Dining in Thailand, Baan Khanitha, Mango Tree, The Admiral, Shiitake

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Bane Laos

Eating at Bane Laos is as much a cultural experience as a culinary one. Not to say that the food isn’t excellent, it’s just that the traditional decor makes more expensive rivals look like they’ve tried a little too hard to look authentically ethnic, whereas Bane Laos is simply, well, authentic. Bane Laos is housed in a traditional Thai home that’s remained pretty much unchanged since its construction.

Guests are treated to a starlit dining experience, accompanied by traditional Laotian music played softly by a four-piece band and classical dancing. The menu is extensive, including a la carte and a host of specials. The Laotian chef has been cooking in restaurants since he was ten years old, and it looks like that was a very long time ago, so it’s no surprise that the food is as well-prepared as it is. Highly recommended is the gai ob fong bier (fried chicken in beer foam, 300). Three huge pieces of chicken breast still on the bone and full of flavor are accompanied by little button mushrooms, all in a sea of sauce with an aftertaste of oysters. The meat is chewy but not tough and very satisfying.

Bane Laos does fish equally well and the pla chon nueng pak nam jim (steamed snakehead fish with vegetables and chilli sauce) offers a very refined taste, although the roe is bursting with sea flavor, and comes with a nuclear-powered sauce based on tomatoes and lemongrass which is slowly boiled and reduced to concentrate the flavor. And, there are many more dishes like this to choose from that are equally delicious.

Baan Khanitha

This restaurant is actually an old Thai-style house which was refurbished beautifully. The rooms are highlighted by dark woodwork and furniture, colorful silk accessories and interesting tableware. The lighting is subdued and creates a relaxing atmosphere. There are several rooms so the spaces are intimate and there are many corners so there is quite a bit of privacy also.

Although most of the dishes are what would be described as being from central Thailand, there are a few entries from various regions around the country: Chiang Mai sausages, laabs from Isaan and massaman curry from the south. Favorites here include the pomelo salad, the tom yum gung and the spring rolls.

Another appealing aspect here is the service, a reflection on Khun Khanitha, the owner, who treats staff and customers alike with grace and warmth. The second location on Soi Ruam Rudee is a little larger tahtn the original but just as stylish.

Au Bon Pain

There’s been a proliferation of bakery/deli type oulets opening in Bangkok the last few years and Au Bon Pain is one of them. They’re now up to about 10 locations around the city and have plans for more. Au Bon Pain is originally from the U.S., Boston to be exact, although the name is French and the overall look of the place is vaguely French too.

Soups, salads and sandwiches make up the small food menu along with quite a number of bakery items including breads, rolls, cookies, croissants, muffins, Danishes and other pastries that are all baked on the premises.

We can vouch for the Caesar salad and a couple of the sandwiches, Swiss cheese and steak and tuna salad to be exact. The steak on a soft roll was one of the best available in town and the tuna on a croissant was also very good. Only 75 baht for the steak and 65 for the tuna make them a good deal. The Caesar was rather routine but the greens were quite fresh and the dressing had a nice zing to it.

There’s also a very good selecion of hot and cold drinks with cappuccino, espresso, cafe au lait and a mocha blast as well as regular coffee and tea on the hot side and iced cocoa (very good, sweet and rich), iced caffe latte and iced tea highlighting the cold selections.

Mango Tree

Many restaurants in Bangkok claim to be authentic in describing their cuisine but not all are true to their roots. However, the Mango Tree restaurant is true to the roots of both Thai cuisine and culture. The wonderful atmosphere of the restaurant is important too, as it is located in an 80-year old Siamese house on a relatively quiet soi and the walled property offers a retreat from the bustle of the surrounding city.

Upon enterting the yard, you are met by four Thai musicians on a raised stage playing traditional Thai music. The soft sounds provide a peaceful backdrop as you enter the small house which is broken up into several cozy rooms.

The menu has sections for appetizers, soups, salads, nam prik, entrees and noodles, so there’s a weide variety of choices. Some highlights include the princess chicken, green curry beef, moo yenn, a thin-sliced pork dish, and gai hoa-bai toey,a leaf-wrapped chicken creation.

