The beautiful appetiser at Baan Khanitha
This year I was lucky enough to be able to spend a long weekend in Bangkok for my birthday. I love Bangkok – it’s a crazy melee of noise and smells and traffic and heat and general chaos and pandemonium. There is this undercurrent of energy that I find exhilarating and that somehow lives in complete harmony and balances with the wonderfully peaceful people of Thailand. Thankfully a lot of this crazy translates to exquisite food which D and I sampled at our old favourite haunts, as well as trying out a few new recommendations.
Boat noodle soup with rice noodles and thick soup
As we were only there for a few days, we kept relatively local to our hotel, which was conveniently located in the Sukhumvit area. First stop boat noodles at Bharani. The generic term of boat noodles originated when Bangkok was a maze of canals and from where these noodles were served. The canals have long become streets but the boat noodles remain (thank goodness) – beef and pork in a rich stock, served simply with your choice of noodles and kangkong – water spinach – with fresh bean sprouts and Thai basil – very similar to a Vietnamese Pho. Bharani uses top quality Thai-French beef and pork, and if you like your broth to be thick, you can order it here, where they thicken the broth with pigs blood. The taste is very subtle but adds to the complexity of smells and flavours in that one small bowl that makes for a delicious almost fortifying noodle soup (especially if you’re feeling a bit delicate from one too many drinks the night before!). Bharani is a bit of an odd place in that it serves not only Thai but Western cuisine, particularly French, but I’m not in Bangkok to eat French food 🙂
Crispy fish salad
In between spa treatments, we also went on a recommendation to the Tea Room at Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel. If this recommendation did not come from my friend who loves Thai food, I would avoid hotel food in cities like Bangkok. It was also voted one of the top five restaurants in Thailand and recognised as one of Asia’s finest restaurants by the Miele Guide 2009/2010 and did not disappoint. The good thing is that you can order small portions of authentic Thai food, which meant we were able to sample many dishes in the most elegant surrounding – a brief reprieve from the heat and hustle and bustle just outside. We sampled crispy pork with vegetables, prawn spring rolls and prawn toast which came with the most deliciously light cucumber dipping sauce and crispy fish salad. We may have gone a little overboard with the deep fried food, but these four seemed to jump out at us from the extensive menu, and the ambiance of the restaurant made us feel more that we were ordering a series of snacks rather than sitting down for a full meal. And we got lucky that each of our snacks was a perfect balance of soft and crisp, sour and sweet, hot and mellow.
Amazing Thai green curry with chicken
One of our favourite restaurants in Bangkok is Baan Khanitha – which we just noticed this trip has a almost incredulously won best restaurant in Bangkok for Thai food more than ten years running ! We really go back to basics here. They serve a traditional Thai snack when you are seated, a selection condiments (peanuts, ginger, chilli, lime, roasted coconut flakes, red onion, dried shrimp), to be combined in a cleverly wrapped betel leaf, and with a sweet tamarind sauce. So simple, so good. We started with soups – tom yum talay (spicy sour soup with seafood) for me and tom kar gai (coconut based soup with chicken) for D. They actually add a touch of coconut milk to the tom yum talay which takes the edge off the sourness and heat of the soup. We also had a chicken green curry and whole garoupa with sweet and spicy sauce. The coconut curry comes out the most vibrant green colour and is not overly thick with coconut cream, and has a nice mellow sweetness from the palm sugar. One of the reasons why I’m sure Baan Khanitha has won so many awards is the freshness of the produce. This was evident in the fish – the flesh was firm and sweet and the sauce not overpoweringly sweet but with a perfect balance of sweet, salt and sour.
The completely assembled appetiser at Baan Khanitha
Pampered with massages till no more muscles ached and with our tummies full with delicious Thai food, it’s no wonder we are one of the many, many people who also love Bangkok.
Bharani Cuisine (Sansab Boat Noodle)
96/14 Sukhumvit Soi 23
Open daily 10am – 10pm
Erawan Tea Room
Second Floor of the Erawan Bangkok, adjacent to the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok
494 Rajdamri Road
Open daily 10am – 10pm
36/1 Sukhumvit Soi 23
Open daily 11am – 11pm