It’s no secret that Bangkok is a city of food lovers, and 2012 was a year full of tasty surprises. The city’s appetite for new dining options at times seemed insatiable, and nothing was able to slow down the frenetic pace at which new restaurants cropped up.
One of the most significant food trends in 2012 has been the proliferation of the hamburger. Burger joints are popping up all over the city and burgers are available in a variety of incarnations from the humble slider, to the extravagant gourmet burger with foie gras and wagyu beef. New “burger-only” venues like 25 Degrees, Bangkok Burger Company, Bangkok Burger Factory and the highly anticipated arrival of the Carl’s Jr. franchise have made the search for the perfect burger a mute point. There is something for every palate and every budget and the Bangkok Burger Blog has grown into one of the most popular social media tools for discovering what’s new on the Bangkok burger scene.
At the other end of the spectrum there was a sincere interest in sustainable food sourcing and supporting local artisan and organic food producers. Consumers, restaurant owners and chefs seemed to take on the cause and the popularity of “organic chefs gardens” at upscale Thai restaurants such as Bo.lan, the Celadon and Issaya Siamese Club was undeniable. Bangkok additionally joined the ranks of other world class cities to embrace the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) trend with the introduction of a city wide “organic produce box” home delivery service by Raitong Organics Farm and Radiance Whole Foods & Organic Food Thailand delivery service. Artisan “farmers markets” have also found a loyal following and quarterly events like Big Bite Bangkok and the monthly Bangkok’s Organic Farmers Market attract more and more people. The farm to table philosophy is more than just a catch phrase, and the resounding success of new restaurants like Smith and Quince prove that Bangkok is ready to embrace nose-to-tail dining as far more than just novelty.2012 was also a year in which Latin cuisine became more accessible and Japanese cuisine seemed to become more entrenched. The opening of Japanese lifestyle mall Gateway Ekammai and the opening of the avant-garde Okura Prestige luxury hotel are veritable hotbeds of authentic Japanese sensibility and cuisine. While the Latin influence could be found almost everywhere as Spanish, Mexican and Peruvian cuisine became easily available and the popularity of tapas bars seemed to grow exponentially with the popularity of wine bars, wine lovers-clubs and wine and food pairing dinners. Perhaps one of the most intriguing trends this year was the introduction of the “Chef’s Table” concept dining. Restaurants like Water Library Thong Lor and Park Society go a step beyond the omnipresent open kitchen where you can only observe the chefs cooking. Instead these venues allow you to engage and interact with the chefs who prepare your meal and get up close and personal while designing your own meal. These exclusive and indulgent encounters are the ultimate “foodie” fantasy and their exorbitant price tag only seems to increase their allure.Food trends that seem to be a bit on the decline include the novelty of “Michelin star guest chefs” at luxury hotels. It may simply be a reaction to the increased accessibility to world class haute cuisine, or what invariably happens when something that was once rare becomes common place. Molecular gastronomy is another trend that seems to have lost some of its cache. A definite shift has occurred from highlighting it as the main focus or theme of a meal, and it has instead morphed into a “modern cooking technique” which is used to enhance a meal rather than define it.Bangkok diners are a sophisticated lot and they demand a diverse range of high quality cuisine, that is prepared authentically and skillfully. The past year has been quite eventful for food lovers throughout the city, and 2013 is poised to be as exciting as ever.