Bee Satongun

Bongkoch Satongun – better known as ‘Chef Bee’ – finds inspiration in century-old Thai cookbooks and reimagines these traditional dishes at Paste, her one Michelin-starred fine-diner in Bangkok. She approaches Laotian cuisine with a similar curiosity at Paste Laos, her restaurant in Luang Prabang. “Our recipes take customers back to their childhood,” she says. “That’s how we won their hearts”. When the 2018 Asia’s 50 Best Female Chef isn’t winning hearts with authentic Thai flavours in her chef whites, she’s enjoying them (along with a beer) at her favourite local restaurants shared here.
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A Hidden Oasis Serving Curry “The Way It Should Be”

When I go out, I only want to eat at local restaurants. The one place that I always find myself going back to is a very old, home-style Thai restaurant called Suankanvela. It’s very hidden and the kind of place that someone has to tell you about, or you happen to stumble upon. Which is exactly how I found it. I walked into the restaurant by accident after crossing a small bridge just outside of Or Tor Kor market. The setting, which is just by the water, and surrounded by big, old trees, is really green and beautiful. It’s the perfect spot for sitting with friends and enjoying a few beers. It’s very chilled out. Eating here is like going back in time. They’ve been open for around 30 years, and the food really does taste like the food of Thailand 30 years ago. These days, it can be hard to find good Thai food with flavours that aren’t restricted by over seasoning or diluted by commercial products. But here, the aromas from the curry paste and the herbs really come through. They still cook everything from scratch and follow the right procedures: making their own curry paste and using fresh coconut cream, which really makes a big difference. The food, especially the curries, are amazing.

The City’s Best Northern Thai Food

I think Maan Muang restaurant is cooking the best Northern Thai cuisine in Bangkok. The chef travels to her home region of Northern Thailand to buy all of the ingredients, which helps explain why the flavours are so amazing. The larb is very, very good. In northern style larb they don’t use any sour agents, only fish sauce and dry spices, which really allows the flavours to shine through. The restaurant is around 30 minutes by car from the centre of Bangkok, and it can be a little difficult to find because it looks like an old house. It’s very casual, and the wooden architecture really gives you the feeling of being in the north. It’s definitely one of my favourite restaurants in Thailand.

To Market For A Taste Of Bangkok History

Nang Loeng Market is one of the few remaining traditional markets in Bangkok and is actually the first existing inland market in Thailand. There is a lot, I mean, really a lot, of delicious food here. You can find a lot of old recipes, like my favourite thing to eat in the world, khao chae (rice in perfumed water with condiments). It’s a very traditional dish that’s typically only eaten in summer, but here you can enjoy it throughout the whole year.

A Sweet Day Trip Out of The City

Koh Kret, an island village close to Bangkok in the Chao Phraya River, is a really interesting and relaxing way to spend the day. There’s a lot of pottery here, and many of the houses by the river have been turned into restaurants, but my favourite thing to do here is to enjoy traditional Thai desserts including khao chae, a dish synonymous with the Mon people that migrated to Koh Kret. There is a boat that takes you on a dessert tour down a small canal: visiting houses where you learn to make (and can taste) different kinds of Thai desserts. It’s something I really like to do with my daughter. You can visit the island any day of the week, but the best time to go is on the weekends when they have a big market.

Authentic Southern (And Spicy) Thai Food

Phran Nok road is where locals go to eat authentic Southern Thai food. The entire street is lined with small restaurants, and the best thing to do is to actually jump from restaurant to restaurant trying different dishes from each. Dao Tai is probably the most popular restaurant there – it’s very good, but incredible spicy. Be warned.

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