Baan Khun Mae
Baan Khun Mae oozes Thainess through its every sculpted wooden panel, its white and blue crockery, its aunties shaping dumplings behind a wall of jars filled with relishes, its display of chuam (vegetables boiled in syrup), its classical musician (daily at 7pm) and its staff in traditional outfits. Tourists love it, and you do get the occasional table of well-to-do Thais. But for Baan Khun Mae to be a hit with locals it would have to seriously overhaul its service and parts of its menu. Waving desperately to nab the otherwise fairly competent waiters is a kind of Olympic sport here, and when queues form at the entrance, some people will just cut into the dining room. The food, too, has highs and lows. Curries mostly tend to be sweet, a tad flat and just not particularly homemade tasting. The tom ka gai (B130) is also afflicted with slightly dry chicken, although most of the other curries we’ve tried can at least boast quality products. The plump river shrimps in red curry (B280) come perfectly cooked, and the gaeng pet ped yang has generous slices of roasted duck and a decent supporting cast floating about in the soup (cashew nuts, pineapples, Thai eggplants, B160). But don’t order too much from the picture menu at the beginning of the wooden binder. The best stuff is in the back, such as their selection of sausages and range of relishes (all B120). Our favorite, the sai oua has pleasant herbal notes and comes with all the trimmings. And although the relishes tend toward the sweet and mild, there is complexity to them, and the selection of a dozen boiled vegetables served with the nam prik ong is just perfect. Another must-have is the khao griap pakmoh yuan (steamed pancakes filled with stir-fried minced pork and Chinese celery, 120)—fresh, with exciting textures and a perfect mix of bitterness from the celery and fat from the pork. You’ll be hard pressed to resist the beautiful display of chuam (from B50-150) by the entrance, but we’ve had mixed results: warm and tender on one visit, cold and dry on another. Baan Khun Mae is not a tourist trap—and given Siam’s fairly sad offerings, it’s actually a top dog in the neighborhood—it’s just not particularly cheap, and not particularly outstanding.
|Baan Khun Mae, 458/7-9 Siam Square Soi 8, Rama 1 Rd., Bangkok, Thailand
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