Baan Thai - The Thailand touch

I have walked past Baan Thai too many times thinking I have to check it out someday... So when I was invited by The Himalayan Times to ‘food-spy’ on them, I jumped at the chance. My girlfriend, also an avid Thai food fan, kept me company during this important mission.

Located across from Bakes & Cakes at Durbar Marg, the restaurant is small but classy, whose sparse decoration and casual lighting put the emphasis on food rather than style. Upon arriving we opted for the floor seating area, which has ample cushioning and a nice view of the bustling King’s Way. The waiter promptly brought us refreshing moist towels, a custom Srijana had noticed during her trip to Thailand last year, and one I think the rest of the world should adopt immediately.

The menu is vast with brief descriptions. If you are not familiar with Thai food you may want to brush up on Google before visiting to avoid a long deliberation. I chose the Pad Thai Kai, a variation on the standard pad Thai with chicken instead of shrimp (when in landlocked places I generally avoid seafood).

My mate ordered Som Tum Thai, another extremely popular dish commonly known to the world as green papaya salad. To drink, we ordered a ginger tea and hot lemon with honey, both arrived quickly and were good but not memorable.

Our food came soon after, and I appreciated, they brought both items at the same time (many nice restaurants still do a bad job of this in Kathmandu). The presentation was colourful, with long pieces of green onion and stringy bean sprouts evenly scattered among the noodles. The savoury strips of chicken were plentiful. When having pad Thai, I usually pile on the extra toppings, but the crushed peanut portion was lacking, there was only one small wedge of lemon and no cilantro at all. Still the noodles and sauce were tasty enough to make it one of the better pad Thaïs I have had. The Som Tum Thai was too thickly sliced, usually the papaya is shredded thin enough to resemble a noodle dish but this was definitely a salad. The dried shrimp was minimal and hardly noticeable in the overall flavour. Also Srijana and I could not figure out what to make of the large section of raw cabbage sitting on the side of the plate.

We were full but wanted to order more food for later, and having a vegetarian flat-mate at home we decided to pick from the veg menu. We ordered the Rad Nar Pak, a Thai-Chinese noodle dish, and the Kary Massaman Pak, a Thai-Persian curry dish with rice. The Rad Nar Pak was fresh and delicious, with large chunks of evenly cooked broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans mixed within a satisfying tangled knot of tender wide noodles, all flavoured with a sweet soy and black pepper sauce. The Kary Massaman Pak was my favourite, a sweet red curry with a strong creamy coconut base. Even though Massaman curry is traditionally a meat dish, the savoury chunks of eggplant and tofu make the vegetarian version memorable in its own right.

Overall I recommend Baan Thai, although anyone claiming this is the best Thai restaurant in town also needs to check out other Thai restaurants which are quite better.

Ratings Baan Thai

Ambience: 7

Food quality/presentation: 7

Quality of service: 9

Hygiene: 9

Value for money: 7

Overall satisfaction value: 7

Ian Clement is a filmmaker from the US whose first feature film Mango Pickle will be premiering in Nepal later this year. He has also kept himself busy directing music videos for Yama Buddha, Sacar and others while his film goes through the final stages of post production here in Kathmandu. He is a great foodie who loves trying out

numerous cuisines