Monday, October 1, 2012

Bangkok - Baan Kanitha


Why? Because it’s cheaper and better than anywhere in India. That is why! Also, by itself, i.e. without comparing Bangkok to any other place, Bangkok is not bad. I have been to Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Goa, et al and, frankly, Bangkok is better than anything India offers. That is why, since you insisted.   

Let me give you but one example. We landed in Bangkok and the aircraft doors opened at 11.35 am local time. We exited the aircraft, walked a fairly long distance to the immigration counter (albeit using state of the art walkways) with senior Mrs Stonethrower, at her pace, filled in visa forms, stood in a line to get our visas, got our visas, collected our bags, passed customs and sat in our hotel car at 12,12 on the car’s clock. All this without losing one’s temper and not speaking a word of Thai. That is why, if you still want to know.

Night 1, meal one. We had booked at Baan Kanitha a well known Thai restaurant with a couple of branches in Bangkok. We had been there before and quite liked it and had written about it in a previous post.. When we entered we were given a table in a corner, behind a pillar at the far end of the restaurant. This was a bad sign. We were given our menus, 3 menus in all - one for drinks, one with the restaurant specialities [a euphemism for highly priced dishes – jumbo prawn, lobster etc etc with accompanying glossy pictures] and the last the regular menu. I looked at the drinks list. A simple Singha Beer, 330ml, equivalent to a Kingfisher in India cost a staggering 250 Thai Baht which is almost Rs 500. Mind you this restaurant would be the equivalent of a Trishna in Mumbai. Brilliant, I thought, welcome to the best example of a tourist trap!!! Unfortunately, it was downhill all the way after that.

Before the food arrived, a really charming dish that is a signature dish of Baan Kanitha was presented. This is given by the restaurant complementary to all tables. It consists of `Paan' leaves and a variety of condiments which you place in the leaf and eat. Its really delicious.

Meng Kham - Clockwise from bottom, Onion & Chilli, Lime, Dried Prawns, Peanut & Toasted Coconut. Centre is a Sweet Jam

First up was Pomello Salad with Prawns. Decent, classic Thai Salad with the balance of sweet, sour, salty spicy and the fresh taste we all know. The prawns in the salad were mere add ons and if they were not there the salad would not have diminished in quality. No photo unfortunately.

Also as a starter we had Deep Fried Prawn Balls which was essentially, a Prawn Paste with deed fried Prawns. Again not bad but far from shining.

Deep fried Prawn Balls

Now we were up to the main courses. Red Beef Curry was pedestrian. I could not figure out what the difference was in taste and consistency between the Red Curry and the classic Thai coconut milk soup. The curry was desperately watery. Soft Shelled Crab, deep fried in a Green Curry sounded very good on the menu. The dish was once again unremarkable.

Red Beef Curry

Soft Shelled Crab with Green Curry

To mop up all these gravies we ordered a Pad Thai, an absolute classic dish. This turned up looking decidedly diabolical. It had a strange look, a stranger texture and the strangest taste. A dish which we had asked for, Sea Bass, we were informed by the waiter, was not available. As if all this was not enough, in some mad impulse, I asked the waiter to recommend some other fish dish that would be similar. Not to be outdone, smarty-pants suggested the most expensive fish dish on the specialities menu. My Thai was not good enough to translate for smarty-pants, and neither was smarty-pants English good enough to understand the phrase, `I was not born yesterday’.  We settled for a Tofu dish that was simply weird. It ended up with lashings of what seemed to be Lavang or cloves. Absolute shambles.

Pad Thai

Tofu with Crisp Basil

We quickly asked for our bill and left with our tail between our legs. Yes you can eat badly in Bangkok. Yes you can end up at a tourist trap and ripped. 

Never again. Pity!

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