.

The cooking and the hosting is by Florian and her capable team. It is a set menu that features at least 10 courses. The food is described as Japanese, Asian and vegetarian by Trip Advisor, but actually it is contemporary Thai cuisine that features most prominently on Nang Gin Kui’s menus.

There are soft drinks, beer and ‘free flowing’ wine available.

The cost? Well as you would expect for such an exclusive experience with fine dining it is not cheap. The price is between $50 and $70 a head. It is, however, a whole night experience: a chance to eat, drink and chat and enjoy the magnificent views over the river and the city.

What makes private dining unique is that it is something more than just a private room in a restaurant. It is a whole night with friends enjoying a large, comfortable and private residential space. It is the sense of being able to really relish the food without worrying about holding up the table. It is receiving personalized service. It is the chance to experience something different.

Recommended meeting points

1) River City (e.g. Viva Aviv Bar)
2) the lobby of the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel

Both these meeting points are on Charoen Krung Soi 30 and just 10 minutes walk from Nang Gin Kui.

Public Transport

MRT Subway Station Hualamphong – walking distance 10 minutes

BRT Skytrain Staition – Saphan Taksin – continue by taxi to Charoen Krung Soi 20

Public River Boat – exit Pier Nr. 4/Harbour Department. Remember: the public boat service ends at around 6:30 to 7:00 PM !

Press about Nang Gin Kui

“Eating outside the box” – Guru Magazine
“One of the quirkiest restaurants in town” – BK Magazine

How to make a reservation

Telephone: +66 (0) 85 904 6996
Email: nangginkui@gmail.com

Payment

Cash only

Web

It is just a shame that their website is just an archived single page. The owners might know about exclusive dining but little about the net. They focus on the Facebook page and miss out on a great opportunity to produce a boutique styled informative website.

Nam Kheang Sai

Nam Kheang Sai means ‘shaved ice’ in Thai. This a traditional Thai desert dating back hundreds of years to the time ice first came to Thailand. That must have been a great moment for Bangkokers as it gets incredibly hot in the city. It is hard to escape the heat when there is no beach nearby.

step 1

The dish starts with fruit and sweets placed in a bowl

Originally Nam Kheang Sai Was Only for the Rich

Originally Nam Kheang Sai was only available to the very rich, but with the introduction of ice making machines to Thailand it became available to the wider population. It is still eaten all over Thailand. It is sold by vendors from hand carts. The recipe remains largely unchanged, although most vendors now use a hand powered machine to cut the ice rather than a knife or mandolin slicer.

step 2

Ice Is Shaved into the Bowl

Now The Dish Is Very Cheap

The vendor in the pictures was outside Hua Lamphong train Station in Bangkok. This delicacy cost the princely sum of 15 Thai Baht (less than half an American dollar).

step 3

The shaved ice is compacted to form a dome

Fruit and Sweets Form the Bottom Layer

The first stage of the process is filling the bowl with fruit or sweets. I had longon and nata cubes (a coconut extract).

step 4

Syrup Is Poured On Top of the Shaved Ice

Shaved Ice Comes Next

Next the ice is shaved and placed on top. The next stage of the process is to add syrup.

step 5

Condensed Milk is Poured On Top

Syrup Is Poured On Top

There are lots of differently coloured syrups: red, green, orange, purple, blue and yellow. The colours don’t approximate to a particular natural flavour (such as strawberry or raspberry) but the Thai’s seem to like the taste.

Nam Kheang Sai

The finished dish of Nam Kheang Sai

Finally Condensed Milk is Added

The final step is to pour condensed milk over the top and the dish is finished. I didn’t think I was going to like it, but it was tasty and refreshing. I recommend giving it a try. It is one of those Thai street food experiences worth giving a go.

Next read about more great Thai Dishes 

Best Fish and Chips in Bangkok

There are a number of reasons to head down to Sukhumvit on your time off – there’s shopping and bargains to be had; there are temples and parks; there are museums, galleries and performance spaces; there is even a planetarium. And then of course there are all the bars covering a multitude of tastes. The most notorious spot where bars meet sex industry is of course Soi Cowboy. Just around the corner from the right light district is the best fish and chips shop in Bangkok.

Offshore Fish and Chips

Menu at Offshore Fish and Chips

The establishment that wins the superlative spot is called ‘Offshore Fish and Chips’. The sign outside hanging over the doorway just says ‘Fish & Chips Shop’. As with some many great eating places in Bangkok from the outside the restaurant doesn’t look anything special. That is because it is the cooking that does the talking and creates the successful business.

