Widely acclaimed as the world capital of street food, Bangkok’s outdoor dining scene is renowned for distinctive flavours, wide variety and easy access. Recently, the city’s reputation for great food received a boost when the first Michelin Guide Thailand unveiled its list of 17 restaurants being awarded Michelin stars, including 3 restaurants receiving 2 stars each. Half of these eateries serve Thai food, while the rest serve international dishes.
Although the exact evaluation criteria of The Guide are in fact a closely guarded secret, it is generally known that key considerations include the quality of the food, the chefs’ creativity and mastery of flavours and cooking techniques, and consistency between visits. The ranking is from one to three stars, with one indicating “A good place to stop on your journey”, two stars “worth a detour”, and three stars “worth a special journey”.
An increasingly common trend at Michelin-starred restaurants, molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of food science that employs principles of physics and chemistry in food preparation. For example, “flash freezing” – rapid freezing achievedby using liquid nitrogen – is used to retain water in the ingredients, “foams” – turning vegetables, fruit and cheese into mousse-like foams,and “sous-vide” – cooking the food in a sealed plastic bag submerged in a temperature controlled water bath, to retain its flavours and moisture content. At a two-star Indian restaurant in Bangkok, there is a long list of molecular gastronomic dishes, such as “Yogurt Explosion”, a liquid yogurt in a spherical yogurt bomb; spiced nuts in an edible plastic bag (in fact made from rice flour); and mango mousse created with liquid nitrogen.
Haute cuisine, a key element of the Michelin Star accolade, is characterised by meticulous preparation that pays careful attention to every detail, from ingredients sourcing and preparation to complicated cooking techniques and elaborate presentation. A two-star French restaurant in Bangkok, for instance, offers a genuinely unique haute cuisine experience through its selection of choice ingredients, which are either imported or are from Thai Royal Projects. In addition to the actual food, haute cuisine also incorporates other elements of a restaurant’s management, such as a large and efficient staff, impeccable service, and elegant ambience and surroundings.
Finest ingredients and exceptional chefs’ talents
Everyone knows that well-selected ingredients are key to good cooking, but undeniably the chef’s mastery in bringing those ingredients together in a new dish is another indispensable element in the creation of a fine dining experience. Fusion food, in particular, is created by the chef’s talent and creativity. At a two-star fusion restaurant in Bangkok, for example, the Japanese chef applies his French culinary skills to Japanese ingredients to create a varied menu that makes a lasting impression.
Taste a Local Taste
Besides the capital’s haute cuisine, a trip to explore the regional cuisines of Chiang Mai or Phuket is well worthwhile as it will not only give a deeper insight into local culture, but will also spice up your trip and leave happy memories to take home. The majestic mountains and traditional culture of the northern provinces, and the beautiful stretches of white sand beach and crystal clear water of the southern coasts are a magnet for travellers, and Chiang Mai and Phuket remain ever popular attractions. Both destinations offer a wide choice of international restaurants that satisfy everyone’s needs, but it is the local dishes that tempt visitors’ palates and create memorable, new experiences.
No visit to Chiang Mai would be complete without trying a traditional Lanna Khantoke dinner set. The dinner consists of five dishes: dill soup, hang lay curry, pork crackling, chili and tomato dip, and roasted pork served with sticky rice. A Lanna dance is also performed while the dinner is served. Alternatively, an al fresco international dinner at a northern style hotel can also provide a charming and romantic interlude.
Located in the rich Andaman Sea, Phuket offers exquisite arrays of seafood dishes, from the fusion menus of five-star hotels to the unique southern dishes of famous local restaurants, as well as live seafood from the seaside market stalls. For a more memorable experience, a wine-pairing dinner on the beach is a romantic delight.
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