Baan Khanitha Restaurant - Thai restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand
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Baan Khanitha Restaurant

Baan Khanitha Restaurant
 Baan Khanitha Restaurant, Bangkok

There is no better place in the world to eat Thai food than in Bangkok. Unfortunately many visitors only sample the country's cuisine at hotel restaurants. Although many hotels have excellent Thai restaurants, the food is too often designed primarily for foreigners and lacks the spark and excitement found in some of the city's independent restaurants that are frequented primarily by Thais.

Many would argue - and the writer is among them - that the restaurant operated by Khun Khanitha Akaranitkul just off Ploenchit Road on Soi Ruamrudee is one of Bangkok's finest independent Thai dining spots. Tastefully decorated with significant quantities of wood, plants and pieces of art, it was at one time the Egyptian Embassy. There is a small inner courtyard where there are a few seats for those who want to eat outside. Upstairs there is an art gallery with objects for sale and an attractive room for private parties. There is a private parking lot and for those using public transportation, the restaurant is an easy walk from the Ploenchit Skytrain station. The restaurant is extremely popular with people from nearby embassies and is a great spot for those seeking a memorable lunch.

The restaurant is stamped with Khun Khanitha's personality and reflects her love of the good life. The food is exquisitely presented and whilst being authentically Thai, it also has a unique flair. Grapes, for example, make their way into several dishes and add a sweet and cooling contrast to traditional Thai spices.

When enjoyed with an imaginative cocktail or a glass of wine from the extensive wine list, the appetizers provide an excellent beginning to dining. Especially notable is the deep-fried chicken wrapped in pandanus leaf. The krathong thong, little bean curd cups filled with minced pork and shrimp, are also a wonderful way to get warmed-up for more extensive eating.

There are a variety of excellent salads on the menu, but many people seem to prefer the Yam Som-o, a pomelo salad served with shrimp and bits of chicken. It provides a wonderful combination of sour, sweet and spicy flavours. Others prefer the beef salad: a mixture of sliced warm beef, chili, lime, and fish sauce that is topped with sliced grapes.

Seafood plays a significant role at the restaurant and several of the dishes feature soft shelled crabs, a delicacy mushrooming in popularity in Bangkok. If you have never tried soft-shelled crab, try one of Baan Khanitha's versions. The writer is especially partial to it when the crabs are stir-fried until crisp and served with deep fried basil leaves. Tastes just don't get much better than this.

For fish lovers, the "Seabass Steamed with Limes" is piquant and easy to eat, especially for foreigners used to fish spiced with lemon. One of the restaurant's most popular dishes is "Stir-fried Seabass with Chili, Hot Basil Leaves and Eggplants." Known as "Pla Krapong Phad Khee Mao" in Thai, the fish in this popular dish is usually served in a single piece. In the Baan Khanitha version, it is cut into cubes, making it easy to eat and easy to mix with the other ingredients.

The curries are all excellent, but we are especially fond of the roasted duck with grapes. Duck is always an excellent in Thailand and the Baan Khanitha creates great tastes with it. If you are interested in a more traditional curry, try either the red curry with beef or the green curry with chicken. Both are redolent with Thais spices and filled with a richness by the addition of coconut milk.

The service at the restaurant is attentive and genuinely friendly. The staff is obviously proud of their restaurant and will explain the nature of different dishes and make sensible recommendations to diners unfamiliar with Thai food.

Baan Khanitha has a reasonably extensive wine list. It also serves a full range of cocktails. There are some excellent infusions made with local herbs and spices on the menu. A glass of lemongrass tea, for example, is an excellent drink to sip while perusing the extensive menu.

There is another branch of the restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 23 (0-2258-4181). It has the same menu and the quality of the food is the same as at the Ruamrudee branch, but is a little more casual. It is located in a restored villa and is also tastefully decorated and filled with plants and objects of art. Both restaurants are open for lunch from 11:00-14:00 and for dinner from 18:00-23:00. Reservations are a must at both restaurants, particularly in the evening.

These are two of Bangkok's finest Thai restaurants. If you want to sample Thai food at its best, you can't go wrong at either of the Baan Khanitha dining spots.

Baan Khanitha
49 Soi Ruamrudee 2, Ploenchit Road
Tel: 0-2253-4638-9;

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- November Issue, 2002

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