You can find Offshore on Sukhumvit Soi 23 just around the corner from Soi Cowboy. No doubt plenty of foreigners pass by the shop feeling an alcohol induced hunger for fast food and stop to give it a go. I’m sure the majority return because they do great food.

You can get local fish in batter as well as the traditional cod in batter. Cod costs 150 Thai Baht ($5), red snapper 100 Thai Baht ($3) and chips are 50 Thai Baht ($1.6). If you are from the UK and like thick chip-shop chips you will be a bit disappointed. Nevertheless, the final result of fish and chips is not bad at all.

You can eat in or take out. The owners also have the Offshore Pub next door. It has a faux brick frontage and bench. A chip shop next to a pub is definitely a plus.

It is after all one of the joys of travelling that things are not the same all over the world. You can’t get better than sushi from Japan and for all its faults and bad weather you can’t beat back home fish and chips. However the Offshore is a good enough approximation to make you happy, especially after having had a naughty night in Soi Cowboy.

5 Top Dining Experiences in Bangkok

Got a few days to spend in Bangkok? Wandering where to eat? Well let’s try and steer you in the right direction. Rather than give you 5 specific locations to go to, please allow us to suggest 5 types of dining experience you should indulge in.

Street Food

Street food is the culinary soul of Thailand. If you haven’t eaten street food in Thailand, you haven’t eat Thai food. Street food in Thailand isn’t a gamble with your health, this isn’t India. I have eaten street food in Thailand for almost 15 years and have never had food poisoning. Its safe because they cook it and sell it same day. Thai people eat street food every day.

There are street food stalls everywhere. Some good places to go are: the southern entrance to Lumphini Park at night, near the Khao San post office at the top end of the Soi Rambutri, the noght market on Soi 38 Sukhumvit Road. If you want something halfway between street food and a restaurant go to the Seafood Market on Soi 7 Sukhumvit Road.

Please see my other blogs on street food (Bangkok Street Food Part 1 and Bangkok Street Food Part 2) for some ideas on what to eat.

Rooftop Dining

Bangkok is a beautiful city at night. The skyscraper and the bright lights are romantic when you aren’t in the midst of the traffic and the crowded pavements. What better way to enjoy the view than enoying a wonderful meal and a good bottle of wine. A number of hotels offer very high quality roof top dining experiences. Not as vertiginious as you might imagine. Three good rooftop restaurants to try are Sirocco Restaurant at the Lebua State Tower Hotel (1055/111 Silom Road) famously the setting for Hangover 2 the movie. Secondly, Vertigo at the Banyan Tree Hotel (21/100 South Sathorn Road). And thirdly, Red Sky Restaurants at the Centara Grand (999/99 Rama 1 Rd).

Garden Dining

Dining in a City garden is a popular choice for Thai people. It’s a great break from the stresses of the City to eat outside in a calm leafy setting. Three good options are Cabbages and Condoms on Soi 12 Sukhumvit Road, The Lake House on Soi 39 Sukhumvit Road and Ana Garden on Soi 55 Sukhumvit Road. Cabbages and Condoms raises money money for a family planning charity, hence the unusual name, and we particularly recommend this restuarant for great Thai food.

River Cruises

Great way to see the city and enjoy good food at the same time. If enjoyed doing this in Paris, then you will enjoy doing it in Bangkok. This magical experience will be a highlight of your holiday.

Three companies we would recommend. Manhora Cruises from the Anantara Group (tel +66 (0) 2365 9111 or e-mail: bangkokriverside@anantara.com). Tristar Floating Restaurant Co., Ltd (www.thaicurise.com) runs a number of different boats and routes, times etc. Loy Nava Cruises (www.loynava.com) has been in operation since 1970, which is a good measure of their reliability.

One of the best river dinner cruises is the Grand Pearl Dinner Cruise. If you book the Isango tour online you will picked up from your hotel at 6.30pm and taken by air-con vehicle to a riverside pier to board the Grand Pearl, one of Bangkok’s most luxurious floating restaurants. The cruise boat takes guests on tour of Bangkok by night taking in Wat Arun, the Grand Palace and Wat Pra Kaew. These sites look spectacular at night. The mood is enhanced by a candlelit dinner. The menu offers both Thai and International cuisine.

Find out more about the Grand Pearl Dinner Cruise

Go to the Pub

After a couple of weeks in Thailand you may want to eat some western food. The best place to do this is at one of Bangkok’s western style pubs. Our favourite is Gulliver’s Tavern on Soi 5 Sukhumvit Road, because we like the outside seating area, the great service and the reliably good food menu. You might also try The Australian on Soi 11 Sukhumvit Road for good antipodean food, or Bradman’s Sports Bistro on Soi 23 Sukhumvit Road for a good steak and other items from the grill.

