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ISSUE OF JANUARY 2004  
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Baan Khanita - My Thai Favourite

We landed in Bangkok and as always Alyona and I made a list of the eating-places that we would like to visit during our three day stay there. I wanted to visit the restaurant, where we had eaten excellent Thai food during our previous visit, but alas we could not remember its name. However the hotel receptionist recommended a placed called Baan Khanita and imagine our surprise when, on landing there, we found it was the same place we were searching for.

Baan Khanita is a charming little restaurant with a quaint amalgamation of high quality Thai food served in traditional atmosphere that says this is home! The brainchild of Khanita Akaranitikul, an elegant lady who made her name as a designer of beautiful fashion garments for her Khanita boutiques, Baan Khanita (meaning ‘Khanita’s home’) has a warm, cozy décor making you feel at home.

The restaurant offers a superb range of Thai dishes from all over the country, blending Royal Thai cuisine with the spicy flavours of the Thai countryside. Khanita has selected her favourite recipes and added her own touches to a home-cooked taste. No wonder then that it attracts food lovers in droves so much so that not only does one have to book a table well in advance, you are considered lucky to get one. We were lucky.

‘Sala Thai’, the newly opened section in Thai traditional teak living house style, serves as the great private dining point. Well, we settled down to a great dinner. For starters it was Kung Phan Oil (Baht 120), which are deep-fried prawns served with sugar cane sticks, apricot sauce and drizzled with sesame seeds. Gai Hor Bai Toey (priced similarly) is fried chicken wrapped with pandanus leaves in keekumin sauce which I am told is made with fresh parsley, soya, sugar, garlic and onion topped with sesame seeds.

Rightfully soups come next. I chose to have Tom Yam Khung Nang. It is a spicy river prawns soup with herbs (priced according to serving size Baht 150 to 450), served with coconut milk. I preferred it without coconut milk. And it can be hotter…chillies and temperature wise!

On recommendation we tried Shapru leaves which are folded and had with shredded dried coconut, dried shrimp, chopped onions, lime juice, peanuts, chopped green chillies, ginger and a delicious Peanut sauce made with peanuts, dried shrimps, tamarind and sugar.

Time for main course then. Gaeng Kiew Wan Gai (Baht 190), chicken in green curry paste was nice with lots of basil leaves, pea brinjals (small green brinjals cut into quarters), Kaffir lime leaves and fresh red chillies. A bowlful of Gaeng Phed Khung Nang followed suit in all its fiery red glory: two large river prawns with head, prettied up with pea brinjals and green chillies. The steamed rice was nice and sticky. Just perfect.

The fire was doused with desserts that are classic Thai presentations: Mango and sticky rice served with coconut ice cream (Baht 130), Sweet sesame stuffed dumplings in ginger syrup (Baht 65), a delicious pure 'n true Homemade coconut ice cream (Baht 65) and of course Pol Lamai Ruam (an ornate platter of mixed fruits in season).

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