After an announcement last week pledging to clean up Bangkok’s street food stalls, which disappointed locals and tourists, Thai tourism officials have announced plans to launch the first Michelin restaurant guide for Thailand‘s capital.
It all makes sense now.
When officials announced that street food stalls would be banned from the city’s main roads as part of a major clean-up, the news sparked widespread outcry given that roadside hawkers play a major part in the city’s grit, appeal, and authenticity.
But it seems that the announcement was to pave the way for a bigger development in the country’s tourism plan: to welcome the arrival of tastemakers from Michelin, arguably the most famous arbiter of good taste in the world.
Rumours of Michelin’s entry into Bangkok have been swirling since earlier this year, but the news was confirmed at an event hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand last week.
“Bangkok is one of the world’s culinary capitals, offering amazing cuisine, from fine dining from renowned international chefs to small family-owned eateries,” said Lionel Dantiacq, managing director of Michelin East Asia and Australia.
“The kingdom’s food also has a long, rich heritage which enhances the pleasure of tourists travelling.”
Meanwhile, tourism officials softened their stance on the ban following the widespread outcry, clarifying that street hawkers will continue to operate, but in designated zones away from main roads and walkways.
The Michelin Guide Bangkok will be released in both Thai and English editions at the end of the year and is projected to boost food spending by 10 percent per visitor. Michelin coverage is expected to expand to other Thai destinations in future editions.
Before Michelin susses out culinary stars outside of the Thai capital, here’s a look at some of the noteworthy restaurants that are likely to get nods in the inaugural Michelin guide for Bangkok. The restaurants below have previously been spotlighted by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards.
At Bo.Lan, chef Duangporn Songvisava, better known as ‘Bo,’ uses ingredients sourced from local farmers, artisans, and fishermen to create traditional Thai dishes like Northern-style spicy pork salad with native spices and greens, or hot and sour soup with herbal-fed chicken and young tamarind leaves. In 2013, chef Bo was named Asia’s Best Female Chef by organisers of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. By 2018, the restaurant hopes to become carbon neutral.
It’s a Thai restaurant in Bangkok helmed by an Australian chef. Despite his Aussie roots, chef David Thompson is considered an honorary Thai for creating a restaurant that elevates Thai cuisine to the standards of haute gastronomy. Thompson tracked down centuries-old cookbooks of Thai matriarchs to create a menu that features the robust flavors of Thailand: garlic, shrimp paste, chillies and lemongrass. The London outpost of Nahm became the first Thai restaurant in Europe to be awarded a Michelin star after opening in 2001.
For three years in a row, chef Gaggan Anand’s Indian restaurant in Bangkok, Gaggan, has been able to boast the title of best restaurant in Asia, by organisers of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Described as a progressive Indian restaurant, Gaggan uses hyper-modern techniques to create dishes like spherified yoghurt explosion with red matcha and charcoal, Indian sushi and uni ice cream served in a miniature cone. Interested in booking a table? Best reserve within the next few years, as chef Anand has said he plans to close Gaggan by 2020 and relocate to Japan.