About two weeks before we visited Baan Nok, an African-American senator had just been elected as the Democratic Party's presidential candidate to contest in the 2008 election for the ownership to the administrative power of the White House. As he celebrated his victory against another Democrat presidential-hopeful (who might have made history as well by becoming the first female president of America), the public has already speculated an arduous campaign ahead. The next 5 months were expected to include the usual battles of wit, spectacularly convincible reform policies and exposés of stained backgrounds. For this senator, there was another issue to be tackled, which was absolutely unnecessary and irrelevant. Colour.
If differences such as background and colour were such taboos, this group of blogging friends, which consisted of a yellow hairy berry, a whiff of masala-flavoured lemongrass and an Australian blunt knife named James would have been be barred from dining together, more so comfortably in a Thai restaurant, sipping beer while laughing and sweating over fiery hot Thai food in Pandan Indah. It would have been such a pity, wouldn’t it?
Diversity is a blessing and has its abundance of advantages, if managed well.
Take a glance of the street where Baan Nook is located and one will be amused by the interesting number of Thai restaurants and markets. And to think that the colourful Chinese restaurants, cafés and Mamak stalls are just a few blocks away. This is not just a celebration of taste. But the diversity of life as well.
As far as these tastebuds are concerned, Baan Nok serves delicious, authentic Thai food. The name, which suggests countryside only adds to the charm of the restaurant.
The Som Tam came as an appetiser. Basically a Thai salad, it consisted of julienned green papaya, groundnuts, dried shrimps and tomatoes. Drizzled with a heavy dose of lime juice and fish sauce, the flavour was dense and somehow refreshing at the same time. One will not forget the extra heat that comes with it, thanks to the generous amount of bird eye chillies.
Expect to perspire buckets when the dish is red, like the Tom Yam soup. Generous with the prawns, among other ingredients, the soup was aptly sour with a hint of sweetness. The only reason to stop taking the appetising soup was the progressive heat that built up on the tongue, to a point where continuous sips led to a slight migraine. A gastronomic sauna, this.
Perhaps the mildest in terms of heat, the Pad Thai was visually beautiful, to say the least. Again, with generous amount of ingredients such as shrimps, chicken cubes and beansprouts, there was nothing much to complain about. The rice noodle was firm and had absorbed all the wonderful flavours of the seasonings such as soy and sweet chilli sauces. Definitely one of those pad thais that run low on pretentiousness (some are just basically mee goreng) and high on authenticity.
The Kerabu Babi was beyond expectation as it tasted like a stir-fried dish instead of a salad. In a good way, of course. The pork pieces were tender and the chilli sauce that dressed the meat was aromatic and yes, spicy. But like all kerabus, there were heaps of shallots for the crunch and sweetness.
At the end of the day, despite our differences, we were all red from the heat and beer. RM60 for an authentic meal with generous amount of ingredients, it was quite a good deal. And getting lost in translation with our embarrassing Hokkien and their minimal Cantonese doubled the fun.
We might not know what the future holds for the new USofA which will directly affect the chaotic world we are living in now. But yesterday's historical win did provide hope that perhaps one fine day, we shall all be equal in the name of humanity and be judged by what we can do, not the colour of our skin. Nor the food we eat.
"Our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared", said the newly elected 44th president of the United States of America. Yes, shared. That is one darn fine word if you ask me because without sharing, there'll be no unity.
43A, Jalan Pandan Indah 4/6B
55100 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: (+603) 4296 7525
Check out these Baan Nok experiences:
Cumi & Ciki