At the top of Sukhumvit Soi 8, near Nana BTS (exit 4) you will find the Soi to be nothing more than seemingly endless bars and pubs full of expats and tourists, street food carts complete with English menus and never-ending massage places.
Move deeper into the Soi and as the crowds thin out, the street takes on a quieter and more “Thai” residential feel.
Just before the change of pace, tucked slightly away from the Soi is the pleasant surprise of Kinnaree, a delightful and charming gem of a Thai restaurant set in an old traditional Thai style house. Keep a careful eye out for it as it is positioned back from the Soi and is easy to miss. It is on the left hand side of the road, if you are walking away from Sukhumvit.
The Traditional Thai Home Feel
Kinnaree is named after a striking mythological half-bird, half-woman creature to reflect the signature Siamese romantic interior of a traditional Thai home.
The restaurant itself is beautifully decorated, with a dark teak interior and bona fide Thai style artifacts on the walls. Soft red and blue lighting with gold touches dotted here and there help create a cozy atmosphere. The décor is adorned with flowers; even the bathrooms are garnished with fragrant orchid arrangements. The lotus shaped plates in front of each diner are also a nice touch.
Kinnaree offers a fine dining Thai cuisine experience, complete on most weekends with live music and stunning authentic Thai dancers. It is a quiet, relaxing, secluded bar and restaurant, meaning it is the perfect place to enjoy a romantic meal with a loved one, a much needed catch up with a close friend or an informal business meeting where impressions still count. Customers have the choice of sitting indoors or in the beautiful garden enjoying a lovely alfresco dining experience (tip: wear mosquito repellant!).
Whilst it is not the cheapest of places to dine in Bangkok (prices of the main dishes range from 300-600 baht), and is perhaps catered more towards expats and tourists as the food, although tasty and exquisitely presented, is not overly spicy. If you prefer your dishes to have more of a kick, ask your waiter to pass your request on to the kitchen, who will only be too happy to oblige.
Service is prompt, and the staff, dressed in traditional Thai outfits, is welcoming and friendly, and quick to make recommendations if opinions are sought, which is helpful as the usual menu is extensive, in addition to their daily specials.
Fine Dining Thai Cuisine
For appetizers we chose a selection of crab cakes, spring rolls and of course, the traditional Thai snack of banana leaf, dried shrimp, nuts, garlic, onion and chili all rolled up together. The house specialty main dish not to be missed is the coffee duck – duck which is marinated for hours in coffee beans, but I also highly recommend the tangy crying tiger beef, the tender steamed snow fish accompanied by a punchy lime sauce and the soft-shelled crab cooked in tamarind which is so flavorsome and delicate. And of course in my book, no Thai meal is complete without a portion of som tam, which is fresh and zingy just the way it should be. My mouth is watering with the memory of our meal whilst I type! The flavors of each dish just all worked so well together.
Ensure you fill up on appetizers and main dishes as the deserts, whilst exotic and imaginative, including offerings such as chocolate spring rolls and durian ice cream which are certainly in keeping with the Thai theme, are a tad on the small side.
The wine list is impressive. When we ordered a second bottle of wine, the one we had previously been drinking was no longer available, but a slightly more expensive bottle was given to us for the same price. Little touches like that goes a long way in customer service. In addition to the wine list, there is the usual selection of local and international beers available, as well as specially mixed cocktails like the mint sapphire Collins or som tam martinis.
Kinnaree also offers special set lunch menus, tasting menus and sit down dinners.
By Anna Power