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
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
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.
49 Soi Ruamrudee 2, Ploenchit Road