It’s a perfect January night in Bangkok, the weather is hovering around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, there is a pleasant breeze, and barely enough humidity to fog an ice-cold glass or camera lens. I’m waiting on a dock along the Chao Phraya River, and with so many Bangkok landmarks and icons flanking the scenic waterway (the bell-shaped Wat Arun, the majestic and colorful Grand Palace, the neo-Palladian Bangrak Fire Station, and stately Mandarin Oriental, it’s a compulsory setting for a leisurely dinner cruise. Alas, by and large the only options here have entailed gaudy, neon-lit, disco-pulsing, cheese-o-rama river vessels (with crappy food) that make locals and expats wince in horror.
Enter Thanaruek Laoraowirodge, the openly gay Thai restaurateur whose four-year-old New York City venue, Somtum Der (www.somtumder.com), won a Michelin star in 2016 for its authentic, spicy, and downright inexpensive cuisine from Thailand’s northeastern Isan region. Launched in December 2016, his brand-new, 40-seat Supanniga Cruise (www.supannigacruise.com) affords a lovely, tasteful, nightly dinner experience that makes the most of the Chao Phraya and sunset.