Thailand's Best Restaurants 2007
Published by Blue Mango Publishing
Available at Asia Books and elsewhere, Bt395
Reviewed by Manote Tripathi
The book seeks to capture not just the wealth of Thailand's food culture, but its vibrant multi-cultural food scene that has made Bangkok such a cool culinary destination for both top diners and chefs.
From street-side stalls and food carts to luxury rooftop eateries and Western-style hotel restaurants, the choices for fine dining or random meal sampling in the capital are numerous, and the best can be found between these covers.
The guide maintains its standard format by featuring, as usual, new reviews of 150 top restaurants in Bangkok's Petchburi, Silom and Sukhumvit areas. These - Chinese, European/American, French, Italian, Japanese and Thai - were selected from a list of 500 nominated by Thailand Tatler readers. The guide also includes 60 of the finer eateries mushrooming in Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Phuket and Samui.
Each review offers an assessment of food, wine, service and price plus a brief description of the setting and a box of signature dishes. Using simple symbols, the ratings for food, wine, service and price - the first three on a scale of 10, the last a scale of four - are given at the bottom of each review for quick reference. What should prove really useful are the glossary of culinary terms, maps and the address and name of each restaurant - also written in Thai - plus useful details like reservations, dress codes and private parking facilities.
Editor Naphalai Areesorn has ensured the series' credibility by bringing in a highly experienced team of food reviewers and contributors each assigned according to their specific areas of expertise. During meal-tasting trips, the reviewer avoids special treatment by dining anonymously and only identifying themselves after completing the task. So, at some eateries, expect such annoyances as "easily confused waitresses", "slow and confused service", and "staff a little rusty about the food". But most restaurants reviewed are close to impeccable.
The staff at Thailand Tatler have also put together a collection of essays which provide insights into what's happening on the Thai and international dining scene, like the world of real Chinese food, the raw food phenomenon and Bangkok's scrumptious street fare. So if you fancy noodles with duck or goose wings, fish boiled rice, or rare venison dishes, the guide has expert advice.
An attached questionnaire that asks you to name your favourite eateries and gauge your dining-out experience could win you a dinner for two or a bottle of wine. At the end of the book is a list of reviewed restaurants and other eateries that offer special discounts to American Express Card members only.
Keep the guide handy if you're deciding where to dine in style next Friday.