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Khantoke: A Dinner Show Awaits You

khantoke dinner Khantoke-style dinners became a social gathering in 1953. In that year, Ajarn Kraisee Nimmanahaeminda held a very grand party in honor of the Chief of Justice of Region 4, Ajarn Sanya Dhamsakdi, (who later became prime minister of Thailand) and Mr. John Widney of the U.S. Consulate who were about to be transferred to Bangkok and U.S.A. respectively. At that time, the dinner was set in an atmosphere of rich northern culture with splendid costumes and singing. Within three years, Ajarn Kraisee held other Khantoke dinners. A folk dance program was included as part of the entertainment. The Khantoke dinner with the blend of northern culture has been established for 47 years in Chiangmai.

Visitors who have been to a Thai Dinner show in Bangkok usually decide to give Khantoke dinners a miss because they think the two are similar. The Khantoke Dinner Dance Show is much more enjoyable than other dinner shows because of the pervading informal atmosphere, really different style of cooking and gentle slow-tempo dance entertainment followed by an insightful glimpse of the social lifestyle of hilltribes.

Khantoke is a Lanna Thai tradition, not just something invented for tourists' amusement. Thai Lanna was a civilized Kingdom that existed during the 18th - 20th B.E. Centuries in the area of present-day Northern Thailand. King Mengrai was the king who founded the capital and the dynasty. He accomplished and contributed to the prosperity of the kingdom in several aspects e.g. political science, Buddhist religion, art and culture. There are several traditions that eventually became northern heritage one of which is Khantoke. Even today khantoke implies dinner or lunch which is offered by a host to guests at various ceremonies or parties, e.g. in the home -- weddings; housewarmings; celebrations; novice ordinations; life extensions or funerals. At the temple-Celebrations for buildings in a temple's compound namely, bhote, wiharn, sala; Grand Sermons annual festivals such as --- Khao Pansa, Og Pansa, Loy Krathong, and new year.

Trays, spatulas, big spoons and food containers are the essential implements required for eating. Wood, bamboo, rattan and coconut shell have been used as raw materials for making the food tray and container products Coconut shells are used to make spatulas and big spoons. Bamboo is used to make dishes, bowls, boxes, trays, and so faith.

Dimensions of the pedestal tray, "Khantoke" are a low round table with several legs connected to the top tray with a round base. Khantoke (or it is sometimes called toke) was originally made with a big solid piece of teakwood. Lathing and carving techniques are employed. After lathing, carving and polishing, coating with natural polymers was then applied. Bamboo and rattan can be also used instead of teakwood. Therefore, khantoke lacquerware, which has bamboo as a base, is also popular. Kian is a northern Thai word (similar to central Thai for word of "glueng") which means lathe. Therefore Baan Chang Kian or Wat Chang Kian used to be the community that was the residence of lathe craftsmen ("chang") in the old days.

When referring to the size of Khantoke tables, there are three different names:

  1. Khantoke Luang, a grand or giant size with a diameter of 25-50 inches wide. The trays have been used in northern palaces and temples.
  2. Khantoke Haam, a medium size with a diameter of 17-24 inches wide. It has been used in the residences of well-to-do or middle-class persons, temple abbots or high-ranking monks.
  3. Khantoke Noy, a small size with a diameter of 10-15 inches wide. It is good enough for a small family, or newlyweds.
Five different dishes are served along with a basket in which rice has been steamed. A brief explanation of the food served follows: "Gaeng Hung-Lay", Burmese pork curry; "Gai Tawd" fried chicken; "Paad Pugg", fried vegetable (usually cabbage); and "Naam Prik Ong" pork tomato-chili paste, mildly hot, served with fresh cucumber slices; "Kaeb Moo", pork rind, which are for dipping with paste; along with these food dishes, a starter or canape should be included, e.g. fried banana. Dinners can use fingers to break off pieces of sticky rice and dip it into the various bowls instead of using cutlery. Dessert is popped rice crackers, coffee or tea and a bit of "miang" which is a chew similar to beetle nut but you won't have the cosmetic effect of red lips.

Why don't you make a reservation now for an enjoyable evening at a khantoke Dinner Show? We recommend Old Chiangmai Cultural Center or Imperial Mae Ping Hotel. More details are listed in the Restaurants page.

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