The quality of the food and the generous size of the portions combine with the reasonable prices to offer guests a dining experience that is both a good value for money and an authentic experience that combines food, atmosphere and music.


Open for about a year now, @Corner is a stylish place situated on a huge lot on the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 31, hence, apparently, its name. The grounds contain a large parking lot and a sort of beer garden type space in the front of the building that can be used by guests wanting to dine al fresco.

The interior of the restaurant is very modern and hi-tech looking with a central sushi bar and an upstairs level for more casual seating. There’s plenty of glass everywhere, affording a good view of the passing parade on Sukhimvit Road.

The large menu includes many different types of Japanese cuisine including teppanyaki, tempura, teriyaki, and a long list of sushi and sashimi. Interestingly, though, the chef describes the food here as Japanese done in a Euro style. He’s right, too, as they have, for example, a Viking Roll listed with the sushi offerings. Didn’t get to try one but it sounded interesting. There are other unique touches here too, enough to make this a place to try when you’re feeling adventurous and ready for more than the same old Japanese food for a change.


This is an unpretentious kind of place with a cheery atmosphere dominated by a red and green color motif. Indian music permeates the atmosphere of the medium-sized room that has an adjoining room which can be rented for private parties and functions.

Khun Bobby, the general manager, is a friendly, outgoing sort of person who is always happy to explain the intMaharajahs2.jpgricacies of Indian food to anyone interested. The chefs at Maharajah’s, all native Indians by the way, have obviously learned the technique of tandoor cooking. The fish tikka is one of the best in town. Moist and tender is what it is, and the same could be said of the chicken tikka, the hariyala tikka and the chicken tikka masala.

The menu covers a wide range also, not just tandoor dishes. The whole spectrum of northern Indian food is represented including curries, dals, great naans and a lot more. The prices are reasonable as well.

The Admiral

This is a nicely designed place that’s spread out over a good-sized space on a relatively quiet soi. There are plenty of trees that the beautiful buildings are spread out amongst and the end result is a relaxing atmosphere.

The main dining room is on the ground floor of a Thai sala-type building with a tall pointed roof. It’s glassed-in and air conditioned and the attached patio has plenty of outdoor seating. A building behind the main one offers a pleasant upstairs open-air bar as well as several private dining areas and a wine cellar.

All throughout the back building are photographs, wall hangings and paintings depicting the era when Danes first came to Thailand and were employed in large numbers by the Thai government in military capacities. It’s a very interesting collection and one of special interest to owners Stig and Bent since they are both Danish.

The food is generally European with Scandinavian influences and every Saturday night is barbecue night. In fact, most nights there’s something a bit different going on with a seafood market night on Tuesdays, Asian night on Thursdays and a Scandinavian buffet on Fridays. And the regular menu contains a large selection of both European and Thai food so there’s something here for everyone which is important when your dinner group is comprised of mixed nationalities.

Try The Admiral if you’re in the mood for a relaxed, casual dinner amid peaceful surroundings in the middle of the bustling city.

Fireplace Grill

This restaurant is a look back at the past, when restaurants weren’t decorated with cement or glass or steel and had warm, inviting interiors. Fireplace Grill is, in fact, a bit behind when it comes to modern design trends. Which is exactly why we like it so much. This softly lit room with its large central fireplace, dark wood, exposed beams, impressionist paintings and dark red fabrics gives it an old-style, almost Continental feel to it that is very comforting. It’s our kind of place, basically.

And to go along with this wonderful decor is the kind of menu that you would normally have seen in a 50s steakhouse, the kind that served martinis in big glasses wFireplace 2.jpgith huge T-bones and baked potatoes. There are steaks from the US and Australia here along with some veal dishes and seafood including Dover sole, snow fish, Tiger prawns, salmon and lobster but if you really want to know what this place is all about try the prime rib. This classic American cut is grilled expertly on the open hearth and fills the plate. It’s thick and juicy and very tender — in short, perfect.

There’s probably nothing on this menu you haven’t seen before, but it’s all done well, from the pan-fried goose liver to the cream of pumpkin soup. There aren’t any surprises here, nor are there any disappointments as the kitchen staff know what they are doing.

