We asked Chef Bongkoch “Bee” Satongun of Michelin-starred Paste restaurant to take us on a tour of her favorite Bangkok restaurants.
At every turn in Bangkok, there’s a hole-in-the-wall cafe, food vendor, or fine-dine that will blow your mind. But where to start? Chef Bongkoch “Bee” Satongun of Michelin-starred Paste restaurant, who was named “Asia’s Best Female Chef 2018” at this year’s Asia’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, has shared her secrets with us.
Known for elevating traditional Thai food, Satongun crafts complex, contemporary dishes that are inspired by historic royal Thai recipes. Dishes range from red spanner crab Lon (an updated version of a traditional, curry-like Thai dish) to char-grilled langoustine salad with forest herbs from northern Thailand.
“I think it is so important to preserve one’s culture. There are few restaurants today that maintain the tradition behind Thai cuisine,” says Satongun, who works in tandem with her chef-husband Jason Bailey. “The tricky part is achieving harmony in the overall flavor so that it’s very nuanced while remaining true to traditional Thai tastes and appealing to international diners.”
In a city that’s brimming with dining options, Satongun leads us to her all-time favorite Bangkok restaurants.
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“I personally prefer to eat Thai cuisine when I go out, and most of the time I’ll choose to eat at a traditional restaurant or familiar street food stalls,” says Satongun. “I particularly enjoy Klang Soi restaurant in Sukhumvit (12/1 Sukhumvit 49/9 Road), where they serve excellent regional Thai specialties.” The chef points to the kanon jeen sao nam (rice noodles with pineapple, ginger, coconut milk, and fish balls) as one of her comfort foods.
“The dish has a complex flavor that is a perfect balance of salty, sweet, sour, and creamy,” adds Satongun. “It is actually a simple dish, but one that is very difficult to master. What I really enjoy is that this restaurant still serves the dish with traditional hand-rolled fish balls, which is not often found in most places.”