If you can’t travel, at least your taste buds can!
By Ashima Sethi
Our beloved capital city is home to an endless amount of restaurants, the majority of which centre on select cuisines like Thai, Japanese, Korean, and Italian. But, if you’ve grown tired of the same-same dining dates out, we’ve compiled a list of non-mainstream cuisines that you can find in Bangkok if you’re keen to broaden your culinary horizons.
Bhutan is known globally as one of the happiest places in the world. If you’ve yet to plan a visit to this truly special country, you can still get a taste of the local cuisine at Little Bhutan, located in Pahurat. Bhutanese owned and operated, the dishes on the menu are authentic and use imported ingredients from the nation itself such as chilli peppers, cheese, and spices. Some recommended items include their various types of momos served with a piquant chilli sauce called ezay; the nation’s signature dish, Ema datshi that is made from Bhutanese red chillis, datshi cheese, onions, and tomato to create a smoky gravy; and the Phaksha ribs, comprising of melt-in-your-mouth meat seasoned with peppers and paired with vegetables.
There are a handful of places in the city serving up Burmese cuisine but arguably the most popular one is Kalyana Restaurant located in Ratchathewi. Here, the restaurant specialises in authentic Burmese fare that is available for affordable prices, making it perfect for those who want to sample Burmese food for the first time. On the menu are an array of signature dishes including Mohinga, a bowl of rice noodles served in a fish-based soup and topped with fritters; Lahpet thoke, a fermented tea leaf salad tossed with garlic, peanuts, chillies, and other veggies; and Nangyi thoke that consists of thick rice noodles prepared in chicken curry and chilli oil and topped with crispy noodles, veggies, and more. Facebook: @KalyanaRestaurant
For Egyptian cuisine, make your way to Arabesque in Sukhumvit Soi 2! Although the city offers plenty of options for other Middle Eastern fare such as Lebanese food, what sets Egyptian cuisine apart is its focus on beans, veggies, and some marinated meats, so expect some dishes to be familiar while others are likely to be completely new. Recommended items include the Mixed mezzah platter, which includes several different dips including baba ghanouj and tahina to be enjoyed with bread; the mixed Seafood tagine, a flavourful tomato-based stew with squid, fish, and more; the Egyptian barbecued fish that is grilled with lots of herbs and spices; and the Fattah mozza, a traditional dish of spiced meat served with a garlicky tomato sauce over rice. Facebook: @arabesquebangkok
For Ethiopian cuisine, look no further than Taye situated near Nana BTS station. For those who are unfamiliar with the cuisine, Ethiopian food is best enjoyed with your hands and consists of a mix of veggie dishes, spicy meat dishes, stews, and is often served on top of a sourdough flatbread called injera. At Taye, a humble, home-style restaurant, you can tuck into these signature dishes and more. For a comprehensive taste of what the restaurant has to offer, it is recommended to order either the Veggie combo or the Meat combo, both of which offer a selection of curries to enjoy with bites of injera. To pair with the meal, order a cup of rich coffee that is served fresh from a traditional jebena. Facebook: @EthiopianRestaurantBangkok
There are a few places in the city where you can tuck into authentic Filipino cuisine. The first is Lola’s Kitchen located down the road from the Embassy of the Philippines in Thonglor. Here, the menu boasts recognisable classics such as the Chicken adobo cooked with soy, garlic, and vinegar and Bulalo, a warming meat shank and bone marrow soup flavoured with herbs and veggies. Owned by the same people, you can also find Filipino fare at Viva Filipinas. Located inside of the Akara Hotel, the menu here is a tad different with lesser-known dishes on offer like the Pinaputok na bangus, a plate of grilled milkfish stuffied with veggies, soy, ginger and chillies and Seafood kare-kare, mixed seafood cooked in a thick peanut sauce.