So does the service staff, and combined with the soft music, relaxing ambience and familiar food, they provide, under the able direction of Khun Sombat, the final piece of the puzzle that makes up the overall attraction of Fireplace Grill.


There is certainly no shortage Shiitake5.jpgof Japanese restaurants in Bangkok so the mention of one more might not grab your attention, but Shiitake is a place that's worth your consideration for a number of reasons. Food and value are the two top reasons we came up with after sampling some of the innovative dishes that are on offer here.

The concrete and light wood decor with lots of glass is a casual space for dining and there's a sushi bar of sorts but no seating at it, only the two dining areas on either side of the entrance to this rectangular-shaped restaurant.

Two lovely sisters, Suporn and Sunee, are the major shareholders here and each contribute something to Shiitake6.jpgthe management: Suporn is an architect who designed the restaurant and comes up with interesting food ideas and Sunee handles the marketing and promotion chores. Between them, they've created a fun place to eat and drink.

We tried several of the dishes, none of which you'd find in a traditional Japanese restaurant, but all of which were fun and tasty. Mushrooms wrapped in bacon, deep-fried mushrooms and beef, tofu and vegetables in mushroom broth give you an idea of the cuisine direction here. Shiitake means mushroom in Japanese if we're not mistaken and the theme here is definitely being followed. All were very good as were the sushi rolls that came wrapped not in seaweed but thin-sliced radish and carrots. These were delicious as was the carrot cake that finished things off - the best we've had in Bangkok.

Try Shiitake for some fun and different food anytime.


If you haven't been to FABB Fashion Cafe FABB 2.jpgsince the early days of its existence two years ago then you'd be surprised at what you'll find there now. Started more as a coffee shop/deli/internet outlet, it has since evolved into a decent jazz venue and a serious restaurant.

The food has been exclusively Italian till now but with the addition of new chef Stefan from Montreal, Canada, the menu will change slightly to accommodate some European and Mediterranean dishes as well.

A recent visit gave us a taste of what the new menu will offer (is offering, we should say, since July marked the beginning of Stefan's influences here) and the results bode well for the future.

First, the restaurant offers an inviting atmosphere for dining with yellow and orange pastel colors inside while the glass walls provide an interesting view of the busy Langsuan/Ploenchit intersection. The seating is very comfortable and the lighting subdued which help you to relax immediately.

The food did the rest, as Stefan presented three dishes that signified the new direction of the restaurant. We started with pan-fried goose liver that was complemented by a raspberry reduction sauce and a couple of corn blinis - little mini pancakes. Goose liver is the Mercedes of liver and this portion was cooked perfectly with a little crispiness on the outside and soft on the inside. A tuna carpaccio followed which was accented by little droplets of red and black caviar and a dill/lemon/horseradish sauce that was delicious. Next was a black and white pasta with rock lobster that combined regular spaghetti with a black ink variety and tender chunks of lobster with a garlic/olive oil base. Each of these dishes was wonderfully done and indicate that FABB will in the future be even more ''fab'' than it may have been in the past.

Suan Plu

There seem to be quite a number Suan Plu 2.jpgof small Thai restaurants with simple concepts and great food springing up all over Bangkok lately (see last issue's Janis and Khao Gub Kaeng, for example) and our most recent discovery is the newly renamed Sensual Suan Phlu Boulevard which is located on Soi 15 of Narathivardrajchanakarin Road. This is the new connecting road between Surawong Road and Rama III in case you don't know and is home to a number of other new places also.

The simple decor here is mostly white and there's an outside seating area as well as two levels inside. The music is basically of the ''chill out'' variety, including acid jazz and even bossa nova, and there appears to be as much of a late-night bar crowd here as an early dinner crowd.

It would be too bad if you didn't try the food here, though, because it's different and tasty. Dishes like fried spaghetti tom yum goong and green curry fried rice magi are two good examples and there are many more. The fried rice magi looks like sushi with its seaweed rolled rice, but has a curry flavor on the inside with little chili garnishes on top. The fried pork with lemongrass came with an abundance of toasted celery seeds which gave this dish an unusual twist also.

There are several salmon dishes, a lot more fried spaghetti varieties and quite a number of interesting vegetable and salad selections as well.

Try this comfortable little place for the food and the atmosphere anytime you're in the mood for something a little different.