[Penang] Dinner at Nest Khun Thai, Bangkok Lane

With its opening one month ago, Nest Khun Thai has finally rectified what had been a rather puzzling mystery in this historic part of George Town: why is there not a single Thai restaurant on Bangkok Lane?

Bangkok Lane straddles the area between Wat Chayamangkalaram, Penangโ€™s premier Thai temple, built back in 1845, and the old Siamese settlement where the earliest Siamese-Christian refugees came to stay in 1786 , after Captain Francis Light claimed the Prince of Wales Island (Penangโ€™s old name) for the British East India Company.

Wat Chayamangkalaram

Wat Chayamangkalaram

Bangkok Lane - a largely quiet, residential area until recently.

The early Siamese, Burmese and Chinese emigrants who settled in Pulau Tikus integrated with each other in terms of food and culture, giving rise to the unique Straits Chinese community in Pulau Tikus. The famous Penang street food, asam laksa, was one of the results of this cross-borrowing/cross-pollination between the different food cultures. It appears to incorporate influences from both Thai โ€œkhanom jeen nam yaโ€ and Burmese โ€œmohingaโ€, all using rice noodles in a sour-spicy fish-based soup, accented by lemongrass, galangal and tamarind, festooned with a bouquet of fresh herbs.

Penang-Nyonya cuisineโ€™s close affinity and resemblance to Thai cuisine also indirectly caused the dearth of actual, authentic Thai food in Penang - most Thai cooking here had been altered to suit the Penang palate: less fish sauce, less sweet, less chilis, etc.

Nest Khun Thai is a welcome addition to Pulau Tikusโ€™ culinary scene, as it sticks to its Thai origins closely, giving little away to accommodate local Penang taste preferences, like many other Thai eateries here do.

Nest Khun Thai is strategically located on the end of Bangkok Lane nearest to Pulau Tikus Market.

Our dinner this evening:

Yam woon sen - glass noodles salad, with shrimps, squid, long beans, cherry tomatoes, red onions and cashew-nuts.

Hor mok talay - steamed seafood spicy custard pudding.

Tom yum gai - spicy-sour soup with chicken.

Kaeng som pla kapong - spicy, steamed seabass.

Khai jiao cha om - climbing wattle-leaf omelette

Mixed vegetables - Chinese-style braised Napa cabbage, carrots, broccoli and enoki mushrooms.


Tub tim krob - Thai โ€œred rubiesโ€ dessert of water-chestnuts coated in red-tinted tapioca starch, served in iced, sweetened coconut milk, with jackfruit strips. Excellent rendition.

Kaeng buet fak-thong - boiled pumpkin in coconut milk. This was a very simple dessert to make, but difficult to get the flavours absolutely right. The chef here made a perfect one!

Bua-loy khai wan - tiny little globes of glutinous rice balls in a rich, sweetened coconut milk soup, with a poached egg. This dessert is served warm, and is perhaps my favourite Thai dessert of all time. In Bangkok, I go to a popular little shop on Rama IV Road for this dessert.

I think the desserts were the best part of the meal. If I do come back here, itโ€™ll be for those.

Nest Khun Thai
39 Bangkok Lane (Lorong Bangkok), 10250 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6016-675 8275
Opening hours: 11am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-9pm Mon-Fri, Sun
11am-2.30pm Saturdays.


Great post - thank you!

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Beautiful food, beautiful pics! :slight_smile:

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There used to be a Thai place near me where the server would ask if I wanted the food โ€œThai spicy or English spicyโ€. I made the mistake once of saying Thai.


That looks delicious! The Yum Woon Sen would be the perfect starter, just wow!
For some reason I flashed back to a scene from The Sandlot.
โ€œYou want a Smore?โ€ LOL!

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Peter, you should seriously consider getting all these posts and gorgeous photos to a publisher and having them made into a travelogue type book. (Assuming youโ€™ve not already done so.)


I was actually thinking the same thing! I always learn so much from your posts.


I agree with the above comments about getting these reviews and photos published. I have looked at a lot of books about food and travel and Peter has more insight and better photos than any book I have ever seen.


@ZivBnd @TheLibrarian28 @CCE @damiano

Thanks, glad you enjoyed my post.

I was approached by one publisher to do that a while ago, i.e. come up with a book on Penang food history & guide to eating out. That was just after I worked as a writer on a picture book for famous Penang photographer, David ST Loh, called Simply Penang.
But I realised itโ€™ll take quite a bit of time and effort, so Iโ€™m still putting it off for the time being.

I do contribute to the local publications. The last was an article for Peranakan Association of Singaporeโ€™s The Peranakan magazine.


