Historic house allows diners to step back in time

Baannai, a boutique hotel and authentic Thai restaurant, recalls a bygone era

Baan nai, meaning the inner house, had for the past century been a private household term referring to a Colonial-style manor situated in the centre of the Bunyaketu family's large residential compound near Samsen railway station.

The historic house was known to be a residence of the noble clan's three daughters, who lived during the reign of King Rama VI and King Rama IX.

In December last year, after a major renovation meticulously done by a family member of the current generation to preserve the glory-day memories, Baannai was launched as a four-room boutique hotel with its own little eatery.

The hotel's dining outlet serves up Thai cuisine prepared according to well-preserved recipes from the bygone era. The menu, which features two-dozen options of starters and main entrées, centres around all-time classics and seasonal dishes. They are listed in Thai with pronunciations written in English. Yet there's no description of the dishes provided.

Presumably to mimic the historic concept of the venue, I found the food here came in petite portions and with a delicate, lady-like presentation.

The historic house, once a residence of the three daughters of the noble family, has been turned into a boutique hotel and restaurant.

First to arrive our table, pla haeng tangmo (120 baht) is an old-fashioned summer delicacy presenting crispy granules of dried fish wok-tossed with sugar and shallots served atop fresh cubes of watermelon.

The scrumptiously refreshing fish'n'fruit dish was followed by phad krathon (190 baht), another appetiser that tasted as impressive. It's a platter of finely sliced santal fruit sautéed with minced shrimp and pork and to be enjoyed with rice crackers and fresh cha-phlu leaves.

Next up, yum dokmai, or sweet and sour salad of flowers (190 baht), showcased a colourful assortment of indigenous blooms from the family's backyard, lightly battered and deep-fried before being dressed with minced pork, chili paste and fried prawn.

That day we were presented with the flowerets of khae (sasban), khajon (cowslip creeper), fueang fa (bougainvillea), khem (ixora) and anchan (butterfly pea).

Of the main entrée selection, we were pleased with nam phrik long ruea (290 baht), a platter of savoury sweet and spicy sautéed chilli dip accompanied by assorted vegetables, Thai-style omelette, rice and a personal bowl of clear soup.

The historic house, once a residence of the three daughters of the noble family, has been turned into a boutique hotel and restaurant.

Equally delightful was khao niew moo daeng goonchiang (190 baht). In an earthenware came the piping hot fragrant sticky rice topped with thin slices of Chinese-styled barbecued pork and grilled sweet sausage, all to be seasoned to diners' preference with chilli-seethed dark soy sauce.

A set of khao mun som tam (290 baht) that features coconut cream-cooked rice topped with crispy caramelised pork to be enjoyed with central plain-style green papaya salad, hand-crumbled and not pounded, chicken green curry and red chili paste is another menu worth offering.

It is recommended that you wrap up your meal here with the old-fashioned dumpling dessert called khamom phra phai (120 baht). The gummy, steamed glutinous rice-flour dumplings, in a shape of bite-sized balls, came stuffed with sweet mung bean paste filling and dressed with warm coconut cream to offer a memorable mouthfeel.

During my Thursday evening visit, the 40-seater was attended to by a large team of ever-smiling, front-of-house employees. Yet there's still room for service quality to improve.

A platter of sautéed chilli dip accompanied by assorted vegetables, Thai-style omelette and clear soup.

Finely sliced santal fruit sautéed with minced shrimp and pork to be enjoyed with rice crackers and fresh cha-phlu leaves.


Baannai

Baannai Hotel
Soi Kamphaeng Phet 5, Setsiri Road Samsen Nai District
Call 02-619-7430
Open daily (except Monday) for lunch and dinner
Park along the street in front of the hotel
Most credit cards accepted

About the author

columnist
Writer: Vanniya Sriangura
Position: Senior writer and food columnist of Life