The best khao chae restaurants in Bangkok
The Thai Meteorological Department has just announced that Thailand was moving into the summer season. Cringe. A moment while we whack our heads against the wall and start putting aside money to pay for our soon-to-become-exorbitant electricity bills. Foodies, however, see this season as the chance to feast on their favorite Thai summer dish, khao chae. Khao chae is a traditional Thai dish usually served during the hot summer months. Refashioned from a Mon dish a few hundred years ago, khao chae is steamed rice soaked in jasmine-scented water and served with mix-ins such as luk krapi (deep-fried shrimp paste balls), hom daeng yud sai (deep-fried shallots and shredded pork), prik yuak sod sai (egg-wrapped steamed green chili stuffed with minced pork) and moo foi (sweet shredded pork). The more toppings added, the merrier. Khao chae was, in the past, eaten only in the royal court and at the homes of the affluent because it required fine ingredients, culinary craft and a lot of time. Today, however, khao chae has become more common and is offered at many restaurants around town.
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Octo Seafood Bar has made its name to Sukhumvit’s dining scene as a one-stop seafood destination with eye-striking giant octopus clinging majestically at the very store front. Helping to fulfill the ocean theme of the shipshaped restaurant is a cocktail bar serving cocktails with references to the underwater world. Perching on the second floor of the seafoodcentric complex, Dr. Fetch is embedded with narratives alluding to a laboratory hidden underwater operating by a fictional scientist. That explains the reasons why all the bartenders are dressed up in white laboratory gown. In contrast to the bright restaurant setting, the inside of Dr. Fetch is dimly-lit and succumbed to the heavy beats from live band performing nightly. If you look for a more private corner, take a seat in a connect room quirkily surrounded by wooden rabbits and animal skeletons. To comply with the bustling seafood restaurant downstairs, Dr. Fetch cocktails are conjured up with strong influence from the sea — dominantly via the name of the cocktails, garnishes and the shape of the glasses, not in the drink as we had expected. There’s the Pirate Spice Rum (B400), the concoction photogenically served in a siphon machine with the combination of pea flower-infused rum, toasted coconut and Maraschino liqueur brewed with lemongrass, ginger and butter, before being served hot in a Chinese-style tea cup. (The item is big enough to feed 3-4 people). Ocean Bouquet (B400) is nicely-flavored with accent of spicy a
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Doi Tung: a mountainous land transformed with love and nurtured with faith
If you visited Doi Tung, one of Chiang Rai’s northernmost peaks, some 30 years ago and never had a chance to return, you’d barely recognized it today. The once desert-like mountains suffered from mobile plantation and—worse—opium planting; now, it’s one of the lushest areas in the north. Everything changed when Princess Srinagarindra, the grandmother of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, set up the Doi Tung Development Project in 1988 with an aim to improve the quality of both the people’s lives and the area they lived in. She even had a house built in the vicinity so she could watch her project grow at close range. Learning from the consequences and successes of previous projects initiated by her son King Bhumibol, the Princess Mother opted to start out “small,” taking a slow contemplative pace—like with everything in her life. She didn’t want to merely give money to those in need; she wanted to help the people stand on their own feet, which is why she carefully created an environment and cultivated micro-industries that the community could benefit from. Thirty years have passed and, though Princess Srinagarindra didn’t get the chance to see Doi Tung in full bloom, her wish did come true. The once scraggly mountainside is now a lush plantation that produces gorgeous textile, paper and pottery—all trice handmade—and, most importantly, some of the world’s best macadamia nuts and coffee beans. Opium was replaced by harvests more beneficial to the community, both morall
The best of Tokyo (in 72 hours)
For the second year, Time Out Bangkok’s editor (okay, that’s me) was invited to be one of the judges of Time Out Tokyo’s Love Tokyo Awards, which celebrates the best that the vibrant Japanese capital can offer. I joined editors from London, New York, Barcelona, Australia (Melbourne and Sydney), and China (Beijing and Shanghai). Like the year before, it was more or less like a treasure hunt—we were individually tasked to visit and experience (that means eating, drinking, shopping and, well, beyond) the shortlisted nominees for this year, all in three days. Time Out Tokyo staffers accompanied us to some venues to help communicate with the locals and to act as translators, but, for the most part, I got to visit and discover some places on my own, which was not a problem as—like many Thais—Tokyo is my holiday playground and very familiar to me. The complete list of winners and nominees is available on the Love Tokyo Awards website, but I’ll go ahead and share my best finds, greatest discoveries and most exciting experiences. Hopefully, it can come in handy especially for those who are visiting Tokyo this coming holiday season.