Any Thai food fanatic worth their fish sauce should already be well versed in the unrestrained beauty of Southern Thailand’s culinary tradition. For the layperson, here goes; owing to its location with the Gulf of Thailand to the east and Andaman Sea to the west, it’s a cuisine which makes use of the ocean’s bounty at every turn of the rod’s reel. Expect crab, shrimp and its fermented paste, and both heavy use of fresh chilli and coconut cream, the latter growing abundantly down South. Non-glutinous rice is the staple here, and influences abound from nearby Malaysia and Indonesia.
Anyway, you could’ve just read all that on Wikipedia, right? Should you find yourself in Bangkok, then it won’t take you long to notice just how popular the region’s food has become in Thailand’s capital. The tissue paper stockers here aren’t concerned about Coronavirus; nope, Thailand’s foodierati just can’t get enough of brow mopping. Keen to join them? Here’s where to eat Southern Thai food in Bangkok; our 5 IDEAL restaurants.
The first Thai restaurant in the world to gain two Michelin stars, and proudly, resolutely ‘Southern’ to their soul, we have to start here, with Sorn. Though it’s only been open for two years, this place has been the talk of the town – no, country – for nearly as long. Proudly sourcing ‘99.9%’ of their ingredients from the south, and supporting countless farmers and fishermen in the process, as well as cooking most of the food in clay pots, you’d be forgiven for thinking this traditional ethos wouldn’t translate into a 22 course tasting menu of fine dining.
You’d be wrong; this, quite simply, is some of the finest Thai food in the world, period. You’ll have to run over hot coals to get a table, but if you’re lucky enough to do so, it’s worth burning your feet for. And mouth; the food is spicy, and all the better for it. Than hai im, na khrap!
Address: 56, Sukhumvit 26 Soi Ari, Klongton Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
KHUA KLING PAK SOD
Lovers of spicy Southern soul food in Bangkok have been raving about this hugely popular Southern Thai restaurant group for some time; Khua Kling Pak Sod has certainly played a part in the city’s love of the region’s cuisine in recent years. It all started in one beloved family run joint in downtown Sukhumvit, using family recipes and a faithful connection to the producers of the south, and the formula worked superbly; it has led to several more in the city.
Though there are several branches across the city, Khua Kling Pak Sod keeps things consistent; classic Southern Thai dishes are unapologetically spicy, and fresh seafood is sourced from down south daily. The restaurant’s namesake dish khua kling – a minced pork curry, stir fried with red curry paste and served dry – throbs with local prik kee noo chillis to an almost nuclear level, and is all the better for it. Their yellow coconut milk curry of crab meat, served with thin kanom jeen fermented rice noodles is another belter; offering less respite from the heat than the name suggests and, though we may be repeating ourselves, is all the better for it.
Perhaps steer clear if spice isn’t your thing. Even with the South’s reputation for chilli addiction, this restaurant does things hot, hot, hot. But if it is, Khua Kling Pak Sod is one of the best restaurants in the city.
Address: 98/1 Sukhumvit 53 Alley, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
One of the new kids on the block, and we’ve got to warn you, that block is certainly out the way. But endeavour to stray off the beaten path, through Khlong Toei and down Sukhumvit 22, and you’ll find Klang Suan. It’s a beautiful restaurant from the outside; the same translates as ‘house garden’ and there’s plenty of foliage to support that. Once inside, the food is exceptional. Channeling the cuisine of the Chumphon region of the south, go for the shredded ray ‘miang’ to start; a delicious parcel of fish and fragrance which you wrap with ‘betel’ leaf. The flavour lingers infinitely.
Though their sour yellow curry (gaeng som) with mackerel is a fine version of the region’s most famous bowlful, perhaps the best thing we ate here was a dish of stir-fried beef shank with coconut milk. Though not as insistently spicy as much of the Southern repertoire, the flavour of the wok was pronounced with the coconut possessing that freshly-pressed flavour which is the canned stuff simply can’t compare to. A lovely, refined restaurant, inside and out.
Address: 143 Soi Sainumthip2, Khwaeng Khlong Toei, Klongtoei, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
*Sadly, as of 25th June 2020. Klang Suan has served its last dish. We hope to see more gorgeous Southern Thai cooking from the family in future.*
Phuket is perhaps Thailand’s premier foodie destination, and in a country of such rich, varied and uniformly delicious food, that’s truly saying something. One of the leading Southern Thai restaurants in the city is Prai Raya. It’s so popular, in fact, that it’s spawned sister restaurants in Phuket in the form of One Chun and Chomchan, and a second Prai Raya in Bangkok. We’ll pull up a chair here, then, rather than hopping on a flight to Phuket, ordering their wonderful, black pepper heavy (an ingredient with prominence in the South’s cuisine) Moo Hong, a dish of stewed pork which is the restaurant’s signature. Their fermented rice noodles with coconut milk crab curry is equally brilliant.
Address: 59 Soi Sukhumvit 8, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
If you weren’t fortunate enough to secure a seat at Sorn, then firstly, join the club. But more importantly, don’t fret; you can still sample superstar chef Supaksorn Jongsiri’s take on the food of his childhood at Baan Ice, a more affordable, less exclusive sibling to Sorn.
This certainly doesn’t mean flavour has been compromised or that faithful sourcing of Southern ingredients sacrificed. Oh no, it’s all very much present and correct here. Their stir fried stink bean and shrimp is pungent and punchy in just the right way, whilst ‘grandpa’s’ khao yam (a rice salad) is delicate, delicious and (whisper it) as good as the version found at their accolade accumulating sister restaurant. The gaeng tai pla (a curry of fermented fish guts) is as good – no, honestly – as it sounds, and steadfast to the uncompromising, relentless flavours of the south.
With 5 branches of Baan Ice open all day, from 11am to 10pm, seven days a week, you’ll have no trouble securing a seat here. Savour it.
Address: 115 Thonglor Rd, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
In a city blessed with so much excellent Southern Thai food, it can be hard to narrow it down to just five places you should bless with your Baht. But we’ve eaten around the city, and endured (it’s a tough job) the fire, to bring you our favourites. Now, what are yours?