Tourists want cheap Thai food in Thailand, not overpriced gourmet gunge. We get enough of that in the west. Enough of being ripped off for our one basic need – to eat.

That’s always been one of the great things I like most about Thailand.

The people just ‘get it’. It’s part of their culture that eating and cooking is like a necessity, a basic human need, and not yet another thing to be exploited mercilessly.

Every soi has street food, DIY home restaurants and bars serving up snacks. They all have one common trait – tasty Thai  food at at low prices. The kind that you pay 400thb a dish for in the west.

Gourmet market Thailand at Em Quartier, cashing in on the fad for fancy food and adding to the gentrification of Bangkok
Gourmet market Thailand at Em Quartier, cashing in on the fad for fancy food and adding to the gentrification of Bangkok

Now, If there’s one thing that annoys me it’s overprices pieces, especially overpriced food.

I’m just not into pretentious gourmet slop. What some would call ‘fine dining’.

This is especially true in Bangkok, which has always been perfect for getting a big range of my favorite Thai dishes at a low price – gorging on rice, soups, curries, salads, fish and meat for a few weeks.

And I’m sure that most people travelling to Thailand for vacations or holidays want to eat the authentic local cuisine.

'Gourmet' dinosaur shaped potato waffles
‘Gourmet’ dinosaur shaped potato waffles

Sure, some travelers, and businessmen, don’t want Thai food. They prefer to stick to their natural palate. For them, Salmon al la cartel is perfect – better than the fries , burgers, pizza or spaghetti bolognaise that Thai cooks fall back on.

Plus, Thai locals like to show off their sophistication by munching though European grub.

I understand it all. Especially that the businesses want to cash in on tourism and the trend for fancy food.

But still, I can’t help but feel Bangkok is suffering from severe cases of an explosion of gourmet restaurants and markets.

These pretentious places boast of their  unique decor. But in reality they’re all are identikit rooms, the same as the next trendy gourmet place . Usually they have exposed pipes, ceiling girders, painted bricks, to give it a an urban theme.

One such place I tried was the overpriced pit D’Ark in Em Quartier. It has the same furnishing as described above, and normal Western dishes given ridiculous names then heaped on the plate in a composition that Picasso would be confused by.

Throw in sneaky service charges and taxes surreptitiously added to the bill, and it all snacks of the gentrification of Bangkok.

Another similar place is the Gourmet Market Thailand that took place at Em Quartier shopping mall.

Somebody explain to me why the food here is any different from a street market, or a supermarket like WalMart, Asda or Big C. Or how a dinosaur shaped waffle can be considered haute cuisine?

This gourmet fad is another symptom of the purge to make Bangkok one big sterile city.

It’s ever more clear when you see street vendors – the blood of the country’s vibrant culture – being swept away to keep the streets clean.

These guys, along with food sellers like those cleared out of Soi 38, make Bangkok and Thailand unique.

So here’s to cheap authentic Thai food – and down with the overpriced gourmet restaurants.

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