Baan 26 is hard to miss. Its bright yellow exterior stands out amidst the row of converted colonial buildings lining Changkat Bukit Bintang. Once you step inside and sit down for a meal, you will find that Baan 26’s offerings are also hard to resist.
Meaning ‘House of 26’ in Thai, Baan 26 will have you coming back for more in no time. Having been around for two years, this restaurant-cum-pub specialises in wholesome, unpretentious Thai cuisine which is as authentic in taste as in presentation.
Baan 26 wouldn’t go amiss on the streets of Bangkok – it looks and feels just like your average neighbourhood Thai restaurant. Nothing fancy - just a homey, cosy eatery for you to enjoy a meal in. A warm, golden glow bathes the space within its pink-and-yellow walls, and iridescent sequin bead curtains cascade prettily down the ceiling at the back.
Décor ranges from the classic (such as the antique lacquerware tiffin carriers and the Thai figurines in the back dining area) to the whimsical (such as the butterfly-populated wrought-iron wall grilles and the handmade ceiling hangings fashioned out of colourful foam cut-outs near the front). The porch is turned into an al fresco dining area, while the upstairs dining area is normally reserved for functions and special occasions.
Baan 26 is intimate and cosy during the day. During the night, however, I can imagine a livelier atmosphere, with the well-equipped bar in full swing and a huge ceiling-mounted plasma screen airing the latest music videos and sports matches. The place gets especially busy during Friday and Saturday nights, when it is often close until late, way beyond its normal operating hours.
There’s a good selection of red and white wines here from Italy, France, Australia, Chile, USA, Argentina, Spain, South Africa and New Zealand, ranging from RM 202.60 to RM 99.60 per bottle. Also available are a range of liquors – whisky, brandy, cognac, vodka, gin and rum – priced from RM 280 to RM 160 per bottle, and draft beers from Tiger to Carlsberg. The most expensive item on the drinks menu is Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne at RM 399.60 per bottle. The restaurant also serves specialty cocktails with interesting, exotic names such as Monsoon Red Alert and Pandan Fantasy.
Featuring authentic recipes from the humble Thai kitchen, Baan 26’s offerings are full-bodied and satisfying – none of the watered-down variety that can be found in some so-called posh Thai restaurants. Served with a slightly modern twist, Baan 26’s dishes retain their original, traditional flavours.
The restaurant’s Director, Kah Fei, is a Malaysian with a strong passion for all things Thai, particularly Thai cuisine. Having worked in Thai restaurants for years, he learnt the art of Thai cooking by mere observation. Kah Fei believes in presenting the food as closely as possible to the original, as evident in the restaurant’s offerings.
We are presented with five popular dishes from the kitchen of Baan 26, served with a portion of steamed fragrant Thai rice: steamed fish with lime and chillies, Thai basil leaf minced chicken, Thai-style stir-fried brinjal with basil leaf, Thai mango salad with crispy catfish and red tom yam with prawn and oyster mushroom. The steamed fish is a signature Thai dish, which comes to us still bubbling in its platter, kept hot from underneath with a couple of mini burners.
The flesh of the steamed sea bass is sweet, moist and tender – together with the sour lime and the fiery chillies, the dish is a medley of flavours that is quite out of this world. The minced chicken is served on top of homemade beancurd that has a pudding-like consistency, which just melts in the mouth, and the stir-fried brinjal, cut into bite-size pieces, is both spicy and tasty. The crispy catfish in the mango salad has a very light, fluffy texture, resembling traditional fish floss in both look and taste.
The red tom yam is my favourite. Thick, hot and flavourful – just the way I like my tom yam – it leaves me with watery eyes, runny nose and burning tongue, but only because it is so good it’s addictive; I can’t seem to stop spooning it into my mouth.
- Clear and Red Tom Yam (with Seafood, Prawns, Vegetables or Chicken)
- Thai Mango Salad (with Dry Shrimp, Crispy Catfish or Spicy Tuna)
- Steamed Fish (Sea Bass) with Lime and Chillies
- Pad Thai
- Authentic Thai Green Curry Chicken
We had to wait for a bit for our food to arrive, but it was not more than 20 minutes, and it was well worth the wait. Service is generally down-to-earth and friendly, with the staff going around every now and then, checking that everything is fine with the other diners.
Baan 26 is located on Changkat Bukit Bintang, the hugely-popular street of international flavours and trendy nightspots. Located just around the corner about a few minutes’ walk is the hawker-food central, Jalan Alor, and further down the road is the famous Jalan Bukit Bintang with its myriad of dining, shopping and entertainment options.
- Opening Hours:
Monday – Sunday 12:00 – 15:00 (lunch), 18:00 - 00:30;
Sunday & Public Holidays 15:00 – 00:30.
- Address: 26 Changkat Bukit Bintang 50200 Kuala Lumpur.
- Tel: (603) 2142 8878