Some authentic Thai dishes are mind-blowingly spicy - I had that experience once in Bangkok when a Bangkokian aunt took me to the best place in town for yum woon sen, which she knew was my favourite dish since sheโ€™d prepare that for me each time she visited my place in Singapore.

Oh boy, it was quite embarrassing for me in that restaurant as I went into coughing fits with each mouthful of the incendiary stuff.

And to think that the Portuguese introduced chilis to the Thais/Siamese only in the 1500s. But the Siamese was more than prepared to accept chilis, as their cooking before that got its heat from fresh green peppercorns.


Back to Nest Khun Thai for lunch today. This time, we got to meet the owner, Nick Yoon, a Penangite who worked as a chef in Singapore for a decade before returning to be close to his aging mother.

Nick doesnโ€™t cook here, but has a couple of Thai women chefs from the Southern Thai province of Nakhon Si Thammarat to helm Nest Khun Thaiโ€™s kitchen: Khun Sarinya Pansapae who cooks all the savouries (according to Southern Thai traditions), whilst Khun Kultida Polsap was the one who responsible for some of the tastiest Thai desserts Iโ€™d had in town.

Our lunch spread today:
:small_orange_diamond: ๐™๐™ค๐™™ ๐™ข๐™ช๐™ฃ ๐™œ๐™ค๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™œ - Thai prawn cakes, served with sweet chili dip

:small_orange_diamond: ๐™‡๐™–๐™ง๐™— ๐™ข๐™ค๐™ค - spicy-sour Southern Thai minced pork salad, with crushed, toasted rice

:small_orange_diamond: ๐™๐™ค๐™ข ๐™ ๐™๐™– ๐™œ๐™–๐™ž - chicken and coconut milk-galangal soup. I wished theyโ€™d just stick to straw mushrooms and omit the enoki mushrooms - that ought to bring the authenticity of the dish up one notch. Also, wouldโ€™ve preferred a slightly richer, coconut milk soup.

:small_orange_diamond: ๐™†๐™๐™–๐™ž ๐™Ÿ๐™ž๐™–๐™ค ๐™˜๐™๐™– ๐™ค๐™ข - omelette with climbing wattle. This was good.

:small_orange_diamond: ๐™‚๐™ค๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ค๐™— ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ๐™š๐™ฃ - baked prawns with glass noodles. This is usually one of my favourite dishes in any good Thai restaurant. The version here lacked the ginger, peppercorn and fresh coriander root flavours I looked for in this dish. Needed some improvement here.

:small_orange_diamond: ๐™‹๐™๐™–๐™™ ๐™ฅ๐™๐™š๐™ฉ ๐™จ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ฌ ๐™ ๐™–๐™ฅ๐™ž ๐™ข๐™ค๐™ค - stir-fried petai beans with pork, with red curry sauce. Nice, though Iโ€™d have preferred fatty pork belly slices over the pork collar slices used here.

:small_orange_diamond: ๐™‹๐™ก๐™– ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™™ ๐™จ๐™–๐™ข ๐™ง๐™ค๐™™ - pan-fried siakap fish, with three-taste sauce. This dish has been adjusted to suit local preferences: the fish is usually fried till crisper (drier) in authentic Thai preparations, but was only lightly fried here, allowing the fish to retain its moistness. But in Thai authenticity terms - this will be seen as โ€œundercookedโ€ or โ€œunder-friedโ€. Flavours were also dialed down - less sweet and sharp like those I remember having in Thailand.

:small_orange_diamond: ๐™๐™ช๐™— ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ข ๐™ ๐™ง๐™ค๐™— - Thai โ€œred rubiesโ€ dessert of water-chestnuts coated in red-tinted tapioca starch, served in iced, sweetened coconut milk, with jackfruit strips

:small_orange_diamond: ๐™†๐™–๐™š๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™—๐™ช๐™š๐™ฉ ๐™›๐™–๐™ -๐™ฉ๐™๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™œ - boiled pumpkin in coconut milk. The dessert chef aced this one - perhaps the tastiest Thai whatever Iโ€™d had this side of the border! :joy:

:small_orange_diamond: ๐˜ฝ๐™ช๐™–-๐™ก๐™ค๐™ฎ ๐™ ๐™๐™–๐™ž ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฃ - tiny little globes of glutinous rice balls in a rich, sweetened coconut milk soup, with a poached egg. This dessert is served warm.

I think I over-ordered - there were just 3 of us. But we polished off everything!


Beautiful and informative as always, Peter. Note though, that for the fak-thong you accidentally instead uploaded two of the photo for bua-loy.

Thanks! Rectified. :blush:

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