The Art of Eating Prize: Winner of the prestigious Art of Eating Prize for the best food book of 2018 [“… Where other food book awards involve nominations in many categories, The Art of Eating Prize focuses on a single best book. The founders of the prize, by rewarding the highest quality work, hope to encourage the excellence of food writing in general … – Penguin Random House]
The New York Times: A Garlicky Stir-Fry With Basil Leaves From Bangkok
The Chicago Reader: Author of Bangkok talks street food, real Thai food
The Chicago Tribune: Bangkok’ cookbook avoids cliches, digs deep into city’s food
Chicago Magazine: This Cookbook Explains the Complexity of Thai Food and Its History
“Early in the morning after my wife and I arrived in Bangkok from Chiang Mai we dutifully boarded the BTS towards Mo Chit, taking the second exit at Saphan Kwai station, passing the 7-Eleven, and taking a sharp turn down the alley next to the Boots drugstore until we saw a wall covered in hanging chickens. We ordered a portion of Khao Man Gai (Bangkok-style Hainanese chicken rice) and say, picking at slivers of impossibly moist chicken and a pile of lovely, chicken fat-infused rice.
Before noon we were at Or Tor Kor market, working our way through a bag of mangosteens, chunks of crispy roasted pork belly, and a mountain of crab dipped in a green chile sauce. We had the most intensely sweet and juicy mango sticky rice at Mae Varee. Later on, a little past 10PM, we made our way to Convent road (right by another 7-Eleven) and, as instructed, at precisely 10:30, made eye contact with the man pushing a cart of blazing coals and ordered a half dozen skewer of mu ping–fatty pork skewers grilled until crisp and charred served with a sweet and savory dried chili sauce.
When Leela is your guide, even if only through a series of emails, you eat well. Those flavors, those revelatory bites of food should not have come as a surprise to me. I’d been an unabashed fan of Leela’s in the recipe-writing world for years.
I was an avid follower of her blog SheSimmers where she broke down the complexities of Thai food in ways that were simultaneously authentic, but also exquisitely tuned for the home cook. Nobody makes you feel like you really understand Thai food better than Leela. As her editor at Serious Eats for the few brief and glorious years that she contributed recipes as a freelancer, the highlight of my month was seeing what new magic Leela’s piece would bring to the site and to my kitchen.
Leela is the rare writer who not only has a deep understanding, passion, and respect for the cultural and gastronomic history of her home country, but also an undying inquisitiveness into cooking technique and a desire to perfect that technique for the home cook. She has the soul of a Bangkokian and the mind of a recipe developer.
Leela may have learned to cook from three generations of her family in a 19th century Thai kitchen, but she is a ceaseless tinkerer, always looking to update, adapt, and improve. This is important. It’s what makes the recipes in this book actually work (and anyone who’s cooked out of her first book, Simple Thai Food can attest to this).
In Bangkok you’ll find a book that is personal, accessible, and perhaps most importantly, jaw-droppingly delicious.”
—J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
“No one can argue that Bangkok is one of the world’s greatest food cities. Leela Punyaratabandhu—the award-winning food blogger and Thai food expert—captures the culinary heritage of her hometown in this luscious new book, from snacks to curries to Thai iced tea. She has created an authoritative and essential compendium for anyone who cares about Asian food. The section on noodles alone is worth the price of admission.”
—James Oseland, former Editor-in-Chief of Saveur, judge on Top Chef Masters, and author of Cradle of Flavor
“… Punyaratabandhu, the woman behind the popular She Simmers cooking blog and author of Simple Thai Food, expands on her previous work in this outstanding collection of toothsome Thai fare. Where her previous effort favored ease, Punyaratabandhu here focuses on authenticity. She fondly recalls some of her favorite food memories, many of which can be traced to her grandparents’ collection of cookbooks, and shares classic dishes and family favorites such as steamed dumplings with chicken-peanut filling and fried chicken with crispy garlic. A spicy beef soup with sweet potatoes and basil is just as appealing here as in the early-19th-century cookbook where it was discovered, as is the story behind the classic Boat Relish, an ever-changing mélange of leftovers originally prepared for the king. Punyaratabandhu does an admirable job of including recipes for all skill levels and geographies, but readers interested in recreating jade noodles with barbecued pork or a 24-hour massaman curry may run into some sourcing issues if they don’t live near a well-stocked Asian market. This is a truly remarkable collection of cleverly selected recipes. Punyaratabandhu is a gifted storyteller, and her work is an outstanding addition to the Thai cooking canon …”
—Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“Deep-cut Thai recipes from a true expert.”
“Writer Leela Punyaratabandhu’s impressively researched ode and guide to her city.”
—Food & Wine