While all the big international (mainly American) fast food chains are present in Thailand, the country has its own home grown restaurants. Most of this are casual dining places, rather than quick service take-away places in the American model.
Although these places may not be at the top of your list for places to eat in Thailand, they are all of a relatively high standard, and perfectly safe places to eat. Since most branches of these chains are in shopping places, they make good places for a lunch or dinner while shopping.
- Black Canyon
- Thailand's largest chain of cafés, Black Canyon has over 150 branches nationwide. Most branches are located in shopping centers, although you will find them in some tourist areas in Chiang Mai and Samui. Black Canyon often presents itself as a coffee bar in the Starbucks vain, and it does indeed have an extensive menu of coffees. But Black Canyon distinguishes itself by also serving a full food menu in most branches. Although the name and decoration often gives the impression that Black Canyon is an American concept, it is in fact a Thai developed restaurant, and you can tell it in the food. Their Thai dishes are spicier than you will find in many other 'more authentic' Thai restaurants. If you, or someone you're with, isn't in the mood for Thai, they also have a limited menu of international dishes such as soups, salads, sandwiches and steaks.
- A Thai take on Japanese barbecue, these restaurants feature tables with their own small grills on which you cook your own meats and vegetables using fresh ingredients you select from the menu. The grills are usually charcoal-fired, which seems unusual for an indoor restaurant. Fans built into the tables draw off the smoke.
- MK Suki
- Although Thais call it suki, its more and adaptation of Japanese shabu shabu. Each table will have a small electric pan which is filled with a light chicken stock. You then add whatever meats and vegetables suit your fancy, so if you don't like it, you can only blame yourself. This is definitely something a little different for most westerners, and it's a good choice for larger groups. Most shopping centers will have an MK Suki branch which will be packed at dinner time and lunch time on weekends, but deserted at other times of day. There are other concepts very similar to MK in Thailand, but they are the largest and most popular.
- S & P Restaurants
- S&P offers a large menu of standard Thai dishes that are well suited to western palates. The food is good if not very special. You'll find S&P restaurants all over Thailand, mostly in major shopping centers. The food is actually prepared in a central factory, frozen, then microwaved in the branch when you order. Considering this, the taste is not bad, but most dishes are rather bland. Okay for foreigners who can't take it spicy, but not very authentic.
- 13 Coins
- A small chain of diners with an extensive menu of Thai and western dishes. Some branches in shopping centers, but also many branches in out of the way roadside locations. These often have a "roadhouse" feel to them.
- Joom Saap / Barbecue Plaza
- Most locations combine two styles in one place. Joom Saap is a shabu shabu concept along the lines of MK Suki, although the stock provided has more herbs and spices than MK, making it one of our favorites. Barbecue Plaza is similar to Daidomon, in that you cook your order on a hot metal dome at your table.
- Yum Saap
- If you want to try some Isan food, then these colorful diners are a good place to start. Yum Saap (not to be confused with Joom Saap) offers such spicy dishes at green papaya salad - in many varieties - as well as grilled pork salad, spicy beef, and many others.
The one international cuisine almost every Thai likes to eat is Japanese. There are several home-grown restaurant chains that specialize in various styles of Japanese food.
- You'll recognize Fuji restaurants easily enough after you've seen one. They all sport a very consistent image: lots of glass and mirrors, fake bamboo plants 'growing" out of white pebbles. The food represents a wide selection of Japanese dishes, including sushi, in addition to grilled beef, noodles, etc. Relatively expensive, as dinner for two can run about 400 Baht.
- This young chain has grown rapidly in just a few years to be one of the country's major chains. Oishi comes in several different formats, with slightly different names. There are big "Oishi Grand" outlets featuring a full buffet of everything Japanese, down to small sushi stalls and even a few shabu-shabu outlets.
- Very similar format to Fuji, and even some similarity in design. Not as wide-spread as Fuji, but available in most major cities.
- Hachiban Ramen
- A very simple and quick Japanese noodle shop. Originated in Japan, but now very Thai. This is a very good option for a quick and light meal.