Legendary Sushi Chef Masa Takayama’s Culinary Guide to Thailand

The man behind the restaurant Masa reveals where to find the best noodles in Bangkok.


Though he can usually be found in midtown New York at Masa (some know it as America’s priciest restaurant), the chef Masa Tayakama has also lately picked up a habit of heading to Thailand at least twice a year. Between eating his fill of egg noodles in Bangkok, shopping for curry spices on the island of Koh Samui, and gearing up to open a new robatayaki restaurant, Tetsu, in TriBeCa in the spring of 2017, Takayama shared his guide to everything Thai, here.

Great spot off the beaten track in Bangkok: My favorite restaurant is actually a noodle stand: Jao Long, which is just near the Shangri-La Hotel. Fish ball is their specialty, but I get egg noodle in chicken broth with braised pork.

Local delicacy of choice: Thailand has amazing vegetables: baby eggplant, galangal, cucumbers, kaffir lime leaves, and cilantro.

Best place to relax: I spend most of my time on Koh Samui, a small island about 45 minutes from Bangkok, where you can fish, mountain bike, and swim at the beach.

Favorite Thai dessert: Fresh fruit like mango, mangosteen, and dragonfruit.

Best place to fish: I usually charter a small fishing boat and go about half a mile out to sea to catch the best grouper, which I make into grouper ceviche with cilantro, Thai chili, fish sauce, and kaffir lime. A tip: the bones and head of the grouper can actually be eaten fried.

Best Thai market: In Koh Samui’s Muslim neighborhood, Hua Thanon, the seafood at the market is excellent, especially the squid and the shrimp. There’s also a small shop across the street from the market that sells incredible curry spices. I buy both the red and green varieties and make curry back at the villa with the market’s fresh seafood.

Favorite place to stay: In Bangkok, Shangri-La Hotel, and on Koh Samui, the Ban Laem Set villa, booked through Luxury Retreats.

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