Dylan Jones

“Dad, Cook, Crusader.” So goes the Instagram account of Canberra-born, Bangkok-based chef, Dylan Jones. In 2009, he and his wife Duongporn “Bo” Songvisava opened Bo.Lan, an uncompromising Thai restaurant with a unflinching focus on organic, local produce (she’s the Bo in the restaurant’s name, he’s the Lan). When they’re not in their intimate restaurant in the Thai capital, the couple are either travelling Thailand sourcing ingredients and meeting farmers or flying the flag for Thai food at an international dinner or event.

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Think Global, Eat (And Drink) Global

Appia is an Italian restaurant run by two of my closest friends. It’s proper world-class Italian food in what feels like a neighbourhood restaurant. The dishes are Roman style, so you have amazing home-made pasta and incredible produce. The porchetta is awesome, as are the barrel-aged Negronis.

Putting The Fun In Fine Dining

Right now, I really enjoy eating at Gaa. I feel the experience is a very personal one, and very well executed. I really like chef Garima Arora’s playful approach, but ultimately, it’s just good cooking. They focus on local ingredients and make almost everything from scratch in house. The chicken skin with frozen liver is so good, as is the jackfruit main course that’s getting everyone excited. Olta is a newcomer on the Bangkok scene and is just around the corner from my house. This is British bistronomy, and runs the fine line between casual everyday neighbourhood joint to upscale special occasion sort-of place. The food is solid.

One Of My Favourite Thai Restaurants In The Country

If friends of chefs come to visit in Bangkok, I make them schlep out to Mahachai – roughly 75kms outside of Bangkok – and go to Ruen Panya restaurant. It’s a very old restaurant that we have been visiting for years, and the food is so bloody good it’s not funny. It’s definitely one of, if not my all-time, favourite Thai restaurant in the country. The flavours and quality are exceptional. Be warned: the portions are on the large side, so it’s best to go as a group. There’s a tonne of mud crab on the menu, and a favourite is the jungle curry or southern curry with pickled bamboo. I stop there every time I’m on my way back from buying my palm sugar. Unfortunately, they got a Michelin star recently so it’s not the hidden gem it used to be, but that doesn’t detract from the food.

Local Chinese-Thai Favourites

Xia Duck Noodle has the best braised duck noodles in Bangkok. That’s my opinion and it’s subjective. The blood in the braised duck – no noodles – is fucking amazing. Chua Kim Heng is a fourth-generation old-style shop house specialising in goose. I really like their braised goose with pickled mustard green salad and goose blood.

Elevated Thai Dining

Soul Food Mahanakhon serves socially conscious, produce-driven Thai food. The dishes are street-food based, but there are a few regional dishes on the menu too. They’ve got good cocktails, and the best samosas in Bangkok. Krua Apsorn is a popular spot with everyone: locals, ex-pats and tourists. The crab omelette is pretty special, as is the sour orange curry. And some shameless self-promotion. There’s also Err, our smaller and more casual restaurant serving street-food style dishes and small plates, family-share style, all with some cool, creative cocktails and Thai craft beer. It’s a fun place to head to with friends.

For An Isaan Hit

At 100 Mahaseth chef Chalee’s [Kader] food is getting better and better. The ingredients he sources is impressive and his flavour profiles are bang on. For me, it’s like a Thai isaan cross between St. John [London] and Yardbird [Hong Kong]. The Thai wagyu is a treat and his jaew’s [Thai dried chilli dipping sauce] are intensely brilliant. 

Bangkok’s Hardest Restaurant To Book

Sorn is the hardest restaurant to book right now in Bangkok. It’s a modern take on Southern Thai food, sourcing all produce from south of Thailand. If you want to get in, you have to book early. Really early.

Ancient Thai Recipes In A Private Kitchen

Chef Prin [former head chef of Nahm Restaurant] has a semi permanent space called Samrub Thai. He’s one of the best cooks I’ve ever met. Period. 

Special Ingredients, Cooked With Care

Le Du restaurant uses obscure local ingredients to create a menu that’s somewhere between contemporary Thai and modern western cuisine. The chef (Chef Ton) is a qualified sommelier, so the wine list is very good. For excellent quality dim sum, go to Hong Bao off Sukhumvit 39, or the original Ratchadamri branch of Chef Man.

Western Dining And Drinking

If you’re craving pizza, go to Peppina, the owners flew a hand-made pizza oven over from Naples. It’s fun and has loads of great food and good drinks. Eat Me is hot and has been for the last 20 years. Chef Tim Butler can cook. Modern Asian influences with solid western techniques. The cocktails are also good. Billy, at Mexican restaurant La Monita, is pretty passionate about two things: Mexican food and mescal.

Japanese Barbecue, Two Ways

Mitsumori is Japanese restaurant specialising in yakitori and soba on Sukhumvit 23. It’s clean, delicious, well-executed and tasty. They have a strong Japanese clientele base, so you know it must be good. Ginzado is a Japanese barbecue joint where you grill your own dinner. I go for the quality of the beef which is very high, and they also have interesting offal cuts that to me, seem like they’re prepared well, and cleaner than other places.

My Favourite Bars

One generally ends up at Smalls Bar in the wee hours of the morning in Bangkok. You’re almost always guaranteed to see a few chefs about. WTF Bar draws in the local ex-pat crowd and the arty Thais. Sugar Ray is only open three days a week but the boys there take their cocktails very seriously.  Tep Bar is a local style Thai bar/izakaya I that’s popular among locals and ex-pats. Maggie Choo’s is expensive but worth going just to check out the concept – it’s set up like a Prohibition opium den in China. Sing Sing Theatre has an amazing design and burlesque theme. Their gin bar next door, Iron Balls Distillery & Bar is also pretty cool. Thaipioka is a classy counter-style bar that makes proper decent cocktails and is close to Bo.lan.

Guide last updated March 2020

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Dylan Jones

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