In most countries you wouldn’t even consider visiting a shopping mall food court as a treat or part of a vacation, typically packed with screaming kids, cheaply decorated, with even cheaper food, and in general a nasty, horrible experience. That description doesn’t fit most of the food courts of Thailand.

Whether it’s a tribute to the Thai’s love of food or love of shopping, the mall food courts of Bangkok typically offers cheap and tasty food; serving authentic Thai and Asian dishes to a standard many restaurants would be happy with (though few seem to do western dishes very well). Not only this but they are clean, cool (air-conditioned), and many, with just about every mall in the city having a dedicated food court, in fact some have more than one.

An easy and cheap way to eat

Bangkok food courts follow a simple concept of fast food meets good food, with lots of stalls, many of which focus on just one or two dishes. Even the payment is kept simple. Most food courts work a voucher or card system, where you buy vouchers or top up a card at the front counter and then pay every stall in the same manor, leaving the cooks to concentrate on their cooking.

While most food courts are of a good standard some are obviously better than others and the style, theme, and prices also vary.

Here are few of our favourite shopping mall food courts in Bangkok:

Fifth Food Avenue at MBK

Fifth Food Avenue seems to do everything right. Lots of food kiosks with open kitchens, well spaced out with plenty of seating, and a wide range of cuisines available from Chinese, Japanese and Thai (of course), to Indian, Arabic, and Italian. There are also enough vegetarian options to keep the veg-heads happy, and a delicious dessert bar that goes far beyond the standard Thai desserts, with lots of European style sweets and puddings such as crème brulee, strawberry pavlova, and fresh strawberries and kiwi fruit with whipped cream.

Pier 21 Food Court at Terminal 21

Keeping with the mall’s theme of iconic world destinations, the Pier 21 food court is modelled on San Francisco’s picturesque Fisherman’s Wharf, and more specifically, the waterfront attraction Pier 39. Located beyond a mini replica of the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 21 is one of the cleanest and freshest food courts you’ll encounter, with lots of exciting food stalls mainly concentration on Thai and Asian dishes (which they do best). Fitting to the theme, there are lots of seafood options, as well as a popular smoothie kiosk and some yummy mango and sticky rice waiting for those in need of dessert.

Central World Food Court

The Central World food court is situated at the back of the gourmet supermarket, Central Food Hall, on the 7th floor of this epic mall. Unlike the supermarket, the food court’s wide range of dishes available won’t stretch your budget. This is a modern 200+ seat dining hall with around 20 food kiosks mostly serving Asian dishes (Thai, Chinese, and Japanese), and by sticking to local plates there are few that disappoint. What really helps this food court stand out from the others is the comfortable seating (soft leather sofas), and floor-to-ceiling windows offering great views of the city.

Food Republic at Siam Centre

Food Republic is a rather stylish food court, as you’d expect being housed in the classy Siam Centre. Here you’ll find a wide range of world cuisines, with skilled chefs insuring they offer lots of tasty international plates, including plenty of fusion dishes. If you still prefer to stick to local food there is a section of the court which focuses on Thai plates, this is also about a third of the price cheaper than the international options. It’s not the cheapest food court in Bangkok by any stretch of the imagination, but it is one of the best, the portions are pretty big and it still should remain well within most tourist and expat budgets.

Food Loft at Central Chidlom

The Food Loft is one of the trendiest food courts of the city with a large area of open kitchens and some show-off chefs helping to make things interesting, if not entertaining. As the name would suggest, the court has a chic loft feel to it with a stylish, modern theme of red, black, and metallic decor throughout. Kiosks are spread around 8 circular cooking stations serving a number of cuisines from around the globe (but not without plenty of Thai dishes).

By Kim Loe.