Bangkok is a wonderful city for eating. Everytime I visit I discover some new great places. Here are my all-time favorites.
Ban Klang Nam, 3792/106 Soi 14, Rama III Road, Tel. 02 292 0175
This used to an undiscovered gem a couple of years ago - at least for farangs. Now it has apparently received some awards, there's foreigners now and prices have taken a hike. It still is a gem though.
The place specializes in seafood and it is the best and freshest anywhere I've seen. I can especially recommend the giant crabs. They cost 850B now instead of 650 like they used to but they are worth their money. One order can feed two easily and probably four if you order it with rice. There is two variations. With black pepper sauce and with curry sauce. I favor the curry sauce because I feel that the black pepper overpowers the taste of the crab meat. The curry sauce is just heavenly, not too spicy, very rich and creamy. The crabs are perfectly cooked, the meat still very juicy. Already this dish alone is reason enough for me to come out here. Scallops are also always very good. A very large order for 300B and so fresh that they taste sweet. I'm not happy with any of the sauces I tried yet though. Usually ended up dipping them in the crab curry sauce... :-)
The restaurant is a bit out of the way. It is southeast of the Rama III bridge but it is at a great location. It is in an old teak wood villa on stilts right on the river Chao Praya. If you do go, reservations are a must. It is packed every night. Or arrive late (9pm) when most Thais already go home again (they are open until 11pm). If you make a reservation ask for a table with a view on the bridge. Those are the nicest.
Khrua Rommai, 16 Sukhumvit Soi 36 (take the Skytrain to Thong Lo; soi 36 has a Shell service station on the corner and the restaurant is a short walk down the soi, you pass a big lao restaurant first, it's 50m passed that one) (closed on Sundays!)
This is a very cute little restaurant that does issan food, the food of northeast Thailand and Laos. They do very good home cooked food. Barbequed chicken was very good and one of my favorite dishes is Larb - a salad out of finely chopped chicken or pork, ground roasted rice and spring onions. It is very spicy though. And do order sticky rice instead of the usual steam rice if you want the true Issan experience. The absolute best thing about the place is however, that they have this Thai appetizer (no idea what the name is- sorry- but it was the most expensive one appetizer on the menu and had a strange translation to English) where you get a pile of green leafs of some sort and little dishes with all sort of finely chopped ingredients. Like roasted coconut flakes, onions, lime, dried shrimp, ginger, chillies, and some more. And a fruity tasting sauce. You pile a little bit of each of the ingredients on one of the leaves, roll it up into a package and put it in the mouth. When you chew on it you will have taste explosions in your mouth pending on what you bite on. And somehow the ingredients all complement each other perfectly. So good! The setting of this place is also very cute. It's outdoors in a leafy compound, you can hear toads and crickets and almost forget that you are in Bangkok. The family has their own herb and vegetable next to where you sit and they use these in their cooking. And it's dirt cheap. Even if you drink your fair share of beer you will be hard pressed to spend more than 8-10 dollars for two.
(at the intersection of Yaowarat and Soi Texas. Yaowarat is the big one-way road through Chinatown. Soi Texas, home to the Texas parking garage, comes in from the right. Rut & Lek is on the far corner as you head in the direction of the traffic. There is an English sign in the "restaurant" with the name)
This place does not win any price for looks. They do the dishes in big buckets on the street, the indoor seating is true Thai style, neon lights, plastic chairs, toilet paper for napkins and waste bins under every table for the food waste. The food is excellent though. The absolute best was crab in black pepper sauce. Nowhere as giant as at Ban Klang Nam but the pepper sauce was excellent. And the crab fried rice is the best I've eaten anywhere. Tom Yum Soup is also very good, but REALLY spicy. Not many tourists go there. It does have an English menu with pictures though.
And this is the absolute best
It is not easy to find because most people (including taxi drivers) do not know the street it is in. Walk south on Tanao Road passed Bunsiri Street and 3-4 more side streets. If you see a blue sign with a white leaf (some Thai bank) on the left hand side of the street turn right into the second street that you walk past. The name of the street is Phraeng Phuton.
Here it is not only good home made food, it is art. There is no menu but the owner and cook speaks good English. And foreigners don't have much of a choice anyhow. She decides what you eat. :-) But it is wonderful. I had an excellent a salad of banana flower and shrimp with rich chili paste, fermented shrimp, lime and palm sugar. Never tasted anything like it. And Mii Krawp, the hugely popular Thai crispy noodle dish. I never liked it much but here there was some sort of orange peel in it that tasted like oranges should taste in a better world. We cleaned off the whole plate (although the portion was HUGE) not to miss the tiniest bit. The third dish was green curry. Very very good, but standard compared to the other two. This and two beers come to a total of 330B. Can you believe that????