A small Thai restaurant with a large variety of dishes served in a comfortable environment:
Baan Thai - Restaurants, Thai: This place must be the longest running Thai restaurant in town. My last visit there -after 6 years- had been pleasant, the place not too crowded, good curry (as before) and quick service. The only downturn was the fish cake, which must had been pre-made and warmed up. If you want authentic spicy-ness, you should request when ordering.
Baan Thai - Restaurants, Thai: Baan Thai poses a complex challenge for anyone trying to give an insightful review as they apparently thrive when there is a large lively crowd and drown when they have too much time on their hands. Apparently when they are packed, customers may have a longer wait until there food arrives, but the plates are spaced out properly. In contrast, when they have too much time on their hands, customers can expect to receive all their food almost immediately and sadly altogether...which meant it was impossible to try every dish before it got cold.
Aside from this unique dilemma for any restaurant, I thought Baan Thai might show some real promise as they do have a few thai waitresses and from what I have been told a Thai chef. For any lover of Thai food in Hanoi, this would prove to be a major drawing point, but from there on, the road gets rockier and somewhat more convoluted, so I will attempt to keep this review more straightforward.
The menu in itself is long and varied, with some pages actually showing up twice in random places, with no discernible order and all of the standard Thai dishes beings renamed or absent all together. The basic effect was if someone were to jam 3 thai & 2 vietnamese menus in a shotgun together, fire, and then paste together all the still legible pieces into one random menu.
That said, we stuck with the theme and ordered 4 plates representing a mixture of tastes, both classics and some new queries we felt we had to try. The fried morning greens with a brown shrimp and pork dipping sauce was excellent, though very filling, while the more traditional pad thai was cold and fairly dry/boring by Thai standards.
With a fairly basic decor, but central locations and likewise; lethal pre-mixed cocktails, no wine, but reasonably priced beers - this place ends up being a real tossup. Would have preferred to have given 2.5 stars, but the odd humour of the place actually kicked it up a notch. So if you are with a large boisterous group, by all means check it out, but if by contrast you are a discerning gourmand on a date, try elsewhere
Baan Thai - Restaurants, Thai: The good: the food here is probably the most authentic Thai food you'll find in Hanoi - I know, that's not saying much, but nevertheless I think this is a fair assessment. The chef (and even one of the waitresses) is Thai, so it stands to reason. For example, they use sliced chicken breast and beef (not cubed) in their curries - same as in Thailand. And simply in terms of the "right" mix of flavours and uniquely Thai ingredients in the various common dishes...well, I think it's better than its competitors here.
The bad: very overpriced, considering what you get, and what you can get elsewhere for the same (or less) money. The meat curries cost VND80,000 each, and yet only have three or four meagre slices of meat in them. The large Tom Yang Goong - served in a steamboat and enough for 4 - costs VND180,000, but only contains 8 small prawns. The fried, coated chicken fillet is a thin, flat and very unimpressive spectacle indeed and will set you back VND80,000 - a hefty price considering what's dished up.
Also, the place gives off a "not ready for primetime" impression. It only has two menus which are supposed to serve the whole restaurant(!) - we had to wait ten minutes or so before we could even have a look at one, as there were other tables ahead of us in the queue for them. Ridiculous! Also, a friend I was dining with told me about his previous visit there, when the staff arbitrarily increased the prices of the drinks and dishes by between VND5-10,000 per item above what was displayed in the menu, the only explanation being "the price has gone up". You don't say?? Furthermore, he wasn't very happy to discover that they had gone back to using the menu prices on this visit, and I doubt he'll be returning, despite liking the food.
Overall: flavours good and reasonably authentic in comparison with its competitors like Sawasdee (which I think is generally a superior restaurant), but they're very mean with the servings - considering how much they charge - and also the place could do with more professional management. I'd give it 2.5 stars if I could, but it's closer to 3 stars than 2. If you're craving some more-or-less authentic Thai flavours, don't eat much meat and aren't particularly interested in value-for-money, this place should satisfy you.