Bangkok's culinary heritage and its influence on Thailand's tourism industry

Find out how the cuisine of Bangkok is shaping the country's hospitality plans and how the city's food scene is leveraging technology to survive the pandemic



Aug 15, 2022 - 4 min read

Bangkok's culinary heritage and its influence on Thailand's tourism industry

Food is an essential part of Bangkok’s culture. While most cultures cook food to commemorate a special occasion, Bangkok's lovely residents consider food to be a celebration in and of itself.

The popularity of Thai food is not restricted to this amazing city. Every major city in the world has a slew of Thai restaurants that are popular with both visitors and locals. In fact, one of the main draws of Bangkok’s culture and hospitality is, and always has been, the cuisine.

In many respects, Thai food is unique. 

Elements of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Indonesian, Laotian, Burmese, Indian, and Malaysian cuisines have found their way into traditional Thai fare. Additionally intriguing is the fact that Thai food has five distinct flavors: sweet, spicy, bitter, sour, and salty. Thai cuisine is a delicate dance of balancing flavors that Thai cooks have perfected over many generations.

A variety of herbs and spices contribute to the distinct flavors. Coriander, galangal, lemongrass, pepper, shallots, kaffir leaves, chilies, shrimp paste, and fish sauce are the most popular ingredients. The sweetness comes from palm sugar, and the sour notes come from tamarind and lime. 

Khao soi soup
Khao soi soup is one of the signature dishes in Thailand with many regional variations

A typical Thai meal might include soup and some form of meat, such as pork, chicken, fish, duck, or water buffalo. The Thai people adore their rice and spend a lot of time looking for the best rice. To complement the meat and vegetables, noodles are also a staple. 

Thai food is fascinating because it not only tastes amazing but also looks too pretty to eat. 

Take, for example, a delicious and visually stunning Thai spread of Tom Yum Soup with a sprinkling of Kaafir Lime Leaves; a color explosion in the form of Thai Green Papaya Salad with a single butterfly pea petal enhancing the sheer exotic appeal of the dish; and a dessert melon with intricate carvings that looked like the petals of a blooming rose.

Recently, Bangkok's Thai restaurants have begun offering "fusion" dishes, which take elements of traditional Thai cuisine and combine them with ingredients and flavors from around the world. Tom Yum Spaghetti and Thai curry tacos are just two examples of the delicious results of this trend. Although Thai food is delicious in its traditional form, it is evolving to appeal to consumers who aren't hesitant to incorporate flavors from other cultures into their favorite Thai dishes. 

The resilience of the food industry

During the pandemic, Bangkok’s hospitality industry, like those in every other tourist destination, took a big hit. However, the city and the country's tourism industry are beginning to recover from the pandemic, and there is renewed optimism now that the threat of COVID has diminished. Despite the current climate, big names in Thai hospitality are heading in an exciting new direction. Central Group, a major Thai hospitality company, wants to open 200 Centara hotels in the U.S. and around the world by 2026. Another leading Thai hotel brand, Minor International, is planning to open 100 new hotels in China. Thailand's hospitality industry is not going to let the pandemic slow down its plans to grow.

There is a lot of resilience and forward-thinking in Bangkok's hospitality industry. The evidence of this dynamism and resilience was evident during the pandemic. Despite the pandemic, many hotels and restaurants remained open, prioritizing the health and safety of their customers and staff at all times. TableCheck was a key part of making sure that restaurants could meet the 50% seating capacity rule while still running their businesses. 

With the help of TableCheck's robust reservation system, some of these restaurants were able to navigate the pandemic and successfully manage their bookings:

1. Sorn

Over the past few years, Sorn has received several prestigious accolades, including being named the number 39 best restaurant in the world and the number 2 best restaurant in Asia. The chefs at Sorn led by Chef Supaksorn “Ice” Jongsiri do an excellent job of reimagining traditional Southern Thai fare by drawing inspiration from forgotten recipes and regional lore.

2. Nusara

Nusara wears the honor and pride of being a Michelin-star restaurant. The upscale establishment is well-known for serving a contemporary interpretation of Thai food that borrows flavors from the chef's family recipes.

3. Baan Tepa

Baan Tepa promises an interactive culinary experience like no other. Diners are invited to a tour of the garden, which also serves as the source of ingredients for the kitchen. The guests are welcome to eat a dish with the chef while having interesting conversations about how the food is made.

4. Kimpton Maa-lai Bangkok

Kimpton Maa-lai has it all, whether guests want a kon-tiki drink with panoramic views of the city on a balmy Bangkok evening or locally produced farm-to-plate food for Sunday brunch. The fact that Travel + Leisure named Kimpton Maa-lai the "Best City Hotel in Thailand" and TripAdvisor gave it a "Traveler's Choice Award" shows that the hotel is doing everything it can to make its guests happy.

5. Skyview Hotel Bangkok

The Skyview Hotel Bangkok is a great place to stay and visit for those who enjoy opulence and luxury. The hotel is famous for its two busy rooftop bars, a live kitchen, authentic international cuisine, a cigar lounge, a private nightclub, and a poolside bar where you can unwind with a cocktail after a full day of sightseeing and meetings. 

6. Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok

Guests love indulging in the refined atmosphere of the Grand Hyatt Erawan while sampling delicious dishes inspired by cuisines from around the world. The hotel boasts eight bars and restaurants sure to please the most discerning palates. The Grand Hyatt Erawan has it all: handmade pasta and a fun and casual place to enjoy delicious Asian food.

7. The Okura Prestige Bangkok

The sleek glass building that is the Okura Prestige stands out as a landmark in the heart of Bangkok. The Japanese hotel has the honor of featuring in the Michelin Guide 2021 in the 'Top Class Comfort – Business: Grand Luxury' category. The hotel does not only offer stylish rooms and top-notch comfort but is also home to distinguished restaurants and patisseries.

From managing online reservations to optimizing restaurant operations, these hospitality operators use TableCheck to provide an award-winning experience to their guests.

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