dishes served at Langbaan

Top Restaurants Nominated for James Beard Awards in 2024

Maya Okada Erickson/Instagram

For several decades, the James Beard Foundation has set out to recognize exceptional efforts in America’s culinary scene by highlighting those making a mark in creative, diverse, and inspired ways. Pulling in a James Beard award is a big deal for any gourmand in the food industry. This year, Portland’s Langbaan claims the winning title of 2024’s Outstanding Restaurant. 

The vision of the team powering the acclaimed Oregon restaurant has been described by Portland Monthly as “adventurous” and “a little off-kilter.” Yet owners Akkapong Earl Ninsom and Eric Nelson’s ambitious collaborations work, as the establishment has been repeatedly pinned as one of Portland’s best restaurants. Now with the highest James Beard recognition, Langbaan has even greater weight to throw around. 

To enter the restaurant, visitors need to step through a door that is partially concealed by a bookcase. Once inside, wooden detailing and candlelit tables bring to mind a traditional Thai aesthetic, like diners have taken a trip to Southeast Asia without realizing it. The name Langbaan references the warm, congenial spaces in Thai homes where kitchens and dining rooms are situated, and the restaurant offers just that. The always-shifting menu is built with Thai cuisine in mind, and guests are taken on a culinary tour of full-flavored sweet, savory, sour, and spicy dishes inspired by the country. One-bite introductions kick off the dining experience before wading into more substantial dishes.

A Thai-inspired culinary adventure

dishes being plated at Langbaan

Maya Okada Erickson/Instagram

Langbaan’s recipes are made with seasonal ingredients and the menu frequently changes. You’ll find dishes like miang som — shrimp flavored with cara cara oranges, coconut and betel leaf — and koy dib — a spicy meat salad served with foie gras, endive, and puffed wild rice — paired with carefully selected wines, such as a French vouvray. Tom nam dum offers diners clams in a coconut cuttlefish ink broth seasoned with Thai chili and is matched with a Provençal rosé. For dessert, pandan macarons are presented with poached rhubarb.

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“By the second bite — the kanom krok scallop cup — I knew I was never going to be able to stop thinking about it,” one diner gushed to Portland Monthly. The experience has kept this visitor coming back year after year to celebrate birthdays, and Langbaan’s chefs have created specially-made gold-dusted dishes to help mark the festive occasions. Should you want to experience Langbaan’s $125 tasting menus for yourself, plan accordingly. The restaurant accommodates 24 diners, and bookings are limited since there are only two time slots Thursdays through Sundays. Open reservations are announced one month in advance. And now, with added attention from James Beard, you’ll need to be as tight on the mark as Langbaan’s team.

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