Enjoy!

Sala Rim Naam Restaurant


Sala Rim Naam is run by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which is across the river from the restaurant. As arguably the best hotel in Bangkok, and one of the best in the world, diners can be assured that this ‘satellite’ operation of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel will meet up to expectations.

Sala Rim Naam offers two different dining options. There is the inside dining experience (pictured above) known simply as Sala Rim Naam, and an outside dining area known as Terrace Rim Naam for romantic riverside dining. The difference is that the indoor dining includes a classical Thai Dancing show, and dinners are limited (if that is the right to describe an elegant Thai dining menu) to buffet lunches and an extravagant set menu in the evening. At Terrace Rim Naam you can choose from the a la carte menu as well. The indoor dining is a bit more tourist oriented, which may or may not be your thing.

Sala Rim Naam underwent a $3 million dollar renovation in 2007. You can see what they spent the money on as the interior resembles a palace, rather than a restaurant. They hired a specialist weaver for the silk upholstery, cushions and wall panels. The set evening menus are currently priced at 1,800 Thai Baht ($60) per person and worth every penny especially if you factor in the surroundings and the classical Thai dancing show. The dancing show is nightly from 8.15pm to 9.30pm and features a large cast performing a variety of dance styles, including the little performed Khon (masked) dance. If you really want to push the ‘boat out’ you can book in advance for the Chef’s Table. Executive Chef Vichit Mukura will cook you a 6 course meal for 2,900 Thai Baht ($97) or 9 courses for 3,900 Thai Baht ($130).

Terrace Rimm Naam has a great range of Thai food to choose from. Below we have listed some of our favourites:

Naam Prik Makhaam -Deep fried sardines with Thai Chilli Sauce

Gaeng Phed Goong Bai Chapu – Prawn curry with Betel leaves

Nuea Kua Kling – Southern style fried beef with yellow curry paste and herbs

Phed Yaang Naam Makhaam – Roasted duck with tamarind sauce

Sala Rim Naam is open for buffet lunch from 12 noon to 3pm and set dinner from 7pm to 11pm. Terrace Rim Naam is open from 5pm to 11pm. You can book by calling +66 2659 9000 or by e-mail (mobkk-restaurants@mohg.com). To get there go to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and take the hotel’s teak barge across the river, which is pictured above. To get to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel either take a taxi or go to the Saphan Taksin BTS (sky train) station and head to the ferry pier – the hotel runs a frequent shuttle service in another teak barge.

You can make sure you get a table at Sala Rim Naam by booking through Isango. They pick you up at your hotel at 7pm and take you in an air-con vehicle to a ferry where you take a short boat trip out to the restaurant. For $117 you get a seat in the teak and marble main hall, get a full meal consisting of royal Thai cuisine, a dancing show, transfers and an English speaking guide. Click the button below to book or get more information.

Supatra River House

Supatra River House
Supatra River House restaurant is one of the great dining experiences for visitors to Bangkok. There are better places to eat admittedly, but when you factor in river side location, the views of the Grand Palace and Wat Arun, the value for money prices, and the restored teak house, you can see why this restaurant is so popular. Famous people have chosen to eat here, such as Keanu Reeves and Shakira. If you are on holiday come and eat here, you will love it, and ignore the killjoys who talk down this restaurant. We think its great.

The restaurant is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River on the opposite side to the Grand Palace. Getting there is either a ‘pain in the posterior’ or charming depending on your perspective. The restaurant runs a shuttle boat from the Maharaj Pier on the Maharaj Road, which is near the Grand Palace, to take you across the river. If you want to make your own way, you need to take a taxi or be prepared for a substantial walk and a challenging time with maps. The address is 266 Soi Wat Rakhang in Thonburi.

The restaurant is open from 11.30 am to 2.30pm for lunch and 5.30pm to 11pm for dinner. The restaurant is split into three sections. There is the open air terrace, the two storey restored teak house with air-conditioned dining rooms, and a second building with a river view dining room. We suggest booking as you will probably want to sit outside. The telephone number is 0066-2-411-0305 and the e-mail address is reservation_srh@hotmail.com.

This restaurant has some history, and is owned and run by an elite Bangkok family. The original owner of the house is Khun Supatra Singholaga, who is quite a famous figure in Thailand having been instrumental in starting the Chao Phraya Express Boat Company and having been a leading advocate of women’s rights in Thailand. Her youngest daughter is involved in the running of the restaurant and putting on the Classical Thai Dancing shows which happens every saturday night from 7.30pm to 8.30pm. If you go you will see her dancing.