Facebook: @vivafilipinasbkk and @lolaskitchenbangkok
Avra is a restaurant serving both Greek and Georgian cuisine. The latter is characterised by dishes that use a lot of meat, cheese, leavened dough, and vegetable salads, each influenced by the rich history of the nation. There are a plethora of must-try dishes spanning appetisers, mains, and plates to share. Some include the Badrijani nigvzit, eggplant rolls topped with walnuts, spices and pomegranate; Acharuli, a dough boat with lots of homemade cheese and egg; Lobio, a spiced red bean stew; Kupati, homemade beef and pork sausages spiced with Georgian spices; Chakapuli, a traditional herbed lamb stew slow-cooked with plums, tarragon, mint, onions, white wine, and more; and Khinkali, giant hand-rolled dumplings filled with your choice of spiced meat. Facebook: @avrabkk
Modern Jamaican cuisine has been influenced by several cultures brought by different people of different backgrounds who have inhabited the island over the years, and encompass dishes like stews, soups, and curries that are enjoyed with a range of side dishes and breads. In Bangkok, there are a few places to try Jamaican cuisine including Irie Bangkok, which has a menu centring on the popular dish of jerk chicken that is coated in spices and grilled before being served with sides like coconut rice and coleslaw. For a broader scope, visit Frying Pan Jamaican Restaurant, which offers a menu of traditional dishes like curried or stewed meats, fried dumplings, oxtails, and ackee and saltfish. Facebook: @IrieBangkok and @fryingpanbangkok
Due to the country’s pronounced four seasons per year, Latvian cuisine is very seasonal. Common ingredients include seafood from the Baltic Sea, as well as potatoes, wheat, cabbage, onions, eggs, and several others. A rare cuisine to find in Bangkok, if you want to indulge in modern Latvian cuisine make sure to visit The
White House, a newly-established fine dining restaurant that utilises premium local produce and specific imported ingredients to craft a chef’s menu and à la carte menu that draw inspiration from the region. Delicacies on offer include Duck liver tortellini with truffle butter and birch sap syrup; Wild pigeon with foie gras, beetroot, and potato; and Grilled mackerel with salmon roe and smoked mackerel mousse.
Nepalese cuisine is largely based on the country’s geographical location and takes inspiration from other cuisines such as Chinese and Indian, as well as the diverse indigenous communities that call the nation home. For a taste of Nepal, visit Himalaya Restaurant in Pratunam thatspecialises in affordable, authentic dishes. Some must-try items on the menu include Dal bhat, a fragrant yellow lentil curry that is paired with rice and sides including potatoes, pickles, curd, and more; Khasi ko sekuwa, clay-oven grilled mutton cubes served with condiments; Duck choyala, a spicy meat salad crafted using chillies, fenugreek seeds, and turmeric; and of course, Momos, dumplings that are available in an array of different forms including steamed, fried, or doused in chilli or jhol sauces. Facebook: @HimalayaRestaurantBangkok
Because Russia is made up of such vast rolling landscapes and forests, the cuisine utilises a lot of grains, roots, vegetables, fish, mushrooms, and berries, and dishes span soups, appetisers, meaty mains, and breads. Finding authentic Russian cuisine can be difficult in Bangkok, but if you’re curious about sampling this unique fare, plan a visit to The Moon Under Water. Recommended dishes include the Zakusky,
a plate of ‘Russian tapas’ that consists of seasonal mushrooms, sauerkraut, marinated tomatoes, pickled cucumber, beetroot salad, and cured pork belly; The sun at Kharlovka, a plate of small pancakes topped with salmon and herbed sour cream; the Chef’s pelmeni, meat-filled dumplings with a dip; and Borscht, a traditional beetroot soup. Facebook: @tmuwbkk
South African cuisine reflects a range of culinary traditions that exist in both indigenous communities and those brought in by foreign communities, like the Dutch, French, and Malay, among others over the years. As a result of so much diversity, the cuisine is extremely unique and quite meat-heavy. For a taste of what South Africa has to offer, check out Madibaz. Here, you can sample South Africa’s national dish of Bobotie and rice, where minced meat is simmered with spices, curry powder, herbs, and dried fruit and then topped with egg and milk and baked until lasagne-like. You can also try their Boerewors, a rich, spicy sausage that is paired with potato salad, fries, tomato relish, or other sides; Bunny chow, Durban curry served in a bread roll; and Safari sosaties, skewers of meat that have been marinated in chillies, curry leaves, garlic, and more.
Traditional Swiss cuisine draws influence from neighbouring countries such as Italy, Germany, and France, as well as Switzerland’s history as an agricultural country. A lot of the cuisine uses ingredients like cheese, potatoes, bread, pickled veggies, and heavy cream, making it quite indulgent in comparison to a lot of the cuisines we have become familiar with living in Bangkok. If you’re keen to try Swiss cuisine, head to either Chesa Swiss or Swiss Corner. Both restaurants have authentic fare on offer, including different types of Fondue ranging from cheese to oil and broth; Raclette, where melted cheese is served with an array of sides including potatoes and bread; Rosti, flat cakes made from potatoes that are served with various meats; and more. Facebook: @chesaswiss.bkk and @SwissCornerBangkok