Fine Dining Triumph Boosts Bangkok’s Allure as a Foodie Paradise

When Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2023 were unveiled on March 28, one thing was clear: Bangkok’s “street food” stereotype was being laid to rest.

(Bloomberg) — When Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2023 were unveiled on March 28, one thing was clear: Bangkok’s “street food” stereotype was being laid to rest.

With four spots in the top 10, including the coveted No. 1, which went to the self-styled “modern Thai” restaurant Le Du, Bangkok was equaled only by the more distinguished fine-dining destination Tokyo. What’s more, Bangkok won nine places on the top 50 list, compared to seven for Japan’s capital.

That recognition, along with an expanded offering in the country’s latest Michelin Guide, is sure to boost Bangkok’s reputation among  “foodie tourists” seeking fresh culinary experiences — with the added bonus that Thailand is often cheaper than rival cities. The priciest tasting menu at Le Du is just $116, compared with $227 for second-placed Tokyo eatery Sézanne.

Interest in global culinary tourism is only continuing to rise. In 2022, the market was valued at about $1.31 billion; by 2028, it’s expected to more than double, to $3.46 billion. Awards invariably raise the profiles of winning restaurants. After the Copenhagen dining room Noma was named best in the world on the global top 50 list, it was reportedly flooded with 20,000 reservation requests a day.

READ MORE: Six more Bangkok restaurants blazing a trail for Thai fine dining

Owner of both Le Du and third-placed Nusara, Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn, said his restaurants are currently booked out for the next three months and that the number of inquiries had been “very overwhelming.”

“Bangkok has changed so much since I started Le Du 10 years ago,” said Ton. “Now it’s so vibrant and full of talents. It has become a major dining destination.”

William Drew, Director of Content for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, said restaurants frequently fed back that making the list helped boost demand for reservations, particularly from overseas visitors. “Having such a strong showing in the annual ranking certainly cements Bangkok’s status as one of the most exciting cities for food lovers in Asia, and internationally,” he said.

Thailand is expecting to welcome some 30 million foreign visitors this year. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, a deputy governor for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said the strong showing for Thai cuisine in particular on Asia’s 50 Best list would help boost the country’s gastronomy tourism industry.

“When tourists think of Thailand, we want them to think of our food. The list will help boost the reputation and image of Thai tourism, where street food and fine dining go hand in hand,” Chattan said. “For many years, tourists have told us food is the most important factor in their decision to visit Thailand. It’s a very big deal.”

Here are the four Bangkok venues that made Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants’ top 10: 

Le Du

Taking the coveted top spot in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, Le Du, meaning “season” in Thai, is helmed by Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn. Diners can choose from a four-course menu at 3500 baht ($102) or a six-course tasing menu for 4,000 baht. Both crafted from seasonal local produce, and might include dishes like watermelon with snakehead fish ice cream and shallot snow.


This too is a Chef Ton restaurant, named after his grandmother, and seating only 10 diners. The restaurant’s website boldly describes the food — this time presented as a 12-course tasting menu with options like pickled lime soup with pork belly and giant ocean snails — as “colorful” Thai cuisine that has “never been done before.” Expect to pay 4,590 baht a head.

Gaggan Anand

Dining at the eponymous restaurant from famed Indian chef Gaggan Anand is described as a “three-hour rollercoaster journey,” for which you’ll need to buy a 12,000-baht “ticket” to ride. And you won’t be told what’s on the menu. Booking is online only, and a few days before your meal you’ll be sent a questionnaire asking questions including your favorite swearword and favored Kama Sutra position. Oh, and the website kindly requests that diners don’t smoke marijuana during their meal.


Sorn’s chef-patron Supaksorn “Ice” Jongsiri was inspired by his grandmother’s southern Thai cooking, but don’t expect a traditional experience. Each dish is designed to be served at a specific temperature, according to Asia’s 50 Best, and dinner might be comprised of as many as 22 dishes, including a dessert of “mutant” coconut with ice cream. There’s no vegetarian menu, those with allergies won’t be catered for and it’s closed for a renovation in April. The tasting menu price is 6,500 baht a head.

–With assistance from Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Low De Wei.

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