There are literally hundreds of restaurants in Bangkok and many of them offer some truly world class cuisines. There is another side to the ‘foodie’ scene in the city though, one that most locals tend to prefer to frequent; the food court.
Offering up all kinds of delicious foods and treats in a far less expensive environment visitors to Bangkok will find that they are never too far from a food court and that they can satisfy even a ravenous appetite without breaking their travel budget.
There are some food courts that are so well known that they have found fame alongside the finest 5 star restaurants in town. Here is a brief look at some of them.
Best for All the Family
Pier 21 at Terminal 21
One of the best things about food courts anywhere in the world is that you do tend to be able to find something for everyone to eat when dining as a family without having to deal with too many tantrums and arguments. That is certainly true of Pier 21 Food Court.
Modeled, oddly enough, after a San Francisco fisherman’s wharf and complete with nautical decor and faux palm trees, the sprawling food court is located inside Terminal 21, a relatively new ‘lifestyle mall’ located in downtown Bangkok.
As you might expect from one of the biggest food courts in the city the menu is extensive and covers Thai, Chinese, Indian and Western cuisines in almost equal measures. That means if you really must have pizza or a burger you can, but that would be such a shame given everything else that is on offer.
Dishes known as particular specialties at Pier 21 include Bet Yang (pan roasted duck with rice) the delicately flavored but very tasty vegetarian massaman curry, hearty chicken steak and fries and of course chicken Pad Thai. The biggest food crime you can commit at Pier 21 though? Leaving without having the delectable combination of sticky rice and mango that is khao nee-ow ma mueng.
The Trendy Choice
Food Loft – Central Chidlom
Some might say that Food Loft is just a food court that got a hipster makeover, while others would call it a whole new dining experience altogether. Whatever your personal opinion though, eating here really is truly memorable.
The Food Loft is based around a series of theater kitchens that allow diners to watch as their food is prepared from scratch. As many of the city’s best known restaurants actually maintain a spot at Food Loft, that does mean you will be seeing some of the best chefs in Bangkok in action at any given time.
You will also get to enjoy some of the most diverse food choices. Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Indonesian, Singaporean and Italian cuisines are all very well represented and in addition to the amazing array of food there are also lots of great wines, beers, cocktails and soft drinks to choose from to accompany it all.
Another highlight at Food Loft is the dessert kitchen. While at many other food courts desserts are often mere afterthoughts and tend to be very generic, here they get to be stars of their own sweet show. If you are looking for suggestions, the glass jellies in sweet syrup, hand churned ice creams and black sesame dumplings are all amazing.
The Legendary Choice
Food Courts at MBK Center
There are well known food courts in Bangkok and then there is the multi level extravaganza that is the Food Courts at MBK Center. Essentially two different establishments both are open 24 hours a day to ensure that none of the thousands of shoppers who flock to the mall ever have to go hungry.
The Fifth Food Avenue, located obviously on the mall’s fifth floor, is the pricier half of the food court. Here meals are prepared in open to the public kitchens and the emphasis is on full entrees and cuisines that include Arabic, Vietnamese, Hainese, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Italian.
A floor up you will find the main food court, a place where the prices decrease and the food becomes a little more casual, although still just as delicious. Here you will find great rice and noodle dishes, fresh and tasty salads and even prepackaged takeaway dishes to grab on the go if you are really in a hurry.
A Final Word About Food Court Etiquette
A first visit to any of Bangkok’s many food courts can be a bit disconcerting if you don’t know the basics. The first thing you will need to do is pick up a payment voucher when you enter. You won’t be charged yet though. At every stand or stall you visit and pick up food from your voucher will be marked with the cost and a grand total will be added up and charged when you finally leave.
Most menus are in several different languages and in most cases the staff are long serving and very experienced when it comes to dealing with tourists, so it is very unlikely that you will go misunderstood or confused for too long.