Ban Khun Mae is a traditional Thai restaurant it’s incredibly easy to get to at just a stone’s throw away from the BTS station, Siam. If it wasn’t for the steady stream of hungry diners you’d almost forget you are in a buzzing megatropolis scrape.
The restaurant has two floors and caters for 200 patrons. Despite the capacity for a large number of diners, the dining room ambience has a homely feel. Every ledge is adorned with the owners collection of Thai antiques, and sepia photographs steeped in local history hang from the rustic walls. The exposed wooden beams and trusses create alcoves to make your dining experience feel more intimate. Every night between the hours of 7pm and 9pm you will be ingratiated with performances of traditional Thai music.
The restaurant is renowned for catering to tourists from both east and west alike. If you’re seeking an introduction to Thai food, consider adding this to your travel itinerary.
All their sauces and pastes are home-made and because they craft their own, it’s possible to infer your preferred spice level upon ordering.
There is also an extensive drinks and wine menu available. The wines being are disproportionally over priced when compared to the food menu however this is commonly the case in Bangkok and nothing to write home about.
For starters, why not try their freshly steamed tapioca steamed dumplings, stuffed with pork and sweet crushed roasted peanuts. The tapioca pastry exhibits a beautiful sheen and the rich caramelized meaty filling offsets the delicate pastry perfectly.
Their appetizer of minced chicken, pea and sweet corn in a pastry shell despite not particularly robust in flavour, makes for a great a sharing plate. The juicy vegetables and crispy pastry serve as refreshing lead into what’s to come.
Try their seafood specialties such as whole grouper in a sweet and sour sauce. Served over a flaming burner this ensures the dish is piping hot while you tuck into other delicacies.
Or try their freshly steamed chilli crab in an aromatic sauce made from the head meat, egg and curry powder. This dish is delicious but excessively oily and leaves my lip stained mouth looking a little too vampiric.
If you’re feeling adventurous why not try their raw shrimp served with a mouth-watering chilli dipping sauce. The prawn meat is deliciously fresh with a creamy rich texture and the piquant sauce cuts though the richness of the prawn meat making the dish unbelievably moreish.
Follow through with your adventurous streak and try their steamed seafood curry paste served inside a young coconut husk. This uniquely presented ‘dish’ encapsulates authentic Thai flavours of fish sauce, fragrant kaffir lime leaf and red chilli to name but a few.
For authentic and intense Thai flavours tuck into their chilli paste bar – a selection of bamboo steamed vegetables or fried fish served with an option of three dipping sauces: Firstly the Northern nam prik ong, of which its main ingredients are chilli paste, tomatoes and minced pork. The divergent sweet and sour flavours work well to complement each other. Secondly, nam prik kapi, the most widespread chilli paste of all, contains the ubiquitous shrimp paste and imparts rich salty & spicy flavours and finally Nam phrik long ruea, an elaborate spicy and fruity paste.
The desserts are crafted traditionally from what looks like an exhibit from a heritage museum. The open cooking station smoulders with saccharine syrups boiling in antique pans and a traditional bamboo platter is laid out with steamed desserts. The desserts range from the national favourite mango sticky rice, to various assortments of stewed fruits and tubers glazed in delicious sweet syrup with coconut milk.
Thai food is about the marriage of divergent flavours to create harmonious contrasts in flavours and textures. Despite their gentle approach to chilli this is evident in the restaurants offerings. Ban Khun Mae is a great introduction to Thai food and if you’re indecisive or unfamiliar with Thai cuisine then let their specially selected set menus guide you through a smorgasbord of Thai flavours. The choice of three set menus priced at 460thb for two people seems decidedly excellent value for money. This restaurant can be frequented for any occasion and its central location makes it perfect to drop by planned or unplanned.
Find out why this long established restaurant has been packing tourists and locals alike, for over 16 years. Transcend your senses to experience time honoured classics in this deep rooted oasis of calm.
Address: 458/6-9 Siam Square Soi 8, Rama 1 Road,Patumwan District,Bangkok, 10330,Thailand
Phone number: (662)250-1952-3
Opening hours: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Transport: BTS Siam
Price: Meal for one with soft drinks: around 250thb
Written by : SE.