Panda Peeks – Baan26
Behind the naming of every restaurant is a great story, and Baan26 is no exception. The number ‘26’ is a common theme throughout: the street lot number is 26; the launch year, 2006; the age of the owner Chai Kah Fei when he opened the restaurant? You guessed it, 26! …and now in 2016, the restaurant is celebrating 10 successful years of welcoming customers into its ‘Baan’ (the Thai word for home).
Baan26 is the perfect place for a meal anytime of the day, however if you decide to dine later in the evening, al fresco style, you will have the opportunity to watch Bukit Bintang transform into a lively, bustling strip, full of excitement and activity: not to be missed! With a chef from Thailand commanding the kitchen, Baan26 produces authentic dishes with traditional recipes, not holding back on the spice!
As Chai Kah Fei was enlightening us about the history and ethos of the restaurant, there was a continual stream of food being brought out, and my senses were immediately awoken by the scent of aromatic spices wafting through the evening air.
The food was presented in the middle of the table, and we tucked into the ‘family style’ dining extravaganza. The first dish I sampled was the Spicy Tom Yum Seafood, and what a great start! The soup was a vibrant red, packed with an abundance of fresh fish and seafood. When I took my first spoonful, waves of fire engulfed my mouth, and immediately the heat sweats started… Ginger, chillies, tom yum paste, lemongrass, lime and fish sauce brought a great balance of sweet, sour and saltiness: the foundation of Thai food, I was not disappointed.
The lime and chilli steamed Sea Bass, was a perfect centre piece for the everyone to tuck into! The fish was prepared to perfection, sitting in a light fragrant stock which was poured over the fish once plated. After taking time to admire the dish, I tucked in: the fish was light in texture, so tender it almost melted in my mouth. Another dish we tasted was the Mango Salad with dried shrimp. The mix of freshly cut raw fruit and vegetables is light and refreshing on the palate, therefore perfect as a palate-cleanser.
The two chicken dishes we tasted: Pandan Leaf Chicken Wrap and Thai Basil Leaf Spicy Minced Chicken were complete polar opposites, both in the preparation, presentation and taste. The Pandan Leaf Chicken is marinated in a concoction of various spices and sauces before being wrapped into parcels and steamed. I meticulously unwrapped the pandan leaf, to be welcomed with a hearty, soft and succulent piece of chicken. As they say, “the best things always come in small packages”, and this was no exception!
The other dish, Thai Basil Leaf Spicy Minced Chicken, is typical of one that would be found at any street food vendor in Thailand. Although the cooking process is relatively simplistic, the sourcing of the produce is certainly not. Baan26, specifically source the fresh basil from the Hat Yai area of Southern Thailand, and this attention to detail certainly pays off, the proof is in the tasting!
Finally, we shared Pineapple Fried Rice with Shrimp, which was ascetically pleasing in its presentation, as the rice mixed with pineapple, peanuts and garden veg was scooped into a half cut, pineapple shell, with the shrimp perched on top. The sweet and sour rice complimented the very lightly fried prawns, pleasing in every way.
Having had the privilege of traveling to Thailand, I can say with confidence that this Baan26 would not be out of place in the heart of any Thai town or city. The food was not only fantastic in flavour, but also in its presentation. I would like to say a huge thank you to all at Baan26 for a wonderful dining experience!
Address: No.26, Changkat Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur.
Opening Hours: 12pm – 3am daily
Click here to order online from Baan26
Jonathan is busy eating his way through Asia, where he is completing an exchange program organised by his university. Coming from Scotland, the biggest culture shock he’s experienced is the heat!