Royal cuisine and regional specialties from a Rama VI-era house.
This Rama VI-style house serves equally aristocratic dishes that trace their roots to the original house’s owners, the Bunyaketu sisters. While the property has stayed in the family, the wooden house the sisters lived in has been replaced by an elegant two-story boutique hotel that looks like it has always been there. Surrounded by a slither of a courtyard, Baan Nai is equally charming indoors and out.
The pater familias himself will often be on deck explaining dishes; and the service has all the hushed grace of polished house staff, which, to nitpick, isn’t quite the same thing as the on-the-ball efficiency of a five-star hotel server. The menu isn’t pedantic about its nods to tradition, covering royal cuisine alongside regional specialties—you can even order a pad Thai (B220). But most dishes feature multiple dips, flowers, herbs and curries.
Baan Nai sure isn’t lazy! The Southern salad khao yum budu (B290) sees rice made black with the addition of charcoal surrounded by a dozen little piles of finely chopped herbs and condiments, from edible pink blossoms to diced string beans—a fresh and delicious summer dish. Accompanied by three different nam ya (curries), the kanom jeen (cold rice noodles, B350) shares a flat basket with fried chicken, dried shrimp, a fish curry sauce, plus fresh, pickled and blanched vegetables. The yam dok mai Baan Nai (flowers salad, B190), a half-dozen different flowers fried with light batter and topped by a plump shrimp, appears equally fit for a palace lunch. Even the somtam comes with rice baked in coconut (khao man somtam, B320), a chili relish on the side, both fresh and deep-fried basil leaves, more flowers, salted duck eggs and a small bowl of green chicken curry.
Although fresh, tasty, steeped in history and labor-intensive, these dishes don’t always add up to much more than the sum of their parts. The age-old recipes are there; what they lack is an inspired chef. Baan Nai may not be competing with Paste or Bo.lan, but its bold menu serves up oodles of style and tradition in an equally elegant setting. Corkage B500
This review took place in December 2016 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.
|Baan Nai, 13/102 Kamphaeng Phet Soi 5, Bangkok, Thailand
|Mon-Fri 1-9pm; Sat-Sun 10am-9pm
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