Thailand has a complex food tapestry: the varieties of dishes and flavors are endless! No one knows the gastronomy of Thailand quite like Chef Andy Ricker, owner of Pok Pok Restaurants and TAT’s culinary ambassador in Thai-Licious Journey, known for his skill and expertise in northern Thai cuisine.
After visiting the country in 1987, Chef Andy was introduced to the rich food culture. That first trip inspired him to return again and again, each time falling more in love with the country and its cuisine. Today Chef Andy continually brings regional Thai dishes in their truest form to his hungry audience.
TAT sat down with Chef and asked about his foodie inspiration and culinary hotspots throughout the Land of Smiles. Here’s what he had to say:
In terms of Thailand, where do you draw most of your inspiration from for your dishes?
Chef Andy Ricker: Primarily from the north of Thailand, though we do feature dishes from the other three regions: Isaan (the northeast), central and southern Thailand.
When you visit Thailand, is there one market that is a must-visit for you every trip?
AR: I love Talaat Muang Mai (New City Market) in Chiang Mai; it is the largest and most interesting wet market in Northern Thailand.
When you’re not tasting the local flavors/dishes, what is your favorite part about Thailand?
AR: Aside from the food, I just love the culture and the land. Both are beautiful.
We naturally asked Chef Andy for some of his personal recommendations. Here are his favorite and must-visit spots in Thailand:
Isaan is known for Kai Yaang (grilled chicken). Khon Kaen is the kai yaang center of Isaan, so “once you come across the aroma and sight of delicious slow grilled chicken on big barrel grills, you know you have found the right place.”
Chef Andy described this restaurant as a “classic, old-school institution”, which sells Chantaburi-specific specialties.
A roadside treasure that has “some of the most delicious southern Thai food [I] have ever experienced”; high praise from the well-travelled chef.
For this restaurant, he insisted: “try the Plaa Yat Sai, whole boned Mackeral stuffed with its own meat in a fiery curry paste and deep fried!”
The quintessential northern Thai laap joint on the side of a small soi (lane), serving award winning minced eat salad (laap) and other northern specialties. Though for the more health conscious, Chef Andy warns that it’s heavy on the grilled items!
Although it’s located in Bangkok, this restaurant is known for a cuisine from farther east. The menu is made up of traditional Trat recipes.
Which of Chef Andy’s recommendations do you want to go to first? If you visit, share your photos on social media and use the #ThailandInsider to show us!