Anyway, onto the food. There are both A La Carte options and set menus. The set menus cost around 750 Thai Baht ($25) to 1,200 Thai Baht ($40). The food is Thai, with a hint of fusion cooking in some of the dishes. We wouldn’t describe the food as ‘authentic’ Thai cooking as it is geared towards the Western palate, but it is good.

The menu is orientated towards seafood and the seafood dishes are the star of the show. Our recommendations are the Steamed Sea Bass in Spicy Lemon Sauce, Deep Fried Garoupa in Chilli Sauce, and Deep Fried Snapper in Sweet & Sour Sauce. To give you a sense of the dishes on offer, and the prices, below we have listed some example dishes:

  • Fried rice with seafood and chinese sausage – 220 Thai Baht
  • Deep fired sea bass – 470 Thai Baht
  • Massaman Beef Curry – 220 Thai Baht
  • Pomelo Salad with Seafood – 220 Thai Baht

Bangkok Street Food – Part 2 (Khao Kha Moo shops)

A great staple Bangkok Street food for Thai people is Khao Kha Moo. You will find this all over Thailand. Every street has a stall. It is great value, at between 30 to 45 baht (1 to 1.5 USD) a plate. If you are hungry you can even ask for a big portion by adding the words ‘Pi Set’ which means special in Thai, to the end of the name of the dish.

You will spot Khao Kha Moo stalls by the whole chicken and pieces of pork hanging up behind a glass container. This puts some foreign visitors off as they think it is unhygienic. However, this is a mistake. The meat is generally cooked in the morning on an industrial scale by catering suppliers and then purchased on the same day by the street vendors. The food is really popular so always gets sold out in a day. The meat isn’t hot when you eat it, but that doesn’t matter as the ambient temperature is warm anyway.

Khao Kha Moo shops actually sell a variety of dishes. We have listed the main ones below:

Khao Kha Moo

Khao Kha Moo
This is stewed pork leg with pickled vegetables over rice. It comes with a broth and a red chilli sauce.

Khao Man Gai

Khao Man Gai
This is boiled chicken with uncooked cucumber over rice. It comes with a broth and a slightly sweet black chilli sauce.

Khao Man Gai Tort

Khao Man Gai Tort
The same as Khao Man Gai, but the chicken is deep fried with breadcrumbs.

Khao Moo Daeng

Khao Moo Dang
Stewed pork leg with crunchy fried pork leg cut into chunks and sliced slightly sweet Chinese sausage. The whole mix of meats comes on rice with a hot red sticky sauce. Yummy!

Khao Moo Grop

Khao Moo Grop
Crunchy fried pork leg cut into chunks served on rice. Sometimes served with a sweet red sticky sauce, although normally accompanied by a bowl of broth, and green chilli sauce.

Bangkok Street Food Part 1

If you find yourself wandering down the Sukhumvit Road after midnight in need of a good feed then head down to the street stalls between soi 7 and soi 15. There are lots of options such as noodles, curry and rice dishes or barbeque delights. However, what we suggest, especially if you are in a group, is Dim Jum.

Bangkok street food

Bangkok Street Stalls are lively in the evening

Dim Jum

Dim Jum is a dish with Chinese origins. You will find it in Bangkok and some parts of Northern Thailand. We tried a search on a Google – but nothing came up. This is a real classic and something only the locals know about.

Hot Pot

Dim Jum is a traditional hot pot dish. What you get is a charcoal burner with a pot on top.  The pot is filled with stock which bubbles away. You then order trays of food which you add to the stock and cook for yourself. What you put in is up to you. The selection normally includes noodles, vegetables, offal, fish and chicken. When you think everything is cooked you ladle the soup mixture into individual bowls to eat. The meal can go on as long as you want. You just order more ingredients for the pot if you are still hungry.

Drinking Beer Late Night in Bangkok

An insider’s tip is that they will serve you beer whilst you eat, but only in a plastic cup as it is illegal to sell alcohol after midnight in Thailand without a special license.

Bangkok street food

Eating on the street in Bangkok can be fun

How To Order Dim Jum

The process of ordering Dim Jum can be a bit intimidating if you don’t speak Thai. However, with a bit of patience you can do it. Walk along the street and locate the stalls by looking out for someone else eating the same thing. Order by pointing normally works. The vendors won’t speak much English.

Here are a few basic Thai words to help you on your way:

  • Vegetable = pahk
  • Morning Glory = pahk bong
  • Glass noodle = wun sen
  • Chicken = gai
  • Shrimp or Prawn = gung
  • Water for the pot = nam rawn

Next read more about Classic Thai Dishes