Bangkok’s culinary odyssey: Feasts in the City of Angels and Immortals


Vaso serves up inspiring Spanish dishes like this ‘pan con tomate’ or Spanish tomato bread. — Photos: ABBI KANTHASAMY

In Bangkok, Thailand, a city as enigmatic as its full ceremonial name, “Krung Thep Maha Nakhon Amorn Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit”, lies a culinary landscape as diverse and intricate as the city itself.

This name, often shortened to “Krung Thep Mahanakhon”, translates to: “City of Angels, Great City of Immortals, Magnificent City of the Nine Gems, Seat of the King, City of Royal Palaces, Home of Gods Incarnate, Erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s Behest”.

Having said this, if it’s okay with you, I’m just going to call it Bangkok.

As I navigated through the bustling streets of this storied metropolis, I found each aspect of the grand title reflected in the rich tapestry of its food culture. The streets of Bangkok, pulsating with life, are a testament to its moniker.

The City of Angels not only alludes to its divine origins but also to the heavenly flavours that adorn its culinary scene. From the aromatic street stalls to the high-end gourmet restaurants, every dish is a tribute to the city’s grandeur and complexity.

Bangkok, a place where the old world collides with the new and where ancient temples stand in the shadow of towering skyscrapers, is a city of contrasts and surprises. The sounds of tuk-tuks whizzing past, the sight of monks in saffron robes walking alongside suited businessmen, and the scent of jasmine flowers intertwining with the smoky aroma of street food – all contribute to the city’s unique charm.

As a business traveller, my journey through Bangkok’s culinary landscape was an adventure through a city that, much like its name, is layered with history, culture, and an unyielding spirit. In places like Samrub Samrub Thai, the traditional Thai flavours, embracing the complexity of sourness, are as intricate and profound as the city’s full name. The dishes here, from the laab of tiger prawn to the hot and sour soup of wild boar, are a celebration of the culinary artistry that Bangkok has perfected over centuries.

The streets of Bangkok are a kaleidoscope of culinary experiences. The vibrant night markets, a sensory overload, offer everything from spicy som tam (papaya salad) to the sweetest mango sticky rice. Street vendors, true unsung heroes of Bangkok’s food scene, serve up dishes with flavours as bold and complex as the city itself.

It’s in these bustling markets and on these vibrant streets that one can truly taste the soul of Bangkok.

Iberico pork salad at Paste in Bangkok. Iberico pork salad at Paste in Bangkok.

In the chic surroundings of Paste, the innovative approach to Thai cuisine reflects the Great City of Immortals aspect of Bangkok’s name. The subtle sour notes in the crab meat curry and the Iberico pork salad speak to a timeless culinary tradition evolving with modern tastes. Here, ancient recipes are reimagined, creating a dialogue between the old and the new, a testament to the city’s ability to honour its past while boldly stepping into the future.

Tropic City, with its vibrant mixology, captures the essence of Bangkok’s title, Magnificent City of the Nine Gems. Each cocktail is a jewel in its own right, a blend of sour, sweet, and aromatic elements that tell the story of Thailand’s rich natural bounty. This place, with its electric energy and colourful decor, feels like a microcosm of Bangkok itself – vibrant, eclectic, and always surprising.

The bold flavours at Charmgang Curry Shop are a nod to the Seat of the King and City of Royal Palaces aspects of Bangkok’s name. The traditional sourness in their smoked king fish curry is a royal feast for the senses, a dish fit for the kings who once ruled this majestic land. It’s in establishments like these that the depth and breadth of Thai cuisine is truly showcased, where each dish is not just a meal, but a story, rich with history and tradition.

Scallops cooked to perfection at Charmang Curry Shop.Scallops cooked to perfection at Charmang Curry Shop.

Even Vaso, with its Spanish flair, contributes to the narrative of Bangkok as the Home of Gods Incarnate. The rich, bold flavours of Spain, adapted and embraced in this Thai metropolis, are a testament to Bangkok’s ability to incorporate and celebrate diverse culinary gods from across the globe. Here, in the heart of the city, one can traverse continents within the confines of a menu, a culinary odyssey that spans far beyond Thailand’s borders.

Navigating through this City of Angels and Immortals, I was constantly reminded of Bangkok’s grandeur, not just in its landmarks and history, but in every bite of its sublime cuisine. This city, where the past and present co-exist in a beautiful symphony, offers not just meals but experiences, each as enchanting and captivating as the city itself.

The Thai people, with their warmth and hospitality, only add to the richness of these experiences, making every meal feel like an invitation into their home, their culture.

As my trip drew to a close, I left with a profound appreciation for Bangkok – a city whose full name is a poem, a promise, and a feast, all rolled into one. In this City of Angels, every dish, every flavour, and every culinary encounter is a reminder of its divine, immortal essence.

At Samrub, check out the spotted knifefish grilled in bamboo.At Samrub, check out the spotted knifefish grilled in bamboo.

From the humblest street food stall to the most opulent restaurant, Bangkok serves not just food, but memories, stories, and an undying spirit that stays with you long after you’ve left its shores.

Bangkok, with its myriad of flavours, its tapestry of cultures, and its unbreakable spirit, is more than just a city. It’s a living, breathing entity, a character in its own right, and as complex and multifaceted as any human being. And as with any great character, it’s the contradictions, the complexities, and the surprises that make it truly unforgettable.

In Bangkok, every meal is a discovery, every bite a revelation, and every moment a treasure. This is a city that doesn’t just feed your body; it feeds your soul.

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

Abbi Kanthasamy blends his expertise as an entrepreneur with his passion for photography and travel.

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