As part of a series of quick writes/reads about things to do in a given location, this post focuses on an absolute Must-Do in Bangkok, the Central Embassy Food Court. If you’re already familiar with the Thai Capital, you’ll know why this stop has to be added to any trip; and if you haven’t been to Bangkok yet, this alone might implore you to go.
Bangkok Mega Malls are a thing. Some of them tower 8-10 stories tall with hundreds of small local, vendors all the way to massive international brands. The mall usually sets the tone for what kind of vendors they will have and the overall market you’re about to enter. For example, in MBK, the most historic of all Bangkok malls (it really is a culture) focuses on small Thai vendors. If you are looking for a dozen Thai silk scarves to take back to friends and family (of varying qualities) this would be the place.
If you are looking for an interesting, unique passport holder or customized weekender bag, they would want to head to Siam Discovery. Siam Paragon across the street will host more affordable international luxuries such as H&M and Gap, along with some of the less affordable international brands such as Louis Vuitton. Central Embassy is brand new, ultra-luxurious and just recently opened. Above it is the Park Hyatt Bangkok and the mall below is stunning but limited in appeal to the very well-heeled.
Why Visit a Food Court?
It’s really closer to an indoor version of Singapore’s hawker centers or the street food vendors lining the sois of Bangkok and the Thai dishes that made them famous. A series of small food vendors specialize in various aspects of Thai cuisine.
In most cases, guests are given a laminated paper card and asked to load cash onto the card. This card is then used to pay for items around the food court and any unused funds will be refunded back to the card at the end. (Tip: Load more than you think you need and refund the balance at the end. Reloading your card for a plate of fried rice is annoying in the event you miscalculated your meal costs).
These cooks and restauranteurs are excellent at their specific dishes, and you will often see Thais eating right alongside you, a sure sign of quality authentic cuisine – as if you needed any reassurance.
How Much Will I Spend?
Dishes are offered between 45-250 baht or about $1.35-7.35 depending on the complexity and portion size of the dish. The great denominator in Thailand is the plastic plate. Whether you are inside a luxurious shopping mall like Central Embassy or on a plastic chair at a street side wok, you will find suits and flip-flops sitting side-by-side. If you really went all-out you might find a way to break $10/person but on balance, this is quality food for about $5, a far cry from what that money would buy you in the United States.
Why Visit Central Embassy’s Food Court
As the newest and most upscale mall in the city, the food court is well done with an approach of rotating specialty stalls in a play on food trucks. Everything is just better than the other alternatives. Food quality is higher, the prices are on par with other food courts and the offerings are different from you will find around town.
From the Boba Tea Bar, to a vendor freshly frying plantains and drying them on banana leaves, there is simply a premium and perfection to their offerings and it really doesn’t matter what you order. Thai, Chinese, even sweet treats like ice cream is all executed to a high standard. It is also just downstairs from the Park Hyatt Bangkok making it easy on a quick trip to get a true taste of Thailand.